Amateur Alchemy: The Power of the Pen

“Thereafter I heard Zann every night, and although he kept me awake, I was haunted by the weirdness of his music. Knowing little of the art myself, I was yet certain that none of his harmonies had any relation to music I had heard before; and concluded that he was a composer of highly original genius. The longer I listened, the more I was fascinated, until after a week I resolved to make the old man’s acquaintance.”

-H. P Lovecraft, The Music of Erich Zann

The works of Howard Philips Lovecraft have inspired the titans and toddlers of horror literature since his passing in 1937, and this toddler is no exception. All writers are born readers, though not all readers become writers. The latter was the path I was traveling (quite comfortably, mind you) until recently. My first experience with Lovecraftian Horror came via the clawed, out-stretched hands of  1988’s The Unnamable

theunnamable

Not necessarily married to Lovecraft’s original draft, it still managed to scare the piss out of  four-year-old-me. And I enjoyed it.

Catapulted by the camp of the 80s and 90s, my literary diet always consisted of a few morsels of mystery with a heavy helping of horror. Once you throw in a conspiracy-crazed father and a few books rooted in the occult, one doesn’t have far to leap to end up where we are now. But we all know what hindsight is. No fun, right?

The quotation which sits atop this page was chosen specifically because I feel that it describes, in absurd detail, the feelings reading Lovecraft’s work could stir in me. Unlike Zann and his haunting tunes, Lovecraft chose the pen and paper to exorcise, or manifest, depending on your standing, his demons . “Knowing little of the art myself” , it was these feelings that would foster my first steps into what I call “The Shit”.

Enter the esteemed and enigmatic Alan Moore, The Sultan of The Shit and harbinger of my current curse. Moore’s contributions to the comic and literary worlds are vast and well-known, so I’ll skip to my point in all of this. As a fan of comics, John Constantine, and the magical nature of his work, was the beacon that later drew me deeper into Moore’s personal beliefs on creative acts being a magical furnace. More importantly, this lead me to his personal account of coming face-to-face with his own creation.

“One day, I was in Westminster in London – this was after we had introduced the character – and I was sitting in a sandwich bar. All of a sudden, up the stairs came John Constantine. He was wearing the trenchcoat, a short cut, he looked… no, he didn’t even look exactly like Sting. He looked exactly like John Constantine. He looked at me, stared me straight in the eyes, smiled, nodded almost conspiratorially, and then just walked off around the corner to the other part of the snack bar.

“I sat there and thought, should I go around that corner and see if he is really there, or should I just eat my sandwich and leave? I opted for the latter; I thought it was the safest. I’m not making any claims to anything. I’m just saying that it happened. Strange little story.”

“Years later, in another place, he steps out of the dark and speaks to me. He whispers: ‘I’ll tell you the ultimate secret of magic. Any cunt could do it.’ “

This potential revelation had my eyebrows raised for a few days. Between the calling of Cthulhu and the Constantine conjuring, I guess it was time to give this writing thing a try. My first serious attempts at writing were accepted by a magazine specializing in Lovecraftian horror. Not a bad start, I say. Give yourself a pat on the back! Oh, but then the odor slithered into my nostrils. A sewage serpent. The Shit had arrived.

One night, I began to sit and develop a character for a short story that had been swirling in my head for a week or so. By the next day, I had him constructed down to the occupation, name, time period, location, and a brief family history. Learning from my previous errors in character naming, I decided to google the name I had in mind, and to my shock, there was my character. The occupation, name, time period, and location were all the same.  This character is a pivotal part of my ultimate goals as a writer, so while I am not going to give the name at this moment, all will be revealed in due time!

I can offer no explanation that makes sense, though I do have my own theories. That was the day the X-Files theme started playing in my head and not yet has it ceased. There’s no shortage of white rabbits nor cavernous holes in which to pursue them, and that’s what I intend to do. There appears to be an ethereal connection between magic and myth. Creation can, at times, lead to conjuration and writing can induce revelation. The point of this blog is to explore the thin boundary between fact and fiction that exist in literature and reality. Now, as fancy as that sounds to me, I’d like to end this inaugural post how it began, with a quote of dire importance.

 

“Masquerading as a man with a reason
My charade is the event of the season
And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know”

Wise words, indeed. Thanks, Kerry Livgren.

 

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17 thoughts on “Amateur Alchemy: The Power of the Pen

  1. Outstanding dadgum post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice connection with H.P.
    Thanks for following my blog, which is much appreciated.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I think so as well, haha.

      Like

  3. I’m really glad I found your blog. Please keep up the great work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I appreciate the kind words and I will do my best 🙂

      Like

  4. I don’t know Lovecraft! Last year I read The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe (a “feminist” rather simply “feminine” retelling of HP) but I’m afraid I missed much as a result. I’m guessing there’s no shortage of other fans who write after Lovecraft as she does (Kij Johnson).

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    1. Hmm, I’ll have to give that a look, it sounds interesting. If someone where to ask me where to start with HP, it would be Beyond The Wall of Sleep

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Carry on my wayward son…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Though I doubt there will be any peace at the end of this 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. You are an excellent writer. This genre of writing is not something I have pursued, but I appreciate a good writer no matter what type of writing they do. I wish I had time left in this life to read all the good ones or I at least hope that I come back in another life just to spend my time reading all that I missed in this one. Thank you most kindly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. That really means a lot. I’m sure all writer struggle with self doubt, but I feel mine is crippling at times. I truly appreciate it.

      Oddly enough, your comment came at I time that I was trying to convince myself to write. File that one under “W” for weird, too! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do believe in very strange things happening in our lives. It is hard to even imagine you being crippled with regard to your writing. It seems to flow from you so naturally. Keep doing what is so ingrained in you, for your talent and imagination is definitely supporting you in all of this. Thank you once again. It is an honor to know you.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Thanks again, Anne. Your words mean more than you know. And it’s a pleasure and an honor to know you as well

        Like

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