The Novel

Good morning,

I’ve been quietly working on a novel for the last several months. I’m not very many pages into it because it has become one of the most painful processes that I’ve encountered in some time. It’s semi-autobiographical and draws mainly from the period from my dad getting sick up to more or less when my second daughter was born. I’ve had it squirreled away, partly out of worry that it will show my humanity in a way that I’m not 100% comfortable with, but what’s writing if not terribly personal? I figured it’s time to let it breathe a little and maybe get some feedback. Only two people other than myself have had access to it so far. 

 Here is the first page or so. I’ve got a couple of working titles but for now let’s just call it

Room Full of Strangers

I was born in a room full of strangers.

The doctors, my parents, everyone a blur in the delivery room.  A world of unknowns beyond those four walls of which I was completely unaware.  This feeling is not one that I’ve always been able to identify, to confine or define.  However, in retrospect, it’s one that has always been there.

Me.

All alone.

In a room full of strangers.

I found myself most recently in a stranger-filled room the day my father died.  My wife was on a food run.  My mom was downstairs.  I discovered that a new inhabitant had taken up residence in the room I had left minutes prior.  A stranger with familiar, familial features.

Can it be? I thought, and for one, brief moment, my world froze in a solid silent vacuum as the reality of my dad’s lonely death seeped into my eyes and ears, my nose and throat, my pores.  Death, on tiptoes, stole the man I knew and loved and left in his place a strange, empty shell; someone new and unfamiliar.

Did I know this man, my metamorphosed father?  Of course I knew who he was once was.  In his previous iteration, he was there in the delivery room.  He was there in the emergency room when I broke my arm, the courtroom when I married my wife, every childhood bedroom that a sicker, younger version of myself occupied.  But then, now, in that moment, he is, was not that man.  In that moment, in that room where I watched him slowly grow older, sicker, more broken, he became a stranger once more.  A week later, a lifetime later, a lifetime ago.

The memorial service.

Were we remembering the same person?  Or so many iterations of one person?  The uncle, the husband, the businessman.  My father, my hero, my friend.  The people in that room that I’d met before were as strange as the ones I hadn’t.  Ah yes, I’d say, of course I know who you are.  Who, I’d think, is this person?  Thank you, I’d say, for your condolences.  Why, I would think, are you here?  I saw everyone there through melancholy lenses.  People changed by, dressed in, obscured by death’s cold hand.

Even I, my most familiar self, was not who I had been.  My reflection, a refraction.  My memories and perceptions hung at arm’s length in the rough-hewn obsidian remains of my soul.  Darkness?  No, no.  Darkness gives the illusive promise of a reciprocal light.  The graying world as I saw it seemed fake, painted, staged, wrapped in cellophane.  I could perceive in the corner of my eyes a barrier separating me from the rest of the world, like the lines around a moving cartoon, defining it from its surroundings and confining it to itself.

Confined to myself, to the what’s it called? Cortege?  The funeral procession, the line that defines those that belong to the living and those that belong to the dead.  I look to the left and a stranger is standing there.

“So we’re gonna walk through the roads of creation.” Bob Marley, ‘Exodus’

[Four Windows by David Glass available in the Kindle Store HERE]

 

Before I get into the bulk of this post, I want to take a moment and say thank you, Dear Reader for all of the time that you’ve spent perusing my blog.  धन्यवाद to my Readers in India. благодарю to all of the Readers in Russia.  This month I celebrate the one-year anniversary of this blog, and while I have not found (made) much time to write posts, I have told myself that it’s time to get back into it and hit this writing thing hard.

Fun fact: The United, India, and Russia are my three largest readerships, however, in 2015 I had views from 50 different countries I believe I have some additional countries to ass to that list from the past two months.  I share this because it blows my mind.  I have a hard time visualizing other people reading this around the world, but it warms my heart to know that they do.  So thank you, thank you, thank you.  I hope you continue to read and enjoy this journey with me.

 

Speaking of writing, I was looking at my Kindle Direct Press report again, realizing that my marketing skills are, well, apparently non-existent.  I keep saying it’s not about the money, so I’m giving them away one at a time for free.  Starting now:

– – –

Exodus Mining Company

The Exodus Mining Company was founded in the southern region of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula in 1959 with plans to capitalize on the restructuring of the Egyptian government after the World War II and the subsequent British occupation.  With the creation of the Republic of Egypt looming, the EMC’s founders thought, not unwisely, that the demand for building materials would blossom alongside the burgeoning government.  Exodus’ owners dumped their life savings into the equipment necessary to mine the region’s younger and older granitoid deposits and persuaded the existing interim officials to look the other way as they began making preparations to dig.

It seemed like a foolproof plan.  The granite served a number of purposes appropriate to government building.  Sculptures to heroic new leaders, memorials to the fallen, veneers on buildings and the buildings themselves would all require a substantial yet aesthetically pleasing material with which to be constructed.  The market for abundant reservoirs of said material was set to boom, and Exodus was set to be at the forefront of that financial upswing.

