04 June 2012

To Blog or Not to Blog (The Sequel)

That is forever the question, isn't it? To blog or not to blog? What ever can be--should be, could be--written to soothe the savage beast? What am I thinking about today? What do the loyal, beleaguered legions expect from me to bright their day, to help them endure the unendurable?

This is the silly season: between the end of the spring semester (I'm a professor in real life so my circadian rhythms are set to semester intervals) and the start of the summer semester (for those poor souls who must teach during the summer for whatever personally hellish reasons they may have). To escape the silly season, I usually find myself traveling. Often I travel to actually find myself. Sometimes I forget where I have left myself, so it's an interesting adventure. And frequently when I find myself, I don't really want it any more.

This summer is different, however. Shortly after embarking on this summer's travel (having many highway miles to contemplate the meaning of the "meaning of life"), I came up with a name for this Interstate phenomena. In 2011, I called this exercise in fuel consumption my Farewell Tour for reasons only I know for sure. It's not such a big secret, actually. This year, with a near repeat of the route, fuel consumption, mpg rating, I am calling this one the Reality Tour. Does any nostalgia remain? Painful, bittersweet, warm-hearted, soft-fuzzy nostalgia for the places I've left? Anything at all?

Or was I never really there? A figment of some author's imagination. A perverse pastime now passed?

As fate would have it (and the theory has recently been tested and found wanting--see my May 1 post about my conference trip to Japan), I travel backwards in time as I travel physically and geographically. I know I was there many years ago. And yet nothing remains as testimony of my former existence. I have revisited the places I previously called home. And now? They have changed so much that I cannot recognize them. And no one recognizes me. There is no welling up of joy, no rush of experiential pleasure, no cynical sense of Home Sweet Home again. Photo albums could have saved me some gas cash.

Alas, memory, nostalgia, home . . . just concepts, metaphors, words that act as placeholders in the mind, and suffer not the great institutions known as scrapbooks, photo albums, and memoirs. And yet, I deal in metaphors and analogies. I have baskets, boxes, and barrels of them out back. Going cheap. Even pennies on the dollar. Buy one, get one free. Three for a dollar. Help yourself.

I have revved up the ol' word processor and am counting the miles of chapters in my wake. Already I've fought my way up to Chapter 8 of a once-upon-a-time-finished novel of forbidden love and lush, romantic murder mystery, AIKO, which includes a brand new pair of opening chapters. (A generous detour routes me through this link: Shelfstealers' "Watch Our Writers" write program.) You can read a sample here.)

That is my mission no matter where my wheels take me this summer, no matter where my mind wanders or heart flies, falls, gets up again and stumbles into the dark back corner of some seedy bar on the bad side of town, across the tracks and next to the overfilled and thus long-forgotten garbage dump: there in the toxic mud, among the broken glass bottles, old needles, and used condoms are the seeds of tomorrow's story. Write it. Or else it may become real.

(P.S.--The young woman in the photograph is not the title character of the novel, although she does have significant impact on the plot.)

(C) Copyright 2010-2012 by Stephen M. Swartz. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog, whether text or image, may be used without me giving you written permission, except for brief excerpts that are accompanied by a link to this entire blog. Violators shall be written into novels as characters who are killed off. Serious violators shall be identified and dealt with according to the laws of the United States of America.

No comments:

Post a Comment