There are so many things in life that should be but are not - if that makes sense. In other words, they are not in life at all, but we are aware of them because we have imagination, or perhaps we are aware of them for other reasons. In this blog post, about the writing of Brendan Connell, I quoted G.K. Chesterton:
Men spoke much in my boyhood of restricted or ruined men of genius: and it was common to say that many a man was a Great Might-Have-Been. To me it is a more solid and startling fact that any man in the street is a Great Might-Not-Have-Been.
Recently, I am trying to see things more in this way.
I'm actually bone-tired at present, so please forgive me if I fail to be effervescent, as I should be.
When I was at FantasyCon in Brighton this year, behind the Chomu Press stall, I got talking to a man who said he was a fan of fantasy fiction. "Someone has to be," he said, and I agreed, as this seemed a sound proposition. I hope, if he ever reads this, he doesn't mind me saying a little about our conversation.
I asked him who his favourite fantasy writer was. He protested, with justice, that it was a ridiculous question, though he made a valiant attempt at answering, giving a number of names. He asked me, in return, rhetorically, "What's your favourite song?", meaning, of course, that my question was similarly difficult to answer. However, I answered: "'Bewlay Brothers' by David Bowie."
"Ah," he said, "David Bowie ruined my life."
I thought at first this was going to be a fan story, a story of obsession taken too far, but it was nothing like that. He gave a succinct and convincing account of why he could justifiably make the claim that he had. There had been a publishing concern in which he was involved. An investment from David Bowie was promised, which would have ensured its future, but Bowie pulled out at the last minute because someone had advised him that there was no money in books.
"'David Bowie ruined my life' - sounds like a blog post," he said. "No... maybe not. Couldn't handle the law suit."
For the purposes of this blog post, of course, we must take the above as hearsay. Even so, these days I'm less inclined to the hero-worship of my younger years, and so the story didn't come to me as quite the shocking, difficult thing it might have at the height of my fandom. I don't know how I never understood, when I was younger, that there was no need for me to be jealous of Bowie's talent. I no longer feel wistful wondering if Bowie will ever make good music again. There are other people in the world, and other artists, more interesting, more consistent, not selling out, keeping on, even without the adulation, the money, the advantages enjoyed by the likes of Bowie.
Just today I was wondering whether, actually, my favourite song, if it's possible to have such a thing, might not be 'Lovely Tree' by Momus. It's not on YouTube like the 'Robin Hood' song above. If you want to hear it, why not buy the Oskar Tennis Champion CD? After all, it's not every song that can claim to be my favourite. Here's a link to the lyrics.
Now, here's a guy who's just kept going and doing his own thing, on and on, despite no mainstream success - Momus, I mean. Some people have remarkable creative staying power. Jeremy Reed is another such - truly a unique artist whose energy and inspiration have remained undimmed despite the almost deafening silence of the literary establishment.
You know, there are many people who, in carrying on in their own way, in determinedly being who they are, make it easier for me to carry on in my own way, too (which, let's face it, can be really, really hard sometimes). I want to mention some of these people now. I've mentioned some of the following on my blog before. But they cannot be mentioned too often. Some of them I have met. Some of them I have not. (And there are plenty of others who have also made a real difference, but here I will mention only a few, and I hope I don't embarrass anyone.)
Mark Samuels - a sane man, a gent, and a wonderful writer. His work is a haven from the vicious superficiality of our age. Dare Wright - there are in the world some things that are sacred, and the work of Dare Wright is among these things. Justin Isis - stops this world from being boring and is possibly the galaxy's best dressed criminal. Joe Campbell - artist, musician, has a tremendous pope-like quality, general cool guy and now also half of the Chomu Radio Archive. Dominika Kieruzel, who is also a wonderful artist and who forced me to sing 'Jerusalem' by William Blake once, and is now working with me on this. Brendan Connell - nobody yet actually comprehends how good Brendan Connell is as a writer. No one yet understands. Sasa Zoric Combe (of Kodagain) - early on in my acquaintance with Sasa and his music Justin commented that Sasa was like some kind of superhuman, who could take anything, put it in a song and make it sound great, and it's true.
Of course there are many others. Let me restrict myself for now, and I hope that we do actually get the time and opportunity to make more 'should-be's into reality, and that we don't always have to struggle to apply the point of view offered by Chesterton that what is is startling enough.
Keep, lovely tree, your leaves in wintertime
Stand strongly in your bark of love
Make shelter for the lion and the lamb
Keep every tender beast safe from the butcher's knife