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Fixing "Songs from a Different Shore" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Fixing "Songs from a Different Shore"

The poem "Songs from a Different Shore" needs work.

First, I goofed on the ballet.  I looked up songs to be recorded in the music box, including historic ballets, but forgot to check the exact premier date.  "The Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies" came out too late, in 1892, as my_partner_doug pointed out.  One of the ground rules for writing alternate history is that if you change something on purpose, you need to understand what you're doing and preferably why, and hint or declare it so readers will recognize it as a deliberate shift.  If you forget to look something up and get the date wrong, that's just a mistake (although sometimes when you ask yourself, "When would this have happened in my timeline?" you will discover that it was  different...).  In case you were wondering, The Steamsmith starts in 1837, not long after the coronation of Queen Victoria: right at the beginning of the Victorian period.

So, I tracked down a replacement song, "The Sylphide Calls the Sylphs."  This led me through articles on the history of ballet, then a Wikipedia article about La Sylphide, and finally a Ballet Bag article with a track list.  I've made that change.

Then I noticed the title.  In the original file, and in the body of the post, it's "Songs from a Distant Shore."  But when I typed it into the title of the post, I wrote "Songs from a Different Shore."  Now consider the final line of the poem, which is "singing the songs from a different shore."  Ideally, the title and the final line should match.  The words "distant" and "different" have subtly different connotations.  Which do you prefer, and why?

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4 comments or Leave a comment
siege From: siege Date: February 28th, 2012 12:56 am (UTC) (Link)
"Distant" to me implies both longing and adventure. One sails to a distant shore, to hear the songs of another land, and perform miracles of adventure thereon.

"Different" suggests the shore is maybe not even that distant. But when one goes to a different shore, it is alien in many ways, even if there are many similarities. There are songs, and there are dancers who dance, but they are not the songs and dances and dancers one might know from home.

I like "different" over "distant". France and Spain have different shores than Britain, and though they are only hours from each other by sailing ship, the cultures there are not the same. It is only proximity and mutual conflict that has allowed them to mix. In this way, the shore of Maryam's mother's home, so very distant, is something she tries to bring closer -- and teach the peoples around her. Different, but not so far after all.
tuftears From: tuftears Date: February 28th, 2012 12:57 am (UTC) (Link)
Just in terms of melody, I like 'Distant Shore' more than 'Different Shore'. The '-fer' syllable seems tongue-tripping.
catsittingstill From: catsittingstill Date: February 28th, 2012 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
For me distant implies physical distance. While different implies...well, this is science fiction / fantasy, so I think of a shore on a different plane--perhaps a fairyland shore that overlays the physical shore but to pass, or even see, from one to the other you have to know the trick of it.

Even so, title-wise I prefer "distant shore" perhaps because it's a combination I see more often.
marina_bonomi From: marina_bonomi Date: February 28th, 2012 01:07 pm (UTC) (Link)
"Different Shore" feels just perfect to me.
'Distant' is either far away or 'felt' distant, disconnected, separated from oneself, Africa is 'different' to Maryam since she doesn't know it first hand, she may have misconceptions about it, doubts or curiosities but Africa isn't 'distant' to her, she carries it within herself and it's so near she wants to have what she can *with* her in the music box.
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