books

A Web of Ink and Paper

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Giles sits in a corner near the back, wearing a dark fedora. He watches as a man enters the coffee shop and places an order for a grande Americano, waits for the man to hand over his money and receive his change, follows the man with his eyes as he makes his way to a seat near a distant window.

The man is not actually a man at all, but something else. Something dangerous.

Giles reaches into his pocket, produces a faded leather notebook and silver fountain pen and begins to write. He works carefully, starting with the coarser, superficial details and slowly working his way to the more refined. They are special words. Words of power.

Giles does his best to capture the essence of the man, though even words such as these are only crude approximations. They reach inside and bind him, pair with flesh and bone and spirit, tearing him out of space and time like a coupon from the local newspaper.

It isn’t until he’s nearly finished that the man by the window notices, and by then he’s already fading like an overexposed negative. He bolts from his seat and stumbles backward, opens his mouth in shock, ambles toward Giles like a wounded soldier.

The patrons of the coffee shop have taken notice. Some scream. Others run. More than a few gawk stupidly, cell phones at the forefront. God, thinks Giles, these are the creatures he’s sworn to protect?

Before the man can take ten steps he’s already disappeared, torn from the fabric of reality and bound forever in a web of ink and paper.

Giles caps his pen, closes the leather notebook and strolls to the door, ready to tackle his next assignment.

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The Faceless Man

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He wanders the world, the Faceless Man, journeys from city to city, always in search of items to add to his collection. When you answer your door he won’t say a word; indeed he cannot, for he has no mouth with which to speak. Instead he’ll incline his head, ever so slightly, all the while clutching a black leather-bound book to his chest with reverence.

He’ll open to the first page, always blank, and bid you gaze upon its fallow surface. Then dutifully, curiously, you’ll look to see what all the fuss is about, and before you know what’s happened you’ll have been pulled inside, transformed from a creature of flesh and blood to an indeterminate being of pen and ink.

He will take you home and place you atop a dusty shelf. From time to time he’ll pull you back down, sit in his favorite armchair to read and drink your loneliness, your madness, your despair, savoring them like a rare vintage.

You’ll never die, but you’ll spend eternity wishing that you had.

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Writing is Hard

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It really is.

Sure, you have the occasional explosion of creativity that spatters the walls of your mind, so that all you have to do is scrape the surface to create beautiful prose without really trying. This kind of intense inspiration can last for days, even weeks or months. But there inevitably come in every writer’s life moments when the ideas are gone, when all you can do is huddle in a dark corner with your hands over your eyes, wondering how suddenly it could have all been snatched away.

When the honeymoon is over, when you’re no longer in the throes of passion, doting over the muse with her intimately whispered secrets, when you’re left to limp alone across the desert of mediocrity and self-doubt, that’s when your dedication to the craft must not waver. It’s at the height of desperation that your faith in what you were created to do will be tested, a faith that’s critical if you’re to find the strength you need to continue stumbling blind in the dark, placing one clumsy word after another.

Good consistent writing is borne of hard work and discipline. You must be able to reach into the dusty corners of your mind, to wander through the labyrinthine corridors of consciousness, twisting and turning into infinity, diligently searching until at long last you stumble over deposits of the rarest substance there is, that raw clay of the mind, forged in the furnace of your imagination. You must shape, mold and sculpt this clay into something unique, something beautiful, something that catches the light of common everyday experience and reflects it back in all the colors of the philosophical rainbow.

Writing asks for nothing less than your soul. You must offer it willingly, allow it to be consumed by and absorbed into your stories, articles and blogs, and in so doing, allow your soul to be laid bare before the world, so that your deepest self is vulnerable to scorn and criticism.

Writing is emotionally draining, time consuming and is often without reward. Very few reap any compensation for their work at all, and of those who do, but a small percentage are blessed with the means to make a living through their art alone.

Yet, despite much hardship, the Writer takes joy in his work, for the soul of the Writer has, in spite of everything, accomplished what it was created to do. Like the One who created the Writer, he can gaze upon his work, a product of his blood and tears, and at last proclaim, “it is good.”

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