Saturday, December 5, 2009

The Damn Book

I'm trying to write something. I've done (and paid for ) research and am about to embark on my biggest dream. It will probably just be thrown in the fire but dammit I'm going to try. I have a very sage advisor. A radio announcer of many years who also had a regular column in a Toronto paper and has been a published author. He's been around and is my go to guy to help me with my idea.

The setting is in the past and in another city, which I will have to travel to and get shots of period housing and get the feel of certain neighbourhoods etc. In other words it's daunting. The idea really has me fired up though. There are many ways to write. Create characters and let them take you where they go and reveal the story to you or create a plan and fit the characters in the plan. My setting is a real period of time which sets a very challenging background because of it's difficult time in history. I think I have the characters nailed down and will let them take me where they may.

But wait. I have another theory on fiction and literature. When I was about six or seven it was very common in my family for everyone to do a chore on a Saturday morning and then after lunch the day was ours to while away or get up to mischief (no I NEVER tried to set things on fire with a magnifying glass and I will deny that until the day I die). Ahem. So my sister would be sent to spray off the backyard furniture with a hose in preparation for guests. I lost that privilege when I once soaked my mother through the open screen window in the kitchen. Look it was just an experiment and it was just water after all. How was I to know she had just been to the hairdresser? I don't know what all the fuss was about but I recall spending a good deal of time in my room after that one. My poor brother had to cut the grass with a push mower no less. Hey we were GREEN before our time. So my poor parents had to come up with stuff with me to do so that I couldn't destroy something or make more work for them.

One Saturday my Dad came up with a great plan. He took me into his den which had an entire wall of built in bookshelves full of hundreds of books. He told me he was worried that when he lent them out he wouldn't get them back so he took out an ink stamp pad and a stamp with his name and our address on it. It was my job to take down a whole shelf of books at a time and put a stamp on the first page in each page. Cool! Just like playing library. So I took this very seriously and stamped, stamped, stamped. Every kind of book you name it everything from Agatha Christie to Virgil, Jack Higgins, Ethics texts, Law texts, (Dad majored in Philosophy and became a lawyer). On the bottom shelf were tall big Time-Life books about things like forests, streams and rivers, even cavemen. They were cool in that they had wicked photography. Then I came across a boxed set of books. These fairly wide thick books had the traditional 70's colours to them. Olive. Rust. Orangey and Brown. They just had names on them: Aeschylus, Sophocles Euripides and Aristophanes. I started to flip through them and it seemed they were stories or plays. Some simply called "The Clouds" or " Frogs". I read some of them and they were pretty straightforward to me. I didn't know the deeper meaning at the time of these plays poking fun of periods of history or social classes.

Once I hit university I double majored in Philosophy and Classics and discovered something really cool. Basically every story to be told had already been written. In these ancient plays all the characters are there: the wise old man, the prostitute, the lovers, the recalcitrant children, the power seekers, the thieves and con men. It was all there in all permutations. It is almost as if everything written since then are just modern variations of stories of deception, loss, romance, evil. Thus is the conundrum. Can something new be written? Oh hell here I go examining my belly button again.

Might as well give it a shot. It will probably suck but if does amount to something you effers better buy it. You could always use it to help fix a wobbly desk or something. By the way I did do the whole damn wall of books and since I now have most of those books covering my wall in my den I still get a kick out of seeing my "library" stamp. Books live on.


Anonymous said...

hey - you can do it. i will be very envious (don't we all wish we could write a book instead of just reading them).... but i will be very proud to know you too. you've obviously had a book percolating inside you for a very long time, but you're one of a very few people who has actually bothered to do anything about it. good on you!!! - LJBS

Kath said...

Firsty -- you can do anything you set your mind to - that I know. Can't wait to go to Chapters and buy your book.. Congrats
Secondly -- I remember helping stamp those library books, I thought the whole wall of books extremely fascinating . I still remember the smell of that very cool room. I really should read more... (kathy)