Sunday, December 6, 2009

My Irrepressible Shadow

I wrote a song tonight in honor of a fictional character. Well, that's not exactly true. Or at least, that's not the full of it. People do that all the time. Search YouTube for just a second and you know what I mean.

I wrote a song for a girl named Anastasia. You won't know Anastasia, at least not this particular girl named Anastasia, because she hasn't escaped from my head yet. She's been trying. She first slipped onto a piece of paper (technically, a computer document) almost precisely 12 years ago. She's been haunting me ever since.

The words are simple, and they're repeated often.

She is there,
at the back of everything I think or do or say
She is there,
my irrepressible shadow

Why do you do this to me,
my lovely golden girl?
Anastasia, my love, my only
Why do you do this to me,
my lovely golden girl?
You were a part of me,
the deepest part of me.

But now you're gone...
You've gone away
And I'm a shell of the thing
that you were
that I was
standing here today

Reprised Verse
She was there
Do you know what it was that she was to me?
She was my
sense of adventure.
She was there
Do you know what it was that she was to me?
She was my love of life,
my sense of mystery and wonder

Reprised Chorus
Why do you do this to me,
my lovely golden girl?
Anastasia, my love, my only.
Why have you gone away, so it seems, never to return?
You were a part of me
The deepest part of me

Now you're gone...

Yeah... so that was the song. Didn't mean to lapse into it there, but it just sort of happened. The sad thing is, that doesn't do it justice. The melody is what makes it.

I was a little perturbed at first. I mean, look at the lyrics. There's this girl named Anastasia in my head, in my thoughts, she's basically been stalking me for 12 years. She's fictional, too, so there's the whole why-are-you-treating-this-figment-of-your-imagination-like-a-real-person thing.

Here's the answer: because she is a real person.

She is pretty much the person that I was when I was eleven years old: full of wonder, full of hope, full of the idea that the world actually had some mysterious potential. That line about "she was my sense of adventure." It's true! That first draft of Wishbook, the story and the world she belongs to... anybody reading it now wouldn't see what I see in it. I think it'd be like anybody looking at Niggle's painting of the tree (from Tolkien's short story "Leaf by Niggle"). When Niggle looks at the painting, it's this imperfect thing that will never truly capture the beautiful, perfect thing that's in his head. And I feel like anything I try to write to let Anastasia become a real person in a story of her own is going to be a bunch of painted leaves on a canvas, nothing more.

It's still sketchy, I guess, writing a song to a fictional character. Especially when I call her "my love, my only." But that's not a lie either. I loved those days when I saw adventure in the unlikeliest of places. I love the person I once was. And that person is my "only," the only thing I want to get back to.

So I wrote it like a love-lost song, but maybe it's a love-found song. Because the fact that she's resurrecting herself after so much time... she's been in hibernation these last few years, barely poking her head up, and when she did, it was never to impose herself and insist on being heard... she usually just let me squash her back into the boring, predictable shape my life takes now.

Anastasia, come back. I mean it. Insist on your story being heard, and maybe I'll finally get the guts to tell it.

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