Friday, August 09, 2013

An idea... (or: Economous Musgrove Chapter 1 Part 1)

I just had a crazy thought: I have an m/s that has not gone anywhere for a long while so perhaps I could share it with you all 500? 1000? words at a time. Perhaps feedback might get it moving? Perhaps it might be cool to let you all roam the Half-Continent again?

It will be un-edited, first-drafty (draughty - holes in it, get it?), and like un-spellchecked (not a real verb) but what do you think? Will the format of this blog make it too hard to read? 500 words? 1000 words? Any other problems? Benefits?

Here is a sample to get things rolling and see how it works... (about 1100 words, too much?)


© D.M.Cornish

1st Draft, June 2011-August 2013

1 ~ In the Park

fabulist ~ an imagineer – a maker of images by stylus, paint, charcoal or any other medium – employed by monster-hunting teratologists to go with them upon their dangerous exploits, observe their daring and make drawings and etchings of the same to prove to safe-living city folk of their praise-worthy prowess. Being a fabulist means therefore sharing all the dangers and hardships of your patron teratologist, and with it some hope of a healthy share of the accompanying rewards. For the true imagineer, however, it is not the promise of wealth that is the greatest draw, but the challenge of placing yourself in the very midst of the danger to draw a duel between patron and monster, and capture the as truly as possible at the very height and thrill of the violence.

Economous Musgrove, illustrator, some-time concometrist and would-be fabulist, sat quietly on a simple bench a little way in from the east gate of the Moldwood Park in the grand and ancient city of Brandenbrass and drew. He was well aware of the cleveland’s solemn reputation as a queer and unpleasant place, preserved by some ancient bond and stubbornly threwdish, despite centuries of encirclement by one of the world’s great cities. Indeed, surrounded by buzzing bugs and drifting pollens, he could feel a subtle watchfulness that he now called normal, brooding from the dark spaces between the olives and sycamores and black turpentines shaggy with yellowing lichens. It did not seem so unpleasant a sensation to him as most other folk complained upon. In truth – though he dare not admit it to anyone not even Asthetica, his true love – Economous actually liked the feeling of threwd here, as slight as it may have been. He found it a small but important thrill, giving him a taste of life as perhaps it ought to be: deep, perhaps impenetrable and impossibly vital – the stark opposite of the frustrating inertia that seemed to drag at his own days.

Barefoot, Economous sat now – shoes under his proofed frockcoat on the bench beside him – drawing nooks and boles, birds and all manner of crawling things that came his way. Most of all though, he drew the myriad rabbits great and small that so famously and helpfully infested this city-bound woodland. Loping from shadow to shadow, ears switchin ceaselessly forward and back, they grew bolder the longer he sat there, venturing from folds of thick cabage weed to wriggle their stunt noses at him. Though never able to pay him for his trouble, these nervous restless creatures were far less self-conscious or suspicious or given to offence than the people of this fair city, and they made excellent subjects to draught.

In dull blue-grey weskit and cotton shirt sleave rolled to elbow in the late spring heat, Economous strove to get every rabbit he spied down in the very midst of motion with both the speed and accuracy required for  the drawing of teratologists and their deadly exploits. He could have sat on any street or lane in the city itself to observe these, for Brandenbrass was famously over-run with the creatures, even to the obvious and peculiar exlusion of the far more usual rat that gnawed away at other cities. But where they were furtive, twitchy and quick to flight in the common ways, in the cool calm of the Moldwood the city-living rabbits were – contrary to all cause – calm and almost tame.

Today, however, his usually quiet, long-eared companions seemed unusually restless, making themselves hard to draw as they scampered among the roots and leaves, bounding over each other, breaking out in energetic scuffles Economous had never previously witnessed. They were bolder too, some daring to graze and frolic right up by his seat, while out of the deeper shades of the park more rabbits emerged, playing all about him now in such numbers that set Economous to marvelling.

Perhaps their spring-time broods have come out to join them?

Yet he could not see any small-bodied, big-eyed, short-eared bunnies among the great variety of creatures gathered, nor even one slender leveret. They were all – as far as he could reckon it – full grown rabbits.

Economous paused for a moment, leaning back and rubbing his eyes against the strain of concentration to which they had been subject for the last two hours.

Though rigourously schooled as a concometrists at the athenaeum, he spent much of his apprenticeship drawing rather than measuring or reading or recording as he was supposed to do. And though he had at the end of his five years there been granted a numrelogue to record measurements and earned his calibrator – the thick yard long ruler that was both weapon and tool of a concometrist’s trade, much of what his exasperated masters had sought to squeeze into his intellectuals had simply gone in his ears and run out of his eyes. Little now seemed left behind of his learning but some vague reckoning of the tribes into which habilists divided all beasts, a modicum of Tutin – the language of scholarship and the Empire – and page upon page of unauthorised drawings. It had felt like a false start as he left the athy and made for the great and shining prospects of Brandenbrass and after missteps and blank leads, it still felt like it now.

