Ξ February 1st, 2012 | → 4 Comments | ∇ Creativity, UNBOUND, BOUND, and my other creations |
“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may have blinked and missed any previous novel updates, I hope this Post serves as a comfy introduction to my as-yet-unpublished novel, UNBOUND, since I so rarely never update the damn website (hassles due to permissions foul-ups).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 the 2012 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