Thursday, June 30, 2011

These Are My People?

Last weekend I attended a local sci-fi convention. We were able to catch a few interesting panels and hear a few of our favorite Texas authors give some depressing but clear insights into the genre & current publishing trends. The dark news and general emptiness of the convention dissolved most of my enthusiasm into a bare remembrance of being in college.

Repeatedly, panelists would remind attendees that we "among our people" and should be enjoying the chance to relax among others who would understand our quirks and carrying out the complex conversations missing from everyday interactions.

In fact, this particular convention is one of the least friendly and conversational places I attend. This year, the hotel didn't bother to put out chairs for conversation areas in the main halls and the attendance was already sparse (presumably another economic victim). I don't think one person said anything to me that wasn't trying to entice cash from me or was employed by the hotel.

These are my people? I am barely educated compared to the majority of the attendees and writers (who tend toward scientist/professor/grad student types) and found that I was becoming increasingly put off by the end of the weekend.

It was at this point that I realized that these were NOT my people. These were his people. I was finally over the daydream of being a writer, of being interested in fantasy or science fiction, or wanting to spend one more second taking notes on subjects that are no longer required.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Squeaking Drives Me Crazy

I’m rubbing the ashes from my fingers, or perhaps the dust of the shelf in front of me. Someone has designed a careless cover for this book but I bend the soft covers and think it might give me time.

Once upon a time, a singer in a white suit—Eddie Rabbit? Michael Jackson? Elvis?—sang a ballad that gave a fading prom its magic gateway; gave a wedding its dissolved proprieties; gave a story its backbone.

It was a sturdier backbone than elf bones. These are the soft fungus of the forest, bleached and eternal, creeping beneath the bones of men to live again, dissolving in sugar lumps on the lips of small children. Elf bones crept through the story like nerves, but the song held the story upright, a supple ballad of emotions that carried the essence of time and the force of life in the bend of a glissando.

When it was sung by the man in white, the vital incarnation gleamed around him, a blue nimbus of stage lights burning in the bright spotlight. The blue clung to the notes, the low ones soaking in the lighter fluid that floated his voice.

The story that used such a spine burned as well. The book hid a thousand snapshots of the people who read it, just beneath the text. Fairy tales crept through the memories, devouring life but linking a narrative and notion.

Critics roasted their opprobrium in the flames, watching the simple skeleton smile and dance beneath the words. Empty, they said. Wrong headed, they said.

But the story smiled. Whatever we have against showing our bones, against watching our veins jump, the story had no such self-consciousness and it burned them with the flame of a particular eternal now.

Eventually, someone was humming the song and thought of the story. It belonged to a parent and showed an odd reflection of the parent, a distortion—a person not yet a parent, neither aspect completely understandable apart from the other. Blue ballpoint in the margins. The flames cast strange images on the cave of the family. It burned the edges of the child’s imagination until the sugary elf bones melted into hard bright lollipops. The child feasted on them in quiet moments on the edge of crowds, always a child on those anonymous shores.

The story died down to embers. It was studied, and then acclaimed. People took possession of it. The singer died, and then the writer. A flame caught from a tribute special and branded the culture with symbolism that was taken into the academy and further studied.

The song was recorded again by a woman in a white suit, the distaff and the universal, and a book trailer was made. This I watched years later on the faceless recommendation of the web and felt something flicker in my memory. A foxfire remnant of bygone nows chased me into the mire of myself. Skeleton days shivered around me. Are the bones of the plot grinning, even now?

The song is the spine of the book. The text is the flesh of the story. It smiles at me, reaches one finger toward the tinder of my imagination.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Scary Smart

Writing? Ha! My backyard is a dust bowl, we've been hosting a temporary dog we've named Angel, and Varda is stress shedding dust puppies.

Angel is a scary smart border collie who is both friendly and probably smarter than the rest of us in the house. We've decided that Merlin would make an excellent Pinky to her Brain, so we're keeping everyone as separate as possible. Merlin already has perfected the art of leading Varda astray (and narcing her out when she takes the bait). If the three of them get together, it won't be a pack, it will be a gang. Possibly with the kind of skills that get made into shows on the USA network (the one with the "characters welcome" tagline).

They were three dogs in an average suburban house, but they had the skills to be so much more. Angel planned the operations, Merlin had both charm and sneakiness, and Varda was the muscle. No pet store, shelter, or counter was secure enough, until they were recruited by The Government for Various Patriotic Purposes. Coming this fall.

Hopefully, Angel's family will find us soon. Before, you know, The Government.