A Light in the Darkness (Or, Watching the Fireflies)

It’s night–a warm, muggy summer night in the hills of east-central Vermont.  It’s late.  I’ve always been a night person.  Even though I arise by five thirty most mornings, I still shake hands with midnight from time to time.  Tonight is one of those nights.

 

I’m at the window, the breeze wafting in, carrying with it the sound of crickets as they play their fiddles, unseen, in the grass that needs mowing.  Out there, beyond the house, is the meadow–five acres’ worth, surrounded on all sides by woodlands.  It’s a private spot, down a dirt road.  There is no neighbor within a half-mile.  And while sometimes, the distant sound of a car engine or chainsaw can be heard, for the most part, it is quiet here–except for the crickets and the hoot owls and the creatures of the night who crawl and run and slither through the grass.

 

I’m not sure what I’m looking for.  There are stars above–the night is clear.  I can see the silhouette of the trees as they sway, this way and that.  But then, then . . . I see it.  A light, a flicker in the dark.  And there!  Another one.  And another.  And another.  It’s like a pre-4th-of-July fireworks show.  Fireflies.  There are so many of them out there.  When one goes dark, another takes its place.  They blink, in and out, light and dark, in a showy, rhythmic dance upon the air.

 

I am mesmerized.  It is almost hypnotic.  There’s another one, and another still.  Why do they do it?  What motivates these tiny insects to produce such a vibrant, magical show?  There are several reasons, actually.  But one is . . . a desire to be noticed.  To be seen.  A call across the dark to attract a potential mate.  “Here I am,” they’re saying.  “See my light.”

 

I step back from the window.  See my light.  Isn’t that, in essence, what we’re doing when we’re sharing our writing, our artwork, our creations?  After all, sharing is hard.  There may be praise and encouragement and acceptance “out there”–and surely there will be.  But there will also be rejection.  Criticism.  Scathing reviews.  Whenever you acquire a new reader, a new viewer, a new listener . . . you don’t know what the reaction will be.  It might go either way.  You may be on a good run, receiving positive feedback day after day.  But the next day, some new criticism may emerge.  A negative review may be posted.  It’s impossible to predict.

 

I return to the window, and witness a dozen or more fireflies glowing over the meadow.  Then more join in, and more, and still more.  The displays on the 4th won’t match this.  And I realize–these fireflies, these beings who are a fraction of the size of my fingernail, are not afraid.  They aren’t overthinking things.  They’re just glowing.

 

See my light.

Do you have an idea you want to write, but haven’t yet, perhaps reluctant on account that “it won’t be any good”?  Or . . . do you have a recently finished work collecting digital dust on your hard drive, hidden from the eyes of others?  “It’s not strong enough,” you might say.  “People won’t like it.  Who am I to share this with anyone?” And even here, in the WordPress community . . . do you have a blog post in mind but are hesitating, second-guessing, questioning whether to publish it?

 

Mitchell Brant would certainly be able to relate to this.  And so would Joe Marma, Marc Kuslanski, and Ryan SwintonThe Eye-Dancers and The Singularity Wheel are, at their heart, about confronting insecurities and coming to terms with what and who we are, and learning to accept it.

 

Do you feel the fire within, the ember that burns, seeking release and recognition?  Are you attuned to the song only you can sing, the word-picture only you can paint?

See my light.

Directly in front of me, not five inches beyond the window, a firefly glows.  Farther out, a dozen others join him.  I don’t know how long the dance will persist.  Maybe a few more minutes.  Maybe all night.  Maybe they’ll fly and glow and glide till dawn, keeping at it until the first reddish tinge of the sun comes into view.

 

As for me, it’s time for bed.  I need to get some sleep.  There is writing to do on the morrow, scenes to craft.  Characters to live with.  Situations to explore.

Stories to share.

 

Thanks so much for reading!

–Mike

Going Forward . . . by Going Back

When I was growing up, there were a few nights each summer when I would host a sleepover–not all that different from the sleepover that occurs in chapter six of The Eye-Dancers.  Of course in my case, my friends and I were not haunted by a swirling-eyed “ghost girl” who whisked us off to a faraway and alien dimension.  But the adventures we shared, the things we talked about, the “what-ifs” we brought up were the inspiration behind the novel.

diffdimension

 

As were my friends themselves.  Mitchell Brant, Joe Marma, Ryan Swinton, and Marc Kuslanski, along with several supporting characters in The Eye-Dancers, were inspired by the friends I knew growing up, indeed the same friends who would sleep over on those warm July and August nights, when thoughts of school and homework, of college majors and impending adulthood, seemed galaxies away.

summernight

 

When I wrote The Eye-Dancers, it often felt as if I were returning back to those days.  And that, I suppose, is one of the many joys and wonders of creative writing.  You can be sitting at a desk in an office, in a studio apartment, anywhere, decades removed from the childhood you’re writing about, and yet, with a flourish of keystrokes and finger taps you can be transported back through the years, as if by some whimsical magician waving a white-tipped and wonder-filled wand.

magicwand

 

It’s a cliche, I suppose, but in my case it’s the truth.  I write because I love to write, need to write.  And now I am in the midst of writing the sequel to The Eye-Dancers.  At first I was reluctant.  Did I really want to write a sequel?  But the idea, which arrived unasked for–not at all a preplanned project–demanded attention.  So I began writing, not convinced it would go anywhere, but scratching the itch, as it were, allowing the process to take me where it will.

writingprocess

 

I wrote the prologue, and chapter one, which grew into chapter two and three and four . . . and by that time, the scope of the novel began to take shape in my mind.  I don’t outline my novels, but I do formulate a general plan–or, perhaps more accurate–the plan forms on its own, a result of the characters’ decisions.  And now, nine chapters and 40,000 words into this still-untitled WIP, I have an overwhelming urge to continue, to keep the story going . . . to find out where Mitchell and Joe and Ryan and Marc and the “ghost girl” will take me.  I am along for the ride, and I can’t wait to round the next bend.

bendinroad

 

At this point, I would like to devote more time to the sequel than I have so far.  In fact, Joe Marma himself told me just the other day, “C’mon, bud, get with the program.  You gotta start working on this novel more, or else . . .”  And as readers of The Eye-Dancers know, you don’t want to frustrate Joe! As a result, I will be posting on The Eye-Dancers site every two weeks for the foreseeable future, down from the once-weekly schedule I have maintained for over a year now.  This is definitely not a blogging break or blogging sabbatical–just a slight scaling back.  I enjoy the WordPress community far too much to take any extended leaves.

wordpress

 

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On those summer sleepovers from yesteryear, sometimes I would read aloud stories I had written.  Back then, they were pencil-written plays, starring myself and my friends–no fictional names used!  Looking back, they were very poorly done–highly imaginative but sloppy and far too often over the top.  But one thing they were for sure was fun.  I used to laugh out loud when I read them, and my friends would join in.  Even today, if I need a pick-me-up, or a creative boost, I will pull out one of the old stories and remember . . .

It is with that spirit of adventure, fun, and love that I will turn to the sequel of The Eye-Dancers this summer.  And, with hope, that same spirit will manifest itself on every page.

nostalgia

 

So even though I’ll be posting less, I hope you’ll all continue to read and follow this blog.  You are the reason blogging is so much fun for me.

glaxiesend

 

Thank you so much for reading!

–Mike

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