Saturday, January 31, 2009
Some people are very moved by music. I've seen more than one person weep during church services when some particularly moving song is sung. Afterward, they are convinced God was very close to them. I know what they're feeling, because I've felt it myself. I have no right to say just how close God was/wasn't to someone else. I do know that in my own case, 99% of the time the experience was neither holy nor pious. It was emotional. God is with us always, so I guess when we have these emotional times with a song he is there. But my feeling, at least regarding myself, is that, if anything, I am actually less spiritual at that moment than any other. To be holy and pious is to act, not feel. Too often we get them mixed up. I do anyway.
But it was not my intent to preach in this post. You got it because it's part of me. I suppose you may read my posts, here and in my other three blogs, or my stories, poems, or reflections, or converse with me via comments or whatever, and conclude that I'm not much of a representative of my faith. I won't argue with you. I can't. I have no defenses. I am guilty of all you claim.
You see, my hope is not based on what I am able to accomplish, or be, or refrain from. Good thing, too. In my life I have accomplished exactly - nothing. What am I? Nothing. What have I refrained from? Nothing.
My hope is based on forgiveness. I know that when I love someone I cannot stay angry with them long. I have a need to forgive them, even if they don't want to be forgiven. That is my hope with God. So when you read me spouting arrogantly about my understanding of God, please remember what I am and be kind. Remember what is written: "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are," 1 Corinthians 1:27-28
I guess that means I am chosen, huh?
Wow! Tangent. Well, so what?
Learning new things, be it a skill to keep/get a job, or learning who we are is somehow changing again, can stir feelings like a stick in an ant hill. I remember doing that when I was young. There was this old tree stump which had nearly rotted away completely. Some big black ants had set up home there. Thousands of them. They milled about doing whatever it was ants do. I would sit on the fallen remains of the trunk and watch them for hours - sometimes. And every once in a while, just because I couldn't resist, I would take a stick and stir the pile. I suppose I was cruel.
Anyway, back to music.
My feelings are running the spectrum back and forth. The Muses are playing hard and fast. I'm writing poems and short stories, and they're stirring my emotional ant hill. So many feelings running around like the Keystone Cops. That's part of exploring new creative areas, I guess. Some of the feelings are fun. Some aren't. My method for dealing with them? Music.
Over the last few days I have been listening to the same 65 songs over and over and over again. Some are quite mellow, and haunting, such as Are you Sitting Comfortably, by the Moody Blues; and Eres Tu, by Mocadades. Others express strong feelings, such as Bonnie Tyler's, Total Eclipse of the Heart, and Peabo Bryson's, If Ever You're in My Arms Again. Some make me cry, such as Believe, by Josh Groben. And some bring me back to an innocent time, such as Mason William's, Classical Gas. Suzi Quatro's, Stumblin' In, makes me laugh. (Especially with the accompanying lip-sinc video - see A Voice in the Wind.) Oh Me Oh My, by Lulu, reminds me what it feels like to be in love. Kenny Loggin's, Return to Pooh Corner, reminds me that I've left the path. Aerosmith's, Dream On, reminds me to keep trying.
Right now. Today. This minute. I expect the song to best describe my journey from Nothing to Something is Believe. Believe. Sometimes I think that's what the past seven years have been all about. Believe. Choose what you will believe, Bevie. It's important.
I could not make it without music. It's one of my many weaknesses. It fills the many empty places in my heart. God is there. But God doesn't fill the spaces reserved for other people and other things. He simply takes his place on the throne and brings music to sit in the empty chairs around him. Music touches me where I am, and not where I am seen. With music I am never truly alone.
Is God music? I don't think I've ever heard it said. He must be, I think.
Friday, January 30, 2009
The poem started out to be one of those lovey-dovey pieces extolling the virtues of nature and causing readers to think about the beauty of a rabbit's life. Unfortunately, I have a bit of a twisted sense of humor, and I thought of a scene in Watership Down in which Fiver walks to the edge of a field in time to see Violet get taken by an owl, or hawk. I couldn't resist changing the poem's direction.
I still think it was funny.
Not because of the rabbit.
