The Amazing Adventures of Sara Corel
A novel by Toomey

Telling Stories

      Maybe I'm coming to terms with what's burning inside of me right now. Something I've been approaching for a while but hesitating to accept. I realize I've been afraid to confront the full ramifications of this thing that gnaws at me. It's time to face up to it, though.
      Here I am, past fifty, supposedly sliding into some sort of inevitable decline, the major issues of my life having been decided a long time ago. Yet in just the past year or so, I've had to start my life over again in so many ways — perhaps the least of which involves my recent divorce.
      There's the matter of a whole new musical instrument, the doublebass — one that's not so easy, physically, mentally or musically. It's made a profound difference in how I interact with my life-long career, going in another direction, changing my outlook and perceptions and (incidentally) causing a great deal of pain — my left arm is so swollen by the sudden unaccustomed strain from the beast that it won't even fit in my tux anymore, and my fingertips are numb most of the time. I'm suddenly playing it so much that I don't have time to recover or adjust, and that's causing me some concern. I know a doctor would tell me to stop playing for a few weeks — advice that might be an option for doctors, but not musicians.
      Then there's the website assembly — a diversion, then a hobby, now almost a full-time job in itself. I used to enjoy this sort of thing once. Imagine — a decidedly non-technoid geezer at my advanced years having to learn all this geek stuff. It's almost like waking up one day on an alien world. It's become something of a nightmare, with deadlines, strident customers, new challenges to overcome daily, constant pressure. Hey, I'm a musician — irresponsibility is a job qualification. Budgeting time resources is Hell, especially when there's just not enough of them.
      The recording studio is at least related to my original career. Like a lot of musicians, it can seem to a casual observer that the only reason I went pro is so that I can justify buying a lot of neat gear. But the things I'm dealing with now are so cutting edge that they don't even work yet. Someday soon, I've got to assemble a new computer that is so powerful and advanced that it won't be obsolete for months. Then, I have to use all this crap to make recordings that — last year — were only possible in a major studio. There's a lot more to it than punching a button and counting off, "And a-one and a-two…"
      Just to make sure I have enough to do, I'm working out every day (gotta shed those 75 pounds I gained married to a cook for eight years) and have a twenty-something-year-old girlfriend (well, we're 'just friends', though that seems to involve a lot of time doing things — on those rare occasions when we both happen to not be working). Oh, and email. Lots of email. Didn't I complain once about not getting enough email? Huh…
      There's something else. And right now, it's the only thing that really matters to me. It's come to matter so much that I resent having to do all the other stuff, as interesting and challenging as it might be. I'd chuck the whole lot and wall myself in my little room and devote all of my waking hours to its pursuit, if I could figure out a way to get away with it.
      It has to do with telling stories.
      Not necessarily any particular story, though I'm involved with a certain one these days that I want to see to completion. To some extent, it's the process of the craftsmanship involved — the technique, the elements, the language. More importantly, though, it's the act of telling a story itself.
      This is what I feel. It's something I've known for a very long time but have been unable to articulate. There's a lot of fear in having a dream, you know, involving the apprehension that it may be unattainable — that there's no way to beat the odds, that I'll never be good enough. And I know I haven't been good enough through many years of trying and failing to get what I've wanted to tell out of me.
      I realize that I might still not be good enough, by the traditional ways of measuring whatever success is as a storyteller. I do think that I'm approaching being as good as I can be, though, and that's going to have to be good enough to make the usual validation that comes with commercial acceptance irrelevant. I have no illusions about my chances of being able to ever support myself as an author penning the obscure weirdness with which I seem to be smitten.
      There — I've said it. Author. Yes — that's what it amounts to. I want to be known and accepted as an author. Maybe an obscure one, forever condemned to marginal acceptance in a miniscule niche, maybe always having to haul my equipment from gig to gig, singing for my supper so that I can scurry back to my little room somewhere and pound out another chapter of frustration and visions.
      There have certainly been plenty of starving artists in the world. I guess I don't mind becoming another one. You never know how the sweeping changes we're facing will affect marketability, or how public whim can catch some obscurity unawares and magnify its significance far out of proportion for a brief moment. I could get lucky — but that would be a first for me…
      It doesn't matter. I know that I must be a storyteller. Nothing else will do. I've denied it with all my consciousness for all of my life — knowing that I was only putting off the inevitable. So I've got a lot of catching up to do. Somehow, I need to get a lifetime of dreams into other peoples' heads, dreams that need to be shared — because that is what I was always meant to do…
      Dream dreams — and tell stories.
      God help me.

Proper Waffles
Table of Contents

© Patrick Hill, 2000