If you’ve been receiving correspondence from me for a while now, you’ve probably noticed I open each message with a reference to “my rocking readers”. We were all born with names which, hopefully, we like. So why in God’s name would I, a complete stranger to you, dub thee a rocking reader?
I recognize that, like everyone else in the world, you are a busy person. You have to choose how to spend your reading entertainment time and the fact that you provided me with access to your inbox is an honor. And I don’t want to disappoint you. I want you to be glad, after you’ve started receiving my correspondence, that you did choose to join my community of online readers.
And this community of online readers is really what rocking readers is all about. Any writer can ask you to join his/her list or to subscribe to their newsletter. Being a rocking reader means that you have expressed interest in this particular community.
So why not give it a name? Why not give us a name?
The answer has two parts, really. And the second part–down below–is very important so I hope you’ll follow along with me as I go.
First of all, I tend to write about literary and contemporary issues in fiction. I focus on the big themes of life and, if you’ve been following my blog, you know I tend to address how they operate in my fiction. Examples? Here are two focused on my novel, Billy Maddox Takes His Shot: The Inevitability of Loss and The Crippling Effect of Memory.
If you’ve joined my community, it hopefully means you’re a reader who’s not only interested in entertainment–though the bottom line is that you likely won’t stick around if my writing doesn’t entertain you. But you may also be here to see how life’s great themes play out in literature. At one point in time, I wanted to be an English professor. I earned my Bachelor’s and my Master’s degrees in English in the 1990s and was all for going on for my doctorate before I decided that I would rather write fiction than analyze it.
It was a hard decision. I also do love critical analysis. But my imagination is an active thing and I would have had to stamp it out to succeed as an academic. I just couldn’t do it.
So, instead, I turned to writing fiction. And the fiction I write is largely informed, as I mentioned, by life’s great themes, which is also the focus of most great literature, whether you decide you like Proust, Jane Austen, Thomas Hobbes or Samuel Beckett.
So, okay. Right? You now know what it means to belong to Jay Lemming’s community of readers. You know what you’re going to get. But why “rocking” readers? Why not call the group: “Hyper-intellectual, thought-provoking” readers, or something like that?
Why Rocking Readers?
Although I am an intellectually curious person, that kind of curiosity is not, well, inspiring at the deepest levels of our being. Intellectual curiosity is important and even helpful in the world. But it is also mentally pleasing, at best.
You know, and I know, that mentally pleasing stuff can only sustain to a certain point. You want to go further? You need something more powerful.
And music, my friends, is soul-inspiring stuff.
Good music–LOUD music–can touch the soul like virtually nothing else in life. It comes from the core. It goes to the core. It doesn’t stop at the mind; music pervades consciousness and can inspire people to do the craziest, most daring stuff in the world. I’ve always said that if I were ever part of a crusade, I would prefer to have Neil Young playing Rocking in the Free World on a loud guitar in front of the army instead of some fine chain-plated warrior hero galloping forth on his destrier and wielding an immaculate iron sword in his hand.
Now I like a lot of music. I love Beethoven’s 9th. Beethoven, someone once told me, is the Megadeath of classic music. That stuck with me! I swoon over John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme. Mussorgsky’s A Night on Bald Mountain makes me want to go down to Hell, tell Satan he’s just not evil enough and that he’s fired. Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture makes me want to attack something. I don’t know what or why. It’s just how I feel listening to it!
That’s the power of music.
But my personal favorite is classic rock-and-roll music–the Stones, U2, Sheryl Crow, The Police, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan…you get the idea. And if you haven’t already figured out what I’m leading up to, it’s this: I play music when I write. I play it LOUD. It drives my writing.
I know I’m not alone among authors who feel this way, either. If you’ve ever read Lisey’s Story by Stephen King, you may remember the protagonist, famous author Scott Landon, also has a tendency, when he’s writing, to crank the shit out of whatever is loud enough to get his creative juices flowing. He just seals himself in his room, turns up the volume and off he goes hammering away at his writing desk.
It’s fuel for imagination and creativity. One suspects Mr. King himself feels similarly. He’s been more than open over the years about his love of heavy rock music and even played in a band called the Rock Bottom Remainders with other authors including Amy Tan, Scott Turow and Dave Barry.
So that’s important to me. Rock music, that is.
When I call my readers my rocking readers, it simply means that when I write–when I write for you–I delve as deep as I can. I let music kick down doors and take me to the deepest realms of the human spirit and consciousness, so I can mine the landscape for great ideas, great stories, great conflicts and characters that you will hopefully enjoy. I want the stories I send your way to have that kind of power. They should not be cosmetic or polite. They should, quite simply, kick some serious ass.
So that’s why you’re my rocking readers and I hope you’re okay with that. I will likely never meet most of you in person and that’s okay. However possible it is to get to know someone in the digital world, I hope you’ll take my self-confessed love of rock music as an important part of my personality, and that you’ll feel as though you know me a little bit too even though, as I just mentioned, we’ll likely only ever stay connected online.
Of course this isn’t just about me, and I would really enjoy getting to know you too. So when I post a blog or open up my Goodreads profile to questions, I seriously hope you will show your cards a little bit, drop by, post a comment and tell me a little bit about yourself too.
You gave me your email address. I send you stuff.
We’re in this together.
Read on and rock on, my readers.