Today's entry doesn't have a great deal to do with writing, exactly. Though it does deal directly with some of the behind-the-scenes stuff of the past year, for those of you interested in that sort of thing.
About a year ago I began sporadically taking up space in a crowded, second-floor studio downtown. Marsha had been sharing this studio with four other artists for the previous year, but one of them was leaving. I'd already been lurking in there off and on for a few months anyway, and it was decided I ought to have my own spot in there. So they gave me a key and welcomed me into the fold.
I hauled my meager requirements up those two flights of stairs and settled into my new writing home. I looked around from my new perspective (I had previously spent much of my time in a different part of the room, so it took some getting used to), leaned back in my comfortable old chair, and thought about the possibilities and all the work I could do up there.
There were a lot of late nights in that crowded little space, for both of us together but for me by myself from time to time too. I would riff on the creative energy floating on the air in there and come up with some cool stuff from time to time. My current novel was born in that studio, as were several short stories, both completed and still in the developmental stages. Back when I was a smoker I would retire to the balcony and stare down into the dark alley below, drawing inspiration seemingly from nowhere. Even the original incarnation of Beast of Wunderland was first hashed out in that studio too.
I made some good friends up there, even if my nocturnal nature prevented me from encountering my mates very often. One of them, in fact, I encountered up there for the very first time today. It took us moving out to bring us into the same space at the same time, apparently!
I once hosted one of Biff's writing classes in there, exposing my haphazard style to a cluster of students who may or may not have been scared away from the writing lifestyle altogether after that.
Maybe most importantly, that was the site of an experiment Marsha and I performed together in our early stages as a couple. If you run into me on the street or at a party sometime, you can ask me about the experiment, and I may just tell you a little bit about it. For the purposes of this space, suffice it to say that we learned something about ourselves and each other that made it possible for us to take the concept of us to the next level.
So what is all of this, other than a semi-interesting stroll down memory lane? Well, the two of us spent much of this past weekend in the final stages of emptying out that studio. We had all agreed back in the summer that when the lease was up we wouldn't be renewing it. It's amazing just how much stuff can accumulate over that amount of time. Some of it came here to my house, while some went to hers. A lot of it went to her new studio, and a staggering amount went into the dumpster. Exhausted and nearly overwhelmed after picking away at it for the past month, we brought out the last of it - her largest paintings, mostly - this afternoon, and handed in our keys.
So Marsha's quasi-settled into her new place around the corner; the others have gone to their individual new arrangements. I'm back in my home office, though it feels weird in there now. A very different atmosphere, though I'm sure I'll get used to it.
As a result, as I stood there today, doing the final look-around for anything we may have missed, I was seeing the vast emptiness of our studio for the first time, devoid of all of the things associated with the various art disciplines that were evident in there - easels, looms, acres of yarn, paintings and drawings liberally scattered throughout. And of course my own little corner of the world: the table I sat and wrote at, the bookshelf with my various reference books, the bar fridge that endeared me to my studio mates, and the seemingly endless reams of paper, my notes and scribblings, scattered everywhere.
And this morning, as I stood looking around at the empty room, I thought again of the possibilities that space held. I wondered what would ultimately happen in our space; if maybe more artists, hungry and eager for the opportunity to have a place all to themselves to create, will settle in there. So much potential. No answers, just a million questions that have yet to be asked.
I'm going to miss the sights, the sounds, the smells, and everything attached to this period of my life wrapped up in that studio space. What a great experience it's been. Thanks for the memories, guys!
Once again - and for the third time in as many years - I've been fortunate enough to be included in the latest in the long-running and distinguished Twisted Tails series from Double Dragon Publishing. In this ninth edition, entitled Wunderkind, the focus is on... well, I'll let the illustrious editor, J. Richard Jacobs, explain it to you:
"I suppose the first thing I need to do is define what Wunderkind means for this book. I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the word somewhere so you know a “normal” Wunderkind is a precocious child with mental capacities that are just a wee bit beyond amazing. A wonder (wunder). Here the Wunderkind is a good deal more than just bright. Our Wunderkind is capable of doing…things. He or she has talents that go far beyond learning the calculus at age three, or reading an entire set of encyclopedias at the rate of a book a day, or learning the alphabet on his or her way down the birth canal. No, this Wunderkind is extra special in the world of the Wunderkind.
Here you will find stories—10 of them in all—about folks with strange, unusual, sometimes dangerous talents that challenge the very fabric of the Universe. Some of our precious Wunderkind are all grown up, as children are prone to do if they are lucky enough to survive, while others are still on their way to their frightening adulthood. Whether adult or adolescent or youngster or toddler or infant, they are all…Wunderkind."
My story - in the lead-off slot, incidentally - is called Through the Eyes of a Child. It focuses on four-year-old Tony, whom 'child prodigy' doesn't even begin to describe. He reads Tolstoy and Shakespeare. He knows more about the universe than Hawking. And that's only the tip of the iceberg of what he can do.
Twisted Tails IX: Wunderkind is now live in Kindle format. Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and on iTunes. The paperback edition will follow in a couple of weeks.
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Photo credits: Biff Mitchell