But first: today those who advanced in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest were announced, and sad to say UNBOUND was not among them. This is not to infer that UNBOUND is not a breakthrough novel, or that its failure should imply that it is less-than-worthy. NO! With 5,000 total entrants divided into two categories, and going solely by the best 1,000 Pitches in each to advance, the odds aren’t good to begin with. But it’s a contest! When are those odds ever any good? Anyway, congratulations to those who made it to the next round
To be honest, summing up a 386K-word novel in a 300-word Pitch is an exercise in frustration, slightly less-so for the one-fourth that I submitted as Book One: “Earth”. The numerous judges must go through all of these submissions to weed out the obviously poorly-executed and also those Pitches that just don’t “do it” for them. There’s also a chance that your particular genre just doesn’t appeal to that gatekeeper, like a sci-fi pitch to a lover of romance novels. So, they lock you out. It’s going to take an Agent or Publisher who cares enough to look beneath the surface of a simple Pitch to find the buried treasure in Lily’s lake! That seeker is out there searching for this pearl but has plenty of air in their tank, and countless clams in the sea… but they will come to me, and Lily.
We have faith that it will Happen; these things can’t be rushed if the best results are desired. And we want the best results possible, commensurate with the amount of work, dedication, and devotion we’ve given to this Story, so that the Reader might have the best possible experience from it; one that can only come from the company of a good book. If it makes the world a more wondrous place to live in, so much the better
On the occasion of this event I thought it’d be an opportune time to finally address the name of this humble blog, Alastor’s Reflection. Visitors of the anime stripe might assume that it’s named after the pendant that Shana wears in Shakugan no Shanathat houses Alastor, the God of Destruction, to whom she’s contracted. I actually chose the name of this Blog well before I ever saw Shana, so it turns out to be a very happy coincidence, as SnS is one of my faves (I bought season 1) and Shana an awesome character who ranks near the top of my faves list. Note to self: Gotta think of a new word for “faves”, ugh LOL
Since most Visitors likely come here for the anime, here’s an action-packed AMV for Shana, and for those who don’t care or assume “certain things” (i.e. uneducated generalizations) about anime, a pertinent pointing out of Alastor in the first scene and again near the end. Never let it be said that we’re not relevant! Or pertinent, for that matter. Except when we’re not, which is much of the time oh nevermind…
It’s good for all sets of Visitors to be exposed to things unrelated to their interests, you know? And we’re pretty“quadrophenic“ hereabouts. For doll-fanciers, there aren’t many doll-related posts, but plenty of other things to enjoy at Alastor’s, home to Lily-Doll and Soony. I’ll add parenthetically (though without parenthesis but for these) that none of my dolls are used for sex. Hardly felt that was necessary but for some stupid people @ letsnotgothere.com. “When you assume, you make an ASS out of U and ME” so don’t do that plskthx and all that.
My sexual habits aren’t a subject I feel worth mentioning but JUST IN CASE… (a) she’s a promotional aid for our novel who has garnered more publicity than anything else; (b) she’s the replicant of the main character who is the exact opposite of ‘loose”, and an ideal; (c) she provided companionship and the illusion of another’s presence in the absence of any during the writing in isolation; (d) she’s been the subject of numerous interviews, included in two books, and has been shown in photographic exhibits around the world; (e) was one of several relationships used as inspiration touched on in the film Lars and the Real Girl (unverified but largely suspected); (e) and I am not ashamed or regretful in the least, nor have I ever been. She’s been an absolute delight, a singular experience, and is such a beautiful doll. Now that that’s settled…
Huh. Just as I thought: no sex in it. See? It’s not everywhere! *collective gasps from the gutter*
This is not to say that she hasn’t posed for some sexy photos though; doll photography is another hobby (when I can manage)! Of course, she’s highly embarrassed by it and won’t do more than PG (nor would I ask her to), but understands that it’s a necessity and expectation of being a life-sized, like-like doll; one of the very first and very few to stand up and be scrutinized. She doesn’t like to disappoint, bless her But those days are long gone, and she’s content to just “hang around”, having done her bit for the cause.
Lily-Doll turned out to be the spitting image of Lily Godwin as I saw her in the story, and sat nearby throughout the latter revisions. And if the Muse happened to take up rest within her, no-one would be the wiser, but for my imagination. Imagination is the Key
Anime visitors can also find storytelling and music-related posts here at Alastor’s, and those fanciers of music and literature who land here from other forums can come to a fuller, deeper understanding of anime as well. Not that I know a lot, but I’ve been studying it avidly since May of 2007, so I do have a lot to share. Opinions, mostly LOL Those who enjoy good stories, well-done character development, and eye-pleasing animation may find some good, atypical recommendations here, such asRozen Maiden, for one…
It can’t be overstated that anime is very poorly represented to the general public in the West, and I’m trying to rectify that here by sharing what I consider to be exceptional shows that might not otherwise be seen. For instance, it’s really a shame that a touching, dramatic and moving story like AnoHana or Wandering Son wasn’t promoted over here. So, while far from being an “expert’s blog” (which there are many, see sidebar for a sampling), I do have an eye and ear and heart for quality storytelling across many genres in anime, and happily ramble on about What I Like. That I can do xD
By the way, here’s Alastor in his true form, visuals and music taken from the Shakugan no Shana movie:
Good Advice: Don’t judge a book by its cover, or a pendant by its size!
