Friday, September 26, 2014

Blood for Gender

It’s a funny thing in its way – and what’s odd is that it’s not ghoulish to me … the only scenes with much meat on them I have written for the WIP so far seem much preoccupied with blood.  Apart from the view of Clovis through Amalasuntha’s eyes, the only writing with any meat on its bones consists of the scene of Amalasuntha’s birth (the opening setpiece, the first piece of “writing” I ever did on this WIP), and a consideration by Ama of the advent of womanhood – and how rather frustrating and repellant she finds the process.  Another sketch is that of the execution of a slave, which she is forced to witness.

The two scenes involving women’s blood, it occurs to me, are directly biological entre’s into female characters.  I have written for so long from Clovis’ POV, perhaps this has been a necessary subconscious impulse – to approach Amalasuntha and Audofleda, her mother, by way of the most obvious expressions/functions of their bodies, their genders:  in menstruation and childbirth.  The torture of the slave, too, is in its way related – Ama is forced to watch as the man she has lowered herself to mate with is punished for his presumption in taking her.  Sex.  So, his blood in that one, but still someone bleeds.

I’ve taken a look at Amalasuntha’s son, and have contemplated, too, her daughter (Matasuentha), but at this point the novel largely fixates on Ama.  The flexibility and freedom of omnipotent POV means I don’t have to hew so tightly to her as I did to the single character (… protagonist … ? the readers will decide …) in Ax.  So this novel may evolve into a more balanced three-generations-of-women story, but I never have seen Audofleda as central at all.  *She* bleeds, in the WIP, only so that other women may take the stage in their turn …

As to the shadowed figure of Matasuentha—the daughter, perhaps the trickling-down of story, the disappointment or denoument (?)—the glance I’ve cast in her direction is bloodless, but concerns her marriage.

I’ll leave you with one thought about Audofleda, the sister of Clovis, the tie that did not bind him to Theodoric the great, the queen, and the mother (a line surely to be cut … but starting something, and that is still good) …

The queen took pride in her own forbears, but she had committed to leave them behind—brides always left their own behind, even as their blood was the currency of alliances and peoples—and she never spoke of herself as a Frank.  She would speak of her brother with a transfigured glow, but not of herself as if she were them.

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