Xena receives some unexpected news
In the second last season of Xena Warrior Princess, we have come to the climax of the overall arc of the story.
Up to this point, Xena has gone from being a former bloodthirsty warrior, newly repentant and wracked with self-loathing, to a devoted friend and fighter for good and justice, to a self-assured paladin following the righteous spiritual path known as the Way of the Warrior.
Meanwhile, Xena’s best friend and sidekick, Gabrielle, has gone from a plucky, idealistic peasant girl, to an unwitting Amazon princess and novice fighter, to an adherent of the nonviolent spiritual path known as the Way of Love, to an eventual apostate of that path in favour of becoming a warrior – no longer a sidekick – in her own right.
There was an unsuspecting evolution that led to me reading a work of male/male original slash fiction.
It started when an online friend of mine recommended a book to me through Goodreads: Uprooted – a beautifully written, dark fantasy fairytale by Naomi Novik.
My friend I discussed this book extensively via Goodreads as I read it, and when I finished, I suggested we next read the same book simultaneously so we could discuss our reactions to it in real time.
Xena and Gabrielle are following opposite spiritual paths
Season 4 of Xena Warrior Princess was one marked by both growth and death.
Part of that growth was external. By season 4, the show had gained widespread popularity and started tell stories that demonstrated this. The sets were more complex, the costumes more elaborate.
The Xenaverse itself expanded: moving beyond just Ancient Greece and the gods and heroes of Greek mythology, Xena and Gabrielle travel to an entirely different country and have encounters with the gods of a different culture.
As far as months go, I can’t say I care much for February.
This isn’t for the reason most might expect. It’s not the weather. For most of Canada, February is dark, cheerless, and frigid – the furthest thing from the festive winter wonderland of a couple months prior.
I experienced 30 straight years of that. But now, living on the west coast in Vancouver, February days are noticeably longer, the temperatures rest well above zero (some winters, it never even goes below freezing), and although it rains for days and weeks on end, at least you don’t have to shovel.
My first draft chapters, bottom to top, colour coded by their revision needs
It was like grading the world’s longest midterm paper.
Coming in at 402 pages and with all but the last two chapters having been written some ten years ago, I really had no idea what I was in for when, upon completing my first novel ever (technically my first trilogy, but I count it as one completed story), the time came to read through the entire first draft.
The age of the thing alone terrified me, for how well could a ten-year-old story possibly hold up? I already knew going in that I’d have a fair amount of rewriting ahead of me, but the question was how much?
Will the real Warrior Princess please step forward?
I originally started my replay of the seasons of Xena Warrior Princess to help me in re-conceiving an old, shelved novel of mine that I want to rewrite set in Ancient Greece.
Of course, I recognize that what will help me most in this endeavour is a thorough study of actual Ancient Greek history since Xena, although a rollicking good time to watch, is historical-ish at best – a work of historical fantasy that’s at times quite heavy on the fantasy, straining the linearity of the historical timeline to the limit.
(This season alone, Xena has dealings with legendary Celtic queen Boudicca, with Egyptian queen Cleopatra, in ancient China, and against the Persian army on their way to the Hot Gates at Thermopylae.)
If I were to equate the current stage of my writer’s journey with that of the classic Hero’s Journey, I’d now find myself at stage sometimes referred to as “The Belly of the Whale”.
Which, in my opinion, is perhaps the most perilous of all the stages – even more so than the main confrontation of the story’s climax – for at this stage, the hero still doesn’t have a complete sense of what s/he is up against; a true, Rumsfeldian “unknown unknown”.
That is to say, I’m getting ready to revise my first completed novel.