Here’s the thing: We’re named after Percy Bysshe Shelley‘s “Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude”. For the whys of the Shelleyan persuasion, see the recent Post explaining about that here. “Alastor” was one of the first of the great Poet’s works I was exposed to during my teenage years. Alastor is not the main character, who’s simply referred to as “the Poet”; nor is the Poet necessarily Shelley. (It is rumored to be William Wordsworth, however.) No, Alastor is rather “the spirit who divinely animates the Poet’s imagination.” Much as my own solitary journey went with the writing of UNBOUND, driven and supported by whom I felt to be my Muse; alone, together. It certainly has been a trip!
I’ve gone on before about how I related (and relate) to Percy Shelley. “Alastor” depicted the quest, environment and other-worldliness that I felt most in-tune with during those adventurous years growing up and into the world, and its themes serve as reminders/signposts along my way in order to stay consistent and true to myself. Those who think they know me might catch glimpses of un-imagined underlying layers exposed for the first time to their eyes here at Alastor’s; that’s what they get for not paying attention!
This, from the Wiki; pertinent NOTES from myself:
In Alastor the speaker ostensibly recounts the life of a Poet who zealously pursues the most obscure part of nature in search of “strange truths in undiscovered lands”, journeying to the Caucasus Mountains (“the ethereal cliffs of Caucasus”) [NOTE:Lily's birthplace; near Odessa!], Persia, “Arabie”, Cashmire, and “the wild Carmanian waste”. The Poet rejects an “Arab maiden” in his search for an idealized embodiment of a woman [NOTE: sound familiar?]. As the Poet wanders one night, he dreams of a “veiled maid”. This veiled vision brings with her an intimation of the supernatural world that lies beyond nature. This dream vision serves as a mediator between the natural and supernatural domains by being both spirit and an element of human love. [NOTE: strangely akin to my first Kate Bush dream!] As the Poet attempts to unite with the spirit, night’s blackness swallows the vision and severs his dreamy link to the supernatural.
Once touched by the maddening hand of the supernatural, the Poet restlessly searches for a reconciliation with his lost vision. [NOTE: successfully reinventing UNBOUND as a novel upon contact with the Creative Muse]. Though his imagination craves a reunion with the infinite, it too is ultimately anchored to the perceptions of the natural world. [NOTE: we saw through the perceptions and reunited, relating a story informed by its time-less vision.]
Ruminating on thoughts of death as the possible next step beyond dream to the supernatural world he tasted, the Poet notices a small boat (“little shallop”) floating down a nearby river. Passively, he sits in the boat furiously being driven down the river by a smooth wave. Deeper and deeper into the very source of the natural world he rushes. Like the water’s surface supports the boat, the supernatural world “cradles” the mutability both of nature and of man [NOTE: Lily and Will's little boat in Chapter 1.1 is an echo of this].
As his senses are literally dulled, his imagination helps him sense the spirit’s supernatural presence. Instead of perceiving the vision through the senses, the Poet imaginatively observes her in the dying images of the passing objects of nature [NOTE: Imagination > the sensual world ]. The boat flows onward to an “immeasurable void” and the Poet finds himself ready to sink into the supernatural world and break through the threshold into death.
When the Poet reaches the “obscurest chasm,” his last sight is of the moon. As that image fades from the Poet’s mind, he has finally attained transcendence to the supernatural world. The journey to the very source of nature led, finally, to an immanence within nature’s very structure and to a world free of decay and change. [NOTE: Plot aside, this is somewhat similar to my finding my "writer's retreat" in the beautiful San Juan Islands where at last I was able to complete my solitary work on UNBOUND, with my Muse as my only company (aside from Pennie and Lily-Doll).]
So it is a sympathetic vision that we share
That’s as general and as true a statement with which to sign off with that I can make, and something you can think on. Or not Again, I thank you for reading, and please leave a Comment if you would like to share a thought or two. We appreciate your Presence
I’m @UnboundAngel. I think. Hm… okay, maybe a little bit of a twit. It’ll all work out in boomland though xD
Anyway, as part-and-parcel of the aforementioned 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest, it was recommended to me to open a Twitter account to communicate (and commune!) with fellow writers. Just as with Facebook, I’d long ago decided to not entangle my Internet entanglements any further with social media distractions. But these are indispensable tools for marketing and promoting one’s work these days, so I went onto FB, and now the Tweet Machine. *rubs bleary eyes* WHERE DID MY LIFE GO???
WHY I’m doing all of this at this most low and tenuous point in my life I do not know, as I definitely don’t need any distractions from trying to survive in this country with no income and a “safety net” with more holes than a sieve, and just as effective. Writing, or rather storytelling, elevates me into another beautiful, fanciful World that I love and would gladly stay in, but I must keep my eyes on the ground of this crumbling land, making sure not to slip or mis-step. One slip will send me over the edge, and I get distracted so easily. I’m interested in everything LOL! So I’m very careful, these dark days, with my footsteps. But I wrestled the elements of the contest into shape, began assembling the disparate parts of the Story into MS shape, and now the first breaths of promotion raise the sheet and it falls, and rises… The cocoon is cracking.
