Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Aspirations...

I like January. Christmas is put away and the cold air wakes a man up and kills off delusions of grandeur.

I enjoy this quote, drawn from the Garrison Keillor book, "Love Me," which I am currently reading. I appreciate the rhythm of the words -- both in this particular quote and throughout the novel. I savor the story's succinct language and the vivid word pictures... But that's not to say that my admiration for the novel transfers to agreement with the sentiments expressed within the above quote. The fact is that I really don't like January all that much. The roadside Christmas tree skeletons and the sense of emptiness in the house actually tend to depress me. And, honestly, I have no intent or desire to kill off any grandeur I can get -- whether it be delusional or otherwise.

As it turns out, "Love Me" has stirred up a docket of dreams (and delusions) within me. Over the years, I've found that any well-crafted piece of writing tends to draw me like a siren song, to yearn for originality, to amplify my own voice, to create something meaningful... Yet because this story also happens to center around a Midwesterner with aspirations for literary greatness, I feel an extra sense of empathy and encouragement to dream about my own life.

A humorous and poignant scene from the book involves the main character, Larry Wyler, encountering a moment of realization over a backyard barbecue with one of his old college acquaintances, Frank Frisbie. In the course of their conversation, Frank makes a comment that catches Larry off-guard and awakens his dormant desires for authorial success:

"I've been busy writing a book," (Frank) said. "I should send you a copy." He let those words hang in the air for a long minute, during which I did not say, "You? Write a book? You couldn't write enough to fill a book of matches!"

"Who's publishing it?" I said, expecting to hear The Wisteria Press or Gerbil Books or The Fund for the Verbally Handicapped.

"Random House," he said.

He said this the way you'd say "Four-fifteen," if someone asked you what time it is.

I hadn't seen the guy in years. I wanted to choke him. I wanted to give him a swift kick where the sun don't shine. "That's great," I said. I wanted him to die a natural death but someplace where I could watch. "When?" I said. "In the fall," he said. "Terrific." He sent me a copy, of course. Signed, "To Larry, my friend and comrade." I wanted him to choke on a bratwurst and fall down and hit his head so that he'd be in a wheelchair, steering it with a pencil between his teeth, and I could do a benefit for him, to raise money to pay for his colostomy, and he'd come up on stage to thank me, and sort of gurgle deep in his throat, and we'd be photographed together for the newspaper...

The humor of a brooding man is brilliant. As Larry takes time to process the events, he realizes that his emotional response is not motivated by jealousy so much as it is by surprise:

Frank is a pleasant guy, basically a suck-up and a loser but not evil or anything, just one more dust bunny under the bed of life, and here he had gone and written a novel. This was a shock. Like seeing Ray Charles sink nine out of ten free throws...

Eventually, Larry's surprise gives way to reflection, and the young author experiences an epiphany:

The thought that a pea brain could write a successful book was, to me, the handwriting on the wall and it said: GET BUSY.

To be honest, this thought has occurred to me as well. Why not write a book? I've discovered that I am energized by the act of writing. Forming words and sentences and paragraphs and pages has become a means of self-expression and self-realization. I feel more balanced after I've been able to effectively transfer an emotion or a concept into language. Thus, I actually write primarily for myself; only secondarily for others. But even so -- why not write a book?

I can't help but feel that I'm daydreaming much in the way that a starry-eyed teen-aged thespian pines for stardom on Hollywood's silver screens... the way that a garage guitarist envisions himself as a world-touring rock star... the way a skinny high-school freshman practices with hopes of playing professional basketball one day... Nevertheless, I sense that if I do not allow myself to daydream -- and if I do not give myself a chance to succeed (or fail) -- a part of me will die, and I will mourn the loss.

So I'm going to go for some casting sessions. I'm going to peddle my album to the record labels. I'm signing my letter of intent. And let the world know: I'm getting busy.

6 Comments:

At 3:42 PM, Blogger chanchanchepon said...

Eric--That is great news (thanks for the grammatical correction by the way--I had a feeling I was blending languages).

There is a very short workbook-esque book I've been perusing for the last couple fo years called "The Creative Call." I recommend it because it could be helpful for you to be able to first create a space for extensive writing, and even gives a several reasons why that creative space is important.

Because we have such a focus on creative expression here in Morgantown, I try to build the case for it whenever I can. Unfortunately, the cares of the world (or of running a church) can often choke out that seed of creativity.

My prayers go out to you!

I look forward to the big debut! The game clock is counting down!

 
At 5:13 AM, Blogger Jay said...

I don't know if you've seen my "Backflips" post, but it's basically about the same thing. I started taking art lessons this past weekend, and even now I've just come in from the studio after several hours of drawing. Like you, I'm not sure where it's going, and truly I can't afford to pay for these lessons. Yet, I had to face the fact that, despite all the obstacles, there was a part of me crying out to do it, and I knew if I denied that part of me, it would die, and I would have a past filled with regret.
So, perhaps we will one day work together as we've dreamed. If not as "pastors," perhaps as author and illustrator?
Here's to the dream! Do not give up until you have attained it, and let me know what I can do to encourage or help you along the way.

 
At 4:27 PM, Blogger Bret said...

Eric:

You are indeed a gifted communicator through words - please do "go fot it" - I think you will shine.

BP

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous mom said...

Eric-I have long said you are a true "wordsmith" with a God-given gift to communicate through the written word. I look forward to where this leads you!!

 
At 9:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric,

Well, despite the fact I'm obviously having to catch up on your posts, I really do love reading them, and I always look forward to seeing what you have written. I, for one, can't wait to hear what your book is going to be about, or to see it myself. Will you be sharing portions of it with us as you progress?

Perzik

 
At 11:19 AM, Blogger Eric Asp said...

I've actually got two concepts for potential book projects. The one is a collection of short stories (by me and potentially others as well) that will actually incorporate many of the things that I regularly write about through this blog (albeit in a modified, more polished form)... The other book is more of a classic novel that is largely undeveloped at this point. But whenever I do get around to developing it, I may very well use the blog to work on some basic character development and dialogue stuff...

 

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