Finally, finally, finally, I have finished Chapter Fourteen of Suggestive Amusements. Lots of strange things, lots of kinky sex, lots of things left hanging at the end. I thought I had some hard chapters to write in Diners at the Memory’s End, but this last was eight thousand of some of the toughest words I’ve ever penned.
It’s behind me. On to Chapter Fifteen.
I have found a few moments during the work on Chapter Fourteen when I’ve wondered if this story should just go away. I spoke with a friend the other night, and they told me to put it in a drawer and walk away. I told them that wasn’t an option, because I’m over fifty thousand words into the tale and the Good Doctor Asimov always said to finish what you start. They told me I was stubborn; I told them I’m a writer–which is sort of the same thing.
That doesn’t mean I haven’t felt like walking away at some points. I like the story, I like the world, but the characters are really sort of dicks in their own rights. Am I projecting some of my own feelings? Hell, yeah. They’re my characters, so they have a little bit of me in them. Which means they’re not always good people, because I’m not always one.
This winter has been a pain in the ass, however. It started out being out of work, then finding something after completing a seventy thousand word novel, then falling into a lot of long hours with work, travel, and more writing. It’s taken a bit of a toll on me, as I’ve been tired, ill, and generally feeling as if I’m out of energy.
It’s easy to want to give up. I’ve done it before, so why should now be any different? I’ve given myself some crazy things to do, chasing after banners I may never catch. I have little or no support on my end for my creative endeavors, and if I do get any props it’s to keep workin’, ’cause gotta pay those bills, yo.
I felt a bit of elation last night, though, because before I got into the last thousand words of Chapter Hell, I helped someone through the process of formatting a project that will eventually become an ebook, and the juice you get when you lend your creative ability to someone who is using theirs, it’s a good feeling, and one that I needed–for I haven’t felt that way in a while.
Before I headed off to dream land, I played a song that I’ve heard many times . . .
Undertow is a song by Genesis found on their album And Then There Were Three . . .. I had this album when it first came out, because prog rock, you know, and I was a Genesis fan back in the 1970’s. I listened to the album many times, and as the years grew on I stopped listening–mostly because I lost all my albums at the end of my first marriage, some twenty years ago. Then I discovered all this stuff out on YouTube, and once more started listing–
Undertow is one of those songs that I’d heard, but never gave a listen. When you’re young it’s just a song, something you can kick back to and mellow out when you’ve had a hard day being a teen or early twenty-something. When the album the song appears on came out, I was just three weeks short of turning twenty-one, so thinking about what was ahead of me wasn’t a big issue with me. I knew . . .
Actually, I knew shit. I didn’t have much, I had no understand of what I wanted to do, and I knew I wanted to write, but I couldn’t because I couldn’t bring myself to do it–just as there were so many other things I couldn’t bring myself to do. I went through life thinking I’ll deal with shit tomorrow, ’cause there’s always tomorrow.
I played Undertow for the hell of it last night, but this time I started listening. Something happened, because when I work up at four AM today, it was playing in my head. It was still playing as I drove into work. When I got my system set up just before seven AM, it was the first thing I played.
It moved me to tears.
There was a connection in the words so powerful that, during the first part of the chorus, I could see myself in those lyrics. But the second stanza–oh, that’s where the song reached out, grabbed me by the ear, and said, “Sit down, fool; I got something to say”:
Laughter, music and perfume linger here
And there, and there,
Wine flows from flask to glass and mouth,
As it soothes, confusing our doubts.
And soon we feel,
Why do a single thing to-day,
There’s tomorrow sure as I’m here.
So the days they turn into years
And still no tomorrow appears.
Better think awhile
Or I may never think again.
If this were the last day of your life, my friend,
Tell me, what do you think you would do then? *
Then after the question, Tony Banks comes in and kicks my ass with words and melody so powerful that it’s hard to hold back the tears:
Stand up to the blow that fate has struck upon you,
Make the most of all you still have coming to you, [or]
Lay down on the ground and let the tears run from you,
Crying to the grass and trees and heaven finally on your knees
Let me live again, let life come find me wanting.
Spring must strike again against the shield of winter.
Let me feel once more the arms of love surround me,
Telling me the danger’s past, I need not fear the icy blast again. *
Damn you, Anthony. Damn you for making me feel.
Despite what they may say in Westeros, winter is over. Life is hard, but if you want something you don’t have, work towards getting it. These damn stories won’t write themselves, and if I want them told, I gotta tell them. I’ve spent enough time lying on the ground crying, and I don’t want that anymore: I want what I can take from what I have left, and I want that all.
I want to live, I want to move on, I want to kick the icy blast in the ass and leave it behind. That I can do. That is always possible.
As for the arms of love telling me the danger’s past?
We’ll see, won’t we? We’ll see . . .
* Copyright: Lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, EMI Music Publishing. Written by Anthony Banks.