The Fool has yet to land off the mountain, and is not sure what awaits him on the plain. That can surely be fodder for adventure, but I can’t even risk that; no time to explore. No money for even bus-fare tends to cause a hunkering-down in one’s den, and I’m safe here for now, in this small cave called “home”, entrenched in this figurative mountainside. “Now” equates to about three days though, since my rent wasn’t paid. I’m trying like hell to create a miracle from behind the scenes by selling stuff to stave off eviction, so creating a peaceful place to compose is out of the question (I moved 900 miles away in order to write my novel free from this poisonous RL BS, if you know what I mean). But here I am, gathering the energy from somewhere to push for publication through whatever means necessary. I have to think that it’s Lily-the-Muse, tending to Lily-the-character’s story. And, of course, I do tend to both of them
(By the way, if any of the ABNA followers have come here looking for the novel’s bits, they scroll off pretty quickly over time, as infrequent as they are. I keep the website specifically for the UNBOUND-related material, and all else goes here at Alastor’s Reflection. The last Blog-post from earlier this month is here. And, thanks for your kind attention I’m a … little unconventional, so please be kind to my mistakes ) I’m unapologetic about pretty much anything else
I’m still learning the Twitter ropes, so taking my time with it, and already have had some delightful contacts with other writers. (I do have a hard time considering myself a “writer” though; rather more of a storyteller, which is fine too.) I was happy to see my favorite writer (yes a *real* writer!), Neil Gaiman, with an account, so naturally I Followed him. (And his Journal has been a Blogroll link for as long as the site’s been up, so do check it out!) Almost on cue, he Tweets about Leonard Cohen, which regular visitors know I equate with the Dalai Lama (who, coincidentally, I found and Followed too!). Neil posted this YouTube video of L.C. reciting from “Democracy”, and it’s delightfully chilling:
He also speaks about battling depression which should be eye-opening to all those real twits who dismiss it with typically-stupid “get over it” statements and the like. This isn’t “oh, I feel sad” moments but real, Marvin-like Major Depression. It’s not something you “get over” with the snap of one’s fingers. I’ve been battling it for years (runs in the family) and the only drug-free way to do it is through creating. That’s what allows me the freedom to write my stories, and I don’t want/need those goddamned pharmaceutical company’s peddled junk, or “those drugs that keep you thin”. Junk is junk, period. Please hear Mr. Cohen address the Issues:
So thanks Neil, I applaud your good taste but already knew you had some! (And this thank-you probably has about as much chance of being seen as it would on Twitter with Neil’s 1,685,339 Followers o.O ) That’s okay; I just like saying “Thanks!” and giving credit where credit is due. Doesn’t have to be seen, read, or answered; just the Sending matters xD
And speaking of credit, The Sandman is the greatest story I ever read. Relevant note: In UNBOUND, Lily wears a ***** T-shirt that says “You get what anyone gets… You get a lifetime.” I like that to death (well, it IS my T-shirt LOL), and Lily likes it too, being a fan herself -Still keeping things close to the vest, heh…
Now he posted a link to a spoken-word/poetry site *sigh* -I’m NEVER gonna untangle myself at this rate! *resists urge to investigate; surreptitiously Bookmarks it, sneaks back in*
Okay Neil, one for you and the Tweets: Here’s Ken Nordine reciting “Flibberty Jib”, probably his most well-known piece. It was used in a Levis commercial in the early ’70s, I think:
Another favorite is Kevin Smith, who totally freaked me out with “Dogma” (one of my fave all-time films). Not because of its freakiness, but little parallels with Lily’s story. Can’t say which though; spoiler territory, dammit. Not that there’s any in this Trailer *cough*…
Loved the appearance of Jay and “the guy with the beard” Apparently the guy stays up all night Tweeting! Yay Today he tweeted or re-tweeted (wtf do I know?) a Teddy Roosevelt quote that really knocked my socks off, regarding critics (critical persons): Of course, President Theodore puts it in much better wording than I:
“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.
The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.
The man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic – the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done.
Criticism is necessary and useful; it is often indispensable;
but it can never take the place of action, or be even a poor substitute for it.
The function of the mere critic is of very subordinate usefulness.
It is the doer of deeds who actually counts in the battle for life, and not the man who looks on and says how the fight ought to be fought, without himself sharing the stress and the danger”
At times I was following fifteen weekly shows; it was totally overwhelming! But the yield was incredibly rich and diverse, serving up (some) action in the greatest prequel to end all sequels (wha?) in Fate/Zero, zany sitcom slice-of-life in Working!! (an actual sequel), a competitive traditional Japanese card game in Chihayafuru, and a slightly-naughty lonely hearts club comedy Boku Ha Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, among quite a few others. None of these resemble the others in the least, and that goes for the rest: a true tribute to the diversity of stories in anime, a sign that the artform is still healthy and vibrant.
For this Post I’ll focus on those Fall season series that have ended, leaving the shows still continuing to review at their end when the Spring Season starts: Bakuman 2, Chihayafuru, Last Exile: Fam of the Silver Wing, Mirai Nikki, and Shakugan no Shana Final. Many of these I mentioned in the Fall Season Halftime Report, below. Or here, if you prefer
That leaves Carnival Phantasm, Mawaru Penguindrum, and The iDolm@ster all concluding from Summer, and the short 12-episode shows from Fall, Boku Ha Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, Fate/Zero, Kimi to Boku, Shinryaku?! Ika Musume (aka Squid Girl Season 2), Tamayura ~hitotose~, UN-GO, and Working!! (season 2). Yep, that’s fifteen!
