Those moments …
“There are moments you remember all your life. There are moments you wait for and dream of all your life. This is one of those moments…”
While that line is from a song in Yentl, it covers what’s been going on lately for me. I know it’s been a while since I’ve been in the blog chair. It’s something I find that I can’t do – just blog for the sake of blogging. I have to want to say something. This one took me a while to gestate and finally take shape.
Thinking back on it though, I don’t think it was because I didn’t know what I wanted to say. But because it was about those moments that are sort of milestones in your life (that sometimes come and go so quickly you scarce sense that they have any real meaning until you reflect upon them much later). I think that I knew I was going to write about them but it seemed the universe wanted me to wait a bit. It seemed that it had moments for me that I needed to observe. Things I needed to take stock of that were milestone moments. To quite simply not be in such a rush to produce.
As a writer, I am purely an artist. I don’t give a damn about whether my story is at the top of the best seller list. I wouldn’t mind it, but it’s not requisite. I’ll publish regardless. At some point I watched as my author friends publish with established boutique houses and think wow. Not because I begrudged them their success at getting a story sold. I am quite happy for them. But it was a moment where I realized I can’t compromise my voice. The stories I write must be what they are. If it means a real slow burn to find readers, well, so be it. I will persevere and write what I want to write. Uncompromising in tone and measure. No punches pulled, as they say. Well, as I say, really.
So yeah, moments.
And some may not have to do with my writing at all. I had one such moment with my granddaughter a week ago.
It was a random movie night at home. Just the grandpa’s and her. Mom was out on a date. What did the granddaughter choose? Some mindless chick flick? Some bombastic super hero or sci fi romp? No.
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That was her choice. And I couldn’t have been more proud or pleased with her. So was my husband. So we sat and watched it. It was one of those moments where I watched her as much as I watched the movie. I watched the idyllic world she had as a child fall away as she realized the horrors that people can put upon one another. In a very real way, it was a sad moment. The veil was lifted. She saw the worst in humanity (well, the worst she’s witnessed so far).
It was a moment.
Loss of childhood innocence. A reckoning that had been long in coming, when you realize for the first time the world is not the safe place you thought it was as a child.
Definitely a moment. And she chose it.
The next moment? Another movie (sensing a theme here?):
To Russia With Love.
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No, not the James Bond flick of old – that’s FROM Russia With Love.
In this amazing documentary (produced by out athlete, Johnny Weir – amongst others) we encounter Vladislav Slavskiy. His story is emblematic of what our queer Russian brothers and sisters are suffering in that country. His story broke my heart. It also gave me hope. It was a revelatory moment. Why? Because I’ve always wanted to do something for them back in Russia, but my fear was that any communication from the west might make things worse for them. But Vlad’s story does have a happy ending – probably unique when it comes to our queer Russian brothers and sisters. Why was this a “moment”?
Well, because I became Facebook friends with him. I asked and he accepted. I was overjoyed at the prospect of interacting with him. I made a connection. It was just before his birthday. On that day I wished him a happy birthday and thanked him for being my new friend. He liked the post. It was a small accomplishment, but I was happy.
So about a week ago, I finally worked up the courage to ask him if he would come onto the podcast to tell his story to our listeners. Amazingly, he said yes.
A DEFINITE MOMENT. A MILESTONE. One that said loudly – Don’t fuck this up, Baz! This is a gift.
So we record that special ep tomorrow. For the first time in my life, I am nervous. I’ve performed in front of thousands on the stage and not batted an eye or had so much as one simple butterfly roaming around in my stomach. But speaking with Vlad; trying to relate his story? Yeah, I got a whole bag full of butterflies going on in there.
I want to get this right for so many reasons. None the least of which, that my granddaughter watched the movie with me and is just as excited about my talking to Vlad as I am. So yeah, young ears are listening to what I am about to do. Definite responsibility. She’s listening. She’s watching grandpa step into a very important place to help someone tell their story. And she’s a questioning queer youth – so it’s doubly important that I get it right.
When I met my very first fan (beyond my family, that is) – Michael Rumsey. You brilliant and loyal man, you!
