The Importance Of Knowing When To Say When

So the new laptop quite obviously did not help my posting rate in any way, shape, or form.

I’m currently ‘typing’ this post out on a tablet I also thought would help increase my post rate. I’ve had the tablet for over five months and the fact I haven’t even posted about having it should say everything I ought to say about how successful this strategy was.

I made new writer-oriented business cards last week and put this blog down as my website. While doing so, I realized how long it’s been since my last posts and more importantly what was most likely causing the problem…

I’ve fallen victim to the age-old writer problem of letting a project I wasn’t into anymore give me guilt-associated writer’s block.

This phenomenon occurs when a writer stalls out of writing anything or a particular kind of something – in my case, serious blog posts have been what was affected – because the guilt of I Should Be Writing X Instead seizes that writer’s capacities up whenever it’s attempted.

In my case, it’s that series on the Wicked series. I love the books I’ve read, but the one I was actually looking forward to writing about is Son Of A Witch… and with the series, it was going to take slogging through the entire college girl social scene bits of Wicked to get to the parts that are strongly relevant for why I adore Son Of A Witch.

So the series is off. And I’ll probably post my thoughts on Son Of A Witch sans the pressure sometime. And I will hopefully figure out italics in this WordPress app someday.

Along with other things.

But for now, I have a weekend of book festival to look forward to, and no pressure about how I should be discussing Wicked tonight instead of posting my thoughts on discovering The Giver as an adult after hopefully attending a panel including the author Lois Lowry. Or not.

And after ‘winning’ NaNoWriMo twice, maybe this year I can actually provide commentary during the event.

Reading Maguire: Wicked, Maladies and Remedies

My apologies for the delay. I’ve had some things happen in the past week, and am now preparing to start seeking an agent for my novel, so perhaps posting once or twice a week is a more attainable goal than Mondays through Thursdays.

This chapter is where we first get a clue that Frex and Melena’s daughter, now named Elphaba, may not be independently strange. It’s an important thing to note for the future, but it’s not what I want to discuss this time.

This chapter, we get a really good glimpse into the kind of upbringing that Elphaba is going to experience.

[TW – emotional abandonment of an infant]

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, The Birth Of A Witch

This chapter is where we learn that the Clock seems to have an agenda of its own. The scenes it shows of Frex and Melena not only aren’t true (although I can’t help but think that the treasure imagery isn’t a symbol of hidden actual treasure, but that Melena is herself Frex’s real treasure), but fail to come true. At the same time, the reaction of the crowd serves to set other events in motion.

Frex’s marginal power as local minister is completely and utterly gone. It doesn’t matter that anyone coming to his house and pillaging isn’t going to find any gems. He now knows that only one member of the community was willing to save him from a bad end, and he has no clue which members of his congregation might have been one of the hooded men who attacked him.

And Melena has to take cover while in labor. [TW – woman in danger during childbirth, threatened infanticide]

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, The Clock of the Time Dragon

This is the chapter where we get a physical description of the Clock. It’s worth getting the mental image in your head, because the Clock isn’t going away any time soon. We also start getting a few details about the religious system in Oz.

But the really interesting thing for me in this chapter is Frex’s lack of a clue. Melena may be framed as the one with little understanding of the world people without means live in, but Frex is the one who makes dangerous errors.

He’s about to set his family up for probable disaster.

[Trigger warning: discussion of pregnancy, childbirth, and spousal irresponsibility and temporary abandonment in the face of impending childbirth]

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, The Root of Evil

Maguire’s pattern of splitting the text is not constant in any of The Wicked Years. Wicked sets the pattern up now. “I: Munchkinlanders” is split into named chapters with no subdivisions. Later, we’ll run into parts with no splits at all and into parts where there are named chapters and numbered subchapters.

“The Root Of Evil” is only a few pages long, but it begins the introduction of Maguire’s specific version of Oz.

Here, we meet Melena, Frexspar, and Frex’s sense of what his concerns ought to be in the world.

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Reading Maguire: Wicked, Art Break The First: Meet The Time Dragon

One of the reasons I kept making sure to get the larger format of Maguire’s books once I’d gotten my hands on Wicked in that size wasn’t just that I like it when a book series looks roughly the same on a shelf.

It was the art. The art, which is all done in a woodcut style that would not at all seem out of place in an exhibit of newspaper woodcuts from just before photography took off, and which just would not fit in a small-format paperback.

And with the beginning of “I: Munchkinlanders”, the art of Wicked begins. It’s time to meet the Time Dragon and his Clock.

The Clock of the Time Dragon will come up repeatedly, and so will the Time Dragon’s role in the religious life of Oz. More about that soon, as we’re about to meet the missionaries (not his, although an argument could be made about the keepers of the Clock being clergy of a very odd sort).

The cover of “Munchkinlanders” is of the Clock with the Time Dragon perched on top of it and a crowd gathered beneath.

The Dragon is glaring – the effect made even better by the style – and pointing one claw at the reader.

The crowd isn’t much happier. All of the eyes are overshadowed. There’s a lot of judgmental frowning going on. One of the two smiles present is downright predatory.

In short, whoever the viewpoint character of the image is, that person is not going to be having a good night.

And it’s just before midnight according to the Clock.

Reading Maguire: Wicked, Prologue

Wicked starts very in media res, and I’m assuming Maguire presumes his readers have at least some exposure to The Wizard of Oz.

At the very least to the characters, which admittedly it’s rather hard to avoid knowing something about in the USA these days – or at least in the parts of it I grew up in. The image of Dorothy and her companions skipping along is iconic. The Hallmark stores in the malls and anywhere else that sell their ornaments proudly display characters from the movie come the Christmas shopping season. And then there were the commercials for the anniversary DVD a few years back…

I never saw the movie all the way through until I was a senior in college – thank you ‘films as historical documents’ class, for being the reason I still have the DVD – despite nearly managing to do so between middle and high school, and I may or may not have read the book in middle school. I remember reading some of Baum’s other books, most or all of which are available as free e-books now on Amazon or elsewhere online legally, while riding home on the school bus.

But I was still very, very sure of what the Wicked Witch, Dorothy, and Dorothy’s companions looked like.

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