Fate/Stay Night was one of my first anime, and despite my initial resistance I totally went for Saber’s character. Her persona of humbled monarch combined with her naivete of the real contemporary world she found herself in contrasted nicely, and her little quirks were amusing and cute (face-stuffing with rice and stuffed-lion fu, to name two). But that series wrap-up really slew me, and being that it reflected on a well-known Legend only made it more poignant.
But you’d never know that it was a decent series by how the original F/SN game players hollar about it! I kept reading about how the game is so superior (and I’m fairly well along on the Fate route at the moment), and how the anime ruined this ‘n’ that. The game certainly is chock full of way more info than the anime, and this story needs its info explained. And Sakura, I want to know more about her, as she was my second-favorite character in the original series, and the Fate/Zero “revelation” of her childhood was disturbingly shocking. Poor girl ;_;
But the anime destroys nothing, except maybe for some fans’ lofty expectations LOL. Enter Fate/Zero, the follow-up to Fate/Stay Night, and its prequel, having occurred ten years prior. Considering how many people have complained about all the exposition in it, you’d think that the dialogue was obtrusive, but I found it informative and enjoyed the cat-and-mouse discussions between erstwhile allies and their assisting and opposing numbers, and found their info-dumping quite relevant to the plot. The whole cast consists of excellent characters, most of them new, some returning from F/SN, and all of them with deep motivations, for sure… except for those who are deliberately opaque, which makes one wonder about their motives. Being “forced” to think is fun when it’s fun I’m sure that in the continuing second season airing in Spring 2012 we’ll be seeing plenty of action!
Studio Ufotable pulled out all the stops on this one, and they’ve even built on the excellence they showed in the Kara no Kyoukai movies. Both works, Fate/Zero and KnK, represent a high-water mark in series and movies, respectively. Everything in this series oozes quality, from the character designs to the animation, the direction to the great-as-usual OST from Yuki Kajiura, the delicate balancing act between dialogue, exposition, reflection and action to the rich personalities involved in showing and telling this convoluted yet intriguing story. Have a Preview, with credits:
One nice touch is in the ED, where all of the Servants are shown in their previous earthly lives as the heroes and mythical creatures they are. (FYI: In the Grail War mythos, modern-day Mages called “Masters” summon and utilize “Servants”, the heroes of old suited to a particular weapons class (i.e. “Saber”) which obscures their True Name, the knowledge of which would benefit their opponents and lead to defeat in the War, which only one Master and Servant can win. If that’s not complicated enough, it gets… more complicated. But it all makes a kind of sense even though you don’t understand a lot of it (or rather, *I* don’t, yet). A great Forum can help make sense of it all, such as AnimeSuki
It would make all the sense in the world to continue with the Type-Moon self-parody Carnival Phantasm, which lovingly (and ruthlessly) skewers the actors from Fate/Stay Night and a few other Type-Moon shows. Especially Lancer; man, does he get skewered. And crushed, smashed, mutilated etc etc etc. And we thought Kenny had it bad. YOU BASTARDS!!! *shakes fist at bastards*
Needless to say, if you’re unfamiliar with their shows most of the humor will fly over your head. But I only saw F/SN and still enjoyed it immensely, and learned about the other characters (and cats!) in the TYPE-MOON universe as well (gotta remember to capitalize, *sigh*). I really wish that the series hadn’t ended, but I’d say that it definitely sharpened our appetite for another set of OVAs (they were DVDs produced to commemorate TYPE-MOON’s 10th Anniversary). I’d be very interested in seeing the Kara no Kyoukai characters involved next time!
I really really want to discuss Mawaru Penguindrum. You’ll see me spazzing out over it plenty of times on this page below, and below that, and probably below that even. But this show is so deep and involved that I really ought to make a separate post; I already feel that I’m pushing my luck with you
So, here are a couple of AMVs instead!
…never thought that a delusional stalker girl could end up so appealing LMAO! (FYI, slightly spoilerish but not critically: Ringo, the brown haired schoolgirl, is stalking Tabuki, a teacher whom her deceased sister was in love with, and believes it to be her destiny to conceive a child with him… Shouma is not so sure and tries to stop/contain her, but their fates are all tied up in that Diary, which may be the rumored Penguindrum. Or it may not. You never know with this show! Amazing job of storytelling here… and through it Himari has become the newest addition among my favorite anime girls
I’d like to tip my hat to Studio Brain’s Base; they outdid themselves and produced an unforgettable mind-blowing trip, and I mean that in a very good way -Not that I’d know anything about that *cough* But yeah: they created a masterpiece that rivals the surrealism, symbolism, and psychedelic palette of Studio SHAFT, while making it entirely their own unique Creature. Well Done! *applauds wildly*
ANYWAYYYY…… ANIME OF THE YEAR TIME!
For the year 2011, I found a handful of anime to top my list of ultimate faves; namely, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, AnoHana, Steins;Gate, Fate/Zero, and Mawaru Penguindrum, which will probably be #1. While I love this show to death, I also love the others, but they’re each different, so how can they be compared? The first is a radically-dark retake on the Magical Girl genre, the second a bittersweet and beautifully told tale of separation, loss and hoped-for closure, the third an epic time-travel story with clever, intelligent (and funny!) dialogue and myriad plot twists, the fourth is an action-based fantasy based around magical historical heroes and much, much more. And then there’s Penguindrum. WHAT TO SAY.
