Sunday, December 16, 2007

Behind the Novel: Different Drummer

The following is something I wrote in 2004 for a prompt that asked writers to list a favorite quote and explain what it meant to us personally:

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A rather unfashionable plaque that looks as though it may have been plucked from a garage sale adorns a place in my den where others are unlikely to take notice. To be honest, it's not much to see, with its thin wood frame containing nothing but a lacquered fake-texture background on which is printed a few words:

"If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music he hears, however measured or far away. ~ Thoreau"

A few words.

Let's face it, being an artistic type isn't exactly a well-understood trait. We see things differently, and others see us differently. This is something I, as an artistic type, have struggled with for many years. All adolescents have the difficult journey of trying to define themselves, but add to this the hundreds of stories rushing through your brain that you know are a real part of yourself, or the way you look at a tree and see not only the tree, but the structure, lines, grace, blending of colors and shadows that cause you to stare until those around you begin snickering. We different drummers get used to the snickering as we grow and become more comfortable with ourselves. We may not get used to dealing with the attitudes from those who don't understand.

These few words echo through my mind and soul whenever the attitudes crash around me. They have reverberated often enough and deeply enough by this time to have become part of me, even though they are not my words. This is what I hope to achieve with my writing: to say something that makes enough difference to readers that it reverberates through their souls.

The plaque, simple and unbecoming, has an honored place in my den. Others have no need to realize why it hangs where I can see it when I look away from the monitor, struggling with words and wondering at the logic of following the artistic life. It reminds me to keep marching to my own beat and remember the value of a few words.

LK Hunsaker
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When I started showing the cover of Rehearsal: A Different Drummer to a few people for their opinions, one of them asked why it showed guitars when the title was about a drummer. With the quote above, I suppose it's easy enough to know why I did, but readers of course wouldn't have the advantage of reading the quote and my thoughts about it first. It is about drummers ... about different drummers who don't all happen to play the drums. It's about the arts and artists: the oddities, the sacrifices, the misunderstandings, the need to follow a personal path despite outer opinion -- and it's about the way all of those things affect and change us and those around us.

The cover is more appropriate than I can explain right now, with three more of the series to come, but there is a point to what looks like a title that doesn't fit the image. It does. It's a bit of foreshadowing.

As I'm working on ideas for the cover of the second of the series, the quote I'll be taking the title from will also be in my thoughts, although that may not be apparent, either.

"If the highest aim of a captain were to preserve his ship,
he would keep it in port forever."
St. Thomas Aquinas

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