The Blue Notebook of Power

Anyone who has known me for any length of time may have noticed a certain object that is often in my possession.

When I go on long trips it comes with me, packed on top of whatever reading material I bring.  When I go to long boring meetings it accompanies me, slipping unobtrusively under notepads and binders.  At times it will join me at work, hiding in my messenger bag during class, furtively appearing while the students are distracted by journal assignments or exams.

This, my friends, is my Blue Notebook of Power.  It is the source of my creativity, the summer home of my own private Muse, the secret to my writing ability, the place where (from 2003 onward) my stories have found their genesis.  It saw the first glimmers of the Desert Musician story; the formation of Einar; the refinement of the Postmodern Snow White Story’s plotline; the first lines penned of “Of Ghosts, Unicorns and Egg Nog Lattes.”

I bought it from a small store on an island in the Aegean Sea.  The island, just off the coast of Greece, is called Kythira; it is the island closest to the place where, legend says, the goddess Aphrodite was born of the sea-foam.  We were stranded in Kythira for two days, while a Mediterranean storm made the waters too wine-dark and violent for the ferry to leave port–and during the storm I stopped in the little store and bought the Blue Notebook of Power.  (I am not making this up.  The fact that it was a convenience store where I also bought film and bottled water does not diminish from the Notebook’s pedigree.)

Tonight, I reached the Blue Notebook’s last blank page

*long, slow breath*

It is the passing of an era.

Its cerulean softcover is wrinkled and dogeared, its slightly yellowed pages scribbled on hastily in a flurry of inspiration.  On its back still clings an old price sticker, €0.75.  On the inside front cover is scrawled a phone number, owner unknown, and the phrase “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhgatn.”  As I open it, several sheets of scrap paper fall out, on which are written various notes I wrote while at my grandmother’s funeral.

Let us turn to a few random pages and see what we find.

    –wake up in the middle of the night, can’t move
    –smell of sulpher  [sic]
    –man who was making a record  a fly flew next to the microphone.  suddenly, unearthly moans, screams, begging for mercy
    –somehow linked to the fly
    –trendy young man with a limp.  record producer?  Faustian bargain.
    –the feeling that if you turn your head, you will see something loathsome hunched in the corner of your bedroom

It was cold, for a Parisian April.  Einar pulled his coat tighter about him as he hurried through the darkened streets.  There was no-one else around: it was nearly two in the morning by now.  Nearly a month now, since he had left New York.  Part of him yearned to return, to bury himself in the work he had left behind.  But he knew that what transpired here in the next few days was more important.  Vastly more important.  The streets in this part of the city were nearly empty.  The shops were all closed for the night, and even the resturants [sic] were beginning to lock their doors…

[A crudely-drawn map of political boundaries and some basic terrain, mostly ink-black rivers and inverted-V mountains.  Labeled are the cities of Sutgaard, Blutaker, Selbertarn, Munisted, Langzeg, Tiefwald, and a shaded region called the Hallows.]

    –Flame, wind, scales like steel
    –Knowledge as vast as the skies
    –In the rubble beneath an abandoned subway station
    –No discovery, woman who feeds the dragon has always known about the dragon
    –Short-short, almost poetry

They were like curtains billowing in a wind, like tattered shreds of sail, like torn flags pale in the darkness.  They were utterly silent.  One brushed against Einar’s hand and he jerked away: his skin felt numb with cold.  What are they, he hissed.  The Dead, said Guisseppe.  More specifically the cursed, the forsaken, the forgotten dead.  Call them the damned if you feel more comfortable need to couch your speech in religious terminology.  It makes no difference.

–Ghosts get tips for hauntings.  $2 gratuity.
–Homeless Native American gods drinking whiskey from a paper bag
–Kobolds running the subway?
–World War Two fought with magic rings and dragons
–Ogre cashiers.  Pixie-grams
–Nymph.  Faun.  Drow.  Nymph Hooker?  [circled]  Satyr pimp?
–Banshee Newscaster.  All obituaries.
–Centaur?  Giants?
–Must avoid “Fables” and Pratchett simultaneously… not too postmodern… not too Who Framed Roger Rabbit

E: but you don’t know
SD: of course not
E: for all you know it could be horrible
SD: perhaps
E: it doesnt frighten you?
SD: sure it does it’s scary as hell but a lot of things are when I was drafted thought I would pee my pants again when I went to college…

Heh.  So many stories started here.  You may recognize the early beginnings of some.

The second-to-last page is filled with a story idea I had tonight, about how Beowulf was getting old and feeble and was starting to go senile, and knew it was happening, and was frightened that he would die like a dotard, and over and over he keeps telling anyone that will listen (which is everyone–he’s the king, after all) about how he killed Grendel, and finally he hires a thief to go steal from the dragon’s hoard in the hopes of riling up the beast so he can have a monster to fight and feel like a young man again.  I think I’ll tell it from Wiglaf’s point of view.

The last page is blank.  I think I will inscribe something momentous, something commemorative, on that final page.  Suggestions?

Somewhat coincidentally, yesterday I was given a very nice leatherbound journal with a magnetic closure and wonderfully blank pages…


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