The joke was on the reader.
So I suppose I should post something else, huh?
Well, unfortunately, I have not been physically working on any significant work of prose. I did write a new story. It's just over 1,500 words. Where Apprentice deals with the stages of falling in love, The Cost of a Friend deals with the consequences of not following the rules. I've asked a friend of mine to read it. I hope they are able. No guarantees.
This makes the second short story I've written in a short while. Perhaps that's what the Muses want me to do now. I've no inspiration to work on an actual novel. My novel ideas are still in my head and swirling there. It's best to let them cook. Every so often I lift the lid and stir, but those meals are far from ready to serve at this time.
Short stories, and poems, are like snacks and appetizers. I guess that's where I am now.
There's been another explosion of ideas in my head and they're all running around clammoring for attention. To promise anything on anything not completed is to lie to myself. The Muses have me running all over. In one area I'm completely out of control and need to pull back. Perhaps short stories (under 10,000 words) and poems are the way to go right now. I'm in an emotional time, and short pieces grant me the flexibility of shifting gears quickly.
I promise, not all of the poetry will be of the same ilk as Lawn Bunnies. But all the same, don't be surprised if Risa (Muse of Laughter) doesn't inspire other works.
Anyway, in the crusted snow surrounding my son's play area I saw the footprints of some of our nocturnal guests, who find shelter in Son's old playset, or under the delapidated shed Spouse and I built together. (It was delapidated the first day.) Suddenly, I felt inspired to write another poem. It was going to be several stanzas, but after four lines I realized I was finished. So, without further ado, here is, "Lawn Bunnies", by Bevie James.
I’ve watched the bunnies on my lawn
Playing, eating, ‘till the sun says, “Dawn!”
Being a bunny would be neat
To one day fly in an eagle’s feet
Thursday, January 29, 2009
The two men collaborated – and fought – to create a classic, enjoyed by millions in the original release to theatres, and again in VHS and DVD release. We have a copy of it, and Son will periodically choose that as the evening movie instead of more recent productions aimed more closely to his age. I think some of the double-entendres go past him right now (which is fine with me), but as regards sight gags and such he’s right there laughing with me.
But it is the “fighting” aspect of the collaboration which I wish to address. According to Wilder, they would have some horrible fights in which (he in particular) would consider just chucking the whole thing. Had one not been submissive to the other, that may very well have occurred. But Wilder admits to being intimidated by Brooks’ age, experience, and knowledge of the crafts of comedy and filmmaking. That’s not to say Wilder never won an argument. But his victories only came after great effort.
He relates an incident in which Brooks announces that a certain gag routine is now out of the picture. Wilder was horrified. “Why? It’s a great gag.” “No,” says Brooks. “It’s not funny at all. It’s out.” What ensued was a half-heated debate (Wilder was at the edge of tears while Brooks was impassive) which nearly broke Wilder. Then, out of the blue, Brooks changed his mind. “All right. It’s in,” says Brooks.
When Wilder calmed down enough he asked Brooks what had just happened. Brooks responded by saying he wasn’t sure about the gag. He wanted to know how Wilder felt about it. If he was willing to truly fight for it, then it must be funny. It was, by the way.
It's funny about dominance, though. With certain people I am dominant (not many), and with others I am submissive (most). With family and friends dominance is often determined by what is going on. I think this is called respecting each other's strengths.
Even so, collaboration isn’t easy.
Which is why I seldom do it. I tend toward the submissive side, which means my ideas are the ones which must be fought for. About twenty years ago I was involved in a collaboration effort with three others. I was the Scriber. I would write what had been agreed upon and present it the following day, or week. This allowed me the freedom to add new ideas which occurred to me in the writing. (Haven't you had had experience in your own writing? You have a scene all planned out, but as you write you discover a better way?) Many times these ad hoc ideas were accepted without complaint. But sometimes there would be an outcry, and if I wanted to keep what I had created, I was going to have to fight for it. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I got to keep it. Didn't much care for the fighting, though. Got no elation from either victory or defeat. We wrote some good stuff, though.
