A couple of nights ago I was paid one of the highest compliments I’ve ever received in my life. Unsolicited and unbidden my friend, Tricia, sent me an email to inform me that a story stub I’d given her to read made an impression on her. She went on to say that she kept thinking about the story, and that she was sad that there wasn’t, as of yet, more for her to read.
I’ve been writing, on and off, for sometime… since I was in my early teens. Of course, most of the time, I’d never share my writing with others… for the most part, that’s still the case. I shared my writing back in my poetry club days and during the comic book writing days… but then I just lapsed… first to not writing at all, and then to writing but not sharing. A few years ago I started writing an Urban Fantasy novel just to the give the subgenre a try. I’d read Jim Butcher and Kim Harrison, and I liked their blend of Fantasy, Noir, and wry humor.
That novel became the first I’ve ever completed, and the first I’ve ever shared. I recruited three test readers: Mike, my brother; and Dolores, my “sister from another mister” — I mean, they were natural choices: they’re my life-bullshit filters. I also recruited Tricia, a librarian at the library where I work and a good friend. To me she was a perfect and important choice as representative of an omnivorous reader. Mike and Dolores are both more particular in their reading tastes and they serve more no-holds-barred roles in my test reading circle. Dolores, in particular, will roll me all over the mat and gleefully twist my arm if she deems it necessary… figuratively, of course… although she’s pretty strong and ornery.
Tricia is far more gentle, and far more immersed in genre reading. Tricia is the “control” in the tripartite set of outsider eyes to whom I show my works in progress. Dolores is the “yoke” and Mike is the “engineer.” This dynamic worked well for the first novel which, now in retrospect, was really more of an experiment than an actual attempt at a novel… but it’s simultaneously the first and only novel I’ve ever finished… ever. My NaNoWriMo stories are “finished” in the sense of the parameters of the challenge rules, but they all still need fine tuning, refinement, editing, rewriting. The core of the story is done in those… for the most part. They’re “stories in the raw…” that’s probably the best description of those…
The first noveling experiment was a challenge to me… from me to myself. It was as much a test run as it was a fun story to tell. My participation in NaNoWriMo is as much a challenge from me to myself… and it’s terrible, painful fun… rather like marathon running or mountain climbing. Tricia took it to another level though…
I’ve been floundering because of the health bullshit… Really, it ought not occupy as much of my brain space as it does… and it’s beginning to taper off… but the heap in my brain is volatile and likely to ignite due to the smallest spark. The worst part: it’s interfering with my creativity. Worse still: I’m allowing it to interfere with my creativity. The more I read on the topics of health, nutrition, and diet the more confused I get and the more conflicting information I find. And I know that no one is right — NO-FUCKING-ONE — I know this shit… but I can’t pry my eyes away from the bloody, flaming train wreck because that’s me in the wreckage… me, and millions of others.
I’m pissed and tired of being lied to… of being taken advantage of by fear tactics, spurious advice, quackery, and falsehoods in the name of profiteering. I’m angry at myself for allowing myself to be scammed and for not acting sooner… I knew where I was headed. I knew my inactivity and shit diet were fucking me up. Dr. Fucknutz from San Antonio Urology (I can’t, for the life of me, remember that dude’s name…) forewarned me. He patted my belly and he told me where I was headed, and I listened to him… but, like every other dumb ass, I fell off the wagon because I’m stupid. I knew I was going in the wrong direction and ignored it for no good reason. I’m a tightly wound ball of anxiety because of it all… and then here comes Tricia.
Her statement to me wasn’t so much flattering — at least I don’t feel like I should take it as flattery — as much as it was a call and reminder to do something that I enjoy doing… something that makes me happy… something that, to me, is a lot of fun. My friend wants me to tell her a story. She likes the stories I tell and she wants me to tell her a story, and that’s more powerful than the “21st Century dread” I’m feeling. You know, that fear we all feel: that everything is getting to big, too fast, too impersonal, too synthetic, too modified, too manipulated, too Orwellian, too Dickian… That dread is the forge from which my dietary anxieties are poured out and tempered.
Tricia sent me a clear signal; a loud, booming signal. Tricia shot straight at the core and cut through all the noise buzzing, constantly buzzing, in my brain as of late. My friend wants me to tell her a story, and I feel I ought to do it because it’s something I truly love to do… something I need to do… for Tricia… for me… for my wife and my kids, and my friends, and my family… I owe it to all of them, as much as I owe it to myself, to do that thing that I enjoy doing so much… telling stories.
Thank you, all…