Derry, Northern Ireland

Derry, Northern Ireland
A book I'm working on is set in this town.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Bizet, Nijinsky, Van Gogh...and me?

I was listening to WNED en route home and they played several parts of Georges Bizet's Carmen. It's a classic opera about a prostitute who's the downfall of a decent man, and it was severely criticized when it premiered in Paris in 1875. It's widely believed the reaction to the opera was the cause of Bizet's heart attack 3 months later. He died thinking it a failure when it turned out to be anything but.

This reminded me of a Radio Eire broadcast I was listening to as I drove from Derry to The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland, back in 2006. That program discussed the critical reaction to Carmen and pointed out many artists have been rejected only to wind up celebrated after their deaths. People like Nijinsky, who choreographed Stravinsky's Rite of Spring and was driven insane by Paris's rejection of his brilliant dance moves. Same for Vincent Van Gogh, who was never a successful painter when alive, but whose works now sell for tens of millions of dollars.

In the more grandiose portion of my brain, I like to see myself as similar to them -- a misunderstood artist who will be discovered after he's dead...but then I think, What the hell fun is that? I won't know about it, and that's anything but gratifying. Yes, Shakespeare is the Immortal Bard, but is that any comfort in the grave? Is he getting chits from Heaven for that? Doubt it.

I guess I should be happy that I'm proud of my work, even if it's never going to sell a million copies. I wrote honestly and followed my characters and let them be who they were, be they good and bad or just plain crazy as hell...or even vile.

Curt, in How To Rape A Straight Guy, is an asshole who leaves a path of destruction, thinking he's the wounded one...and I let him be that without any (overt) qualms. Eric, in Bobby Carapisi, is so self-absorbed in his pain he inadvertently initiates the actions that lead to Bobby's suicide, then as a form of atonement gets Alan to tell his self-centered story...revealing he's also a victim of a hateful society. Alec, in Porno Manifesto, lets a girl's rape happen so he can use it to turn his gay-bashers against each other, and winds up hurting even more innocent people, yet he winds up in love at the end. Antony, in Rape In Holding Cell 6, slips into a psychotic need for revenge that only hurts himself and nearly destroys a man who cares about him. And then there's The Lyons' Den, which is told as if Daniel's chaotic mind is having a nervous breakdown, which makes it hard to get in to.

Now I'm working on The Vanishing of Owen Taylor...and getting careful. This book has been a constant battle over whether or not I will take the better road or the honest one, which will make it harder to sell. I've been working on it for nearly 2 years and I'm still fighting myself over it. And I've begun to the work I've done over the last few weeks me playing it safe? Or me trying not to.

I don't know...and for the first time in a long time, I need a drink to deal with it...and we ain't talkin' beer, baby.

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