The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Pauline Baynes, 1950.

I am haunted by doors.

I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a child and since then I have never entirely given up hope (even as a grown-up person) that  someday I will open a door and find another world on the other side.

Oddly enough, the first time I read that book, I felt the strangest sense of recognition, like I already knew the story.  I'm not saying I could predict the plot-- all those twists and turns were new to me.  I mean that I came upon the book and recognized it as an old friend that I happened to be meeting for the first time.

I did not read the Harry Potter series until after I graduated university.  I knew almost nothing about the books while I was growing up-- other than that they were wildly popular, and involved magic.

So when I opened Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, with the idea that I would finally see what all the fuss was about, and have a few days of entertaining reading.

Within the first few pages, the same sense of recognition come crashing down on me.  I knew this book.  I had always known this book.  It was my old friend, my friend that I had never met before.

All my life I’ve wanted to be the kid who gets to cross over into the magical kingdom. I devoured those books by C.S. Lewis and William Dunthorn, Ellen Wentworth, Susan Cooper, and Alan Garner. When I could get them from the library, I read them out of order as I found them, and then in order, and then reread them all again, many times over. Because even when I was a child I knew it wasn’t simply escape that lay on the far side of the borders of fairyland...There was a knowledge―an understanding hidden in the marrow of my bones that only I can access―telling me that by crossing over, I’d be coming home. That’s the reason I’ve yearned so desperately to experience the wonder, the mystery, the beauty of that world beyond the World As It Is. It’s because I know that somewhere across the border there’s a place for me. A place of safety and strength and learning, where I can become who I’m supposed to be. I’ve tried forever to be that person here, but whatever I manage to accomplish in the World As It Is only seems to be an echo of what I could be in that other place that lies hidden somewhere beyond the borders.
-Charles de Lint
Perhaps this is the reason why I write.  I must go on building doors for others, until my own door opens.

Illustration by Pauline Baynes from the 1978 HarperCollins edition of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lews.

Quote by Charles de Lint from chocolateinthelibrary.tumblr.com.

The Screenplay: Preparation 3

Today the book informs me that my screenplay will be 120 pages long.  Ok.  I can live with that.  Also according to the book, the following events MUST take place on the following pages:

Page 1: Immediately establish place, time, mood. Page 3: The question or idea that this story will explore. Page 10: What does the hero WANT? (Must relate to the question!) Page 30: Event happens that snatches the rug out from under hero. Page 45: Scene that begins hero's growth. Page 60: Hero must COMMIT. Page 75: ALL IS LOST. (Then...maybe it isn't.) Page 90: Beginning of the end. Page 120: Resolution.

I assume all screenplays do not rigidly follow this pattern, but let's break down The Prisoner of Azkaban to see if it fits this formula.  I don't have a copy of the Prisoner of Azkaban screenplay, so I'll go by events I remember from the movie:

Page 1: Harry's hiding under his sheets, secretly doing his Hogwarts homework. (Immediately establishes the conflict between the magic and the mundane.)

Page 3:  Harry is confronted by enormous dog.  Hears rumours of murderer Sirius Black. (Main question of this film: who is Sirius Black?)

Page 10:  Difficult to tell what Harry wants at this point, but after the Dementors, I think what he wants most is to conquer his fear (i.e. the Dementors).

Page 30:  GASP!  Sirius Black betrayed Harry's parents! (Talk about snatching the rug out from under someone...)

Page 45:  Harry decides he's going to kill Sirius, if he can find him.  Cuz a thirteen year-old wizard can totally take on a mad mass murderer. (This isn't exactly what I call character growth, but it's a new obsession for Harry.)

Page 60:  Sirius snatches Ron. (Harry's going to save him, or die trying!)

Page 75: Sirius has betrayed them!  Lupin has betrayed them!  No, Peter has betrayed them! (All is lost!/No it's not!/Yes, it is!)


Page 120: Harry is alone again, but not as alone as before. (Resolution. The main themes of Prisoner of Azkaban are courage vs. fear, truth vs. falsehood, who people are vs. who they seem to be.)

I'm not sure I like this method of breaking down a story.  It seems very stiff and formulaic.   But I'll go with it for now.  If I don't like the results the formula gives me, I can always go back and chuck it out the window.  (I prefer to think of them as guidelines rather than actual rules...)

Read Screenplay Preparation: Part 1, Part 2.

IMC Day 6

I painted. I painted a lot. I grabbed any faculty member who walked by in an attempt to stuff my brain full of any wisdom they could give me. Winter vs Spring, in progress:

Doug Gregory from Blizzard Entertainment gave a lecture on cutting the essentials of an image down to basic shapes and silhouettes. So I did a few thumbnail sketches of Harry Potter sitting in his cupboard under the stairs and asked Doug to look at them:

Doug told me to first make a list of the essential elements of the image, which are:

  • Harry
  • Broken toy soldier
  • Dangling lightbulb
  • Slanted ceiling (underside of staircase)

And then he drew some basic silhouettes:

Poor Harry!

Luna Lovegood Dancing

"She lingered in that charming little garden to say hello to the gnomes, such a glorious infestation!  How few wizards realize just how much we can learn from the wise little gnomes - or, to give them their correct name, the Gernumbli gardensi."

-Xenophilius Lovegood, from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

Luna Lovegood, dancing with the gnomes just before Bill and Fleur's wedding in The Deathly Hallows.  Lovely Luna!


Twice a week I've been going out to the Double L Ranch to ride and work with the horses, fulfilling my childhood obsession at last.  I was nutty about horses.   Passionately and soppily obsessed with them.  I had dreams of riding along trails in the woods, with a friend, galloping wildly with my hair streaming free-- you get the idea. I'm not galloping yet, but I cantered for the first time yesterday!  It was bliss.  (Jarring, thudding bliss because I'm still bouncing in the saddle, but bliss nonetheless.)

And five mares have been "great with foal," and two of them were about a month overdue.  I didn't think they could get any rounder...but finally the births have begun!

Meet Lucky Moon!  A new filly born this Sunday under a sliver of a waning moon.  She's a thoroughbred destined for the racetrack (if all goes well).  Lucky Moon isn't her offiicial name, of course.  But I like naming things, and she won't have a "real" name for months, or years.

I trailed after her mother all over the pasture, hoping that she'd let me close enough to touch the baby. 

II finally caught Mama, put a halter on her, and got to pet Lucky.  It's hard to pet a jumpy filly and take a picture at the same time!  She's very soft, and all knobby legs. 

The miracle of birth has a raw side to it.  As I came up to the pasture I smelled something like rotten peanut butter, and then saw what I thought was a dead squid lying in the grass (yeah, a dead squid in the middle of the woods?!).  I yelped.  Loudly.

Fortunately, Preston (the ranch owner) was there to reassure me that what I had taken for a dead squid was the afterbirth.  He buried it.


I added this to my list of reasons I don't think I was meant to be a veterinarian.  (Another childhood dream gone.  Alas.)

Meet James and Lupin!  They're yearling foals I've been training.  In this picture Lupin is posing very sweetly for the camera, while James kept jumping out of sight, just because.  Typical of him.  The two are best friends and have been together since birth.  Lupin is timid, but patient and affectionate.  James is brash, not afraid of anything (he'd like me to believe!) and stubborn. 

So I named them after Moony and Prongs.  Suits them. 

Check back next week for more photos of newborns!