Saturday, March 28, 2009

Son of Medjugorje

Now the popcorn is really going to hit the fan!
And just when I was having such a wonderful time returning to the good old days of the delight of writing a short story. I'll never forget my first try at the short form, because not only was the original inspiration an awfully fiery affair, even though it happened only within the mundane custom of waiting for a trolley bus - on my way to a Ubyssey party - but it was the author's second introduction to two of the very major characters of "Contemplatives", Jacob Cameron and Michael Thurman. This was a nice shift from the necessarily protracted business of a novel - although the character of Jacob owed much to the more introspective tone that had come upon the beginning of my second book - because it brought the pleasures of the lesser assignment. Two or three themes instead of a thousand, a few days of work instead of months, and if the Saturday Evening Post went for it, a nice quick cheque and maybe I could buy a sports car!
So I thundered through the thing within a week, in the evenings when I wasn't helping put the Ubyssey to bed or marching about the UBC armouries - this year in uniform instead of civies - did a quick slapdash editing, and shipped it off, I'm sure without the courtesy of a self-addressed stamped envelope. Ah, youth! But I was personally convinced, until the thing came back a few weeks later, that I couldn't lose! The inspiration had been so huge. I was even terrified, in the way that artists get terrified over their ideas, that other writers all around the world had overheard the Muse letting me in on one absolutely terrific deal! The Post would have to acknowledge my unique genius, and I was away. And I hadn't yet even gone to New York.
The rejection was by no means a deterrent, although it was probably part of the collection of growing concepts that provoked to send one of the next tales to Arthur Mayse. Then the year after that to Earle Birney, and so on to the more ordinary processes of the writer's apprenticeship, thoroughly appreciating every step down the long road, taking careful notes against the day of success and therefore accountability, but never with any idea that it would be half-a-century and thousands of novel pages later before I would return to the joys and mental adventure of my youth.
And, now one little piece on its way to daylight, in a much loved and admired magazine right out of my own backyard; a second with yet another Kootenay publisher with a bold and roving eye, but already approved by a very well known academic and published critic; and a third which is giving me the time of my life, with all the leisure in the world, unfolding word by lovely word. No writer could be happier. The title alone, "Grizzly Gorman", is plainly a gift from the Muse, and yes, there really is a grizzly, and enormously threatening bear he is in his own right, as well as the enormously satisfying metaphor he also emerged as some days into the tale. Magazine editors around the world, if they knew of the draught, would be ringing my phone off the hook!
Just imagine, fiction no real man can possibly resist, yet absolutely true and based on fact. A genuine commercial success in these days of reality TV. And yet a critical success as well, with a text and subtext to dazzle the commentary profession for decades to come, especially those whose grasp of depth psychology is as profound - or ambitious - as their passion for syntax.
But ah, enter the inspirations of the agent, which have, in only a few days, brought us to the town of Conyers, Georgia. Now as my little band of faithful readers know, I have a soft spot for the state of Georgia, the home of Margaret Mitchell and the novel and the musical inspirations I came to in the middle of the 90s. But until yesterday I had never heard of that nice little town that lies some thirty miles to the east by southeast of Atlanta. Well, that is, not heard in the ordinary way. I don't think it's mentioned at all in Gone With the Wind, nor had it caught my eye anytime I've browsed over Georgia and her neighbours in our atlas.
But I find out now, from my journals, that I most certainly was advised about the so-called extraordinary events that are alleged by certain souls to have taken place there between 1987 and 1990.
For a week or so, Marianne has been a participant in a new feature on the Net, something called "Twitter". While I stick to my blogging, she prowls all over the place, often looking for any feature that will facilitate her work as my agent. So when she found Twitter, she quickly entered its particular ambience as an agent and started flogging Contemplatives. Good kid. It's an uphill battle, given that the vast majority, even of those who claim the ability to read theology, are so sluggish about the spiritual life, but it's been a good challenge for getting her up in the morning.
With gratifying swiftness, she got responses, on her Twitter channel, and by the end of the week,
yesterday afternoon, my Sitemeter showed a hit on the blog from the website of the Archdiocese of Atlanta, precisely out of Conyers. The reference had come from Twitter, but it was a hit on my stuff. Most gratifying. Eisenhower's principle of the broadest possible front is working at last.
But why, in this particular case? Is there a parish priest in Conyers who actually reads? This may sound cruel, and even ungrateful if you understand that it was a parish priest, a good reader, who put me on to Sigrid Undset as well as the excellent spiritual works in his library. But I have to trust that it has been the Muse rather than the devil who has been probing the statistics of real clerical literacy in mind, just as He has been raising questions regarding true practical wisdom in the music trade.
Or, perhaps Conyers has a thriving theatrical group that has heard about the opera. Or wants to overcome the Georgia predicament of no Catholic schools below college level. Or would there actually be in Conyers a publisher who refuses to believe the computer has rendered books irrelevant? Woody Allen really should be filming my imagination.
The first step towards satisfying my curiosity, of course, in this day and age, is googling. So, Conyers, Georgia. And I don't even need the capitals! There's one in the eye for English class in the good old days.
It was only a matter of seconds to get past the customary headlines to realize that Conyers is indeed a unique spot. Well, almost unique. It took me a second read of all that twaddle about the Virgin Mary to realize that although the unfortunate apostle of this falsehood is from the midwest, she ran into her "messages" in Bosnia Herzegovinia, on a mountain, no less. Just like Moses, and with all sorts of followers busy creating golden calves. I noticed the donate button. I have never wished I were a computer whiz before, but now I think it would be useful if I knew how to sneak into the website and change "Donate" to "Detonate".
Interestingly enough, my bedside book at the moment - other than my habitual saints - is a Mark Twain classic, "A Connecticut Yankee at King Arthur's Court". Providence is, as always, wonderful, especially when acting through my wife, always the bringer of the next useful text, even if it can take me months to find the right time frame. At one point, Twain's Church-bashing - did he belong to the Missouri based Know-nothings? - just about made me put the book away. (I had seen the movie, with Bing Crosby, as a kid.) But I persevered, and certainly his treatment of "miracle" must be rated as right on for the purposes of the moment.
It hurts to leave "Grizzly", but as Johnny Hart said, back in the days when our local newspaper had the wit to run "The Wizard of Id", "Once an engineer, always an engineer." The journal notes for October 13, 1990, the alleged date of the last vision, are as extensive as they are devastating - or detonating - and will need at least one full post to themselves.


cabbage ears said...

Ken....what is a false visionary? Can one ever be secure enough to label anybody as false? Over and above blatant hedonists? I wonder until the moment I cannot. Irene

the kootenay ranger said...

Somebody has to be secure enough to separate the truth from its many opposites. This works at every level, from your day care, where you have to be secure when telling a little person that she is trying to put her left shoe on her right foot, as I have to be when I tell the Pope he has given the wrong chapter number to the page is quoting from when discoursing on John of the Cross. (this actually happened not too long ago.)
But a visionary is of course more complicated, requiring all sorts of training, counsel from qualified associates, and above all, the theological gift of the discernment of spirits. To tell the truth, I was at first, when reading about it in the press, taken in by Medjugorje. But once I saw the priest and his teenagers on the television, I could see and feel where the truth lay. With the Conyers thing, the false spirit leapt right off the pages in the monitor.

cabbage ears said...

Thanks, Ken. I do that. "this is you left foot, this your right." Yet, I wonder still about the bigger picture. Are these small acts the beginning to visionary?