Thursday, 16 February 2012

Heather Uhl 2012



I tend to over-think things. Not on purpose - it's no more by choice than having freckles or craving cheesecake. But thinking too much, too hard, or too long can make life more work than it needs to be.

For this, the 10th anniversary (and first posthumous) SA4QE, I spent hours poring over quotes. I considered, and discarded, as many romantic, symbolic, or just plain quirky places I could think of that might be worthy of leaving them. No combination felt quite right, and I was getting frustrated.

My husband has never read one of Russ's books but, being a good man regardless, he tries to support my idiosyncrasies, so he asked, "What do you want to accomplish?"

As much as I want to honour Russ and have the fun of a global act with fellow 4qaters, the bottom line is that I want to encourage someone else to discover the delight and power of Mr. Hoban's words, just as one of my very best friends did for me years ago.

Russ's books were the first that made me feel like I wasn't the only one. Not the only one who had weird thoughts randomly flit through my head, uninvited and unattached. Not the only one who pondered a bigger picture and whether it was worth the work of pondering. And possibly most of all, not the only one who struggled to write whatever it was that was clawing both to come out and to stay in.

Aha. I knew what I wanted for this year's 4qation. I printed it out on the yellow paper, and we drove to the biggest, most soulless, mass commercial bookstore I could find. A small, tucked away Mom & Pop shop may be more appropriate to Russ's stories, but that's not where writers who are desperate for relief go. They would first try the easiest and most obvious place, not knowing what they're looking for but hoping to hell that, in the sheer size of it, surely something will jump out helpfully.

It is my sincere hope that this yellow paper will jump out and trip someone who is considering writing, or even just feels confused by the writing they have stuck inside them tauntingly, and that, like me, they will discover Mr. Hoban and no longer feel quite so odd or alone.

The quote I chose:

Right, said Kleinzeit. Enough. He opened the door of the yellow paper's cage, and it sprang upon him. Over and over they rolled together, bloody and roaring. Doesn't matter what the title is to start with, he said, anything will do, HERO, I'll call it. Chapter 1. He wrote the first line while the yellow paper clawed his guts, the pain was blinding. It'll kill me, said Kleinzeit, there's no surviving this. He wrote the second line, the third, completed the first paragraph. The roaring and the blood stopped, the yellow paper rubbed purring against his leg, the first paragraph danced and sang, leaped and played on the green grass in the dawn.
- from Kleinzeit

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