Dita Parker

Monday, June 22, 2009

Manic Monday

I survived Midsummer's 2009.

They should make t-shirts with that as a slogan since every major holiday can be hazardous to your health up here in The Land of the Midnight Sun. Midsummer is a big production of bonfires, barbecues and get-togethers of all kinds. The Sun stayed up all night and so did we.

But the body count, after such a fun weekend...puxa vida! Manslaughter/drowning/driving under the influence shouldn't be eligible for national sport, but watching the news this Monday morning made me wonder why so many set out to prove that having fun without booze is just faking it. Some heavy drinking going on in this part of the world, and when I say heavy I do mean a going for the gold attempt to get wasted.

There are two sets of nations within these Nordic countries, and two sets of peoples: the introvert winter version and the extrovert summer one. This is of course a gross generalization you should pay no mind to while on the other hand there's truth in it. How could the extremities in weather, length of day, the very quality of light here not affect a person? I insist they do, and not only because I feel it in me but because I see it all around me, in the faces and demeanor of strangers and loved ones alike. I'm a child of the tropics so maybe I shouldn't even be commenting on this, and this isn't what I meant to talk about.

In other news: Thunderbirds are go. There were two things in my inbox signaling it's time to get back to work (and the drawing board...) on the ongoing epic drama of getting my story published. First item: a message with a beautiful picture of a beautiful man attached ['Honey, he's mostly...naked,' my perceptive hot man from the cold commented. Oh yeah.], cover art, with my name on it. It gave my heart quite a workout. (Seeing one of the men or my name, you guess which.)

The second message was the heart stopper, or that's what it felt like until I got into it and over myself. Content edits, en masse. Okay, so I don't have a comparison, but my first impression was that the list was long, my second thought oh mi god they hate it, my third why do they want it since they hate it, my fourth that my editor had done a thorough job while I had somehow failed.

This is of course a gross exaggeration with not enough truth to mention in it. I looked at hunk supreme, the one on the cover that is, who urged me to read on and asked would he be standing there and would my editor have done such a thorough job of it if I had in fact failed, the publisher didn't want it and actually hated it.

And what did my editor say that wasn't merited. Things I should know better and do differently if I wrote the story now. Wait. I've been given the chance to do just that, with someone to usher me, with enough distance and detachment I can take the story apart in cold blood then breathe new life into it. As long as I don't pay attention to the Ghost of Midsummer Past, the one who started talking while I first read the content notes, the one who wrote the story some twelve months ago. I should hope I've learned something, a lot, enough, during the past year I can now get down to redeeming the characters and the story without that ghost hovering about.

Picture a chunk of clay. Picture a beautiful vase. Take clay, remove what is not the beautiful vase. Let dry. Add whatever enhances the beauty of vase in question. That is my next challenge on the way to ensuring you'll get to see that beautiful man and that cover, the one with my name on it. Honoring the time put into making that cover, editing the manuscript, reading my submission, writing the story and every person and lesson in between.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have an exorcism to perform, and some pottery to attend to.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Bittersweet symphony

What a weekend. A christening and a funeral, drops of joy and sorrow and rain, laughter in remembrance, giggles and giddiness under the sun and at the door of things to come. I looked at those faces, old and young and younger still and hoped they would honor the promises made. That promises once made had been kept and that good-bye was not tainted with remorse.

I wondered do they know that the next two minutes and twenty seconds is all they may have? Would they be able to let go there and then without pain or regret? Many of the people who even choose to talk about this say that if it's a full life, a fulfilling life, you couldn't let go, you wouldn't want to. Think of all you'd miss out on. If it's such a full and fulfilling life, shouldn't you be able to, with everything said and done? Things usually aren't, are they, said and done, hence: pain and regret. Enter scapegoat: Death. But come on now, he didn't do it, or leave it undone. It wasn't his choice of words, or his silence. It is always ours and we're only projecting.

To make a life and a work complete requires playing all movements from a composition. As beautiful as any individual movement may be, it is only a part of the whole. Leave one out and have someone asking about it later on. Leave something out and start wondering why the sweet doesn't taste as sweet anymore. Disown whatever makes up all the heaviness and be burdened with it.

What if being on a first-name basis with the Grim Reaper is the only way to guarantee he has nothing on you? Call his bluff, let him know you're onto him and watch his act fall apart. Invite him in and cast him an understanding glance and see him take off that cloak. Grant him an understanding word and he will be crying on your shoulder in no time how all the world hates him and how he knows it's a dirty job but he honestly forgot to read the fine print. He won't smell your fear (he gets that a lot) but Life most certainly will and she will resent you for it. So take a fearless bite out of the bitter and taste how sweet the sweet tastes once more.

What a monotonous piece life would be without the tensions, the contrasts and counterpoints it takes to write a symphony. Leave a part out and it doesn't sound right. Leave another out and it doesn't ring true at all. Let the music play in all its complexity and dance as slow or fast as you dare. And show some sympathy for the devil, will you; poor Reaper has two left feet.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Viva la vida

"This week I 'ave been mostly writing about Immortals." (Picture Jesse from The Fast Show.)

Not vamps but characters of the death-defying, undying kind all the same. I have a short novel well under way and another thingy outlined I will probably hack in two, but I'm sure the characters won't mind, it's not like it will kill them.

What possessed me, I'm not sure. The aftershock of one Moebegone day? Our constant fight against The Great Nothingness? What's even more baffling: I can't stand the thought of living forever. It's not uplifting, it's exhausting. It takes away the immediacy, the beauty and poignancy of living knowing I might go on and on. Why work for the betterment of all we're brought to task over, why look after you while you watch my back if we got all eternity to get this right? I don't want all eternity. I want the here and now; no excuses, no explanations, one shot at kindness and loving and forgiveness, not all I dare ask for.

The only way I can think of going on and on is through the Celine-Dion-My-Heart-Will-Go-On method. (No comments from the peanut gallery, thank you.) That I can live with. I like the idea of epigenetics, of the ghosts of our ancestors haunting our genes. The Iroquois were onto something with their law and idea of seven generation sustainability. Or, for the biblically inclined: sons bearing the sins of the fathers? Same difference, basically. I'm haunted, you're haunted, she's haunted... Everybody! In my life we'll always go on... (Quiet in the peanut gallery, please!)

I'm more than the sum of all my parts, biology and sociology combined; every inherited susceptibility, every country and culture my parents introduced me to. I know most of what there is to know about the sociological bit but close to nothing about the biological part. I've seen quite far down the line but only on the surface level. Still those ghosts lurk inside me and what activates or inhibits them, we'll just have to wait and see.

I can't defuse those little time bombs. I don't know the combination or where they keep it. But there is an army inside me ready to save my life and with any luck my children's. Whether they want those particular pieces of inheritance or not it's theirs. Sorry, my sweetie darlings, Mom isn't all-powerful as you'll soon discover, and I agree Dad is quite fabulous but he isn't master of the universe no matter what he says and you might think.

So this week I've been mostly writing about what I don't know. I usually do. What I want to learn more about, what thrills me, terrifies me, haunts me and taunts me. Writing about what you know; now where's the challenge in that? As for the resting in peace business? I sure hope I get some sleep when I'm dead.