Stephanie Burgis
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I woke up this morning feeling much, much better. Didn't hurt that it's a gorgeous day--the sun's blazing down, all the gorgeous old buildings are highlighted against a bright blue sky, and I've been walking along without a sweater or jacket, and starting to wish I'd brought along some tank tops! I took tons of photos during my walk from the hotel to the music library--can't post them until I get back to England, but when I do, look out!

I am finally, finally getting a handle on Antonio Salieri's handwriting. Thank God. And oddly enough, I seem to have learned more Italian than I thought during all those years of listening to operas. I thought I'd have to refer constantly to Italian dictionaries as I worked on the Italian libretti, but actually most of it has been pretty clear. (Obviously, it's the result of Harold Hill's "Think" method...Does this mean I watched The Music Man too often during my childhood?? Or not often enough...)

The best thing, which completely changed my mood (well, apart from getting to do a nice long whine in here yesterday, which helped a lot), was that I managed (on Patrick's telephoned orders) to do some writing last night for the first time in several days. Then this afternoon, during my hour's lunch break, I sat down in a really great cafe near the library, ordered cappucino and a luscious apple strudel, and wrote two and a half more pages. I'm psyched again! I'm writing! And I'm in Vienna! The most dangerous thing is that I know my next adult novel will be set in Vienna in the 1790s, during the reign of "the sinister Count Pergen" as police chief. Now that I'm here, all I want to do is research that! I'm working very hard to restrain myself, during my precious library hours (which are SHORT!), to researching only the stuff I need for my thesis. But afterwards...well, I'm spending as much time as possible just wandering through the oldest streets, soaking up the atmosphere. All of a sudden, the story and characters are starting to really take shape in my head. They want to come out--but they'll have to wait. I still have about 100 more pages of my Eszterhaza novel to write--and we're going there! Soon! I'm pretty much blissed out.

I think most people, at some point in their lives, will find one city or place that absolutely catches their imagination and sets them on fire. Vienna is definitely IT for me. Ever since the first time I came here, in 1998, my head's been full of stories set here. (Not to mention my academic career, which is completely Vienna-oriented.) I don't know what it is about this city that fascinates me so completely, but hey, I'm grateful. And damn, those strudels are good.

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