I got teased! A friend was passing through the Blog and commented that perhaps I was being a mite “precious” with regard to my views on Creativity being (essentially) a Gift, and the resultant Art-Works being gifts to humanity. I’m kinda paraphrasing but I gathered that was the gist of it. Well… I guess I do take it seriously. I do (perhaps over-zealously LOL) gratefully receive and appreciate them as I would presents, so… yeah.
But rather than run about like Neil from “The Young Ones” moaning, “Oh wow man, I’m being hassled!!!” I thought maybe I’d reply in a more reasonable manner
Ever since we gathered around the fires we built for our damp, darkened caves we have treasured our shared stories, enjoyed “movies” made with our fingers cast upon the rocky walls, and reflected upon paintings drawn with charcoal-covered sticks. The depicting of stories and scenes collected from our imagination has always been our entertainment, and have always sought to evoke and provoke emotion, amusement, suspense, fear, and every other conceivable feeling. The sharing, the presentation, has been the manner of transmitting these art-works among us and thus stimulating the ones who receive, witness and discuss, and then share further on.
In these cynical and crass modern times we all too often neglect or ridicule things which have intangible “worth” and even need to enquote words which formerly would have been appreciated but now are considered incomprehensible. As if people are thinking, “what, a story has value besides monetary?” In the immortal words of that sage Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”
Yes, stories do. They truly are “gifts” from whatever Creative Force, Muse, or whatever you want to call it, and delivered through their makers. Their source is that “thing” which inspires their creation, which is then replicated as best as the interpreter can design, and then given over to You, the Recipient. Do we really need to define it? No, we only need to receive the result. And these gifts are what we receive, whether a story printed on wood-pulp, a film realized and enacted out on celluloid, or paintings brushed and stroked onto canvas. Times have changed; we have not. Well, not that much, anyway, aside from our constant drifting away from the ethereal and falling ever deeper into this dense material world in which we find ourselves. The source of our art-works is timeless, and without form, and created from out of a void…
And so, I consider, say, the stories of Neil Gaiman as gifts because they evoke in me a sense of wonder and intrigue; I consider the music of Kate Bush to be a gift because it moves me so; I consider the paintings of Gustav Klimt a gift because of the imagery and visual stimuli that is so subliminal and provocative. Even anime which is dismissively (and foolishly) considered “just cartoons” in the west, combines all three of the above examples into an involved, and involving, whole. Aside from the cost of the medium and royalties righteously due their creators, these intangible effects and the reactions invoked cannot be “priced”. They are “price-less” indeed. And I accept them gratefully as well.
So, when I describe my own novel as “a gift to the world,” it is only in this sense, and not spoken from someone with too great an estimation of his worth. After all, it was delivered to me, and I’m only presenting it to you in the same humble spirit as those who did in ages past. We are not so far-removed from our caves as we think
Speaking of wonderful stories, recently I came across a very beautiful one from Japan entitled Planetarian. Presented as a visual novel by Key (who later created another trio of favorite stories of mine, Kanon, Air, and Clannad), it’s delivered through the visual novel medium, which would most easily be compared to video-games. There is no “game” really, one just progress through the story by reading the text (thankfully it’s been unofficially translated), taking in the artwork stills, listening to the background music and voice actor (in this case just one, the voice of Reverie done so well by Keiko Suzuki), and continuing in this fashion until its melancholy end.
As utterly simplistic as it is, the combination of visuals, music, voice acting, and especially the story, come together to deliver a tale that is so amazingly involved, imaginative, and heart-wrenching that it’s impossible to keep the tears from flowing. Essentially, it takes place in an a post-apocalyptic world, where the main character, a salvager known only as “the Junker” comes across the rooftop planetarium and its broken robot assistant Yumemi (better-known as Reverie), who attempts to get him to help repair the broken projector, which she refers to as “Miss Jena”.
The “game” itself is very short; it usually takes around four hours to get through. But what a wallop it packs! Naturally, Wikipedia has an article but unfortunately also contains massive spoilers, so I can’t in good conscience link it. (If you do look it up, bear this in mind!) So I found a trailer for it on Youtube which portrays not only the premise, but uses as its backdrop the excruciatingly beautiful theme song, “Gentle Jena”. (It’s best enjoyed in fullscreen, so if you prefer, click the button.)
Wow! I got a reply from my (hoped-for-and-prospective) agent already!
She’s going off on her vacation, but within two hours of sending my Query wrote back to say that she’ll read over my submission (synopsis/first ten pages) upon her return
And she began her response with “Great googly-moogly!” LOL (-Hey, anyone who uses a Frank Zappa reference is okay in my book ) She was a mite concerned about the novel’s 387,000-word length being a hard sell to publishers, given their publishing costs and also considering that I’m a first time author. Apparently this is about three times as long as a first-time author’s novel should be
She also said that it indicates that the length might mean that the writer may have fallen in love with his or her own words and overwrote. I’ve been well-aware of that pitfall, seeing that it’s touched upon in nearly all of the “how-to” books, such that when it came down to the (multiple) editing phases I wielded my scalpel mercilessly and cut everything extraneous. In fact, despite the novel’s length, it’s been honed really close to the bone. Naturally, I expect to be cutting more, if and when an editor actually reads it and makes his or her suggestions. At this point though, it’s as perfect as I can get it, and my First Readers didn’t have any problems in that area either. Much like Goldilocks, I feel that this porridge is “juuuuust right!”
