“The Most Wonderful Nation”

I’ve only been to Memphis once.  Wasn’t there overnight.  Didn’t go to a bar.  I’ve never really been in a bar fight, but I’ve spent the last five hours in a bar in Memphis.  Bar fight.  Broken bones.  Guns drawn.  Police called.  Actually, I’ve been there on and off for the last couple of weeks.  Still there, to be honest.  I have to do a good deal of revising, re-writing, and editing.  I need to work on the dialogue.

Sometimes reality isn’t real.  This part of the story I’m writing, hopefully my first novel, has been growing like the Alien inside my head.  Usually it isn’t so disturbing (that scene from the movie brought me right up off my seat when I first saw it), but it’s gotten me out of bed more than once in the last few weeks and kept me awake on the plane home from Keystone last week.  At one point I had an idea for part of the scene as I was skiing in the snowstorm we had on Friday.  Almost fell down because I forgot where I was and what I was doing.  I dodged a beer bottle instead of a new mogul.

This whole experience of creating such an extended, involved storyline is quite different from the short poems I have been writing for so long.  It’s like living another life—more than one, really.  Those of you who create art of any kind know what I mean.  Writers especially will get it.  Even if it’s not good, what the “muse” insists on must be done.  That alien has to come out.

But that wonderful nation, the IMAGI-NATION, is such an incredible place to go.  Whether you read or write the stories, go to the movies and plays or write them or act in them or help to make them come alive in the sets and film and music…you can be lost there for any amount of time.  This whole idea is one I’ve loved for so long.  The line that is inspired this title comes from the movie “Miracle on 34th Street.”  Santa tells the little girl, who has been denied her passport to this wonderful nation by her heart- and dream-crushed mother, that she has to go to the imagination to truly appreciate real life.

I’ve traveled some, but not too widely.  In my mind, though, I’ve been to some incredible places with Jules Verne, JRR Tolkien, William Shakespeare, Billy Collins, George Lucas, Willa Cather, and so many, many others.  As children we brought new worlds to life in our games and had all sorts of adventures.  We tried on costumes and capes, had super powers, and invented glorious devices, and attempted what we discovered was not quite possible…and, yes, I jumped off the garage roof with an umbrella for a parachute.

Doesn’t look like I’m going to grow up soon.  One of these days maybe you’ll get to join me in my world and the most wonderful nation.

In the meantime, don’t forget to dream.

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