I woke this morning with some new sticky notes on my computer: “The age of men who shake hands” and “The horrible lives of angels.”
I remember getting up to write them and the sources whence they came to me but not why I felt they were so important that I had to flee my bed in the middle of the night to write them down.
The first one comes from a scene in the movie Larry Crowne when Tom Hanks as the title character is perusing course titles in the lobby of the community college and the dean of student services, played by the always wonderful Holmes Osborne (You’ve seen him in a thousand movies and TV shows, you just don’t recognize his name), approaches to introduce himself. He does this in the way of men of a certain age: with his hand outstretched.
A handshake doesn’t carry the same weight it used to. When I was growing up, it was very important to get the handshake down because that was how you were judged. Too limp and you were a pushover. Too vigorous and you were an overbearing loudmouth, probably an athlete who peaked in high school. Too sweaty and you couldn’t be trusted. These days it’s all about fist bumps and bro hugs. It’s empty ritual. But it occurred to me that man from a certain era still shake hands with great seriousness the way Larry Crowne and the Dean of Students services did. Watch that scene and you’ll know what I’m getting at.
The second one came from a combination of places: The movie Groundhog Day and the novel 11-22-63. In both stories, the main character has to travel though the same time period more than once – repeatedly in the case of Groundhog Day and three times in 11-22-63 – and each time through they have to save the same people. It just got me thinking that the angels who take care of us must get weary of our foolish, self-destructive ways. Maybe that’s why they eventually abandon us.
Neither of these notes is going to help with the writing of the fantasy novel but that doesn’t make them unimportant. Everything you do and see and hear and say come together to form the context in which you write. The story you tell is a product of that context.
So I’ll probably be up again in the wee hours when Artemis is abinding her sandals. That’ll be me bent over my desk, sleepily scrawling something barely legible on a yellow sticky note. I can’t wait to see what it is tomorrow morning.