Friday, October 21, 2011

The Birth of Confound It.

I have not abandoned my blog. Forgive my absence for so long. I have wanted to post a lot of things here over the last month or more but I have been very busy. I have just completed writing my latest novel titled, Confound It.

I don't know how the energy for other writers begins. I wish I did know. For myself I can tell you that it is like an avalanche. It is as though the text for my work is all built up inside of me and then on some invisible or unexplainable cue it begins to tumble out. It doesn't matter what else I am doing at the time. When that starts I have no choice, I have to write it down.

During the time that I was completing my last blog entry on affliction I began to hear the opening lines to my latest novel. They were words that had been spoken to me by my neighbor and good friend's grandmother. She heard those "things" fly over her house at night and I had used that recollection as part of My Story, which is contained in my previous novel, The Interstellar Incident.

And from those few words the rest of my new novel fell into place. Every morning when I woke, I would hear the few pages that I had to write down on that particular day. Sometimes they didn't seem to fit what I had already done and, yes, from time to time I rejected what I wrote, editing it out to be replaced by something more appropriate.

The story line is interwoven but it would be inaccurate of me to suggest I saw that complicated web before it was written. Maybe on some higher level, unconsciously, inside of my mind I did see it, but it was certainly not a conscious consideration I can tell you that. Bit by bit little pieces of what I had created began to dovetail with others things and all at once it was like an "ah ha" moment for me.

Imagine, I am seemingly creating it but I am also saying to myself, "I see how that works." It's my manuscript but I didn't conceive it at all like that in the beginning.

Have you ever assembled a large, complicated jigsaw puzzle? Little pieces of oddly shaped cardboard splashed with color don't in and of themselves mean much of anything at first. But as they slowly dovetail together the image begins to emerge. All at once the disarray and confusion forms into a definitive shape. A picture emerges. An introspective thought takes form.

That is how it is. I don't sit down with the whole concept all planned out in my mind. I sit down with a vague idea and a few words floating around inside of my head. From there pieces of the puzzle start to fall down onto the page. Finally, after some hard pushes and edits, the picture comes to light.

Two memories come to my mind as I share this experience with you. The first is connected to a motion picture. The second to something I wrote a long time ago.

My spouse likes to tease me about my limited association with various films. I know that throughout the history of the industry many classic and wonderful films have been created. But I also admit I have not seen many of them.

I do watch some dramatic cinema but my preference is for lighthearted comedy. And within my library of favorites I have a handful of films that I particularly like and which I quote far too often.

My spouse has often laughed and said, "Wait, is that from..." and then he rattles off the various titles that I have watched so many times that I know almost all of the lines from them by heart.

One of these films was a particular delight for me when I discovered it. The Horses Mouth dates from 1958 and stars Alec Guinness as Gulley Jimson, an eccentric, impressionistic artist.

The story of Mr. Jimson really culminates when he fully trashes an upscale apartment in his struggle to paint a picture on one of the walls. He titled his work, "The Rising of Lazarus." It is a huge impressionistic work that shows the soles of many different feet rising up out of the depths of death. I loved the unspoken play on the words, "sole," and "soul," and I like that picture he painted a lot. I think the set designers and artist should have marketed that picture. I would buy a copy.

In the film Jimson has toiled for many days and nights on his work until it is finally competed. He then asks for a critique of his work from an associate, a sculpture who tells him, "Too many feet! They're gonna lock you up someday Jimson. Too many feet." I cannot begin to tell you how many times when I am working I have thought to myself, "Too many feet!"

The second memory I think of is a short story I wrote many years ago when all I owned was an old, electric Olympia typewriter. I was recovering from a minor surgery on my leg and the doctor told me to stay down during that recovery period. Down for me did not count firing up that old machine to write a short story.

As the words flew onto the page and the thoughts began to converge in my mind, the image of a young, homeless hippie kid began to form. Soon he met an old homeless gypsy lady and all kinds of wonderful things began to happen for them.

That old woman was endowed with a special kind of magic and he couldn't believe some of the incredible things she did. When his old car ran out of gas she simply smiled and waved her hands over the hood. As she did the fuel gauge began to move up right before his eyes and soon the tank was full again.

It wasn't until some twenty years after I had written that story that I realized I was that hippie kid. The old woman I had written about I didn't even know at that point in my life. I wouldn't meet her for another 4 or 5 years. She was Helen Gilman about whom we wrote the book, Helen: A Psychic Gift.

Helen did introduce magic into my life and in a way she did fill up my empty tank. After meeting her I once again got excited about writing and I once again began to believe it was possible to write and publish books. Without Helen none of that would have happened. She smiled, waved her arms and magic happened.

The hippie kid in that old short story I produced so many years ago was an introspective look at myself, perhaps from a spiritual perspective. I can only wonder what within the manuscript I have just produced is also an introspective but privileged view of the future and the past all woven together? Which one of the alien characters I have spoken about is standing in for a real person? Outside of my intended design who will emerge as an obvious portrayal of someone in my life or close circle of friends?

There is a psychic phenomena called automatic writing which is often dismissed as pure fantasy by many skeptics. The writer supposedly connects to some spiritual entity, most commonly someone who has died, and then writes what that person tells them.

I write from an inner voice. I don't know who that voice belongs to. Is it my subconscious? Is it from another space and time? I don't know. I only know that I am no longer surprised when things I wrote long ago seem to take on an uncanny association with things that had not yet come to be in my life when I wrote about them.

I am very happy with my new manuscript. Perhaps in a few months after it has been published, I won't feel that way anymore. Maybe I too will be crying to myself, "Too many feet. They're gonna lock you up someday TJ. Too many feet I tell you."

I hope to begin formal publication of my latest work in January or February 2012. At that time we hope to also release another printing of Helen: A Psychic Gift. Exciting things are happening at Brownsville Publishing and we will continue to push forward into the future as long as we are able to do that.

I am also taking into consideration a suggestion to offer vanity publishing services via our publishing company. I think I can offer a competitive alternative to others who may have written something that they would like to see published but who do not have the methods at their disposal of doing that.

There is a lot of work to do before I can offer that service with everything from cover art, to liability and commission dispersal to consider. But who knows, maybe that manuscript about your grandmother's trek to Poughkeepsie on a skateboard really would sell a million copies if only you could figure out a way to get it out there. Maybe Brownsville Publishing Company can help.