It's an odd truth : reality is a slippery thing.
We often expect one thing and get quite another. We awaken to a dark moment, expecting death and get life instead. That's one of the lessons of Easter.
Don't sigh. You haven't stumbled upon a finite man pompously spouting delusions about the infinite.
I'm actually writing about the art of writing. And like any art, it requires practice and diligence and correct technique. I'm writing about something painful all we writers must learn to handle correctly : criticism. Ouch. It hurts.
We all receive it. None of us is perfect. Well, there was that one. But we crucified him.
I've received criticism. I'll probably receive it about this post. But there is an Easter spin to the criticism we all receive : there is life after the grave.
But only if you take the right path.
I know from experience that when you get rejected, all becomes dark for a moment that seems to stretch for infinity. And when all is darkness, it's easy to get turned around.
In my first incarnation of FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE, Samuel McCord was a man of strong faith. A very noted, respected agent was impressed enough with my partial to request my complete manuscript. He was kind and giving enough to explain why he rejected it. Bottom line : I had pushed away a large segment of the reading audience who didn't believe. And no publisher, especially in these harsh economic times, wants to buy a novel that will do that.
And after the initial "ouch," I thought about the wisdom of his words. He was right. I remembered a novel, reading and enjoying it immensely, only to cringe when he superficialized and mocked people of faith. They were Moslems, by the way. I respect people of all faiths. I laid the book down and never bought another by that author. I realized the respected agent had a point. He wasn't respected for nothing.
I didn't want to hurt or push any reader away. How could I tell my story without doing it? I heard the voice of my best friend, Sandra, sigh, "Just tell them the story, Roland. Don't tell them what to make of it. Leave it to them to decide : like you do with me."
Sandra is an agnostic. She is my best friend. People marvel at the friendship of two people who believe so differently, including her husband, who is a proud atheist. If you watch the very first Gregory Peck movie, THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM, you will find the answer. I saw that movie as a young boy late, late at night on one of those programs that show dusty old movies. It helped shape my view on how to be a man of God. And yes, I look just like a young Gregory Peck. Not fooling you, huh? Rats.
But thinking on what Sandra might say to me, dawn rose in my darkness. I would focus on those subjects, those questions we all have. An enthusiasm fired me.
I would present those things, showing the amiable bickering of two old undead friends : one who didn't believe but longed for a better universe where a loving God did indeed exist and the other a vampire priest who did believe ... most of the time.
I wouldn't clearly show which view, if either, was correct. I mean, in an infinite world, how could any finite mind hold all the answers? I would leave it to the reader to decide.
We all hurt. We all question the hungry darkness within, the threatening darkness without. We all seek for the light. I wrote FRENCH QUARTER NOCTURNE for all of us. And I pray that the Great Mystery grant you enough light for the next step on your path.
About the same time as when I first watched THE KEYS TO THE KINGDOM, my mother said this song reminded her of me. I knew it wasn't me, but I always tried to live up to it. Here is Natalie Cole singing it :