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Sorry, Edna, but Charles has won…

February 11, 2009

It’s always very difficult to follow up a Gaiman book. What to read next?

I have in my stack of library books Savage Beauty, a biography of Edna St. Vincent Millay, whose poetry I haven’t read in a million years but remember liking. I also have Breakfast at Tiffany’s, a collection of Truman Capote stories. I keep picking them up, one after the other, and although both look very good, neither is calling to me (although isn’t that a pretty photo?).

Instead, I will start in on my new project of reading all the Charles de Lint novels that the Oakland library system has. I am starting with Memory and Dream, which I have a sneaking suspicion that I’ve already read, but which I’m going to read regardless. It’s about an artist whose illustrations have a life of their own, a story which is calling to me as I try to bring my owls (and who knows what else next!) to life.

I’ve been having this thought lately, while pondering the big question of what I really want to do with my life. I read an article recently about Rachel Maddow. Her partner has been trying to decide whether to quit her job and become a full-time artist. She said something like, “It’s not about what is ‘the right decision’ — it’s about the fable you want to write about your own life.” This has been sticking with me. The fable I want to write about my own life. What a nice perspective.

So that got me thinking about my dad, who, at age 62-ish, is pursuing another world record in his age group, in pole-vaulting (through Masters Track and Field competitions). (He has had a few world records already) This is my dad’s greatest joy — vaulting. He says it’s the closest thing you can get to flying, and he loves it so much. He’s a good example of what you can do when you really devote yourself to something, no matter what the odds, no matter what the naysayers, no matter about anything except that you love it.

(here’s Dad two years ago, unfortunately snapping a pole)

To me, drawing something, when it turns out a certain way, when it has life, is the closest thing to real magic that I know. It’s the thing that takes my breath away, the thing of which I am most jealous, neurotic, envious, admiring, covetous, proud, humble… if I could draw the things I have in my head — what magic that would be! Sometimes I get a glimpse when something turns out right — and it’s that edge of it being almost real, almost magic, that gets me excited. I don’t know what I’m capable of — could be nothing, could be something good. The perfect example of ‘you don’t know until you try.’

So I’m thinking about it. About magic. About fables, and bringing things to life.

Tonight has been spent curled up in front of the fire, doing nothing productive — flipping through catalogs, reading Apartment Therapy, eating nachos, petting the cat. I feel a thousand times better than I did all day. And now, time for early bed.
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