I didn’t dare write back to inform her that I didn’t control, stifle, or bridle the Muse’s blessed input; the story is this long because it NEEDS to be this long, given the subject matter, various characters and their motivations, subplots, orchestration and so on. It’s really her story, and I just channelled it and wrote it down. It sure does cast an enchantment on Readers, judging from the feedback, so I’m assured that the novel works. And, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: She wrote this story just for You
That kind of stuff is rather hard to convey without sounding like a loony LOL
Oh well. It is what it is, and, in the immortal words of Popeye, I yam what I yam!
I did point out that Susanna Clarke’s first novel, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, topped out at fifty pages longer than mine! Of course, I’m not in her esteemed company, but… someone with balls decided to take that work on! Gee, if only Neil Gaiman would take up my cause as well… *sigh*
Speaking of, I absolutely love Gaiman’s work; in a critical scene Lily is wearing a T-shirt featuring (identity snipped-no spoilers!) from his epic and wondrous The Sandman! One of my lesser-intents of Unbound was to act as a pointer to worthy works of others, and thus that reference and also the snippets of lyrics from Kate Bush, Tom Petty, and the poetry of olden and contemporary poets and works of classical writers, and other seminal beings of Light. I really want it to be a beacon in these dark and worrisome times…
By the way, his Blog can be reached from the sidebar; it’s very entertaining if you’re a fan of his work
Enjoy whatever it is that you’re doing, especially if going on vacation
Today I finally sent off my first really serious attempt at a Query Letter to a Literary Agent, one whom I’ve had my eye on for quite some time. I’ve made other attempts in the past, both to agents and publishers, but this one is Special. She seems to be right up my, and Lily’s, alley, and I’ve always felt that she is The One to get her story out into the World, despite the tight conditions to be met. Trying to condense Unbound‘s tangled and involved plot into a two page synopsis has been a true nightmare, and I can’t count how many attempts I’ve made at this during the last couple of years, always coming away from those efforts with a high degree of disatisfaction, anger, and frustration.
There’s just no way to convey the novel’s intricacies or even hint at them without having to cross over the line of this limitation. Most of the main characters had to be left out, and so many important and integral themes, subplots, and explanations cut. I’ve spent days slicing, dicing, and polishing this synopsis, not to mention the Query itself… there’s just so much to appease, and even more to displease, which will always lend itself better toward disposal and rejection than simply taking the time to just appraise a petition on its own merits. Hopefully, this person, whom I got a really positive vibe from, will try to understand the full purpose of the novel’s Intent, and more importantly, see the Story it wants to tell…
In other news, nothing has happened yet on the house-selling front, although I did have a couple come by Sunday night out of the blue who seemed very interested. My Realtor hasn’t yet informed me that they’ve contacted her, so… could just be all talk and no action. *sigh* Meanwhile, the looming spectre of Foreclosure looms ever-closer. My last home sold the first day it was on the market in 2005. As of today, this much larger and more desirable property has been on it for over two months. Back to apartments for me. Not to mention reality…
Since 2001, every action I’ve taken since leaving the Bay Area, my family and my friends, has been given over to the undistracted writing of my book. The choosing of an ideal location, a “writer’s retreat” if you will, apparently has come back to haunt me. It’s in SUCH a remote area that not only passers-by pass it by, but it might be too far removed from the nearest city to be convenient for most other prospective buyers. Oh well, at least I can enjoy its tranquility while I wait for the other shoe to drop… it really is lovely
There’s not much to add on the reading or anime front, too much worry to be able to really relax and enjoy a good story guilt-free. I still apply for employment every now and then, but that deck seems stacked against me given my age and lack of recent employment activity. Too much competition and discrimination going on there for me to feel that I’ve got much of a chance. I’ll keep plugging away though… better than having to live out of my truck! Still, I have to say that it’s been worth it, because the novel turned out wonderfully and has been so well-received :D
As long as I don’t have to end up eating the manuscript
I’ll keep you posted of all events as they happen; until then, love, peace, and happiness to you and to yours
on the water
"When early youth had passed, he left his cold fireside and alienated home to seek strange truths in undiscovered lands. Many a wide waste and tangled wilderness has lured his fearless steps; and he has bought with his sweet voice and eyes, from savage men, his rest and food." (from 'Alastor, or, The Spirit of Solitude', by Percy Bysshe Shelley,1815)
For info on our novel UNBOUND, please see our website in the Blogroll!