Except go see it for yourself; maybe on the Tube of You there are some episodes popping around. But I HIGHLY suggest ONLY watching this show in the best possible resolution and in airing order; it’s awesome MAX FABULOUS!!! As “The Intense Trailer” will attest:
Honestly; I hate ranking and comparing apples and oranges. If it’s good it’s good, and doesn’t need to compare itself with others. That’s why I might rate a quixotic show like Higurashi no Naku Koro ni a “10″, and someone who just doesn’t “get it” will give it a “7″. It’s still a Masterpiece to me, and that is what counts: What a show means to YOU, and not some bitter cellar-dweller typing out his anger and disdain over the Web because he can’t do it in real life. Or me, for that matter But since we do need some sort of comparative gauge to rate how highly we regard a show, I find the 10-point system satisfactory enough, and it’s fairly universally accepted, except where it’s not. All of the above are great, no matter their “score”, and all of them are my Anime of the Year (…unless I remember a show I’ve forgot…)
Well, I’m spent LOL This Post turned out to be a first-parter; I’ll sum up my thoughts on the remaining seven shows in Part Two, soon. That’ll teach me to actually plan a Post in advance… o.O
“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” -Maya Angelou
Since I’ve been neglecting my lovely little Creature on this Blog for far too long now, I thought it was time for an update. There are a lot of (very) patient people waiting to read the story who are probably pretty annoyed that it’s taken this long, to whom I feel I owe an explanation since I’ve been talking it up for what must seem like forever. (Speaking of that, I am still wanting to share my final thoughts on the great 2011 Fall Anime season that wrapped up last month; it was too bountiful not to review. Sorry for the delays, see below for excuses reasons, and maybe a Penguin or two!)
For more recent Visitors, and those who may have blinked and missed any previous novel updates, I hope this Post serves as a comfy introduction to my as-yet-unpublished novel, UNBOUND, since I so rarely never update the damn website (hassles due to permissions foul-ups). It’s pretty old school, and a cobbled-together website at that, but it has a lot of basic info about the novel and Lily, if you’re the curious sort. And, of course, I hope you are
-The Promethean Shelleys, and Me
I was lucky enough to be exposed to many of the great writers of all time and countries, having been raised by parents who cared a lot about classical literature and reading. On my 11th birthday in 1963 they gave me The Golden Treasury of Poetry, which contained Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandius”, a poem which my father loved. It was around the same time that I discovered that he was the husband of Mary Shelley, who’d written Frankenstein, which was my favorite story even then. Reading the bio in Frankenstein‘s Classics Illustrated edition about Percy, I felt drawn to him, though I can’t remember why.
During my poetry years (roughly 1968-1972 or so) I was more into hanging around in North Beach and the trisection of Columbus, Broadway and Grant, which is in the area where Lily lives, and much of the story takes place. The Haight Street scene had burned out, but I’d found a rich, stimulating, and colorful environment to enjoy and inform my poetry in the Italian sector. Being half-Italian didn’t hurt either xD
At North Beach’s City Lights Bookstore, a Poet’s Mecca, I was able to learn more about Shelley. The more I discovered about the great Poet I felt akin to him in emotional and creative temperaments, as evident by his work, such as Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude, and his classic Prometheus Unbound. In him I found the one Poet whose Romanticism matched my own. Byron, whom one writerly friend insisted was more like my makeup than Shelley, was too large a figure; heroic even, while Shelley had his flaws but burned with passion and a reflective love of nature, was courageous if reckless and unafraid to make mistakes, and equally unafraid to explore anti-social conventions. Possibly something of a bastard, too, given the mores of his day. If there is one poetic voice in the writing of UNBOUND, it must be Shelley’s. (But there are other poetic voices in it, such as Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Leonard Cohen, and Jack Micheline.)
However, the themes were largelythose of his wife, Mary. I came to Frankenstein via Karloff the Monster, but stayed for the creator and the Creature, the pursuit and value of companionship, and the ragged, often interlocked, bonds of love and revenge. Nothing about mad scientists or hacked up bodies! Well… there are hacked up bodies in UNBOUND; I forgot about the cannibals. And the horror, yes, can’t forget about the horror… at times it’s pretty intense. The flavor of the horror is more traditionally Gothic though, so it’s not so much over-the-top gory, rather it slowly ushers in a dark sense of dread, oftentimes followed by brutal violence.
The topmost quote comes courtesy of the beautiful soul who started me out on this journey, and she knows what she’s talking about! Yes, it certainly does hurt. “Agony” is a perfect word to describe it, but you’d expect that from one of America’s greatest Poets. In 1968 or ’69 Maya Angelou came to my Creative Writing class in high school, and after having me read my five-page poem aloud to my class (and leading them in a standing ovation) pulled me aside afterwards to encourage me to pursue a career in writing. That was some eye contact, let me tell you! Even as a rebellious 16-year old, I heard her, believed her, and wisely complied, though it remains an elusive puruit. But one must learn from “meetings with remarkable men” (and women)!
