Just Write, she said

She reached in her purse and she pulled out a gun and said, “Now, just shut up and keep your hands on the wheel. And just drive,” she said. “Just drive,” she said. My friend Circe, one again invoking my name in vain (It’s three times, like with beetlejuice), recently made mention of a question […]

She reached in her purse and she pulled out a gun and said,
“Now, just shut up and keep your hands on the wheel.
And just drive,” she said.
“Just drive,” she said.

My friend Circe, one again invoking my name in vain (It’s three times, like with beetlejuice), recently made mention of a question of focus as concerns blogging. More specifically, the fact that I said to her that I have not been focused enough to put up another entry.

She, of course, belittled me (lovingly). She scoffed at the notion that one would need focus to blog, and suggested that I should sit down and write without thought.

But that, baby, is not my bag.

It’s an interesting question though.

I have a friend, sometimes known as “Papa”, a musician and songwriter (and as good a bass player as I’ve ever know). But one of this guy’s gifts is the ability to do pure stream-of-consciousness writing that is pure brilliance.

Click here for examples. I’m still digging out more, there are dozens of them in archive somewhere.

The thing is, some people do this well. Just write. Just let brain fall to fingertips. Circe does this well. Some somgwriters do it well. Papa does it well.

I have gifts. But this sort of stream of consciousness writing is not naturally my forte. I’ve tried it, and can be funny, but I am aware of myself trying to be funny with it.

To write, I need to start with a thought, and refine it until I know if I have a valid point. Often this refinement is done as a write. I learned many years ago to compose email outside my mailer (Mutt, why would anyone use anything else? And it runs on the mac!). I learned that I was best off composing, thinking, reading, and then sending or discarding. A close friend keeps scolding me for this, for how many emails I have written to her and not sent, but she’ll see one day, when I let one out of the box that should have been drowned at birth, she’ll see why I keep the thought filter on tight.

Circe has a good point. One learns to write by writing. One does not learn by saying “I don’t have anything to write about”.

The question then is, do I want to use this forum to ramble (and god knows, rambling is not a bad thing, I generally encourage my friends to do it, and love it when they do), or do I want to only use it to post semi-clever essays?

Tune in next week…

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Well Begun is Half Done

A common thread for me throughout my life as a writer (and I say that as if I had such a life, when in fact what I have is phases of intense creativity with long bleak (the word bleak is there for dramatic effect only, it’s a damned fine word) non-creaive stretches where inspiration left […]

A common thread for me throughout my life as a writer (and I say that as if I had such a life, when in fact what I have is phases of intense creativity with long bleak (the word bleak is there for dramatic effect only, it’s a damned fine word) non-creaive stretches where inspiration left me, where the muse out to lunch and could not be summoned back) is the thread of begun but not completed.

There’s something so powerful about beginnings. So compelling. And things are so easy to start. A line, a scene, a bit of dialog. An encounter. The thrill of newness, the fresh taste of something you’ve never had before. A conversation between characters, thrust and parry. Chase and capture.

What, though, after that?

I prefer appetizers to desserts. I say that as a cook as much as I say it as diner. The prep work is more fun than the garnishing. Work with a knife, more satisfying the work with a squeeze bottle.

I wasn’t going to start talking about cooking yet in this blog. I think that veered away from a good metaphore.

I have at least 20 stories in a started or partially completed state. Another two or three (other than Wanton, the genesis of which I should cover in a later entry) finished, and those not really worthy of much because they were such early and immature efforts.

There are a couple, at least, that i think are worth completing. Another few in outline state that might be. I even have (started) a story about this theme – more or less – inspired by an American Music Club song called “At my Mercy“.

And of course, I started two more stories this week (In fact, between writing this and publishing it, I started a third).

Beginnings are so easy. A writer friend of mine told me I’m good at opening lines. And many of my stories start with that gem, a line of dialog or introduction, and I’m left to try building a story around that. I’d trade that particularly frustrating talent for being good at endings.

The question then is – how the hell do I go finish what I’ve started? How do I go back and pick up the threads of something I’ve lost touch with and find a way to complete it, ride it to it’s inevitable conclusion? Maybe it’s a factor of how I write; it’s not a cold and cerebral process for me, it’s a question of being in the place, the time, the head of the character. I have to be there, walk with those feet, touch with those hands, drink with that mouth. And then I write what the character feels. But once I’ve lost that place, I cannot, sometimes, find my way back. Maybe this is why I have trouble writing in third person, or from a female point of view; I start that exra step away from the character and thus have greater distance to get back.

There’s a thought to ponder.

Or maybe it’s simpler. newness implies infinite possibility. Completion is – I don’t know, the opposite. Possibilities fined down to the point where there’s only one, and that is complete and past.

