Frankie does not understand. It is supposed to be a writing day. There’s a deadline for a contest and everything. The writer is acting strangely. It happens. We are talking a writer, but this is beyond a pug’s comprehension. The writer has turned on the television and is watching people with pretty accents talk about men in shorts kicking balls into nets like it is the most riveting stuff ever. Even more important than belly rubs and walks in the park.
Liverpool is playing Chelsea today. The writer explains. She’s been a fan since 1986, back when she was in school in the UK. There have been lots of underwhelming years in the interim. Many groans which Frankie understands nothing about. Early mornings in tears, but since this Jurgen Klopp fellow has shown up, Liverpool is starting to look like the team it was when the writer first became aware of them. At a Chelsea vs Liverpool match back in her university days after a raucous breakup with a Man U fan. So she cheered for Liverpool to annoy her ex, but as she watched them play, well, it was magic. It fueled the love of a game few played back in the states, one she played better than most of the boys back home. The writer played into her university years, and later coached in the US, sharing her love of the game with a new generation, all the way until her daughter was eleven years old. Her daughter feels much like the pug. This game too much distracts the writer.
Now Liverpool is rocking the table. But so is Chelsea. The writer is all nervous, like maybe there’s a cat around or something. Frankie checks. No cat but the writer is pacing like, you know, maybe there’s a mountain lion hanging out on the ceiling.
Ok, a pug can do nothing about the nervous writer. Peace will resume only after the appropriate match has been played. Frankie is going to take a nap. Then she will remind the writer, there’s a deadline. A contest to enter. A novel to finish. Whether Liverpool wins or not. Frankie hopes her diet is not displaced by a Liverpool loss. Now the writer glares at the pug. This is a hopeless situation. You’d think the writer was in love. Like in the real world in love with an enter football team. It’s pathetic.
UPDATE: Liverpool 1 Chelsea 1 – Liverpool is 2 on the table behind Man City by Goal Difference. Writer is hyper-ventilating. Frankie is napping. Writing will re-commence until next week’s match against Man City.
Reveal: The final reveal is the opening Paradise Lost by John Milton from Books & Beginnings XXIII. How this book shaped me and filled me with despair. It told of the fall of man, how Lucifer lead a rebellion in Heaven and sacrificed paradise, screwing everything up for humanity in the process. It filled me with rage because there is no denying my own fallen nature and that of the creatures I share this world with. However, there is that persistent and compelling light inside me that says “it doesn’t have to be like this.”
I could look at the world through the prism of both destruction and creation and see both far ends of the spectrum. I feel certain humanity can make a reality of anything they can imagine. How frightening and glorious is that is. And that is where my writing comes from. A quest to regain paradise. All our infinite power of creation free from its corruption.
This concludes Books & Beginnings. October will involve a simpler theme as I close in on hitting the query trenches with my latest work. I think it will be Cups of Coffee. That is a big driver of my productivity. Thank you for tagging along. Until the next.
Reveal: The opening lines to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. come in at Books & Beginnings XXII.
My daughter was quite young when I discovered these books. It was right as the third book was coming out that my mother told me of their existence. I thought my kid would enjoy them so I purchased the first book. We read it together, missing many a bedtime. My daughter insisting she get to read out loud every other chapter. The books consumed our discussions to and from school each day. Magic exploded into our lives. These books brought such joy to the next years which took my daughter to high school. And those years would have been so lean and so desperate without them. So much of my memories of raising my daughter will forever be attached to the magic J.K. Rowling wove with nothing but her words. That is the wonder of fiction. Yes, magic truly exists. If you read, you can never deny its existence again.
Up Next: I read this in university, first as an undergraduate and then in my graduate studies. I did not like this book. I despised it by the second dissection of every chapter and verse. Despite that, I doubt any one work of literature inspired my writing more. That is why this exercise in books and beginnings will conclude with this dreadful tome.
Of man’s first disobedience and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world and all our woe
Reveal: The opening for No Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthy in Books & Beginnings XXI.
