What My Book Isn’t About

Motown Writers Blog Challenge 2017, #3:  What My Book Isn’t About

I could do an angry reaction to the supposed things accompanying unfounded assumptions by arrogant others that my book should be about, but I will simply tell you.  My “not about” is drenched in pure envy and jealousy.  Every night when I close the French doors to the bedroom wing of the house I think about it, when I reach my arm around before the rest of me to turn on a light in a windowless hallway, the shadow cast by a many armed cactus that is particularly ominous at the witching hour, and especially when the neighbours’ basement light protrudes a glow seeming to come from the underworld.

Perhaps it is because I grew up in the region well known for its infamous Devil’s Night, or that I am from a culture whose ghost stories are scarier than yours.  It’s that I believe that makes it all the more frustrating that my book is not about ghosts.

I seek it out – watch horror movies, read ghost stories, consume an endless diet of videos and listicles on haunted objects on the internet.  In every city I visit an undeniable favourite is the after dusk ghost tour.

In New Orleans, it was a cliche dark and stormy night, when I captured my first light orb at Jackson Square.  In many a frame of my digital camera there were droplets of rain on my shots, and then suddenly, as if it thought I wouldn’t notice, that spherical gathering of light thought to be the manifestation of an otherworldly being.  It was only on that one shot, surely proof of its reality, even confirmed by the tour guide who was into the academic, historical side of ghosttouring and decidedly not of the costumed exaggeration kind.

In my own city, it had become a Halloween ritual to seek out a deathly activity.  One year I participated in a Victorian funeral at the Merchant House Museum, known to be haunted by the stubborn spinster daughter who kept the home a veritable museum as she lived in it, unwanting to change with the times when electricity and the like came around.  According to her wishes, we walked about the house by candlelight, and in the front parlor, we lowered our heads at the casket.  We viewed the bed, constructed of rope that engendered the phrase “sleep tight” into our vocabulary, where one or more of the family members had passed.  We listened intently at the staff recounting first hand experiences as we watched shadows traverse the walls, car headlights or… we’ll never know for sure.

In Newport, Rhode Island, summer home of the Gilded Age, I spent the most indulgent weekend …staying up half the night watching a marathon of ghost hunting shows.

Heck, I’ve even made up ghost legends for places I’ve visited when I found the local lore wanting.  Ballynahinch, the centuries old castle in the heart of Connemara in Ireland, is one such place.  Warmed by hearty victuals and convivial music, we found a spacious room to take a cooling pause.  My friend took a seat on an overstuffed sofa, and I across from her.  I glanced above her head and a gruesome portrait of a hunt showing more blood and less sport than the usual pleasantry of a living room painting.  It was a very large specimen and immediately became the victim of my overactive imagination when we couldn’t squeeze a ghost story out of the proprietor.

At The Mount in Lenox, Massachusetts, mediums of the paranormal had calculated the night of our tour to be especially propitious and thus there were more than your usual number of psychic types present.  The unhappy homelife of one of our most celebrated authors was sure to result in psychic residue.  Even the extensive number of pets buried on the property surely “left something behind.”  As I descended a staircase to the basement, one after another before me and after me turned as they all noted the undeniable occurrence that had just happened.  One woman lost her breath and had to sit down.  As I asked what they saw, a couple, a man and a woman described something as clear as day.  There was a stir of startled excitement running through the entire group.  And I seemed to be the only one who couldn’t see it.  Yes, that is the sad fate of one who soooo wants to see a ghost.

 

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Why I Write My Genre

Motown Writers Blog Challenge 2017:  Why I Write My Genre

Because I think I’m funny. (haha)  Everyone probably thinks they are funny and sometimes it’s true and sometimes, if we can be honest behind closed doors, we are not (and you probably don’t know who you are).  In recent days, ok, like the millions of others online I e-date, and “sense of humour” is so cliche, every man knows that “a woman likes a man who makes her laugh” but really, do you ever take that advice?  Unless you want me to laugh at the size of your penis in the bathroom mirror…

No my genre is not meant to be sitcom haha funny, one of the original tenets established by one of my early days English teachers is that you have to catch their attention – personally at that time gore was my favourite method of attention catching but describing the full blood fountain in a decapitation isn’t as good as seeing it – so I think that writing might just have to have a little bit of entertainment to capture, and keep, attention.  There are many people out there who don’t choose the eye strain of what they did in the arduous days of school as their preferred method of spending their freetime, so gotta give them something to laugh about – who’d have known that reading could be …fun?

I can’t quite claim to be keen, but I’m an avid observer of people, and well people are funny.  And that’s funny in many different ways – some people are downright haha funny, some people are curious/unusual/strange funny, some people are quirky funny, and the depths of humour of different types go on and on.  While there are myriad types of traits I could choose to observe in human beings, finding humour in them is one of the more uplifting.  In and of itself it’s an optimistic viewpoint.  Yes, some of our most exalted comedians have been manic depressives, but it might have been their efforts at finding humour in life that kept them on the terrestrial side of suicide.

So maybe I’m not funny.  But I got an A in English in college and my prof said that I was good, so that unequivocally gives me the authority to write and call myself a writer.  And I got you reading this far, haven’t I? – gotcha!  Even when I was writing stuff that was mandated to be humourless and excitement-free, someone once sneaked in a review that said my expository writing was “lyrical.”  I once got a down-talking-to for being too “lyrical” – so you know I was hella entertaining.  And maybe a bit delusional, but aren’t delusional people the funniest kind?

As a linguist, just another name for “wordsmith” of different languages, understanding humour is the mark of really understanding a language.  It’s an understanding of the culture around a language, a context, and being able to eek out observations in language that really make me admire a writer.  Did it not make you smile when you really learned Shakespeare to discover he was one creative insulter and full of dirty jokes?

So that’s why I write the way I write.  Hopefully you learned something about life, and maybe I got a chuckle out of you, too.