Work began as planned at the end of their first year, but it wasn’t long before unforeseen obstacles slowed the EMC’s progress in the desert.  Despite the fairly consistent makeup of the rock, the machinery could not seem to penetrate more than a few meters.  Explosives malfunctioned or failed to detonate.  The rock itself seemed to resist all attempts to excavate it.  Workers, family members of the founders, began to disappear from the makeshift lodging that had been constructed as temporary housing.  Some of them were found dazed atop the mountains, muttering and clawing at the dirt and stone with raw and bloodied fingers.  As the vehicles had not been moved, the rest of the workers were presumed to have merely wandered into the desert, their trails erased by the blowing sand.

Even stranger were the visitors.  At first it was just people from the surrounding villages claiming to be drawn to site.  Then people from other parts of the region, then the world.  Men and women of all ages arrived unscathed from the direction of the deep desert sometimes with children in tow.  Some of them seemed normal enough, but others seemed to have been pulled like loose threads from the fabric of time, as if there being in the present were more uncomfortable than their barefoot journey through the sand.  Within a week, the only thing common among the visitors was the pull they said that dragged them there, not like a pleasant aroma but like a hook in their heart, as if the only relief was proximity to the exposed stone.  Like the stone itself held the cure to some deep and destructive disease.  And so the came, hundreds of them, drawn into the mountains to find a peace they only understood on the most profound levels.
Another month or so passed and the Exodus Mining Company quickly eroded into history, forgotten by most like the dust is was birthed from.  As for the visitors, their trip into the mountains Sinai was as fragile in their minds as the path they took, but the peace that remained was a lasting vestige of their departure into the desert.

– – –

Seeing as how the whole thing is up, I thought I’d also share some commentary about this piece.  I came up with the general idea years ago, that someone had mined Mount Sinai and turned the rock into concrete which was then used to build a structure that drew people from all over.  Originally it was a highway overpass and there was a sort of homeless modern Moses prophesying from under the bridge, so to speak.  People would be drawn but (a la Cassandra) people would balk at his words until the end of the story when the proverbial camera pans out and people are seen walking en masse to the site as the sun sets over the overpass aaaaaand scene.

A few aspects of this approach didn’t work for me, ultimately leading to a total restructuring of the story.  First, the focus was too much on the man.  The idea was supposed to be that the stone, not the man, was drawing the people and the overpass version veered away from the stone too much towards the end.  In that same vein, the whole idea of a structure at all became a problem.  I thought: overpass, no; street or highway, no; then settled on a government building.  The problem with a highway was that I had originally wanted the story set in the US, but couldn’t conceive of a concise and reasonable way to explain why the US would import Egyptian granite for the building of the any sort of American road when there is plenty of rock here in the States already.

Some research needed to be done around this time to make sure that I was being geologically accurate and establishing a concrete foundation (no pun intended) for the semi-religious premise that would float above it.  The actual site of the Biblical Sinai is not universally agreed upon, so it took so reading to decide which site or region I wanted to use.  Also, I needed to confirm the uses for the materials found in that area.  Finally, after deciding on a government structure as the focal point of the religious aura, I had to find a time in Egyptian history that would facilitate the need for extensive mining of raw granitoids.  I got it all sorted out and got ready to start writing.

One last thing was bothering me, however.  I didn’t want to religiously idolize any government entity and, again, take away from the fact that it was the stone that held the residual-ish power.  So it all came down to the mine.  I had the time and the place,  I created people with a general backstory (focus on the stone) and worked to keep the narrative on the effect of the stone versus anyone or anything in particular.  I chose Exodus as the name of the company because of the Book in the Bible of the same name and because I think it added some connectivity and clarity to the piece.

It was a real joy to research and write and I am very proud of it.  I hope you enjoyed and I encourage you to share it with someone you think might enjoy it as well.

Thank you as always, Dear Reader.

More to follow.

Deeply,

Glass

Just a taste

Hello, old friend.

I posted a while back that I had published a collection of short stories on the Kindle store and I sold some copies.  Not a lot, but some.  I stressed in that post that it’s not about money, it’s about getting them out there so I thought I would stir things up a bit and share some samples from the piece and see what you think, Dear Reader.  The first snippet is from the first story, entitled “Volunteer Astronaut.”

Enjoy,

Glass

– – – –

Volunteer Astronaut

    It had been almost two years since Winston’s familiar key had met the unfamiliar lock that his wife had installed in the door of their small, older-than-they-were home.  Under most other circumstances, this might have been alarming, possibly even generating a five step retreat to assess the edifice and ensure that it was, indeed, the right house.  On the day in question, however, the layer of his scattered possessions that coated the lawn had been a preliminary indicator the last straw had, indeed, broken the proverbial camel’s back.  It was shortly after the abandonment of his belongings that Winston had finally gotten off the fence separating him from earth and space.
The Unidirectional Manned Space Initiative (UMSI) had been all the buzz on the radio (that Winston never listened to), television (that Winston rarely watched), and the internet (that had been disconnected days before), but to Winston, the UMSI billboard that loomed alongside the highway, the one that he had passed daily but never really looked at, displayed a proposition that seemed like a message from the heavens.  UMSI was quite literally, a one-way ticket out of a world that Winston felt had given up on him shortly after his arrival in it.