First, not all people have the stomach for Cormac McCarthy when he goes full dark. The narration in this book roped me in like nothing. I felt absolutely entwined in this lawman’s last case. I struggled with his sense of justice. This is a powerful read. The movie takes a bit of the edge off its intensity. Your imagination caught in the reading of words can do so much more damage than a moving picture. This book is stunning. I put Cormac McCarthy on the same level as literary greats like Faulkner, Hemingway, and Capote. Wow.
Up Next: There may be about four people on the planet that have not read this next one. I thought of not including it for that reason. Only, these books made the unendurable years of quiet desperation, raising a daughter on my own, bearable and magical. A debt I can never repay.
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
Reveal: Assassin’s Apprentice, Book One of the Farseer Trilogy by Robin Hobb comes in at Books & Beginnings XX. Robin Hobbs is my favorite author bar none. Although many rub elbows with her, I have not found another that can spin such a tale with her artistry. I don’t quite remember when I discovered these books. I put it at the end of the nineties but it might have been later.
I remember being a little skeptical due to the 1st person narrative and reviews comparing Assassin’s Apprentice to various Arthurian offerings. Five pages in and I was hooked. Hobb pulls off the epic 1st person effortlessly. Her characters are so rich, so dynamic that the reader can’t help but believe they are reading something historical although this is clearly another world.
The Farseer Trilogy follows the adventures of a royal bastard called Fitz which in this context is tantamount to simply calling the narrator, bastard. Fitz is trained as an assassin for his grandfather, the king after his own father abdicates due to the scandal of having made a bastard son.
Assassin’s Apprentice begins a fourteen book series. There are nine Fitz and the Fool books which are interspersed with five Rain Wilds Chronicles books. All fourteen volumes intersect brilliantly and bring to life a remarkable world. The Fool of these books is without a doubt one of my favorite characters of all time, so enigmatic, so beautifully done. It made me sad when last summer these adventures came to an end. I can’t wait to see if Robin Hobb revisits this world. She is the best.
Up Next: There is a darkness in me, in all of us I suspect, that sometimes requires an outlet so that it remains leashed. This author painfully knocks on the ugliest bits of human darkness in a way that no one else can. His voice is haunting. The next book devastated me, again reinforcing the power of art and words. Any of you recognize this one? Any familiar with this author will easily guess from this first two phrases from this novel.
I sent one boy to the gaschamber at Huntsville. One and only one.
Writing Days start out normal for Frankie. She wakes up the writer well before the alarm. She gets her walk -it’s still dark. Breakfast is served. All is well in the morning. Only, Frankie knows the writer will leave her for a long time. She is not certain where the human goes, but she does not like it. Even though her walker that comes at lunch is really nice.
But on writing day, things are different. The writer doesn’t put on pants and go to work. She fires up her computer, turns on soft music, cuddles up Frankie, and stays home to write. Frankie can nap easy. This is wonderful. If only every day was writing day the way every night is writing night.
Just don’t tell the pug that it is also take the pug to the vet for shots day. Life is like that – take the sour with the sweet.
Reveal: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett comes in at Books & Beginnings XIX. This is a historical fiction with a great deal of magical realism that revolves around the building of Canterbury Cathedral during an extended period of political unrest in Britain. Yes, I realize. All periods are of unrest where those isles are concerned. It lends great character to the place.
No power tools, no bulldozers, no modern instruments and yet a small group of common men built a monument that still stands in defiance of man’s fallen nature. This is a tale of such great character, intrigue, and brilliance, I can’t even find the words.
Next Up: So my favorite book combined a bunch of passions. I am an anglophile. I adore history. I am in awe of man’s achievements in the face of man’s failings. Great character. Great stakes. Fantastical accomplishments. Follett brought a dark period to life and redefined the nature of time for me. It is a remarkable book.
However, my favorite genre is fantasy, remains fantasy. And in the mid to late 1990s, I discovered a writer who has become my favorite author of all time, surpassing even the canon greats of Tolkien and Lewis. There are others that I have deep reverence for but this author brought fantasy into reality. I could picture myself having a beer with her characters. She put flesh on words. And no one, no one at all, does dragons better than this woman.
My pen falters, then falls from my knuckly grip, leaving a worm’s trail of ink across Fedwren’s paper. I have spoiled another leaf of the fine stuff in what I suspect is a futile endeavor.