My mother’s acquaintance’s husband flopped down on the sofa. “So,” he said by way of introduction/greeting, “what the hell are these novel things you’re always busy working on but that no one has ever heard of? Every time Pinky talks to your mother, she complains you waste all your time on books and such.” He glanced around as if to underscore these helpful comments with the implication that I should be spending said time vacuuming, dusting, polishing, and giving away all my little trinkets.
I had misplaced my laser pistol. (Evidently it’s under a pillow somewhere with the sonic screwdriver and the portable hole.) But because Pinky (Mama’s friend) and my mother were baking something in my kitchen and would be at it for a while longer (he had come back to pick up his wife and the baked goods), I decided to give him a straight answer.
“Each of my projects is different. My chick-lit-that-isn’t novel, LITTLE RITUALS, explores the power of ritual, ceremony, and convention in our lives. Many of my heroine Daphne’s compulsive little rituals (the ones that aren’t related to “the spell she’s under,” I mean) are rituals that my friends/cousins and I actually do practice, consciously or subconsciously. Rituals have power. Whether you believe that means they wield actual power over the physical universe by means of action in the supernatural, or that simply means your own mind gloms on to the effects of the ritual (with no occult or supernatural effects), you have to know that ritual carries meaning and has power.”
He looked blank. Not surprised, not intrigued, but simply blank.
I can never obey that RTUTEX rule (“Resist the Urge to Explain”).
“Everything from a birthday party to the mindless greeting exchange of “How are you?/Fine, thanks” qualifies as a ritual. As my heroine Daphne says, “There’s nothing wrong with taking comfort from ritual. It’s part of knowing what’s expected, arranging life to make sense. Having rituals in your life leads to a feeling of security, a sense that we know what’s happening and why. Ritual can even substitute good habits for bad ones, which can save you when trouble comes. Maybe the rituals we favor show who we are. All I know is, wherever I look, I see rituals structuring our days, mapping our lives, and leaving behind trails to mark our paths through the calendar.”
He grunted. “Pinky said it was some kind of Harry Potter stuff or such.”
“She’s probably thinking of DULCINEA: or WIZARDRY A-FLUTE. That’s the one with the so-called female Harry Potter lead character.”
He raised one eyebrow. I took this to mean he’d like to hear what the book is about.
“Dulcinea Brown is sixteen and has just discovered a whole new kind of magic. It’s a good thing, too, because although she is just coming into her magical powers, she will soon be called upon to save the world. Under the guidance of her father’s new apprentice, Raz Songsterson–who is not what he seems–Dulcinea must use the flute magic she has stumbled upon to save Ladenia City from destruction by a magically conjured Blue-Scaled Dragon. The dragon was illegally brought from an alternate plane of existence and is under the control of the wicked Society of Mages. The Society plans to loose the dragon on an unsuspecting Ladenia City at the height of Festival Week. It turns out there’s a lot more that she has to correct to prevent the very fabric of reality from being torn. But that’s not what the book is really ABOUT. It’s about righting wrongs, acquiring talents and powers that you have to grow into talents, gaining wisdom and purpose as you do, traveling and adventuring, having your hard work pay off, and finding friends and an unlikely romantic partner who appreciates you, flaws and all.”
He flicked an irritating speck from between his teeth. “Reading’s a waste of time. You could get so much more done if you did active things instead.”
Pinky and Mama emerged from the kitchen, carrying the foodstuffs they’d been working on for some kind of gathering over where Pinky is living now (it’s assisted living, sort of.) “Let’s go,” she said to him, always succinct and to the point. “Thanks for the electricity,” she added over her shoulder to me.
They’re definitely not in my target audience (if anyone, indeed, is.)
But I think they’ll all enjoy the pink champagne cupcakes.
Do you think any author is appreciated in his or her home or hometown? Is it different for published authors, or people who get book tours, or whatever? My piano teacher graduated from Eastman and has given concerts at Carnegie Hall and has soloed with the Chicago Symphony . . . but she’s always struggling to make ends meet by giving piano lessons to children who really don’t want to learn and by doing anything else she can to hang on. So maybe every artist is supposed to be a starving artist. Maybe it builds character.
(Why isn’t that working on me?)
Oh, about the piano teacher thing. I’m going over to audition for a spot in her studio tomorrow around three. I decided that I *have* to have a creative outlet that gets some kind of constructive direction, so this will be it (if I get the place.) This is a teacher I took one lesson from before, way back when I was fifteen and had a fistful of baby-siting money. She’s back in Dallas and still in business, so I figured, what the hell. I don’t know whether she’ll consent to coach me on the Schubert Moments Musical, which is what I have in mind, or will want to put me back in Book 1 of Mikrokosmos (although that is NOT happening.) But it WILL give me a reason for practicing every day (during a time that I could be washing dishes or clothes!) that the family can’t shoot down. Sneaky. . . .