For, no matter how he tried these two years gone since departing Athingdon Athenaeum, he had failed to gain any momentum as a full-fledge fabulist: drafting, etching and daubing his way from one client to the next upon the headway of an ever-increasing set of references of ever-increaing excellence. Though he had been considered many many times, he had only been on three true hunts. He had thrilled at the chase and stood astonished at the wonder and dread of the snarling cornered beasts they sought, capturing the wild things with far greater passion than he drew the exploits of his actual human patron. Unfortunately, upon the last hunt – now nigh on a year gone –in his eagerness to fully render the small, wizzened, almost pathetically child-like bogle they were chasing, he thoughtlessly got in the teratologist’s way thus allowing the little creature to win free and escape. Though they searched for a week it was never to be found again. Foiled, the hunt had returned to the city empty-handed where – deprived of his prize – the teratologist gave Economous so bad a report that it swiftly spread into an awkward reputation. This poor name went well ahead of the would-be fabulist, so bringing him to this present paucity of work. Still, Economous was not about to let himself be so simply prevented. Ever since his earliest years his way had not been as every other soul’s, and regardless of anyone else's interventions, he was not about to let one mistake ruin his own chosen course of life.


Lamp Flicker said...

This is amazing! I can't wait to read more and see things from a totally different perspective.

emoone said...

I'm already entranced

Patrick Stahl said...

This is very clean for a first draft. I liked it, although I would prefer a tad more external conflict if at all possible. The language pulled me through, but if I was a first time reader I may have stopped a few paragraphs in because there wasn't as much excitement as readers of fantasy expect. Also, the final parts felt a little too "info-dumpy". Perhaps insert those facts slowly throughout the first few chapters? All-in-all, it's great to read more of your work.

Unknown said...

Almost immediately drew me in like the Foundling books did, and the familiar yet foreign words were a great sight to see. Can't wait to see where this story goes, and you can already feel hints of it that'll be great to read through!

Harry D said...

This is fantastic! It reads really well. As for format, because of the narrow column on your blog it makes it a bit tough to follow. Perhaps shorter passages or is it possible to widen the main reading column on your blog. Either way, I really enjoyed this first draft. I would love to see the return of the Lapundice!

Carola said...

One word... YES!!!!!

Ali said...

A very enjoyable start to a new person and a new story. I'm actually happy with the pacing and the info-dumping for a rough draft of a possible novella legth piece; it feels similar to the Corser's Hinge in this respect. With more words the info-dumping can be more spread out. Really digging Economous as a name here, and the bunnies.

asmith1024 said...

Not enough space battles, but seeing as this isn't science fiction I reckon you're on the right track. A couple hundred more pages of this and I'll buy it.

El Grego said...

A wonderful start, and the size is just enough for both a quick read and full immersion. It also serves as a catalyst for those of us that have our own little HC-ish projects scampering about...

And, welcome back!

Master Come Lately said...

I agree with El Grego. I think this idea is inspired! It allows the writer and fans to feed off of each other's enthusiasm more rapidly and get some buzz going again!

I liked the choice of character: someone who's way of life would allow more exposure to unseen parts of H-C life while still bringing back some familiarity. It also could potentially bring a theroscade into the mix seamlessly later on (without it feeling pinned on), if the story leads that direction. I much enjoy this (the idea and the story)!

Smidgers said...

A sincere good evening to the members of 'Family Musgrove' and Papa Cornish.

1 ~ In the Park.
I love Moldwood Park and its mystery and I may grow to love Economous Musgrove. Whilst bugs are buzzing, pollens are drifting and Economous has removed his shoes, please assist the reader by adding his relative comfort \ discomfort with the ambient temp; perhaps reference the seasonal weather in Brandenbrass and the evocative scents \ perfume of the forest floor in his current location and his own unique talent for 'smelling' threwd.
His other talent - and far more modest in his friends' mean spirited view - is wine appreciation, and the Moldwood Park had been the setting for many delicious encounters with a vin ordinaire local red - all his modest income would allow - that gained a magical aromatic and complexity in the more threwdish enriched hollows within the park. His better works appeared to coincide with quite reverie and a glass or three of this particular wine discovery of his, not shared with his friends, in this particular spot.

So ends my stream of thought powered by a glimpse of Economous in the park and a particularly delicious Arlewood cab sav 2007.
If something sticks \ resonates with you all, then my time has been well spent. Good night. Smidgers

Wyldeirishman said...

