Halloween is tomorrow, and I’ve wondered why I can’t get into costumes, parties and the feel for the day. I like having kids “trick or treat” and handing out candy, this year full Almond Mound bars. But adults should know better.
I’ve done what I’ve always done, be deliberate, remembering much and thinking about what is happening. I’ve seen a lot of stuff unrelated to the bad entertainment of the House of Representatives versus the President and the Senate. All the horrors I observed are about people, perpetrating interminable hardships on themselves, suffering from wrong choices in life, having inabilities to comprehend what is happening or why they are bound on restrictive mindsets, acting inappropriately and communicating wrongly causing them to linger longer. And they make the same mistakes or nearly identical mistakes again, again and again. I’ve done some of that stuff to myself.
Mostly, I watch those horrors of life, terrifying me but not them, and now arrives Halloween. What’s to celebrate? I don’t need a special day to remember that everyone else is entertained by contrived stories and sketches designed to shock them, meanwhile they’re oblivious. So other than handing out candy, I sit this day out.
I’ve come to my approach naturally. A while ago an older book-loving friend became a friend and influenced me to read War and Peace. He called me Pierre Bezukhov. I had many of the characteristics and traits of Pierre. When I told him I would read Anna Karinina, he said there was someone in that novel who was like me. It didn’t take long to realize who I was, Konstantin Levin. [He also told me to remember the rail station accident at the beginning of the story.] Both Pierre and Konstantin are surrogates for Leo Tolstoy. I don’t know if I’m like Leo, but I am still like Pierre and Konstantin.
I hadn’t written anything when I read those Tolstoy, but since then, I’ve written novels, long and short, for sale on the iBookstore, Michael Ulin Edwards. Each novel is carefully crafted, excellent works of fiction, easily belonging to the bosom of American literature. Buy and read each. Sorry for the promotional note. It seemed an opportunity to slide it in.
Encumbered by my disposition while everyone in society relishes in going ape (Halloween is not the only day), my life is slow and occasionally fast. I can’t live a normal life, fat, dumb, drunk and happy and try to ignore my predilections. Turning to writing full time has not been happily profitable, but I am productive. My abilities to write have grown while I don’t care if I talk only a little. I am generally happy. I figure I have deep seeded ideas and thoughts that I have not expressed, and that I could not release in any other way. Writing had afforded freedom and openings from a communication congestion and allowing a flow of conflict and uncertainty from my mind. I write more because I have more stuff jammed in here, or perhaps more stuff originates and needs expressing.
Part of this cycle or process was encouraged by going cold turkey on booze. Yes, I loved fine wines and single-malt Scotches (whisky for the Brits). I don’t feel better physically, but mentally I’m sharper. I can read at night. I suppose I’ll sort out the other benefits of no longer consuming alcoholic chemicals. I know only partly what I put myself through. For a while I had to drink to write fiction, and I excused my behavior by resorting to William Faulkner (paraphrased): The writer has four tools. Tobacco, alcohol, paper and ink. The most dangerous of these is paper.
If you don’t believe Faulkner is correct, stare at a blank page or at a screen. How dangerous is that to a writer? Next stare at a screen full of words, or at a page of your words. How dangerous is that compared to ink, tobacco and alcohol. For a writer paper represents the product, good, bad or ugly. The processes of writing increases little terrors in every writer. It is uncertain, indefinite, unsuccessful, and every word made and page filled make the product a potential source of unhappiness, whether it be sold or not. Some writers realize that what is on the page, rather than the smile in the publicity photo and the dollars under the table, is not good. The writing was produced to pay the rent. Time to shrink from that work and all other sequels the publishing house wants to push.
Consciousness of this commercialism and willingness to step into it is a horror story. One such tale has already been written, the best Halloween movie for writers [William Holden’s character] ever filmed: “Sunset Boulevard.” Unspecific vagueness, senseless eternities and meaningless musings all greet the writer. Who needs Halloween for terror? So I don’t spend much time dwelling on this day, or thinking about spooks or hoping that horrors will drop my way. I’m living them now, tomorrow and for much of the next year.