AND IN THE END

by Stephen Jay Schwartz

 

 

And in the end

the love you take

is equal to

the love

you make

 

These powerful words

from the Beatles

Their last statement, on their final album, Abbey Road.

Let it Be was released later, but recorded earlier.

Abbey Road, their final thoughts. Life and music and politics and love. Kinda like the final thoughts of a bunch of authors I know.

And what a beautiful, complex set of songs the Beatles left for us in Abbey Road. From the whimsical Octopus’s Garden to the dark, atonal Because, and the long medley that begins with You Never Give Me Your Money and climaxes at The End, with wild tangents along the way, growing, evolving, escalating toward those final words, the words that sum it all up, that boil it down to the essential truth: “And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.”

Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.

When I was in college, in music school, I used to skip my sight-singing & ear-training class and hide in the campus music library where I listened to Abbey Road, over and over and over again. Upon receiving my D in the class, my instructor asked me why I rarely showed up. I told him what I’d been doing. He stared into space for a moment, then nodded. “I can see that,” he said. “You picked good teachers.”

The Beatles were diverse, ever-changing, impossible to categorize, and full of surprises.

When I look at the seven-year life of Murderati I can’t help but think about the music of The Beatles. Billed as a site where mystery-thriller authors marketed their books and shared stories about their adventures in publishing, Murderati grew into something more, a collection of diverse voices sharing their opinions on everything under the stars. Filled with surprises, Murderati was diverse, ever-changing and impossible to categorize. Exactly the kind of organization/disorganization I can relate to. And, like The Beatles, the members of Murderati are deliciously talented. I’ve sat amazed and overwhelmed by the insightful discussion I’ve read here. The dialogue and dialectic. It’s the Algonquin Round Table of the mystery sect, and I feel fortunate and honored to have had a spot in the room.

I’m lucky I got in when I did, to have a few years to write my 111 blogs. A number, by the way, that has always been magical for me. Three ones. It has become a tradition in my family to wish each other “Happy Anniversary!” each time we see the clock change to 1:11. It began with my wife and I after we took a romantic trip to Santa Fe and spent an evening at Ten Thousand Waves in a hot tub under the stars. The number on the door to our private room was 111. The “Happy Anniversary” was our little ritual and it spread to the kids when the kids came ’round.

So, it’s seems symbolic that my final blog for Murderati is 111.

I’ve always loved the fact that Murderati was a living thing, a place where artists moved into and out of. Authors came and went, but their words remained. It’s refreshing to know that the words will always be there, archived, for us to reference years into the future. Murderati remains as a testament to our time, to the world of publishing as it was. It’s a fascinating freeze-frame of the state of our art as things moved into the digital age. The excitement and fear of this moment are captured in our postings. Murderati exists as an historical reference to one of the greatest times of change ever experienced in the world of publishing.

I’m glad a number of past authors have come by to say goodbye. These are the folks who were here before and during my time, and I’ve missed their voices on the blog. It feels like a family reunion.

I only feel sorry that the site can’t continue as it has these past seven years, so that current readers of the blog could experience the joy of becoming Murderati bloggers themselves. It seems unfair to them, most of all.

I will miss this place.

But it doesn’t have to be so serious and sad. Even The Beatles, with their heavy message at the end, let us know that the final word, after the final word, was something else entirely.

Fourteen seconds after the end of The End comes the strike of a chord and the start of a silly little ditty called Her Majesty. A slap-happy, tongue-in-cheek drinking song that ends on the upbeat of an incomplete measure and reminds us that The Beatles, as deep and inventive as they were, simply wanted to have fun.

Because, if you’re not having fun, what’s the point?

I hope you’ve all had fun here. I have. I hope you’ve allowed yourself the opportunity to be silly and whimsical. I certainly have. Sometimes humor offers the greatest insight. After all, it’s the flip-side of tragedy, and no one knows that better than the authors and readers of the mystery-thriller community.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, the yellow submarine has arrived, and there’s room for one more.

Happy Anniversary!

                                             *     *     *

(Remember to pop by this weekend for postings by past-Murderati authors)

                                             *     *     *

Oh, and if you’re going to attend the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at USC this weekend, I’ll be moderating a panel called “Crime Fiction: Secrets and Spies” with Philip Kerr, Eric Van Lustbader and Tom Epperson on Sunday at 12:30.  And I’ll be signing at the Book Soup booth, also on Sunday, at 3:00 pm.  Hope to see you there!

