Accidental homage, and being part penguin

Accidental homage, and being part penguin

Today’s Words: 1050 so far, but still going
Found Objects total: 21050 and counting
Fuel: Egg sandwich, tortilla-crusted fish and rice, dinner as yet unknown
Poisons: 3 cups of coffee
Exercise: None
Other Stuff on my Mind: Brains, how do they work?

I have a notebook I started for Found Objects in 2005–I do most of my brainstorming in there. Today I filled pages 100 and 101 with notes on the second chapter. 101 pages of me talking to myself, a book about a book. What’s odd is that I haven’t actually reread anything I’ve written in there in a long time. I don’t think I will until I’ve got the first draft done, and then I’ll go back and discover all of the things I forgot to write.

Seven years is a long time to have a book kicking around in one’s brain. Some of the people and places in it are so familiar to me they’re almost real. So it came as a surprise the other day to find out that they kind of were real, or at least originated outside myself: specifically a character who began life in my head known only as “The Major,” and a place I had dreamed of once, which I called the Lodge.

When I was a teenager and into my 20s I loved Bloom County. I bought the collections and read them over and over. I was talking to someone about it on Twitter the other day and impulsively bought the lovely hard-cover annotated collection of the first two years. It had been probably 15 years since I read any of them. I hadn’t had time to read any of it until a couple of days ago, and when I finally did I had a huge OMG Moment. There they were: The Major, and the Lodge, in the form of the boarding house that all of Bloom County revolves around.

They’re not actually anything alike. My Major is much younger, quite liberal, and also from a different world, so there’s that. And my Lodge is not a house, but a repurposed urban business, and only accessible by a very specific subset of people. No one else would have ever connected them. But I clearly saw the seeds of my world in the world of Berk Breathed.

I think I’ve written here–probably many years ago–about hearing the story of Helen Keller’s accidental plagiarism and how it scared me to death when I first read it in sixth grade. The story stayed with me, and so did the fear that it would happen to me–that I would have something so deeply internalized that when it finally bubbled up out of my subconscious I wouldn’t even recognize it as not my own.

This accidental homage in Found Objects is obviously nowhere near the level of that, but still. We are made up of our past experiences, and those books that we reread obsessively are part of who we are and how we think.

Apparently I am part talking penguin. I’m pretty okay with that.

Tuphlem grdlphump, indeed.

One thought on “Accidental homage, and being part penguin

  1. I did something similar with a character’s first and last name once. It was similar in sound to that of someone I’d been in the Navy with but not known well. The character and the person were completely unlike each other — different appearance, different gender, etc. — but I guess I just liked the sound of the name and it caught in the filter.

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