By this time I was well into my poetry phase, where I indulged myself for quite some time. Pity I wasn’t that good at it, despite my high grades! (Too “brilliant” and direct, rather than clever and inscrutable, I guess.) But she showed me the power of words… and pointed the way. Thank you, Maya, such a beautiful name, spirit, and soul
Speaking of beautiful souls, I discovered Kate Bush in 1983 when I came across her Never For Ever album in a used record shop. (See the previous Post for a 50 Words for Snow writeup!) She instantly became my favorite artist; to my ears and tastes, no-one delivered such beauty so deeply, so honestly and so courageously. Her lyrics were (and are) deep, personal, and of substance and quality; ditto her compositions and -well, everything! I’m never satisfied with describing her affect on me, either artistically or in more ineffable ways. Every thing she does is magic
Then I got caught up in 1985′s Hounds of Love promotional push, and over the next two, maybe three solid months, I was transformed. This was the awakening of the Muse, I believe. I’ve never been through anything like it! It’s as if something or someone inside or around me had Awakened, and begun playing with the story’s then-furtive ideas, knowing that what I wanted to tell was what she wanted to tell, too. She (if I may personalize this Spirit, due to its gentle, beneficient, and devoted presence) was saturated with Kate’s work during that gestating period, and reflected that in filtering her story down to me. I get a feeling of “paralell movement” between us, but more than that I can’t say. It’s wonderful and fun to observe, though
In early 1986, when I emerged from this transcendant-like “state”, I burst out one final epic poem, “Arc to Arcturus”, that was published in the Kate tribute book The Thrill and the Hurting (Morning Fog Press, 2006). Sometime after finishing the poem, UNBOUND’s format came to me from out of the blue, like a problem resolving itself in one’s sleep: It wanted to be a story, not a graphic novel, not a concept album, not a movie, not a poem, all ideas I’d entertained. A Book.
Simply put, without Kate there’d be no book; at least not in the story-form it is today
In 2001 I moved 900 miles away from my home base of San Francisco in order to write the novel without the distractions of real life interruptions and the chaos of city life. Seeing it finished and finally fully realized six years later was an indescribably happy moment, and the enthusiastic reception by my First Readers and samplers emboldened and gratified me. But due to subsequent misfortunes, I haven’t had the proper frame of mind (or life-structure) to properly manage a consistent and dedicated effort towards publishing it, and that’s why no progress has been made in getting it out. The energy is all wrong; way too many pollutants and poisons, and I’ve steadfastly refused to allow them to affect or infect the Story. Real-Life has been rude, at best. Dealing with numerous apathetic government agencies is nightmarish alone, let alone keeping food, rent, and bills reasonably current, and they’re always late. All efforts must go to survival, literally. This paralytical stasis has prevented me from any movement in that direction at all, really. I’m Bound, you might say.
Writing the story was wonderful beyond belief, but not being able to tell it has been agonizing, as Maya Angelou has said. It’s been awful watching Lily languish all alone, waiting, so patiently… But I’m determined that it be released at the right time, at its own pace, when things come to us as a matter of due course, if the Journey brings her helpers this way
During the final phase of writing I lived in near-complete isolation and was mostly undisturbed in the San Juan Islands, a place of great natural beauty and energy. I worked around 10-18 hours a day on the manuscript for weeks on end, just me and my Muse, who, undiluted, moved her Story through me with surprising grace and ease; “surprising” because it had been so difficult before I had completely opened the channel.
As I’ve related before, I wouldn’t exactly say that the Name of this muse/guardian angel/beneficient spirit/companion is “Lily”, just that I called her that in light of her devotion. That one doesn’t need a Name, really, but I gave her one anyway. I wanted to give her something. It did seem as if it was her story, so why not? Actually, this “muse” might have a different name and duty, and that entity is in the story too, but is a well-kept Secret. So, these should remain hidden for now. Or just teased about ;-)
The brilliance of those days, the mysterious, wondrous, and incredible purity of creation that I experienced then in such clarity, has in recent years become clouded with the dark poisons and daily crush of an impoverished reality. And so while complete, Lily’s story remains sealed away, as I’m unwilling to force her out before her time, and in such a perilous, uncertain environment. (Hmm… flashes of “Breathing”?!) In fact, I could be homeless within the month if my little miracles are used up. It’s amazing that I’ve survived all of this shit (*knocks wood loudly*)
“SEIZON SENRYAKUUUU!!!” (“Survival Strategyyy!!!)
So, this Post is going up now, as our Survival Strategy (and yes, I’d LOVE to see UNBOUND as an anime, one of my little dreams), to preserve our Place in the public’s consciousness. Or, subconsciousness [EDIT weeks later, after entering the ABNA contest: Hahaha! Apparently I found myself willing after all :-P If you're going to beat the Darkness, you have to be out in it... and boy, am I in it!]
So, her creative work is done; she now slumbers and waits. Mine has hit the publishing barrier against which every author has had to or must bang their head in frustration. I’m confident that we’ll get around it; it’s a matter of Faith. I am determined for as long as I can survive. But in the meantime, I have to get my life together, if I can keep it together, in order to deliver the story to you. That is what we want most of all, and why we wrote it, and why we take extra care. It’s a story for You, after all, and You’re precious :-D
Essentially, right after completing the final revisions of this 733-page work, I was caught up in the Countrywide home loan fiasco, the unemployment situation became untenable, I lost my house, moved to an area with even worse unemployment, money ran out, moved again practically into the ghetto, and it gets worse but it sucks to type it all out, and would depress you, which I definitely do not want.
