Saturday, August 31, 2013


Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.
                    —Mick Jagger, “Sympathy for the Devil”
It's Tom, actually.  Tom Mock.  No great mystery there.  After all, my name is printed at the bottom of this post and elsewhere on the page, but I'll share that transparency with Sympathy, which is also less of a riddle than the opening lines suggest.  My jazz friends call me Thelonious some of the time.  If you have any appreciation for jazz, you'll probably get that.  If not, that's fine.  Most jazz jokes are way inside anyway, and not funny, and also not jokes.  Hmm...  Anyway.

I write, I read, and I absolutely love stories.  That's mostly what I plan to talk about here.

I'm currently working on the sixth draft of my first novel.  This will be the third and final re-write.  After a few rounds of revision, it's on to the next one.  I started the project my senior year in High School, thanks to the support of a dedicated, and deeply subversive teacher who let me write in his office instead of go to a “real” class, and I've been working on it off and on all through college.  I'm happy with how it is finally coming together.

I live in North Carolina, and I got my MA in English from NC State University in 2012.  I say “got” instead of “earned” because, even though I went to all the classes, wrote a decent thesis, and had good grades, I don't feel I got all I could have out of the experience.  Not that I didn't learn a lot—and I mean a lot.  No-no. You don't read Moby Dick in grad school and come out the other end of that voyage the same, or you can call me Ishmael!

Whatever I missed from the experience was entirely my fault.  Reading all the assigned material might have been a good idea.  So would starting on papers more than two weeks before they were due.  On that note, I would like to formally apologize to Prof. Stein for my “Emerson's Self Reliance Applied to Poe's Protagonists” paper.  I probably missed out the most on a personal level.  I should have palled around with the other students more, talked with them about what they were interested in more; all of that.  It can be hard to take anyone who says “modernity” seriously, though, but now I'm just making excuses.  Few enough of them were like that.  I know I left some amount of that fruit's academic juice unsqueezed, and that's all there is to it.

That's a compound adjective, “unsqueezed.”  Formed by putting “un” in front of the noun.  Or verb, of course.  The History Boys taught me that.  The film is based on the award winning play, and stars the same cast with the late Richard Griffiths as Hector, the teacher who wants his students to learn more than just how to take a test and get into University.  It's worth a look. Between my girlfriend and I, our eyes meet looking at Dakin.

Hector: […] 'Unkissed', 'unrejouicing', 'unconfessed', 'unembraced'.  It's a turn of phrase that brings with it a sense of not-sharing, being out of it, whether because of difference or shyness, but a holding-back: not being in the swim.  Can you see that?

Posner: Yes sir.  I felt that a bit.

Hector: The best moments in reading are when you come across something (a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things) that you'd thought special, particular to you … and here it is! Set down by someone else, a person you've never met.  Maybe even someone long dead. And it's as if a hand has come out and taken yours.
                       —Alan Bennett, The History Boys
Drawing by kp. 

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