22 thoughts on “AND IN THE END

  1. Richard Maguire

    Hi Stephen. Though I've said my goodbyes in my comments to your previous post, I just thought I'd drop by and say a final farewell. (Oh BTW: in case this pops up twice, Captcha ate my first attempt.)

    While you look at the seven years of Murderati and can't help thinking about the music of The Beatles, the end for me feels kind of like one of my favorite TV shows has been cancelled – while it's still way up there in the ratings.

    With Alex having written more than 200 blogs, Zoe 151, and your 111, I'm wondering if you're all not making a mistake. That blogging might be the perfect safeguard against writer's block – or whatever the heck you call the malaise that stops a writer in his/her tracks. But then what do I know? Well, one thing for sure. The quality of the blogs here over the years has never tapered off. Never. In fact, in the last few years Murderati has become even more interesting, more enjoyable to read. And that's what we're all going to miss.

    Thanks for the many fascinating posts, Stephen. Not one dud among your lucky 111. May your future be filled with success and satisfaction in all that you do. Take care.

  2. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Naomi – it was a pleasure bringing past Murderati bloggers back again to take their final laps. It's like a family reunion. I'm so glad you came to participate!
    See you this weekend!

  3. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Richard – well, hopefully we got out before "jumping the shark." We left the way Mary Tyler Moore did, at the height of our popularity, right? Maybe I should reference a more modern series…like Breaking Bad. That's it, we're going out like Breaking Bad.
    I personally would love to do one strong blog a month, or one every two months. Then I feel I might have something reasonably important to say. So, after a little break, maybe I'll find a forum for that.
    Thanks so much for your wonderful comments to my blog and the blogs of others. Yours has been a real important voice in our community. It wouldn't have been the same without you, Richard.

  4. Dee

    What Richard said, Stephen, only with big sloppy weepy girl hugs.

    What a loss this is, and, as with the friend who is dying of cancer, knowing it is coming has not eased the pain of the end.

  5. Allison Davis

    Stephen, I saw the Beatles in 1964 and screamed so loud (with a row full of young girls like me) that we got John's attention (he was the object of our desire). I went with my Grandmother who was born in Liverpool. It's a great memory. Like all the memories here, will be part of the fabric of who I am and who I will be. See you in the future dearheart, here or there for sure. And thanks for the goodbye party. Fitting and fun, if a bit sad as well.

  6. David Corbett

    Stephen:

    Sounds like a killer panel this weekend. Have a great time.

    I simply don't believe we'll all fade away like mist. This conversation will continue, just in different places and different ways. I'm sure of it.

    As for "family reunion" — thank God not my family…

    Be grand, good man.

  7. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Allison – I cannot believe you were there at that concert! That's like a major moment in American music history! God, I wish I'd been there, just to see you squealing along with all the other cute groupies. Let me know when you're in L.A. again – and when you have a draft of your novel for me to read. I can't wait.

  8. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    David – this is how I see it working out…you and I will form a private investigation firm that covers L.A. to San Francisco. We'll hang-out after hours drinking Jameson and blasting our Smith & Wessons at the local firing range. We'll make loads of dough and tell plenty of stories.

  9. Jake Nantz

    Stephen,
    I'm at a loss for words. In truth, I can actually see why you guys are getting out while on top. I rarely blog because I'm either grading, planning, writing, or living. But any time I do, I'm concerned that I'm just stealing/stating something that's been said elsewhere a hundred times. If I were on Murderati, I'd be even more worried that it had been said much better, by multiple someones that I look up to, and I would be worried my post wouldn't bring anything new. And let's face it, we as writers second guess ourselves ALL THE TIME, so me telling you "No man, your stuff is great, and has a new freshness to it" and all that will do two things: 1) It'll make you feel good, and then 2) It'll wake up that evil voice we all have that says, "He was just saying that, but that phrase you wrote, you probably lifted it from so-and-so's post last month…."

    So I totally get it, from a negative POV. That said, you guys were and are awesome, and I gonna miss this place like crazy. There has to be some kind of reunion tour every year (month) just to keep it alive. Somethin'….