Like the moment I met Jayne Lockwood and Vance Bastian. Two people I love immensely and can’t get enough of. They’re like a drug I don’t ever want an intervention for. They were definite moments. Milestones. The podcast is a testament to that.
Like the moment last Friday when I got to circle back with Jay Brannan at his concert here in San Francisco and thank him personally for allowing me to quote his works in my book – Angels of Mercy (I am still reeling over that generosity). He remembered the book when I spoke to him after the concert. He was so generous with his time and his attentions about my works. But that’s Jay. He gets the self-promotion – even when I know all he wants to do is go to sleep and rest. But it was a moment of accomplishment that I could provide him with a copy of the finished work. Another moment. One I’ll cherish.
I plan to get back into the blogging chair more. It’s been a while. I need to do this. Not everyday. I don’t want to ramble on about stuff that really doesn’t have much meaning. I’d rather do it when it counts.
Until next time …
Author’s Note: This is a converted blog post. It originally was published on 04.22.14 @ 4:48pm, US Pacific
This post is laced with a fond remembrance on my part. There was an author whose books I’ve collected and cherished for sometime. Her name is Mercedes Lackey. As I build my own spin on the Viking Feigr myths and lore, I am reminded of another beloved series that is now coloring how I invent my own world. A world dominated by men. Well, men of a different sort (again, that would be just too human to see it solely in that light). But Mercedes Lackey’s hero (the one most beloved by me) Vanyel and his lover, Tylendel and how their love, though brief and intense, is strong enough to imprint itself upon the reader for the entire trilogy – when Vanyel is finally reunited with his one true love.
I had read several of her books (the woman writes like a fiend) and enjoyed them all. The reason I picked up her books were for the Magic Series which had a real bonafide GAY hero. And this was back in the early 90’s when it was fairly uncommon to find author’s investing in gay anything.
It centered on Mage-Herald named Vanyel (a sort of magical peacekeeper if you will) of an imaginary world. I loved this series. In my early twenties (I know that dates me just saying that) it was my go-to set of books. I’ve reread them more times than I care to count. Vanyel was my ultimate hero. Alas, his story was a rough one – Mercedes isn’t known for being kind to her characters – with a very bittersweet ending. But he left his mark upon that world by the time he takes his leave of it – with his and his one true love’s laughter ringing in your ears upon the wind.
Those books gave me hope. Not only as a reader/writer, but also that not to compromise on the vision you set forth. And that gay men can be heroes too. The lovely thing about Mercedes work is that her world was peppered with gay and lesbian characters long before the current M/M genre really took root. It is these books, more than any other, which guide my hand now.
True enough, Mercedes only hinted at the sexual liaisons between the men in her series. Like a made for TV movie, the camera sweeps away when the lovers have a tryst. Though oddly enough, now that I recall it, not when Vanyel is brutally raped by a very rough man in the third book. How odd that that one point was clearly and deftly put before the reader to illicit not any point of salaciousness, but rather anger and sorrow for what the hero endured before he was able to set things right – though ultimately through a very personal and final sacrifice.
I have several copies of these books. Some highlighted to hell and gone. Some torn from their bindings so I could put them in a larger paper where I could make lengthy notations of my own regarding elements I liked or things I would have liked to have seen. A real analysis of the work so I could understand it in both construction and tone.
While I certainly have thoughts about my world and how it will no doubt differ greatly from the tone of her series. The hero will be a homage of sorts to Vanyel. A character tucked safely within my heart. I friend that I find I want to revisit even now as I write this. Might just pick up the books again.
If you’ve not read them, I highly recommend that you do. Brilliant in scope and audacious for its reach during a time when gay characters didn’t drive the drama but at best were relegated to minor roles in another hero’s story – less than a sidekick, really.
I remember you fondly my literary friend. I can only hope Sebastian Alexander Collins (for whom I’ve taken as a nom de plume to honor him), the main character Feigr in my upcoming Fae Wars story, will live up to that high bar you’ve set as a gay hero quite a while ago. Baz is my Vanyel. He is my go-to now. I know him best because of all my characters he is the first one I nurtured from a wisp of a thought. Tending to him off and on until, like Athena, he sprang forth from my head fully formed and very, very complex.
…and I wouldn’t have him any other way.