About "The Lion Sleeps Tonight"

Around 1994, when I was living in Oregon, I attended the meetings of a writers group in Eugene. One of the first things I submitted to them was a version of this story. There were no useful or helpful comments from the group, which I would gradually realize was typical of them.

The main character naturally doesn't go around thinking about who he is, and where he comes from, any more than the rest of us do. I think Paul McCartney said it best, when he told an interviewer, "I don't get out of bed in the morning and look in the mirror and say, 'Good morning, ex-Beatle Paul. How are you today, ex-Beatle Paul.' I'm just me, you know." Or something very close to that, anyway.

But "writing for publication" requires that you immediately tell the reader what's going on, because the reader is assumed to have the attention span of a six-year old child, and no interest in trying to figure anything out. Oh yes, a car chase or a gun fight is mandatory, too.

So most of the comments were things like "I got bored waiting to find out who he was," with a sprinkling of things like "he wouldn't last five minutes in a bar fight," and "sex with a knife wound! What a man!" that showed they hadn't understood the parts about strength and stamina, or even knew that not all sex acts require the man on top, pumping away as hard as he can. And these were writers, some of them, and would-be writers, the rest of them!

Anyway, I put it aside for a few years. When I set up my web site, I knew that "Lion" would be on it, but there was so much else I had to do, and…

On February 10, 2003, the hard disk of my computer developed bad sectors, and I took the whole thing in to a little shop to get it fixed. That meant no computer for a week. In the meantime, I wrote "Lion" from scratch, without any reference to the first version. By the time I got my computer back, on the 18th, I had 50 pages of single-spaced handwritten lines, with a lot of new stuff in it. For example, the Sleep of Reason storyline wasn't even a glimmer when I did the first version of the story; and I hadn't been to Korea, so no scene in the Korean restaurant.

It took me until March 4th to select bits of the first version to use in in the second, type the whole thing into my computer, and put it on my web site.

This third and perhaps final version came about on February 10-26, 2018, when I was putting my new web site up. I revised "Lion", making it consistent with the dates in the Sleep of Reason timeline, and adding conversation between the Oldest Man and his biographer.

Eventually, when I've written the rest of the stories I have in mind for this character, I'll collect them into an anthology, probably called "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", and this story will be called "Graciela".—LDO