Let me put it this way: Yesterday I gave a homeless guy my last nickel (literally), hoping he wouldn’t feel insulted. But he certainly understood my situation and graciously thanked me for my thought. “Practically an empty gesture,” I apologized. “Just the thought,” he said. Yeah, indeed; thoughts are things. So, no money, no busfare, no income, no job, but I always have faith that what I need will come for me. Somehow it does, but I’m testing it in these days… or is it testing me? Hm…
During this time I did submit to several Agents and publishers. Four of the Agents replied expressing interest in the story but all concurred that a 733-page novel was too problematic for a first-time author, the print/ship costs notwithstanding. They said to keep at it, but then I suppose they all do. Still, they enjoyed the premise and the few characters they’d met, so I was gratified for that. They are great characters
Oddly enough, now I DO have some UNBOUND news
This past weekend I entered UNBOUND: Book One: Earth into the2012 CreateSpace/Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest! As the intensity of my real-life pressures mounted, I found myself drawn back (or pulled back) (beaten back? hmm, maybe…) to Lily and her story. All it took was just re-reading Chapter 1.1 and I had to keep going! After several pages I felt her presence near, and seeing her in the pages, alone, melancholic, and yet still devoted to Will (her ward), and to her Story, it made me want to do something for her, something tangible involving promoting our work, so that she doesn’t lose Hope. I have to do my part too
Lo and behold, the CreateSpace ABNA announcement came right at this time, so, never one to ignore serendipity or signposts, I immediately went to work on the critical 300-word Pitch, which will be the sole criteria to determine whether the entrant proceeds to Round Two. Then it”ll be judged on the Excerpt, the first several thousand words of Chapter 1.1. I lightly edited it, mainly cosmetic, so the excerpt on unbound.org is now a bit outdated. Actually, the whole site is outdated, but never mind
Once past that stage, then the final judging will be based on the entire manuscript, and then the winner will be announced sometime in June. Grand Prize is a $15,000 advance, and a contract with Penguin Books! I’m hoping that a four-book series will be more enticing to a publisher rather than a 733-page one. I haven’t checked whether runners-up receive prizes, because there’s only one thing I’m aiming for. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you
I joined CreateSpace last year, just in case I decided to self-publish. Having one’s novel accessible to amazon.com shoppers/reviewers can only be a good thing, although one of my (innumerable) “intents” was to publish traditionally and use the novel to help support indie bookstores. Going trad is still the main desire, but given how the market has regrettably changed, I’m keeping all options open.
INTENTS AND INTENTIONS:
This is a huge ambitious Project: frankly, we want to change the world with it. I’m an unapologetic product of my generation, and I’m carrying that ideal forward to keep that hope alive, that we realize that we are all of one origin, whatever that may be. I don’t care if it’s “idealistic” or not, “naive” or not, “hopeless” or not. It was the goal of the original “hippies” to transform the world through Love, but the cynics, naysayers, and haters persisted and won the day. But not the Battle! Lily will now bear the Standard
I’m reminded of one of my favorite scenes from “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” where Jack Nicholson’s McMurtry shows The Chief how to escape the madhouse. In some way, this is what we’re attempting. Hopefully my characters will put it in words better than I can. It’s a story meant for Movement
I really want the novel in as many hands as possible, not only for the entertainment of our connected contemporaries, but also for those suffering downtrodden souls, the marginalized ones shoved to Society’s edges, and those other travellers feeling left out in the cold by their Maker. They like to read their stories, too. I hope to bring a moving, challenging, and thought-provoking epic to those Readers who can’t afford fancy reading gadgets or internet connections, all around the globe. If there is one “cause” for UNBOUND, it is that of Homelessness. Because a few of the characters are indeed homeless. In more ways than one…
SO: First Round of judging is at the end of February; if I still have an Internet connection I’ll Post my success or um… “un-success” afterwards. It’s most likely getting cut off tonight, so if you reply and I don’t, that’s why. Please stay tuned; I’m still searching for free WiFi around here so I can still connect. Whether the entry wins or not isn’t going to faze me either way, because I believe in the Story, much like I believe in You; all is positive :-D
That’s rather the point: UNBOUND is an experiment in Faith. In fact, my entire life going back to that initial contact with the Muse has been one of Faith. I’ve heard it said that “Faith is the evidence of things unseen.” This latest Journey is just to see if it Works. And it does (or has), but is being severely tested right now. However, perseverence furthers
EXCERPT: From the opening of Chapter 6.2, “Albatross” (and please excuse the lack of proper italicizing within the Quote):
Lily emerged from the passageway into the subdued light of dawn; the environment felt bracing, lucid, and vital. She found herself standing on Church Street between a pair of flats, in shadow. Relieved to be out in the upper world again, she leaned back against the alleyway door and took a deep breath of fresh morning air. To her surprise, against her back was just a featureless wooden fence where she expected the door to be, with neither a handle nor a latch, nor an outline of a portal. She pushed and pulled on the boards, but they would not give.
Well, I just came though it… didn’t I? She looked at it dumbly before shrugging her shoulders and turning back around. One-way passage, I guess. Despite her jubilant yet melancholy sojourn below, a sense of dread anticipation was building in her, and eclipsing it. She hadn’t a clue as to her next step; the future seemed opaque.
What do I do now? Where should I go? I’m as sightless and homeless as the blind whistler is, she thought.
