Today’s guest post is from novelist and short story writer, Joel Blumenau. Look out for his short story, ‘The Commute’, forthcoming on Lit Bits.
The good folks at Lit Bits are soon to publish my story, “The Commute.” The protagonist, Jackson, is a man much like me in his struggle to fit into a life that feels borrowed, not owned. In the end, he pays a hard price to redeem his soul from the devil’s pawn shop. He kills the lie so that the rest of us may live, through him, in the fleeting grace of the setting sun, if just for a few short minutes before we go back to sleep.
People who know me, really know me, would not describe me as an upbeat, cheery fellow. I have an issue. It’s reality. Yeah, not a huge fan. I find it tedious, dreary, repetitive and unforgiving of the smallest miscalculation.
Don’t get me wrong. Like all full grown inhabitants of the modern world, I can ‘fake it ‘til I make it,’ ‘put on a happy face’ and ‘turn that frown upside down’ with the best of them. I mean, you have to, just to navigate the social labyrinth without crashing head first into a sharp corner at every turn, right? But underneath it all, in my dank and loamy heart, burns a black, smoldering fire fueled by distrust of even the simplest human gesture.
Writing, perhaps the sweetest of all balms, is my salvation. When I write I get to bare my ugly, unhealed wounds to the world and explore my true nature in a parallel universe over which I have complete dominion. My characters do and say what I want to do and say; they often go where I must go in life but they end up in a place that, if not better than my disheartening reality, is at least different. For better or for worse, they realize themselves deeply. Who amongst us, the living on this side of the page, can truly claim that?
Even now, as I write these sparse words, I am experiencing a freedom from self, a silencing of the restless voice that murmurs incessantly in my breast. I know it is all too temporary, like the junky knows the temporariness of his next high even as he smacks the vein to attention and aims the spike at its mark. Does that stop him from plunging it in?
With these final words I hope not to disappoint those of you cheering me on in my rant. But if I have a dim hope for my work, it is to have it defeated. Defeated by the efforts of one or more of my characters to scratch the surface of all this gloom and find a ray of light, a reticent glow that can not be turned off or deflected as it edges through a small tear in the thick curtain. If you read my stories, you will see it sneaking through here and there, glinting off the hard edge of some metal object, illuminating a stark hallway, and please god, bringing a wan smile to your face when you least expect it.