What the hell's wrong with me?
Anyway, it's called Gargoyle Dreams and is meant to be a very poetically written novel. Not quite so straightforward as the last few. I'm going to try to do a thousand words a day, separate from everything else I'm doing.
I'm doing it for the pure pleasure of the language. I don't know if it will be readable by anyone else.
But it sure was fun to write the first 1200 words...
I forget sometimes that I love just writing. When the words flow and sentences pop up that are more original than I expected, when characters start doing things, when the story goes in directions that are surprising.
Sometimes, though, it's just the flow of words, the poetic way it streams and gathers meaning and just feels good to write.
I'm going to take a step back today and try to think through what I'm trying to accomplish here.
I know I want it to be a "Gothic Love Story." Gothic in the classical rather than the genre interpretation of the word.
I wouldn't mind at all if it is a novella, instead of a novel. Thing is, I can probably always make a novella into a novel by adding a character or two.
I spent most of last night half awake half asleep, while my characters were having brilliant dialogues and I was saying, Shut Up! Get back in your cage! Come back to me when I can actually do something about it!
You have to train your subconscious to behave, I tell you. Or never get any sleep or have any schedule or get anything done or rouse myself from the fictional dream. Walk through life half here and half there.
When you start a book, there are endless possibilities until you start narrowing down the plot. While I want this to be an "inspiration" book, that is, a book I write slowly and only when I'm inspired, I have also learned that I need to insert some critical thinking if I want the end result to be worth anything.
Last night was weird because in addition to the brilliant dialogue (which was brilliant because I was half asleep and which I suspect would make zero sense in the light of day) I also saw some of the many directions this story could go from what I've set up in the first chapter. Many many different possibilities.
I want to feel my way with this one, let the language take precedence instead of the plot. But I also want to hedge my bets a little by using what I've learned to create a plot.
So anyway, the thing to remember is that I love writing and creating. Selling is something out of my control, and really, I care about it mostly because I want my publishers to be rewarded for taking a chance on me more than anything else.
But occasionally, like in the writing of the chapter below, just the process of writing is more than enough reward.
He sensed her coming long before she came into view. The boulevard was long and straight and he was frozen in such a position that he could see most of the distance to the monument, and what he couldn’t see easily, he had filled in by years of study, catching a broken stone shining in the low sun one day, the high branch of a tree in the last rays of an autumn twilight on another day until he had memorized every square inch of what was possible to see.
Most visitors to the cathedral came from the side nowadays, parking their cars in the garage one block over. He caught only glimpses of the parishioners as they darted into view below him and then into the building. People had sped up over the last few decades, flickering in and out of his line of sight like so many birds, and about as important to him. The pigeons shat on his head and the humans spewed poison into the air and he could feel the acids from both eating into his stone body, but he couldn’t do anything about either indignity.
He felt her coming from the moment she first had the impulse. Waking up, taking a shower, deciding that she hadn’t lit a candle in the church for a long time. Putting on sensible clothes and forgoing makeup since she didn’t expect to meet anyone she knew either along the way or inside the cathedral itself. No one she knew went to church, of any kind.
It was a residual compulsion on her part, a forlorn hope that maybe it did some good, that maybe by a prayer and a thought and a lit candle and a little dust on her knees as she knelt, that it would do some good, that Bartholomew would escape the hell he no doubt deserved.
Was it a blessing or a curse that the gargoyle felt her emotions, sensed her thoughts and desires, suffered with her when she was hurt, exulted when she was triumphant? He himself wasn’t sure. He’d been in a dim fog for centuries before she came into his existence, happily miserable or miserably happy to just exist, forgetting his origins, forgetting that he had ever been human, and able to move and think and feel.
Would he have been better off if she had never come along?
He questioned it, but he always came to the same conclusion. It didn’t matter. He now only existed because of her. Without Mary Patronis he was just a rock on a wall, carved into a shape that had once been meant to frighten children and sinners, but which in the modern age was a curiosity, a whimsical reminder of a more primitive past. His consciousness would have eventually flickered out completely, and he would have been glad for it. The world had no need of him and he had no need of the world.
Now he was more vibrantly alive than at any time since he’d been cursed into this shape. Vibrant in his senses, if not his movements. He felt the workmen on the other side of the cathedral, striving as always to prop up the bulky walls with reinforcements, pinning the broken stones together to last yet another century when new technology would patch the giant edifice together for yet another century. There was always the steady drumbeat of hammers and chisels, but where once it had lulled him into a dreamless sleep, it now helped keep him awake, forever conscious of Mary Patronis and her infrequent religious whims.
He lived for these fitful days. Her blood was his blood, her thoughts were his thoughts, her body was his body. He walked with her, feeling the freedom of movement as an ecstatic felt the presence of God.
She was coming, and he longed to break free of his perch, to fly to her side, to rub his gnarled head against her. It would free him, he sensed. She would turn him back into a man. Just a simple touch.
But it was impossible of course. Even if he could move, she would flee screaming, from a nightmare come alive. Her fear would freeze him in place, just as his creator had intended. He was the manifestation of human fears and desires, but locked into a shape that was a reminder of sin, but could not sin itself. The gargoyle was stuck between the living and dead, a reminder to both.
The dead at least recognized him. They teased him sometimes with their freedom of movement, swirling about him, but he ignored them. Ghosts were less substantial than he, and they knew it in the remnants of their hearts and souls. And remnants were all the dead were left with, if they chose to stay in the mortal plane, whereas the gargoyle was alive inside, bursting with hope and love.
All for Mary Patronis. All because of a drop of blood.
He had been vaguely aware of the human couple arguing above him. It was unusual for the public to be up there – forbidden by signs and locks, but somehow this man and woman had managed to sneak by the barriers, to carry on their argument alone in the middle of the city, above the congregants below, the non-believers rushing by outside.
The man had struck her and a single drop of blood had flown over the side of the cathedral, dropping past the other, larger gargoyles with their huge spouts to drain the water, past the arched stained glass windows, past the nesting pigeons, landing on the head of a small, neglected gargoyle, half hidden by the tall elm that had burst through the sidewalk below. Landing in the gargoyle’s right eye.
It had burst from the light of her, the love and the frustration she was feeling toward her husband Bartholomew, so strong and pure of emotion that the gargoyle almost broke free.
Would he have flown in freedom or plummeted to the sidewalk to shatter? He moved a few centimeters, he was certain. He could see parts of the boulevard after that day that he had never seen before.
“You shall be stone,” the priest had said. “You will never again feel movement. You will linger forever, frozen in purgatory. And be damned with you.”
The man turned to gargoyle, who had once been known as Peter Carmelo, had secretly believed the punishment to be fair and just at the time. But even as his features changed, showing the anguish of that curse, he had fought against it. Not because he didn’t deserve it, but because he wanted to die instead. The agonies of hell were more appropriate than the timelessness of purgatory.
The drop of blood from Mary Patronis had awoken his guilt, but something else had also happened. The chance of redemption. His long years of reflecting on his guilt and his sins had given him a small piece of wisdom, and inside he knew that he would never again be the evil man he had once been. Given the chance he would do good.
Mary Patronis had given him that gift.
And he loved her for it.