From Casanova to Cleo

Well, this is frustrating, but it does happen when you write a book. Sometimes you go down one path in your research before discovering that it’s a dead end.

Then you have a choice: You can somehow finagle it into your book and hope that it works. Journalists do that a lot, because they don’t like admitting (to themselves) that they wasted time searching in the wrong place.

Or you cut your losses, say ‘Oh well’, and keep searching for the perfect and sublime.

That’s what I just decided to do, after much agonizing. As you know from several previous posts, I was reading into the life of Casanova as one of my characters for a particular chapter. He led a fascinating life, but it just doesn’t work in my specific context, at least not perfectly.

I considered replacing him with Mata Hari. (In general, I want more female lives in the book.) Also not a perfect fit.

Now I’m onto Cleopatra.

Con: She’s an “ancient”, as are the protagonists in the book (Hannibal, Fabius and Scipio). So there may be too much of that.

Pro: People love her, she’s fascinating, she’s female, and…. she fits!!!

If you’re trying to figure out what these people have in common and why I need one of them in my book, I’ve dropped a veiled hint here. Feel free to guess.


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6 thoughts on “From Casanova to Cleo

  1. Your comment that you wanted more female lives in your book reminded me of a video I watched of JK Rowling’s quite recent commencement speech at Harvard, in which she dwelled in part on how she had benefitted from failure. She built a platform on the rock bottom she had descended to, and the rest is history.

    If you haven’t included JK Rowling in your proposed book, you may find the video link below of interest.

  2. I applaud you for being willing to start over.

    I revisited your veiled hint and saw my lame comments. (1) Today, I think I understand better what you’re trying to do. (2) I started to make my own list of women in history. (3) Being largely ignorant of history, my list is just a list, so I started Googling. (4) I’ve reduced my list to Joan of Arc and Catherine the Great. Not Perfect. I ranged as far as Pocahontas, Dorothy Parker, Marilyn Monroe, Mary Queen of Scots, Cinderella, Glinda the Good Witch. (5) I keep looking at our cats for answers – they could not care less.

  3. That’s a great list, Mr Crotchety. You too have “got it” in the big sense.
    Joan of Arc, Catherine the Great and Marilyn Monroe all feature (as do Cleo and Casanova) in a book by Robert Greene about seduction that I’ll review shortly for you. And that, ahem, is what we’re talking about in this part of the chapter. (Seduction sort of is war. You can win or lose at it. ;)) Well, I wasn’t going to give it away, but hey….

  4. That reminds me of some of the research I was doing for my thesis. I had spent hours (perhaps more like days) going through some Arabic articles on Facebook and in the end only had marginally useful material. But I couldn’t bring myself to cut it out.

    You are a more disciplined writer than me, that’s for certain!

  5. I know the feeling, Jonathan. There is, for writers, an inverse correlation between efficiency (not letting work go to waste) and splendor. You keep your job with the first. You go for the Pulitzer with the second… šŸ˜‰

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