    Regardless, keep pluggin' away, and I'll see you all sometime!

  10. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Jake – the blogging process has truly taught me that I only have a half-dozen things on my mind. When I look back over my past blogs I notice that I tend to talk about the same subjects. Some might even call it "whining." I think I even gave two different blogs the exact same title! ("Newbie No More").
    Someday I'd like to sift through it all and put the blogs together in some sort of memoir-like book. I really appreciate the time I had with Murderati, because the process really got me to do some of my best work. I'm not going to replace what Murderati provided me.
    Thanks for your kind comments about our work here!

  11. Lil Gluckstern

    I have enjoyed your posts so very much, and that includes today's. It makes me aware again of what I will miss. I particularly liked your habit of talking about your life, and your humble way of talking about your strengths, and the work you do. You will be missed.

  12. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Lil…..awwwww, you got me, there. You make me feel all mushy inside. In a good way. I'm going to miss you as well, dammit.

  13. Zoë Sharp

    I too echo the thanks for organising the goodbye blogs from past Murderatos, Stephen.

    You write with such honesty here, constantly stripping yourself bare for the rest of us. I'm amazed you didn't catch your death of cold.

    Have fun this weekend and see you somewhere down the road, my friend.

  14. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Those are damn sweet words, Zoe – thank you. I do hope I can find another outlet for expressing myself this way. Maybe I'll just have to start a memoir.
    I hope our paths meet again soon.

  15. Pari Noskin

    Stephen,
    I think our paths will meet again someday. I'm wondering, hmmm, an annual reunion? That'd be quite a trip, wouldn't it?

    Anyway, I am very grateful for your writing here — from your first blog right up to this one — and for the help you've extended during this last month.

  16. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Pari – it's been a wild and wonderful trip – I'm so glad I caught the Murderati Train when I did!
    And I love the annual reunion idea.

    Thanks for your lovely words, dear.

  17. PD Martin

    Great farewell post, Stephen. As I've said for some of the other lasts it's been a pleasure being part of Murderati with you. It's a sad month and a sad time, but 'it is what it is'.

    And that's amazing about 111!

  18. PD Martin

    Great farewell post, Stephen. As I've said for some of the other lasts it's been a pleasure being part of Murderati with you. It's a sad month and a sad time, but 'it is what it is'.

    And that's amazing about 111!

  19. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    Thanks, PD! It's been great hanging with you and the crew. You gotta let me know when you're state-side. Better yet, when you're in Los Angeles. Someday we've got to meet in person!

  20. KDJames

    Sorry to chime in a day late! We had storms here yesterday that knocked out power and internet for nine hours. And I've spent the better part of this day deciding which items in my fridge might try to kill me if I were to eat them rather than throw them away. Fun times, I tell you.

    You make a good point about the diversity of posts over here, Stephen. I was never sure what topic the new day would bring, but it was all so good and we had some great wide-ranging discussions. I'm a bit disturbed that you think the blog ending is somehow unfair to those who might have come here as bloggers in some unknown future. Stop that. I can't speak for others, but I felt very much a part of this place. I think it was the first public forum where I got up the nerve to say, "Hi, I'm a writer too." And no one scoffed or mocked my ambition and the world did not come crashing down around me as I was sure it would. Instead, you all simply welcomed me and treated me as someone sharing the same writer's journey. I can't express how grateful I am for that.

    And yeah, we had fun. Well, I did. As you said, if you're not, then what's the point.

    I've been thinking about why I read certain blogs. First, I suppose, is for education in terms of craft. Second is to learn from the experience or advice of others. Third, clearly, is for entertainment value. But you, Stephen, you gave me a fourth reason: to read for the sheer pleasure found in the magic and mastery of the written word. It was in your every post, regardless of topic.

    And damn, I'm going to miss that.

    Unlike some of the others here, I don't know where I'll see you on the internet. You don't appear to be on twitter and seem rather half-hearted about facebook. But I think this break from blogging will be good for your productivity with other writing, and that's a very good thing.

    Please find a way to let the world know when you have new fiction for us. In the meantime, I'll miss you something fierce.

    Well, that didn't use up as many tissues as I thought it might. Close, though.

    Time to go buy some non-deadly food and then write some fiction. There's always another scene to write, another story to tell, even after one of your favourite stories ends. Maybe especially then.

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