Killing the uncle

Okay, so I lied. I didn’t finish “Leoht Unfaeger,” but only after realizing there were fundamental problems with the story as it stood. It was essentially a rewrite of a previous story I’d started using different characters, a technique that always fails for me. My writing style tends to be organic—the entire story comes together in my head and flows onto the page—and trying to cannibalize one story into another one usually makes me feel too detached and removed from the story until I end up hating it. The same thing happens when I edit too much. My stories are best when I write them all in a rush, do an editing pass on them maybe a week later, and then leave them alone.

Also, I became unhappy with the overall concept of “Leoht Unfaeger.” It involved my main characters (namely Eron and Joe) encountering a modern-day Grendel in Denmark. But the conceit of bringing Grendel back to life just didn’t mesh with the world I want to construct for Eron; it was too simplistic and too pulp. Plus, as it stands the entire Eron concept is too much like Hellboy; so it’s back to the drawing board for Eron & company.

However, I do want to keep at it. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about where I want to go with my life, or more specifically my career, and I’ve had a lot of conversations with DottyGale about this. The truth is more that I’ve brought the subject up to DG on countless occasions and she’s sick of it, to the point where she compared me to Hamlet, saying I do all this talking about what I want to do and very little doing. “Kill the damned uncle,” she told me, and suddenly I had my life’s dictum, the phrase I would turn to in moments of indecision, the phrase I would pass down to my children–“Kill the uncle.” Not literally, of course—fortunately, I have no brothers so it won’t be a problem for my kids, unless my wife has a brother, but DG doesn’t, so for now I’m safe—but I don’t want to be seen as advocating avunculicide to anyone, even if one’s uncle secretly kills one’s father and then marries one’s mother (in that situation, don’t resort to vigilantism, but rather report said uncle to the authorities and find another outlet for your anger, such as writing a disturbing one-act play).

Morality of slaying one’s uncle aside, the essence of DG’s bromide is not to spend eternity debating all courses of action before finally making a move. Hamlet couldn’t decide one way or the other on whether to kill his uncle, and when he finally did it was in a moment of near-insanity, so who knows if that was really what he wanted to do. His mother had just died and he’d just learned he’d been poisoned—anyone might stab their uncle in that situation.

Hamlet’s indecisiveness also caused a lot of collateral damage, including the deaths of Gertrude, Polonius, Ophelia and Laertes. (I won’t count Rosencrantz and Guildenstern because Hamlet killed them deliberately, and he might have done so even without the whole setting-him-up-to-be-murdered thing; they were rather irritating, after all.)

My point, if I have one, and I think I did, is this: one needs to get on with it at some point or another. That appears to be the point at which I am now.

On an unrelated note, I found out today that the expression, “If you think X, you’ve got another thing coming” is properly “If you think X, you’ve got another think coming.” Here’s some information. I’m sure it came about because the “k” gradually weakened to a “g” sound over time, but I’m always fascinated by linguistic trivia like that.

  1. Monkey Wrench?

    Does anyone know where I can find Ronald Clarke of Carver, MA?

  2. Thanks for the Hamlet refresher. I’m going to go ahead and assume that Morrissey named his third album Kill Uncle based on Hamlet.

    Now, you better warn your Dad, unless he’s a reader cuz now that Ed has warmed up on lizards, he’s apparently got bigger prey in mind…

  3. @Ed – He’s in the dining room with Colonel Mustard.

    Yeah, that’s right… I’m 15 minutes late with that better thought!

  4. Kate left a comment on April 21, 2006 at 9:32 am

    Ahhh, DG is so wise! “Kill the Uncle” really ought to be embroidered on a handkerchief or cross-stitched on a sampler.

  5. @Ed–Just remember, my father is a large man. You’ll only get one shot.

    @Sean–Actually my dad and the colonel had a falling out a while back when the colonel made derogatory comments about the conservatory. And when did Ed kill lizards?

    @Kate–I foresee a knitted anniversary gift!

  6. “When did Ed kill lizards?”

    Have you no memory of family history? It was your Dad who set me up for a fall when he rang up the Patricks and told them I’d be a perfect candidate for their devious adventures in housesitting. I’ve Blogged about it here.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

  7. Ah, now I remember. I was having visions of you torturing and killing some poor gecko you found while on vacation to Mexico or something–shades of Buffalo Bill. But no, your murder was one of negligence.

  8. It was not negligence. I was a patsy ensnared in a conspiracy that reached to the highest levels of power and threatened to rip asunder the very fabric of our society. This was a military-style ambush from start to finish… a coup d’etat with the puppet waiting in the wings.

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