The Cozy Manifesto

Screenshot 2018-01-15 at 12.30.05 AMYou-all are in for it, now. I got a blog again so I now have somewhere to put things that I want to remember. There’s gonna be all sorts of stuff in this here junk drawer.

Like this, which isn’t junk. Before I tell you where and why, I have to talk about who wrote it. Below is a transcript of the final scene of one of the Murder, She Wrote movies, “A Story to Die For,” written by J. Michael Straczynski. Yes, the same genius guy who created Babylon 5 and wrote some of the best Spider-man and Superman stuff for both DC and Marvel, and who is currently writing the new Twilight Zone comix, and who pioneered open contact with fans via Usenet, and who is by all accounts one hell of a nice guy also wrote for Murder, She Wrote. (This means Murder, She Wrote is officially cool. Glad that’s settled.) He also wrote some of the TV episodes, and they’re special in that they portray Jess as especially well-read and thoughtful, as well as friendly and clever.

But, first, a quote from Gustave Flaubert. Stay with me, folks. This will eventually make sense.

Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent
and original in your work.

Flaubert, who was neither regular nor orderly, was offering do-as-I-say, not-as-I-do advice to a woman friend who was thinking of becoming a writer. Being regular and orderly by nature (more or less), I like this quote quite a bit. I also like it just because we who are tidy, orderly — dare I say it, cozy — get a lot of grief. These days, I’m working mostly on horror/sci fi stuff, but I’ve dabbled with cozy mysteries and may do so again. And, I still love reading them. Cozy fans, and cozy people in general (Tea, anyone?) are supposed to be boring, safe, even naive. I disagree, and so, methinks, does Joe Straczynski. Here’s Jessica’s closing speech from the movie. (Spoiler alert for the video. It is a good movie, so if you’re into MSW, watch the whole thing. The opening New England fly-over is gorgeous, by the way.)

[P]opular culture notwithstanding, there is such a thing as right and wrong. The taking of a human life for any reason is wrong. You can never nudge the moral compass far from its true North without losing something vital. A compass is essential for everyone, writers in particular… It’s important to me to pursue those who cross the line, and take another human life. In my investigating murders, I’ve seen some terrible things — so many of them it would take the wind out of anybody’s sails. But, because I am a romantic I still believe that we have the potential to be nobler than we know and better than we think, that the darkness I’ve seen is only a shadow on the potential of the human heart… I urge you to keep your heart’s compass on the true North of your dreams. Be free to be romantics, to reject cynicism, to believe that good will prevail and that those who do wrong will be punished. Because, when the hour of the wolf comes as it comes to all of us, sooner or later, those are the things that sustain us.

Thanks, Joe.

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