Or some might say it’s simple procrastination and the rest of this is navel-gazing. But screw that, if there’s navel-gazing to be done, I’d rather I was looking at some of *your* navels. [wink wink]

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Horn of Dilemma

I guess there’s this fundamental dilemma that the writer must face – and when I say The Writer I am of course speaking in the royal we sense, of Me the writer. But I universalize this experience since my sample size is one, and thus must be the constant for all that type of individual […]

I guess there’s this fundamental dilemma that the writer must face – and when I say The Writer I am of course speaking in the royal we sense, of Me the writer. But I universalize this experience since my sample size is one, and thus must be the constant for all that type of individual called writer.

But getting back to the dilemma; what to write about?

Sometimes this is simple. A topic, a subject, a tale, it jumps out at you and takes you by the throat (or begs you to take it by the throat, but that’s another story for a different entry). But sometimes, more times, it’s less pure and clean and simple.

This thread, this train of though, speaks both to writing here, and to writing in general, writing the fiction I am generally focused on. Because in both cases, there are long list of things to say, but so many reasons not to say one or the other.

In fiction, the first and most vital thing is this – tell a good story. And for all the thoughts, all the ideas, all the buds and stems of stories, how many bear fruit? How many are worth the telling, in the end? What is truly worth the saying? And when is the way of telling more important than the story told?

And then there is this – what should be said? What can be said? For the mind of the writer takes everything in as potential inspiration. Friends, enemies, events, interactions, disagreements, encounters. The pretty young barrista who made my espresso yesterday, she may, tomorrow, become a character n some seedy bar in some seedy tale. The geezer driving in the next car over, who cut me off merging in traffic? He may find himself dead on the written page, slain in some ugly, slow and painful way.

And you – you who are in my life in certain ways, secret or not, public or not; you are all characters in stories I tell in my head. Yet your secrets are not mine to tell, so what I may say is then changed by the the need to be fair an kind with you, to protect your privacy and guard your whispered confessions.

There’s a story I want to tell. I suppose this is what Bukowski, Fante, Kerouac, a thousand others, what they said to themselves. There’s a story I want to tell, and in a sense it’s my story, and in a sense it’s not, but somehow I am always the main character. Which makes my life the story, and those I know the characters. I wish I could ask those men, how did you manage, when your life is your story, and your private, suddenly public? How did your loved ones manage when their secrets became public, when their words come from the mouths of characters on the printed page? Yes, such things are often veiled, but sometimes the veil must be thin or the essence of the character, the event, the motivation is lost.

So there are stories I wish to tell. But which to tell? Which to write? The science fiction and fantasy I daydreamed as a child, still stored away with characters and universes, war and love and death? Tales of dark crime and tough heros? Or can one simply tell a story of a man and his struggles with ordinary life? Is the level of literary pretension too high?

For the central element of all these stories is love; pain and love and death and love and war and love. Crime and passion and desire, heroism, villainy, magic and evil. Love and pain, these are the threads that connect them all.

And I am back, with that, to threads from the lives of real people.

Is this a closed loop with no way out?

I start many stories. There is never a shortage, it seems, of ideas and images. It’s the finishing that seems to be my bane. And that, I suppose, is another entry for another time.

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What’s a blog for?

So I keep thinking about this whole blogging thing. Why do it? What’s it for? What the hell is wrong with people, they wanna read other people’s journals? So they why am I doing it? (Well I’m not yet, or wasn’t, but then now I am – “It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit sweater […]

So I keep thinking about this whole blogging thing. Why do it? What’s it for? What the hell is wrong with people, they wanna read other people’s journals?

So they why am I doing it?

(Well I’m not yet, or wasn’t, but then now I am – “It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting…”)

So what I came down to is this. I need something to write about. My life is a bore. Most people’s lives are a bore. Most people’s thoughts are a bore. It’s what people do, what they create, that’s interesting. Or sometimes what they destroy.

So (and this is subject to change at any moment, for there’s only one rule, and that is, there are no rules), this blog shall be about writing (My writing, but also the writing of those I know, or love, or respect, or some matrix of these). It may also be about other permutations on art and music, if it turns out I have anything to say on those topics; I create neither, but require both.

So that’s – oh, fuck, I just wanted to say, “my mission statement”. Someone stop me.

The voice from side-stage growls, “Get On With It!”

So I’ve got my first serious effort at writing posted elsewhere on this self-same web site. Some of you have seen this already, but if you have not yet done so, read, and please, feedback.

Wanton, a novella of sexual obsession.

There’s a lot more of my writing squirreled away on various hard drives. Most of it utter and complete crap of course. I’m gradually winnowing out the good stuff though, or at least the stuff that’s not completely unworthy; some of it will be added to this site and mentioned here as it’s readied. More still when I finally find the muse and get on with some of the couple dozen stories I have started or outlined.

That’s enough for now. Later, sometime, I shall crack open the can of worms in my own skull entitled “Why I write”, but – yes, later.

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