This week I was “staring at the blank page before me.” 🙂
As I mentioned last week, I took a few days off to allow my brain time to relax. So, this week, after requiring myself to take one day of absolutely no work (Monday), I decided it was time to start working the brain back into the writing schedule.
NBedingfieldVEVO. “Natasha Bedingfield – Unwritten.” YouTube. YouTube, 25 Oct. 2009. Web. 04 June 2017.
Then, I turned my mind to an idea that was sparked this comment by Patty on last Monday’s blog post.
An idea for a story, could you write a piece that made Crawford redeemable?
Hmmm…Could I? It was a thought that gave me goosebumps — still does. And that is a good thing. That’s what happens when excitement mixed with apprehension skitters through me. 🙂
So, I went in search of the answer…and that process looked like this:
I started by spending a good deal of time on Tuesday rereading portions of Mansfield Park and taking notes.
Then, I messaged a couple of author friends, and they very kindly let me discuss Mansfield Park, Henry Crawford, and various plotting sort of things. (It just helps to “talk it out” some. 🙂 )
After that, I needed time to think and mull over my thoughts — but I forced myself to begin writing a possible scene, just a piece.
This was followed by another period of thinking which consists of finding a relaxed position — often lying on my bed with a notebook next to me for jotting down thoughts ;), turning on specific music that I use just for this purpose, and letting various scenes play out in my mind.
Then it was back to writing.
Have I discovered the answer to the question of whether or not I can reform Henry Crawford?
Maybe. I think so. I hope so. 🙂
This is where the apprehension comes into play. The story is starting after the conclusion of Mansfield Park. Henry has had some time to regret Fanny and has made some changes. But…am I drawing on the small nuances of potentially noteworthy character in him as I see them in canon and developing them in a believable way?
There’s only one way to find out — write the story. 🙂
Here’s a look a the first thousand words of Henry’s story:
Henry Crawford paced the edges of the ballroom surveying the latest crop of debutants. There were those that stood head and shoulders above the rest. They would never do for him. A man must not have a partner ─ even for a dance ─ who was taller than he. Then there were those who held their chins very much like a particular young lady whom he would like to forget. She was full of airs and invitation but… He shook his head. Mariah Bertram had been more beauty than substance, and what substance she had was, as it turned out ─ he shuddered in remembrance of the lady’s sour disposition ─ unpleasant!
He paused at the door to the terrace, which was not quite closed, and pulled in a gulp of cool air. The room seemed rather warmer than he remembered it being. Perhaps it was the crush of people, or, he swallowed at the unusual uneasiness that rose in his throat, perhaps it was the narrowed eyes of so many matrons and male folk who guarded their precious treasures making him wish to pull at his cravat and straighten his jacket and causing him to feel so warm. If only he had considered one sweet lady as more precious than he had, he would likely not be here scouting for someone with fair eyes and a pleasant smile to fill the void that Fanny Price had left in his heart.
“Have you settled on the next scandal?” Charles Edwards drew up beside him and lifted his quizzing glass. “It is a fine crop with many beauties.”
“Aye, it is that,” Henry agreed with a half smile.
“So which shall it be?” Edwards cast a quick glance at his friend of many years.
“I do not know. I see their beauty, but…” He turned toward Edwards so that his lips could not be read by anyone. “I do not think I am ready for this,” he admitted in a low whisper.
“Do not be foolish, my man, you are exactly where you must be to assuage a disappointment.” Edwards’ smile had a wolfish quality to it. “A broken heart does a lady good. It hurries her on to consider matrimony at a faster pace. Guardians should, in reality, be thankful for those of us who provide such a service.”
Perhaps his friend was correct. After his departure last spring, Fanny had not been long in securing an offer from her cousin, but then, her heart had not been broken. That was a truth which, as of yet, never ceased to cause his own heart to pinch.
He imagined her disappointment in him had been great. How could it not have been? Fanny was all that was good. She scowled ─ very prettily and softly ─ at all that was less than virtuous. How she must have censured him in her heart if not in her words! And he deserved it. He knew he did. He had acted rashly, in a fit of misguided passion. He was likely very unfit for any lady of such good taste and character.
A burly gentleman wearing a green jacket attempted to pass between Henry and the doors behind him. “You must dance at least once before you escape.” Trefor Linton gave Henry a nudge with his shoulder. “When the horse tosses you on your backside, you have to ride it again.”
“You are not also going to tell me how breaking the hearts of poor innocents is somehow a service to them, are you?” Henry flashed a grin at his friend.
“Good heavens, I should say not! Has Edwards been spouting his regular rubbish?”
“I will have you know it is not rubbish,” Edwards defended. “Why just last year, three young ladies made very eligible matches after I had shown them attention. I am a good luck charm for the matrimonially-minded miss.”
“I dare say at least one of them felt a very pressing need to accept the first offer she was given after receiving your attentions.” Linton raised his left brow and looked down his nose imperiously at Edwards.
Edwards shrugged. “I heard no word of scandal.”
“That is because you refuse to listen,” Linton muttered.
Henry shook his head. How Linton had remained friends with him and Edwards for all these years was a mystery. Linton was level-headed and honorable to a fault. He would never be caught in a dark corner with a chit. Edwards, on the other hand, made it something of a game to see how many dark corners he could frequent with a different chit in each one. Henry was more inclined to participate with Edwards and tease Linton for his refusal to join them than he was to deny himself such pleasure. He drew a breath. No longer — he hoped.
“So who shall it be?” Edwards prodded again. “Her?” He directed his gaze at a curvaceous blonde to their left. “She would be quite delightful, I imagine.”
Linton’s long arm reached behind Henry and thwacked Edwards. “Have a care. That is Hodson’s sister.”
“Indeed?” Edwards did not remove his eyes from the lady. “I had not thought such beauty could be in his family.” He tipped his head as he studied the beauty across the room. “Does Hodson still frequent Gentleman Jacksons?”
Linton nodded. “Daily.”
Edwards lowered his glass and gave it a wipe before putting it in his pocket. “Then who else might there be of interest?”
“Start with Constance,” Linton suggested. “No harm will befall you. She will be all that is proper, and perhaps others seeing that I trust you with her, will stop scowling at us. It is very unnerving. How do you bear such looks of displeasure so frequently, Edwards?”
Edwards laughed. “The pleasure of a few stolen moments is worth the discomfort, my friend. You should try it.”
“Not likely,” Linton retorted.
“You know Crawford is nearly as skilled as I at finding stolen moments.” Edwards once again had his quizzing glass out and was wiping it. “I am surprised you would trust your sister with him.”
“It is one dance in my presence, and he knows I would kill him if he were to so much as think of stealing a kiss from her.” Linton crossed his arms and glowered at Edwards. “Crawford has enough sense to heed such a warning. That is why I will allow him to dance with my sister, but you are to keep your distance.”
Edwards shrugged. “Her tongue is too sharp for my liking. I prefer not to be lectured when I am attempting to seduce a lady.”
“Come, Crawford,” said Linton, ignoring Edwards save for one last scowl in the fellow’s direction. “We will leave Edwards to his dissipated ways and go find Connie.”