Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Meeting Charlotte Corday

I've put this post off for awhile as I've worked on other things , but I thought today would be an appropriate time to start talking about my trip to Paris way back in March. Why, you ask? Because July 27th marks Charlotte Corday's birthday, and she was one of the biggest reasons I went to Paris in the first place.

A large part of my WIP, Through Charlotte's Eyes, surprise surprise, is about the famous assassin Charlotte Corday. No one could make much sense of why Corday thought killing journalist and politician Jean-Paul Marat would end the French Revolution - until her distant relative, Anne-Marie Gessner, tumbles into her life, becoming Charlotte and seeing life through the French revolutionary's eyes.
Well, that's the premise of my novel at least. I'd read a lot about Charlotte while at The University of Chicago. I saw pictures of her online and in books, but I'd never walked the streets where she walked, until I went to France. And lo and behold, I found her throughout the country!
First up, the Conciergerie, where 'convicts' were taken shortly before they met the guillotine. The building is now a museum all about the French Revolution. One room, in fact, listed all of the people whose last days were spent in the Conciergerie jail cells.
In the above picture, Charlotte's crime is listed as being a 'noble,' which she was and which was considered a crime, but that's not why she landed below the blade of the guillotine. The only thing I can think of is that this list of guillotine victims was updated in the early 1800s, a time in which the French still considered Charlotte's crime reprehensible because the people still idolized Marat. It wasn't until the latter-half of the 19th century that opinions about Charlotte's murder plot changed, with history books portraying it as a heroic and courageous act. Charlotte's claim in her final days - that she killed one man to save 100,000 - grew in acceptance over the years, and Charlotte, amazingly enough, did turn into a hero of sorts nearly a century later.
In fact, Charlotte Corday was among the most famous people to stay at the Conciergerie during the French Revolution, which is why it came as no surprise that her picture was prominently displayed in the museum. Many history books, in fact, claim she stayed in the same cell as Marie Antoinette, but one walk through the museum shows that was clearly not the case.
Rather, Charlotte would have stayed in a cell much like this one. (Granted, no weird looking mannequin would have been standing in the corner. But, you get the idea). She would have one small pallet to sleep on and a place to relieve herself, and that was it! On the other hand, Marie Antoinette's quarters were on display in the Conciergerie as well, and they were incredibly spacious, especially considering they were attached to a chapel, and they contained an actual bed. Charlotte had no such amenities. Then again, she wasn't a dethroned Queen.

The Conciergerie was just one place I found Charlotte. I'll continue to post about where I found her in the coming weeks. Hint on the next place: it involves chocolate!
In the meantime, happy birthday Charlotte!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

How You Know It’s Summertime

Something happens when the sun comes out in Chicago - I go outside more. I’m more social. My friends and family get married (fifth wedding of the year this coming weekend! Oh my!) I feel more inspired.

I’ve also been doing beta reads for some great authors. I’ve been swimming and running more (despite what I lament here), trying to get healthy and training for my first 5K ever... And did I mention I got engaged? Because I did. :)

So, with being outside and enjoying the weather and friends and family, I clearly haven’t been around my laptop as much. This isn’t to say I haven’t been writing. Despite my page-a-day calendar falling off at 6/8/10, I’ve been writing nearly every day.. (If you don’t count the weekends away - I’ve only been in town on weekends twice in the past, oh, 2 months?) I’m keeping up on Gather, hot dogs, and even my novel, to some extent. How do I, you ask? I stopped keeping track of word counts (it takes up time!) I’ve also been staying up late, a lot. That might be changing soon too though - because I gave up caffeine nearly three weeks ago now.

Oy vey! Just writing that makes me tired. But, you know what? Strangely enough, I’ve had more energy lately than I’ve had in awhile - with the exception of the 2:30pm tiredness striking without fail most days. Maybe because it’s summertime in the city? Because, if you haven’t noticed - I love Chicago when it’s warm out. Too bad it’s not like this all year round!

But maybe it also has something to do with being busy, too... I like being busy. It keeps me on my toes, helps me manage my time even more than I usually do.

How do you manage your time - especially when it's this awesomely nice outside?