LILLIES IN THE ANGEL’S POND:
[EDIT: How very, very interesting... I was searching for prints/references of Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to add to this Post, when I came upon this from Wikipedia:
"The poem may also have been inspired by the legends of the Wandering Jew, who was forced to wander the earth until Judgement Day for taunting Jesus on the day of the Crucifixion, and of the Flying Dutchman.“
Yes, that is quite interesting indeed… but I can’t tell you why xD]
I’ve been keeping things pretty close to the vest when it comes to revealing anything about the story beyond the opening vacation scenes, because many, many surprises await the unsuspecting Reader. New characters, subplots, and realms of wonder and terror weave through every page. As the numerous threads tighten and entangle, and snap, the movement and momentum increase to a fever pitch by Book Three: Water, and then all Hell breaks loose in the final Book, Fire.
One of the things I’d kept quiet about was the inclusion of angels and associated being and realms. But there’s no sneaky way to promote it without mentioning them, as they’re quite involved, so I’ll just say “yeah; angels” and leave it at that
I’d only shared the following anecdote with fellow Kate-fans before this, but I’m going to try to initiate my own “Survival Strategy” and finally put this Out Here; desperate times call for desperate measures. Since the first fourth of the novel has been brought out into the light, I’m considering this contest as a First Step taken, in order to confirm this Road I’ve chosen, upon which path I encountered Maya Angelou, who baptized me, and Kate Bush, who’s blessed me:
Immediately prior to my buying Kate’s The Red Shoes album in 1993, I’d finally decided on Lily’s name. While examining the CD case I was really jazzed to see that Kate had named one of her new songs “Lily”. That alone would have been enough “strange phenomena” to make me happy; yet another little wink she gave me, and still gives me to this day. “Wonder what her Lily’s like,” I thought. I was a little petrified that I’d written something that might seem taken from her concept, but thankfully they were quite different. But not exactly in a very different way…
From the start of the song, I was chilled and awestruck all at the same time. Kate’s Lily is a mystic, who uttered words both familiar and chilling, because they echoed the concepts and wisdom of the Great White Brotherhood (no, not the KKK!), among other highly-regarded (by me) sources. I’d been selectively researching occultism, metaphysics, and comparative religions since the mid-seventies, being very, very careful about what I read and what connected with me (“don’t want your bullshit”). I’d often come across powerful words such as these:
“Oh thou, who givest sustenance to the universe
From whom all things proceed
To whom all things return
Unveil to us the face of the true spiritual sun
Hidden by a disc of golden light
That we may know the truth
And do our whole duty
As we journey to thy sacred feet”
So hearing those words really thrilled me. In a nutshell, this is exactly the “hidden essence”, the “invisible theme” of UNBOUND.
But I won’t say any more about it for now; consider it our little secret Really, I want Readers to focus on the human aspect, the human story, and that is Lily’s tale, and Will’s coming-of-age, and let the rest of Creation come as it may. The novel can be considered a mobius strip; there certainly is something on That Other Side, that can’t be seen from this one…
Anyway: at that first listening of “Lily” my anxiety was relieved upon hearing Kate’s character seemingly going out on the town with her pals, Gabriel and Raphael, and Michael and Muriel, obviously a couple (!). And they were all walking through Spanish Harlem, apparently having little to do with the opening words. So they visited a mystic, then went for a walk mm-hm. But I liked the song anyway
Then I read the lyrics. Usually I don’t read them until the second listen, so all I had heard was a story about some girl walking with her small gang of friends. After hearing Gabriel, Raphael and Michael’s names, I do recall feeling the slightest disappointment in “Muriel”, that Kate hadn’t been singing about archangels after all. Then I read his name in the lyrics. Not Muriel, huh. WAITWAITWAIT…!!! URIEL?!? -I think this was well before “OMG” was coined, but yeah :-O
The lyrics reveal that Kate’s character is actually the petitioner at Lily’s feet, asking for guidance, who learns from the wise elder how to “protect herself with fire”… and is ultimately saved, surrounded (and among) the archangels:
Aside from the character juxtaposition, it’s as if this song were written for Lily Godwin herself, from her point of view. Imagine how you might feel if something so extremely personal that “only you” felt was echoed by someone across the world, with whom you’d already felt an undeniable connection. This was more than a connection, more than “strange phenomena”; it was evident of the workings of Spirit. For instance, we can’t know how the superconscious works, because it very well may be working on an intersection with another dimension that we in the 3rd can’t perceive, where all minds are able to meet. Or, perhaps our own, Invisibly. Like schools of fish, or flocks of birds, moving as one. Or, dreams. But ’nuff said with that
-Lily Among the Angels
It’s still really happening to me! Now we have the beautiful “50 Words for Snow” from Kate (see the Impressions Post below this one). Once again, she reaches so deep, and I don’t even have to think about it; thoughts and “interpretations” just get in the way. I only want to feel it just as deeply as I want the Reader to experience with UNBOUND’s depthless deeps. Because the highs, so unobtainable, the heights so far but finally reached, they will feel transformed. Like “To a caterpillar, for the Butterfly” (This refers to Lily’s poem from Chapter 1.1, “To All Good Things”.)
Even though I included the divine “Among Angels” video in the post below, I’m putting it here again, for emphasis. This evocative clip by Sky Vibes shows exactly the sentiment and emotions I wish to show the Reader through the story’s words. The imagery and characters from Wim Wenders’ masterpiece “Wings of Desire” really deliver the Message that Kate delivers with this sublime song, the sentiment that Lily and others in UNBOUND feel and share. Hopefully they will share them with you, someday soon :-)
This song’s not for Lily; this one is for me <3
As UNBOUND is just for You
Thank you for your Time
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!