Friday, March 14, 2014

Use the Force

I was most prolific during my high school years (although my work got significantly better in college).  My stories followed similar archetypes.  Lost and alone, good vs. evil, magic and ritual.  My current novel Crow Creek does mostly the same.  Not as often, I take up the journey or quest narrative.  I based one particular short story on a real-life experience that I shared with a bunch of friends from AP Physics class my senior year.  It was called "An Account of Strange Events on Genesis Avenue."  I borrowed heavily from a similarly titled Gothic story by Joseph Sheridan LeFanu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft.

Late one Saturday night, my friends and I drove out to Paradise Valley to pay our favorite teacher (whose name for these purposes will be Mr. Forceman, which is incredibly close to his real name - how cool for a physics teacher?) a surprise visit.  Mr. Forceman threw a party for us a few weeks prior.  Maybe it was a Halloween party?  Something tells me we all went in costumes.  Just picture an 1980's version of the cast of The Big Bang Theory.  I think I would've been the Leonard, but honestly, my friends probably viewed me more as the Sheldon because I was so fucking weird.  We all were.  I still am.  I hope they are.  I know one of them certainly is because he still does theatre for a living (and happens to share my birthday, which is fucking cool).  Much to our disappointment, Mr. Forceman wasn't home when we showed up.  We all had our guesses as to where he might've been.  I put my theory into the story.  He's a ghost who travels to other worlds in his small prop plane (he had a pilot's license).  In an effort to track him down, we perform a ritual to open the door he uses to access the other dimensions and mistakenly gate in Cthulhu-like creatures that tear most of us apart.  The ritual was something we really did.  We scribbled messages in chalk all the way down the long driveway to his house on the mountainside.  If we had smartphones back then, we would've taken pictures to remember what we wrote.  I kept some of them in my story.

The only way to avoid being lonely is to make connections with other people.  You can be in a crowd but all alone, right?  Just ask Hank Williams.  But, you have to connect.  You need communion.  We're social beings by nature.  It's what I teach my theatre students.  Unfortunately, it's something the main character of Crow Creek doesn't do so well.  It's something I've always struggled with.  I'm thankful I had those friends when I was in high school because they made a difference.  Our journeys took us down different paths, but I miss those guys.  I miss those days.  Perhaps, they're hiding somewhere in another dimension, and I need only open the door. 


  1. I like how you have been writing even since you've graduated school. Your creativity shows when you explain that you "put your theory into the story". I strongly agree with your last paragraph, also. "We're social begins by nature" is one powerful line. Can't wait to read your book! :)

  2. "...I was so fucking weird. We all were."

  3. This post really resonated with me. The line about being alone in a crowd reminded me of something one of my favorite musicians, Townes Van Zandt, said when he was asked if he ever felt alone. Townes said, "I feel aloneness all the time. Loneliness I hardly ever feel during the day. At night sometimes after a gig I feel it a bunch. But loneliness, anyway is a state of feeling, whereas aloneness is a state of being -- like the difference between bein' broke and bein' poor."

    It's hard to connect with others a lot of the time and it's a weird feeling to be in a crowd but all alone. Staying connected with others, as I'm finding out now in my life, requires constant maintenance and revision. Connecting with new people can be even more difficult. This post brought a lot home for me.