Stephanie Burgis
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cosmic harmony
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No, I haven't gone off the deep end yet...I've just been teaching Pythagoras and Plato and having fun. I've been completely stuck on the new kids' novel for the past several days, and I wasn't looking forward to lecturing on the musical implications of Plato's Republic yesterday at the music department, since it was a topic I knew nothing about (until this past week, that is). However, the oddest things can spark story ideas...and while I was researching Plato and his philosophical/musical influences, I was reminded (after many years) of Pythagoras's theory of cosmic harmony, and the missing piece for my novel finally clicked neatly into place.

The new novel is now tentatively titled The Music of the Stars, and that may be a cheesy, terrible title, but don't tell me that...or at least not yet. (Right now, I need all the forced confidence that I can get!) Anyway, I have a major plot point for the novel's climax at LAST, which is enough to make me feel comfortable about writing the beginning and middle. I'll figure out the details of the ending later, as usual...usually with much panic and stress at the very beginning of the climax of the novel. (Oops. Should I really admit that in public? I always worry that I shouldn't confess to the muddled way I go about my own writing, for fear of losing membership in the Real Writers Club.) I always go back and fix the beginnings and middles in revision, so that they will match up with the ending... I was so relieved at the 2001 WorldCon to hear Nancy Kress say that that's the way she writes/plots, too.

My good news yesterday was that my paper "Masking Otherness: Haydn's Lo speziale and Mozart's Cosi fan tutte" has been accepted for the British Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies Conference at Oxford this January. That's the conference I presented at last year for the first time (with my harem paper), and it was a lot of fun. Since it's a cross-section of all eighteenth-century studies, it's just about my favorite kind of conference--much more fun than the straight music conferences I feel compelled to also attend. Last year I got to attend papers on eighteenth-century literature, romances, architecture, gardening, and science, and I came away with a ton of useful background information for novels as well as some intriguing new ideas for fiction (a couple of which were used in Masks and Shadows). I'm looking forward to attending again (and to sneaking off occasionally to hang out in beautiful Oxford itself, one of my favorite cities in the universe).

I also sent off my Michigan absentee ballot in the mail yesterday. I usually try not to mention politics in this journal, but I will say that it was a bizarre and cool experience to see my own brother's name on the ballot for the Michigan State University Board of Education. In order to avoid outright nepotism, I guess I won't write his name here--but c'mon, how hard is it to guess?? :)

Also, I was really pleased to see that the AFL/CIO has come out strongly against Michigan's Proposal No. 2, which would amend the state constitution in regards to the definition of marriage. I had to read that proposal over a few different times before I was sure of exactly what it was proposing (which may have been due to my personal exhaustion at the time, and the fact I'd spent the last two hours reading philosophical tomes, rather than any deliberately obscure writing on the proposal's part), but I was horrified when I figured it out. For anyone who isn't sure how they feel on the issue, it's worth at least checking out the AFL/CIO's statement on it.

Enough politics.... I'm listening to a Hildegard von Bingen CD right now, the gas fire's burning, Nika's snuggled up on her throne (i.e., the big comfy chair in our living room, which now officially belongs to her--at least in her own mind), and it's shaping up to be a pretty good day. Any day that I manage to write three new pages, after five days of intense writing block, is a good day in my book!

Have a good day, everybody.

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