Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Libraries & Days Gone By....

It's officially snowing outside. Again. It is going to stop snowing here in a little bit but only because it's going to turn into ice that will then turn into rain that will then turn back into ice. It seems Old Man Winter was ready for the world this time around. I can't remember the last time we've had a winter this wet. It makes getting things done in the world of surveying increasingly difficult.

Bethany has started singing again with the Greenbrier Valley Chorale in Lewisburg, W.Va. Weather like this can make getting to the weekly Tuesday practices a challenge and if this keeps up she may not make it this evening.

One nice thing about the weather, though, is it lends itself to staying home and pursuing hobbies that otherwise get pushed to the side as we're out and about. Monday evenings between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. are devoted to CBS since it's the one evening of television we watch a week, but as The Big Bang Theory ended last night I wandered back into my library and picked up the Strat and tried my hand at Gravity.

From what I've studied, the actual picking pattern isn't difficult. What is difficult, however, is timing the slide from the third fret down to the ninth and making the bends and vibrato sound right. The entire intro to the song and the solo are both built off of two strings as best I can tell, so fingering is pretty simple. It's just the little techniques that I didn't realize were in there until last night that are really difficult. I played the opening two or three measures repeatedly for 20 minutes trying to work it out. The way the weather is it looks like I'll have the chance again tonight.

After reading a little bit of Arms-Commander to put me in the mood for writing I cracked open the working notebook for Blood & Steel. I haven't put a great deal of anything down on paper for a week or so. There have been some scenes I've mulled over as I went about other tasks and I'm just about to an interesting point in the writing of this novel.

As with The Crownless King, I know where Blood & Steel will end. I had a pretty decent idea of where it began, though it needs some smoothing over at this point. I'm just about to the point where I don't know what's going to happen next. I have perhaps two more "scenes" to write that I know what's going to happen. After that there's a long stretch to be written that's as much discovery as it is writing before I get to the next scene that I have planned in my head. I have rough outlines of a couple of possibilities, but I'm hoping that the story itself will decide whether or not these will be included.

Here is as good a time as any to mention some good news about The Crownless King. The Clifton Forge Public Library, one of two libraries I begged my Mom to take me to when I was a kid, called last week and wanted to know if I'd be interested in making an appearance there in March. Of course I was excited to do it. Not only does it mean publicity for me and the chance to get my story out there, but it's also an opportunity to bring people to the library.

Libraries may very well be one man's best inventions. I remember being a kid and asking Mom to take me to the library nearly every time she went to town. We lived about five minutes away from the one in Clifton Forge and about fifteen minutes away from the C.P. Jones Memorial Library in Covington. Both libraries have undergone extensive renovations since those days, but I can still remember walking in and being hit by the smells of stacks of old books. I remember distinctly that the C.P. Jones library had a big, long desk bent like an "L" by the door and directly in front of that was the kids science section. At the other side of the building in two narrow aisles crammed with books was the science fiction section, where I spent the bulk of my time.

I could've spent hours in the library each visit, wrapped in the smell of old books and the silence of reading that was broken only by the "ka-chunk" as the librarian inserted the due date cards into the machine that automatically stamped them. When I was older and finally able to drive I did spend a lot of spare time in libraries. When I worked at the paper I'd gobble down lunch as quick as I could and spent the rest of my hour (and sometimes more) reading and writing in a cubicle at the C.P. Jones library. Sometimes on days off I'd just go sit in the Clifton library and read. When it was late and they were closed, I'd go down to Dabney and find a comfortable chair near one of their big windows and spend some time reading. I went there a lot to do homework during my college days, but truthfully the homework would be put aside after only a few minutes to pick up a book I'd found while wandering among the shelves.

Reading this and thinking about it, I realize now that I probably need to do more to support the local libraries. I haven't checked a book out in years, mainly because I've found the funds to work on building my own private library, but the libraries for me were gateways to other worlds and my own dreams of writing began to take shape among those shelves.

It was a pretty big thrill for me to walk into the Clifton Forge library and see a book I'd written on a shelf, waiting to be checked out. I'm looking forward to that experience again.

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