Last night I found something that I had forgotten. No! Something I had lost. Forgotten would imply, this something I had just misplaced on a shelf or got shoved under the couch until a funky smell alerted me to its presence. Lost fits the situation much better, and adds to the tragedy. Because, that is what this is, a tragedy of epic proportions. I am not being overdramatic, or any other word you may later decide to assign to me. The sad thing, I hadn’t realized I lost this important miracle of life. It just disappeared, and I simply dismissed this segment of who I was. Oh, it must not have been important to begin with, if I could allow that to happen. To some out there, it isn’t important. That is a tragedy almost as great as my own.
Okay, guy. You’ve rambled on for a paragraph. Instead of waxing poetic or whatever, why don’t you get down to the point of this so I can get back to surfing the net? I took the liberty of speaking for you there. Hope you don’t mind.
So, what is this mystical thing I’ve lost?
I lost the passion for reading. Somewhere in the midst of becoming a writer, I lost the ability to be passionate about what got me started in the first place. Sure, I read. A day doesn’t go by without me reading something. But, that in no way implies passion. I have read to learn, to grow, okay, mostly to escape, but until last night, I couldn’t remember the last time I was so passionate about what I was reading, that I despised myself for needing to go to sleep. So passionate, I willed my mind, eyes and body to keep going until I fall back into bed orgasmic with the heady nuances of ‘The End’ coursing through my system.
I honestly don’t know if it is a sign of getting older, or that in becoming a writer I turned away from the magical nature of the written word to examine the mechanics of writing. I forsook the amazement of reading each next sentence to dissect how it was composed and the natural progression of what came next. Did the author succeed in fulfilling the requirements of the ever evolving plot? Were they true to the characters they themselves created? Ultimately, could I have done it better? You see where I’m going with this? I took away my joy of reading in attempting to become a something more than what I was. An author.
I could just be over thinking this, but I honestly couldn’t remember the last time something sparked me to read way into the night. I have read some great books, truly amazing books by skilled and gifted authors. I don’t want you to think I haven’t. This is all about something deeper than simply reading great books. This is about finding a book that touches you on some level like no other.
Years later, I can still remember the first book to capture me like this, The Lord of the Rings. This was the ‘One’, as they say. It opened me to the magic inside my own head. I didn’t just see the words inside my head. I was transported into Middle Earth! I walked beside Frodo. I ran from the Nazgul. I fought back to back with Strider. I was there when Mordor finally fell. No other magic can dispel the emotions I still feel over the experience even thirty some odd years later.
It would be years before something hit me like that again. It wasn’t the first book in a series but the second book in the Vampire Chronicles that trapped me. I dismissed ‘Interview with the Vampire’ as an okay read. It held my attention, but wasn’t what I’d call reason to jump up and down. Maybe, it was because, I was left ragged and bleeding when I finished reading it. I felt violated by the emotions it opened up inside me. The pain. The isolationism of the emotional backlash of the wounds the book released. But, in my head, I couldn’t process what I’d read. I closed it off and nearly stopped there. With ‘The Vampire Lestat’, I read because I was bored and it was there. By the time I put it down, ‘The Queen of the Damned’ was a quivering block in my hand as I rolled back the cover to begin. The complicated mythology of who these vampires were had drawn me completely in. I wanted to know more. I thirsted for more as much as Lestat did to understand who he was.
The books quested as I did, to understand the question of our souls, who humanity was, who God was. Did evil define us? Did a sense of honor and goodness define us? Or, did we define ourselves? They were all questions I struggled with, and Anne Rice captured the crux of it so eloquently. I will gladly, and proudly admit to reading all her books, Vampires, Witches, Mummies, the subject didn’t matter. I devoured them. ‘The Feast of All Saints’ perhaps touched me the most, because it wasn’t about the darkness of monsters, but about the darkness of the monster that is man. Whatever the reason, Anne Rice gave voice to my passion to understand myself. She gave me the confidence to try other writers to search out more on the subject.
Robert Heinlein’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’, and ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’, had similar affects on who I perceived myself to be and how I saw the world around me. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short stories kept on the self examination. ‘The Minister’s Black Veil’ still stands as one of my favorite stories of all time. Through the years, I’ve found one or two to give me mental chills, but as I’ve grown older, they’ve grown farther and farther apart. I’ve grown jaded perhaps, thinking all the magic has departed from the world and there truly is nothing new under the sun.
Certainly, as an author, I have found it hard to discover originality. I have only been able to twist the established to fit my own outlook. Struggling to find Bigfoot among the skyscrapers perhaps has made me jaded. With age, I have seen very little magic in this world that once held only wonder. I have been left with only reality to give me comfort.
You may find all this ironic coming from a guy who mostly writes comedy, but comedy is giving voice to the fears inside us. Making them safe to dismiss. Robert Heinlein himself wrote, Man is the ape that laughs at itself. I’m paraphrasing there, but you get the point. My point is this, at what age does the magic end? When do we individually stop searching for passion, and settle for simple escapism in our reading, in our existence? Apparently, I can’t remember, but it happened to me.
As if coming full circle, it took Anne Rice to show me I lost it. I in no way believe she wrote ‘The Wolf Gift’ just to remind me passion did exist, but it achieved the result just the same. Passion should never just be a word to describe a human condition of lust. That so belittles the word. Passion should be about living our loves to their fullest. Finding meaning in what we enjoy.
Otherwise, are we enjoying it in the first place?
Think on that, and please consider this. If I couldn’t find passion in reading, had I lost the passion in writing? Considering how much I’ve struggled to give voice to imagination over the past year, I’d say so. Before I wrap this up and leave you to ponder my thoughts, I invite you… No, if you are in the same boat as I am with your creativity, I beg you to step back and rediscover the meaning of what drove you to create in the first place. Don’t moan about brick walls, or missing muses. Step away, and find the magic inside you. Then, maybe you can let it out and be magic for those around you.
Because quite frankly, this world needs magic right now. It needs passion. It needs joy. Most of all, it needs people willing to open the minds of others to all three of those things. I’m not saying I’m one of those people, but if you’ve read this and can find some spark of one of them inside you, I might not go so far as to call myself a magician, but I will put on a pointy hat and call myself Harry Potter for awhile. Pics may be made available upon confirmation of epiphany.
Until next time, Happy Reading.