All I want to know is when it will rest on the Half-Continent portion of my own bookshelf. :)

Arianne said...

A great start! I find myself asking whether or not it has ocurred to the citizens of Brandenbrass whether this overpopulation if rabbits might lead to the attraction if predators that might delight in a morsel of rabbit? Are there any secret predators hiding unseen (as we know there are), and does this thought occur to Economous?
Economous is obviously a character with a penchant for danger, and possibly harbours sympathy for the monsters...would he find himself drawing the bunnies somewhat monstrously, or as spliced-versions of rabbits and monsters he has seen or imagined? Would those drawings (all be they fantasies) create tension when found by the rabbits as they lie scattered at his feet?
And would Economous have drawn questionable pictures(as we have seen displayed in Factotum) as a way of earning an income? Would this bring him into contact with dangerous company?
I'd say that is enough evidence that I am hooked...and off to read more in the next post!

Ben Bryddia said...

Any echoes of your own university experience here? Kidding, but you gotta write what you know, aye?

I second the motion that we get a bit more external action early on, although it may be in the second post I haven't read yet.

It also strikes me that I don't have a clear idea what Economous looks like, aside from the "dull blue-grey wskit and cotton shirt." The man himself, the shape of his face, his build, whether scant funds have left him a bit malnourished, etc. are a mystery, as is his approximate age.

Aside from these, I must also ask if he's had to work for pamphleteers or paper publishers or such to make ends meet.

We've eagerly awaited your return, albeit we do commiserate with your publishing frustrations.


Joshua Wilamowski said...

Sir, you are hands down my favorite author ever and I will gladly read any morsel you post. I just finished reading your series for a fourth time and I need more!

WinkTabby said...

I'm a bit late to the party, but vow to catch up since I'm completely delighted to be reading of a new character and his adventures in the Half-Continent! I'm already intrigued and excited to learn more about Economous' past and what's made him into the sort of fellow who enjoys the feel of threwd and sketching frolicking bunnies. Names of characters (yours especially) tend to conjure up mental images, whether of personality or physical appearance. Based on his name alone, I picture Economous (or perhaps his parents who named him) as somewhat cautious and reserved, not overly prone to rash actions or decisions, tugged alternately by convention and innovation, and rather hard on himself when he realizes he's done or said something regrettable. That's just my two cents, and what came to mind when I first read the name.

I really like how you describe the rabbits through Economous's eyes. To most of us in N America or Europe, rabbits are cute fuzzy critters who, at worst, nibble at our vegetable gardens. The introduction of rabbits to Australia in the 1700s caused a massive ecological disaster that we folks in the lands of harmless native bunnies probably just can't quite get our heads around. Pet bunnies are still illegal in Queensland, I think. When I first read about Moldwood Park in Factotum, I wondered how growing up in Australia influenced the way you portrayed the rabbits and even the Lapinduce. Does an Australian feel a bit threwdish or fearful at some gut level when he spots a warren of rabbits? Like an American or European might feel if he saw a group of skunks crossing the road? Anyway, I love the rabbits in your story. And I learned a new word: leveret. The whole park where Economous is sketching feels so vivid and real. You're great at the sensory details!

Unknown said...

Again! Your choice to share this with us is much appreciated. I look forward to reading as much as you are willing to divulge.

Unknown said...

Literally just finished Factotum earlier this evening and I am RIDICULOUSLY glad I found this in my online search for new content on the Half Continent. I can't wait read the rest of what you have posted of this. Keep up the amazing work! :)

Unknown said...

I do agree this is a good first draft but, I feel the way you introduced Economous was a little iffy, everything else would be perfect with a little tweaking.

港人明析 said...

Wow, you can publish a new book! Can I repost it in the fans page?

Unknown said...

Oh wow. Imagine my joy when I checked up on DM Cornish to see what the talented bloke had been up to, and discovered not only this new story, but also an as yet unread book (immediately purchased on our Kindle) - Tales from the Half Continent. Oh joy! Now I have a something to drag myself away from lunchtimes consumed with work, and instead discover once again the wonder and strangeness of the Half Continent.

Mr Cornish, I salute you (and your growing family)!

Thank you for this gift from your imagination.

Ian Lewis

Unknown said...

Back again restarting my lunch time reading appointment with The Adventures of Mr Musgrove. Having read MBT:Factotum, my nerves tingled once again at the thought of what lies in the Moldwood. I also wondered, speculatively, at what other Urchin Lords exist out there in the wide world... Terrifying to speculate about some of them, and their primeval might... The Duke of Lions perhaps...