Posts tagged Neil Gaiman
I spend far too much time on trivialities in this blog, ignoring what it should truly be about. Words. Stories, creation and art – the ups and downs of the particular life behind my own stories. Some things matter more than others, and today, I have decided, is a very good day.
First, unrelated to any of the other topics involved, I went running for the first time in almost a year. I made it a mile and a half in the brand new Vivobarefoot Running shoes (more on those in another post). I came home, got the leash, and took Gizmo for a long cool walk, came home once again, fed the birds and closed their door so the rest of the family could continue sleeping…
Then, as I shook loose the final cobwebs, I opened up my Kindle Fire, turned on the Wi-Fi and began the download of the audiobook for Neil Gaiman’s newest – The Ocean at the End of the Lane. I knew nothing about this story. Well, that isn’t exactly true. I knew one thing. There are things you look forward to. There are movies coming out – concerts to see – television premiere’s – vacations. All of these things you hold inside and when things get rough, you turn to them and wonder about them a little, and forget the world.
For many years now, one of the things that has done this for me is the work of Neil Gaiman. It’s infectious, of course, and has spread somewhat to the rest of the family. I pre-ordered the book because I think Trish might want to read it, and that Katie most certainly will. (She loved Coraline and has The Graveyard Book and Fortunately, the Milk waiting on her Kindle). While I will sit and agonize over buying new books and paying bigger prices, I have cast this aside as unimportant in a very few cases, and this case – this new story waiting – has been a top-of-that-list case for some time now. I pre-ordered the audiobook the minute it came out, and purposefully timed the last book I listened to to end yesterday, so I’d be ready.
So, I ran a mile and a half. I opened up my computer browser and went to check on my own story (written with the very talented author Steven Savile who – as it turns out – is also my very good friend) – Hallowed Ground, which has been enjoying a two day free promotion and has given away a (to me) staggering 18,200 copies or so. Currently, our little tale is #6 of all the free books available for the Kindle. If the gurus are right, well, this will continue on into sales when the promotion ends. If not – just maybe – some of those 18,000 people are settling into their day – perhaps with the Whispersync for Voice audio that is only $1.99 with the free book – but more likely with a Kindle – and dropping through time to the city of Rookwood, where magic, and crow-men, and even Lilith herself awaits them. That is what I hope, because here’s the thing.
I do not want to write like Neil Gaiman, though I count him among the three or four working authors I most admire. I do not want to write like Neil – but I want to “be” like Neil. I want to be seen for what my heart tells me I am – a teller of stories. Some of them are good, and others, probably not so much, but they are mine. I want to write like me, and be like Neil Gaiman, and -right this very moment – I want to be back on the bench, by the pond, where I left the protagonist of his new book staring at a pond and remembering. I want to listen for Monster, padding through the grass. I wonder what happened to Lettie. I will say nothing more about this book until I reach the other side…
But so far, this is a wonderful day. Thanks Neil.
I’ve decided that, while I wait for the final bit of this project to come to pass and fall into place, that I’ll try and find where I was when it first began. I wrote a post in my Live Journal back in December of 2003. That was the day that I announced that the publisher of the upcoming collection, Lost & Found, had greenlighted the project and that we could begin work. It seems like a lifetime ago, but things are what they are. Everything has shifted around me, and so, I will go back to those early days and remember the work that I did – the stories I wrote, and why, and share it all again here…
Lost & Found will be a book of stories inspired by the kinetic art of Lisa Snellings. Lisa has inspired my writing more than once, including providing the original inspiration for the noveltte that became my novel Deep Blue. When I realized that I was not the only person she inspired, and that at least one other author had written a number of pieces brought to life through her images, I got the idea to invite that other author, and Lisa, to create a book with me. That book will be Lost & Found – and at this writing it is one half a story from completion – just waiting on my much more famous and incredibly harried collaborator to find some days / time to do it justice. Not going to dwell on that – going to remind everyone of my own part in this ongoing project.
Here is what I wrote back in 2003 about the story that would become “Square Magic,” and that is inspired by a photograph of one of Lisa’s 3D pieces, “The Bendyman”. That story is complete, and spooky, and waiting on my hard drive to be released on an unsuspecting world…
Here’s what I wrote:
deep_bluze (deep_bluze) wrote,
@ 2003-12-12 13:22:00
At this point, I tried not to let anything leap fully formed into my mind. I work better that way, I think, with a vague image, but no set-in-stone outcome. What ended up sticking in my mind was an image Lisa named “The Bendyman.”
If I get the okay from Lisa, I may link to a picture of the 3D art piece that she photographed to give you a better idea of what I was looking at. The Bendyman is a crouching, leering, harlequin character with a truly evil expression on his face. He is crouched sort of Batman style, one hand on the ground before him. On the ground at his feet, much smaller than he is, so he looms over her, is a woman. She is on her hands and knees, hair draped down to cover her features. Over her is a dome shaped cage that might have been formed by bending down the monkey bars on a playground.
The image evokes several sensations immediately. You get a sense of something repressed. Something trapped deep inside, and very powerful, will not release her. You get the impression of something larger than life behind that repression, something – or someone – that she can’t escape, and an underlying sense that this force, or presence, is active, malevolent, and filled with glee over the situation. It’s a powerful piece of art.
That is the foundation. What swirls around that foundation, currently, is a sort of whirlwind of images and ideas I’ve already been playing with. I don’t know a better way to describe it. I go over and over the current obsessions in my mind, and then, eventually, one overlays itself onto the foundation I’m trying to fit, and catches. That is how I got to where I am now. Where that is, is the beginning.
I have had a long time fascination with Talismanic magic. I once owned a book that explained how the sigils of demons, elementals, and angels were to be discovered. This involves, according to the source I read, taking the number that is associated with whatever force you are interested in, and then finding the “magic square” for that number. A magic square, for those uncertain, is – in this case – a square divided into rows of smaller squares. In the smaller squares are numbers, and in every direction you can go, in all rows, they add up to the same number. This gives you a backdrop for drawing the sigil. Then there is another process by which you take the name of whatever it is you are trying to summon, or control, or draw some quality from, and you trace the numbers involved with that name across the magic square. The resultant design is a sigil of supposed power.
Anyway, all of that is neither here nor there. I have no evidence, one way or the other, as to the efficacy of such a process, but it got me thinking. Then I read a story about the folklore behind hopscotch. I started to wonder what might happen if you played hopscotch on a magic square. I started to wonder a lot of things, and when I wondered them at the right time, I saw a hopscotch square warped and bent over the figure of a woman, over-looked by a leering harlequin, and I started to write. Thus far, I have finished the first 1000 words. The working title of the tale is “Square Magic.