Friday, May 30, 2008

Let the real summer begin

The wayward fishermen have returned, along with several pounds of leftover junk snacks and roughly a half ton of dirty laundry. Michael finished the entire book he'd taken with him and informed me I should read it, too--ever since we read Ender's Game together he has been very proud to recommend reading to me. I already have at least a half dozen books on my summer reading list that came from him. I'm thrilled that both boys are so big on reading, especially after hearing so much anecdotal evidence that it's often just the oldest child who catches the reading bug. Joey is currently working through The Once and Future King, after which I have set aside the first book of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn for him. One of my giddiest delights is in picking out books for people that turn out to be perfect matches for them--especially kids, my own as well as my nieces and nephews.

I haven't gotten in quite as much writing time today as usual, but I've still done 200 words plus some revising. I also (finally) got around to picking through the formatting on my bibliograpy web site's posting of my short story Disappearing. The italics had vanished on me a while back and I've kept putting off the necessary fixing-up. I re-read the story itself as I was working on it--I hadn't done so with that particular story in a while. It was published over five years ago, and there are things I'd have done differently with it now, but it holds up reasonably well, I think.

That story also had a song that figured very prominently in its flowering. I'd started fiddling with the basic premise of the story shortly before we moved from Illinois to South Carolina. I knew what emotional statement I was looking to make--a choice between selfishness and selflessness that turns out to be not quite what it first appears to be, framed in the eternal but everyday search to find happiness in a world that sometimes seems dead set against allowing such a frivolous thing. I even had the main characters in mind (more or less). The personalities of Ven and Bertam were based on those of a couple of my favorite gaming companions. The usual pattern of our EQ adventures usually involved Tim (Ven's inspiration) hollering with glee and enthusiasm as he led us headfirst into trouble, with me giggling helplessly, and Eugene (Bertam's inspiration) following stalwartly behind, shaking his head and preparing to pick up whatever pieces of us remained once the damage was done. (No priest class has ever worked harder or endured more. Tim was a warrior and I was a bard--so we could get into trouble FASTER.) I even had a vague idea of setting--a dreary reality and a place of magical escape. (I'm sure there was some gaming-related influence at work there, too.)

What I was still missing was the SOMETHING that tied everything together, the element of magic that explained how Elspeth moved between worlds. So one afternoon, as the movers were loading the truck under the supervision of my husband, and baby Michael was napping at my mother-in-law's house, I took cranky todder Joey out for a ride in hopes that he'd fall asleep in his car seat and feel better when he woke up. It was a gloomy day, kind of raining off and on, and I played a Pat Benatar CD very softly for some background noise. (Yes, I kinda like Pat Benatar. Just a little.) Enter "Run Between the Raindrops," and I found not only the little piece of magic I was looking for, but an angle involving mothers and children that had not previously existed. (My computer is being all wonky with music and videos today, but in theory you should be able to get a preview listen to the song here.)

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