Monday, July 12, 2010

Pitch Pipe

I haven't blogged in a long time - as I'm sure you have noticed. I find that the times I set out to 'blog,' as opposed to other forms of personal expression, are not as frequent as times I set out to, say, sing ridiculous parody words over the theme to M*A*S*H. I spend much of my working time creating things, almost all of my playing time consuming others - and when I am in a productive rather than consumptive mood, my energies are seldom pulled in the 'directly speak about actual life' direction that best fits the blog.

In my life, I have come to a few major turning points since the last post. On a literary level, I have finished reading the Dark Tower series, which nearly killed me. It is a duplicitous fact indeed that the the works of Mr. King have both inspired me to pursue writing and left me feeling like no lifetime of effort could ever uncover accomplishments one-billionth as meaningful.

To allow myself, however, to become daunted at the thought of not having yet created the most substantial and moving work of art in all of the long existence of human kind would be incredibly childish and, above all, pointless. The great wind of human spirit that has blown out of those pages and sent me sailing around the seas of infinity has surely given me more positive of an outlook - though it dwarfs me, I revel in my apparent smallness in the face of the totality of the universe. (Yes, that's basically my book review of the Dark Tower series, and I expect to see 'I revel in my apparent smallness in the face of the totality of the universe!' printed on the front cover of future editions.)

I have continued working on my collection of stories to the point where the word count has eclipsed the length of my last complete work, 'Under the Wall.' This has been a good thing for me - I am getting close to the end of composition, and will turn my attention to rewriting. I have one completely finished story out of them all, and have been submitting it to a couple local lit. journals. The story, 'Birds on Glass,' is set in downtown Minneapolis, where I work - and it could probably best be described as a 'psychological thriller.' I wanted to give some local publications the first chance with it, since it is set here.

There are, at least, no cats in the story.

I am not entirely sure this is the most representative story to be sending out - yet I have done so. I've had one local rejection and one from a literary agent. The local lit. journal only prints two issues a year, with three stories in each, so I am not offended. My fiance liked the story very much, at least...

Which leads me to another drastic change that has happened in the last month - I have become engaged. That makes it sound like it just sort of happened to me - the truth is I actively sought this engagement out!

So, in this phase of life, with only three Stephen King books left to read for the first time, a wedding coming up in just under eleven months time, and in the last stages of my new book, I find myself looking back at all that I have done and ahead to all I have yet to do - and feeling that the current phase of my life is perhaps much, much more transitional than I ever would have thought a year ago.

Can you see why I don't write these that often? HEADLINE: Unknown Fellow Feels Life Perhaps May Be Different, In Some Abstract Way, Than It Might Have Been

In a flurry of fear prompted by realizing I was very near the end of the entire Stephen King bibliography, I threw myself into reading other works. From last Tuesday to today I have read 11 books. I know what is coming, though, and I can't hide for long. Soon I shall get to know Lisey, and hear her story - and then I will have to explore Duma Key before being trapped 'Under the Dome,' a locale I have held as my reading goal for almost a year.

The things I have read lately have been mostly short, but enlightening. 'The Great God Pan,' for example - very disturbing! I am really enjoying the Victorian era horror stories, for the way they made things sound so awful because it wasn't polite to talk about them.

A story of that era would have something like: "My Gods, man! No sane fellow could stare upon that abomination without being driven mad in an instant! That woman did things that should cause churches to explode should the words be uttered in their proximity! My mind reels and boils in my head to think of the terrors I saw!"

Modern Translation: "The dude cut her arm! The girl performed oral sex on a man. I saw a guy get hit on the back of the head and die."

One of the earliest pleasures I took in writing was squeezing the Victorian era outrage into out-of-context situations. 'My good sir, I can hardly fail to wonder why you have permitted your obsequious fawnings to become so predominately attuned to her ladyship's untoward advances.' Should I have been playing football instead of thinking things like that were funny? You be the judge.

In any event, I have really enjoyed the things I have read this last week but that doesn't change what has to happen - I feel like reading the last three unread Stephen King books is going to be like taking Old Yeller out back to the shed - and I don't know why this should be.

Here's a little parable that might help you understand (or help me): In 1999 I randomly came across the music of a band that went on to be my favorite band, Depeche Mode. About 8 years later I realized that I was no longer a 'new' Depeche Mode fan, that the coming of their music and art in my life and the transformation it made had already happened - the 'freshness' of the discovery had worn off. I don't like their music any less - in fact I might like it more as time wore on - but something of the 'sparkle' and the 'magic' of the feeling was gone forever. That feeling that you just stumbled onto a lucky break in finding your favorite book or song or painting and the feeling of the light being suddenly switched on in the dark attic of your heart fades - but the thing to remember is that 'Hey, now you at least know how to get around in your attic without bumping into stuff and breaking it.'

The lit passageways of our mind, revealed to us by the art we experience, may seem less exciting or fresh once we come to take that new light for granted and the ways of those hallways become fixed in our minds - but there is never anything less magical about the new worlds and vistas we have come out into, just because we forgot the majesty of our first voyage.

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