Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Halloween Dirge

Over the past month I've started to wonder if things will ever slow down. Is this it? Is this the status quo for good? I've started hearing background music alternating between The Talking Heads and NIN's Every Day is Exactly the Same.

I can't allow myself to believe that.

I went trick-or-treating with my kids this year and it was a blast. Watching my daughter in her rock star get up. Seeing my son in an enormous Elmo outfit, his expression communicating "You'll give me candy and all I have to do is wear this stupid outfit? SIGN ME UP."

And after we got back and sorted through the candy and the kids were in bed, I just felt let down. The past few years have been so busy, I feel I've lost the ability to carve out a chunk of something for myself. I feel cheated, except I'm the one who's guilty of the crime and I spend a lot of energy chasing myself like a dog after its own tail.

I grabbed a beer and went for a walk in the cemetery next door.

It was pitch black, no moon, no light except for the warehouse floodlights off in the distance and the scattered red pinpricks of "eternal flame" grave markers.

I saw no teenage pranksters, no ghosts wandering around, no deer or coon or skunk hunting for a midnight snack. And I thought about the project I've immersed myself in.

I thought about how it must be for a person to have terrible visions of death flow into them unannounced; and have almost no one believe them.

I asked one of my characters what he saw in his last moments. What existed that frightened him so much he felt he had no other path to take.

I asked another what it was like to raise a child alone, amidst the crushing grief of losing a spouse. What it felt like to risk his emotions again; to let someone in, care about them, give your world to them.

And they all spoke to me, like whispers of the dead.

I've cut 20k words and replaced about a third of them, and man am I bloody. I mean, I'm soaked up to my elbows. But it wasn't until recently that I realized... a good portion of that blood is my own.


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