I jumped right in. My voice changed for each of the characters, my expressions, my eyes would hint at foreshadow, my arms would move as though I was orchestrating the words as symphonic syllables.
I was telling this story about an evil queen that was intent on finding the perfect man to be at her side. You see, when she had been a young evil princess she fled the rages of her father, The King, of course, into the hidden storage rooms of the castle. There she stumbled upon the painting of a long dead warrior that had fought for a previous king a century before. She stared at him daily, loving him, brushing her hand against her face. She escaped into his portrait, imagined the two of them together, fled to his safety when her father burst into maniacal fits of madness. Now that she was older, was now queen, and as evil as they can be, she restructured her kingdom around the long dead warrior she was so fond of. Statues were erected, buildings were renamed, and men were brought to the castle daily for her inspection. She even purged her kingdom of any man with fair hair and blue eyes. She wanted olive skinned men with almond shaped brown eyes, rolling tresses of mahogany curls on her man. She was looking for his likeness, his double. Alas, it wasn’t working. No one looked exactly like him. So she began to conspire with a witch to bring the real warrior back to life, confusing life and death, and placing her soul and emotions on physical aesthetics, on the material, the flesh. Spending her kingdom’s fortune on the impossible.
The bell rang. Class over.
My classmates applauded and I blushed in response. I was so happy. So proud. And I knew what Herr Schmoll was up to. He knew I was a dramatic little shit, always trying to get attention, dressing in modern goth, hair teased, eyeliner, long black boots. He was channeling those dramatics into something viable that I could work with, that would benefit me. Being asked to be looked at is one thing. Sucks when those asked to look at you go, “What am I looking at?”
My classmates applauded with sad looks and disappointment, gathering their books, pouting as they left the classroom, “I wanna know what happens to the evil queen.”
Herr Schmoll smiled, gave me a thumbs up and said, “Keep going.”
Every Monday I’d get to read the next chapter to my class, and every week I made absolutely sure they wanted more. They were absorbed with the story, my reading of it, my theatrics and inflections. Every one wanted to know what happened to the evil queen. They’d pass me notes in class, “So, what did she do next? Tell me, I promise! I WON’T TELL ANYONE!” Herr Schmoll suggested I keep them on their toes, finish the story on the last day before semester break.
I would wander around Berlin, hear music, sit in clubs and watch the characters roam the room, all while writing what I saw. I’d slip inside Cafe M for a coffee, watch people, notice a woman walk and say, “The evil queen would never walk like that….” Smoke eddies would lift around me, move sensually through the air like the tail end of a soul before it diminishes into hell and I’d say, “That’s how the evil queen smiles.” A glass would drop and crash to the ground, and I’d write in my little notebook, “That’s how the evil queen laughs.” And when a man came to meet his lady at his table, I’d be sure to write later, “That will never happen to the evil queen…..” Siouxsie was my model, my great muse. Her music, her look. She was my evil queen 🙂
I’d be handed a joint, but couldn’t put my pencil down long enough to smoke it. So, my career with hash ended rather fast. I was inspired, not by the euphoria of a drug, but by the encouragement of my teacher and my peers. Smiles were the rewards I required when reading. Actually writing the work filled me with a high unlike any substance I’ve ever come across. Spending time with characters, tapping into my imagination, and being creative took me on a path at such a young age that I never turned back.
With Herr Schmoll’s insight, I learned to write what I felt, not what I was told. Can you imagine if he had initially said, “Screw your story, write the damned journal like I told you!” But, no….And I owe so much of my past, present, and future to him. He encouraged me to find the brightness in my imagination. He challenged me and gave me a place to begin. It’s one thing to imagine. It’s another to create into reality that vision, to give it life and allow it to belong to someone else’s imagination.
And what of the evil queen? Of course, the story was much more detailed and rich than the two paragraphs I used to describe it. But, she got her wish. She and the witch successfully resurrected the lost warrior. Upon his return from the dead, he fell in love with the evil queen’s beauty. She was exceptionally beautiful. And don’t forget, she could have any man she wanted, but this was the man she wanted, why she had spent all of her money, demanded parades for him, installed holidays to honor him. And now she had him, the perfect face and body….however, she had not counted on one thing very important to the superficial minded: his soul, his emotions, his identity. After seeing her evil shine through, he refused her, dismissed her as grotesque and horrid, “But, I am the most beautiful woman in the kingdom.”
“My beauty, you are, if anything, ugly.”
She put him back in his grave, stabbing him violently, before collapsing into a rage, hitting the walls around her, shredding the comfort of anyone near her, her shrieks of anger and pain cracking mirrors, her violence sending the last of her subjects into hiding, the dead warrior’s blood caking on her.
A dead kingdom as her reign, a collapsing castle as her domain, she walked away. Just walked out of the front door of the castle, to never come back, to never be queen of a vibrant land again, hiding in the woods never to be seen again. Sometimes you don’t need to know what happened to someone after they failed. You just need to know they failed.
The villagers had won their battle with the evil queen. They raided the castle scrambling for any scraps of value they could find. And just off in one of the darker rooms of the castle, a young man hating life and searching for fame and fortune found the portrait of a beautiful queen. Greedily, he clung to it, became enamored with it and whispered quietly, “She’s perfect…..I need to find her.”
And that was how I started writing.
Well, I’ve taken up enough of this blog on a beautiful tangent. I enjoyed myself. I really did. What came as a thought this morning about what I should blog about reminded me of why I pen as I do. Which leads me to my big announcement.
YOU are going to be my next book. I’m going to explain more in my next post, but you have inspired me with your emails and your comments. You have stories to be told. WE are going to write a book together.
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