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
I wrote this just this morning. I got up at 1:00 a.m. and came down to the computer and caught up in the business inventory. Spouse has been wanting me to get this done for a couple of weeks now. I've not been good about it. The business is a failure and I drag my feet for it. Did get the Minnesota Sales Tax filed on time. [sad smile] When I finished, about 3:00 a.m., I didn't know what to do with myself. So I've been bathing in my music. I've been going home, where it's safe and secure. Looking for the place of comfort. When I came across Kenny Loggins, Return to Pooh, I opened Word and began writing whatever my feelings were. This is the result. I changed one line during my Read. Otherwise, its the original draft.
It's a poultice song, if you know what that is. My face needs to be wet right now.
I call it, The Spoken Words of Love. Just because.
The Spoken Words of Love
Love. I’ve heard it spoken of well.
It’s the thing of beauty which saves us from hell.
Come gather me, and wrap me in your arms.
Comfort me and hold me and shield me from harm
The beauty of your eyes is like emeralds in the sun
They shine in my heart and make fear come undone
You gaze in my eyes and I melt from your heat
I giggle with joy because our eyes meet
In your arms I can cry and rest from my fears
In your arms I am safe and you dry all my tears
I’m wayward and poor, and acceptance I seek
You give it to me and I’m strong when I’m weak
I love you, my God, and I wish I were good
You know I am not – I live not as I should
Forgive me and love me and hold me again
Touch my deep spirit and keep me from sin
I am such a child, I am such a fool
My need to be loved just makes me a tool
Let me cry now and let me now sleep
Take the weeds from my garden before I must reap
Love. I’ve heard it spoken of well.
It’s the thing of beauty which saves us from hell.
Come gather me, and wrap me in your arms.
Comfort me and hold me and shield me from harm
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
My, what a mess!
Yes, Sir. What should we do about it, Sir?
Clean it up, of course!
That’s been tried sir. The King…
1 Yes, yes. I know about The King. He’s quite merry up in that castle of his.
Yes, Sir. And he sent…
2 No good. They couldn’t do it. You go find someone who can.
Very good, Sir.
You! Boy! What’s your name?
What do you think you are doing?
No, you’re not.
Well, I was jumping. But my toe caught afire.
I see. You know anything about this mess?
Oh, no Sir. I’ve just been jumping.
Well, stick around for questioning. Do you know who that is?
Oh, yes, Sir. That’s Jack.
Jack? I thought you were Jack.
I am. But so is he. He’s a builder.
A builder? What does he build?
4 This house over here, for one thing.
What about this other fool?
His name’s Jack, too.
Jack, huh? Hey, you! Jack! Where you going?
5 To get some water.
Know anything about this mess?
What is it, little girl?
That old man.
6 You mean the odd one with the even stranger cat?
What about him?
7 He was playing with my knee.
Arrest that man!
Sir, we just don’t know how to clean up this mess. Do you have a suggestion?
8 Get a large frying pan and let’s have an omlette.
In case you missed any, here the the eight ( 8 ) nursery rhyme references:
1 Old King Cole
2 All the King's Horses (part of Humptey Dumptey)
3 Jack Be Nimble
4 This is the House That Jack Built
5 Jack and Jill
6 There Was a Crooked Man
7 This Old Man
8 Humptey Dumptey
Yes, I know. I may as well have forgotten. This is hardly my best stuff. The poems were better.
This is NOT the story I was planning on posting. I apologize. I got caught up with something and used up all of my time. This is basically my notes. I was planning on a nice story of about about a thousand words. Sorry. I screwed up.
I do have some cute poems on the other blogs that I did get in on time: Cat in the Buff, A Voice in the Wind and SOF - The People. Maybe next year I'll be better organized. Sigh.
The source is Writtenwyrdd, who if you haven't read, you should. Today's post was especially meaningful. It's titled, "The Strange Honesty of Writing Lies". I knew before I read the first word it was going to be good. She begins with a passage from someone named, Mapelba, (who she links to on her blog).
I'm not going to go into all the whys and details. You go read Writtenwyrdd. Maybe it'll speak to you, too.
Monday, January 26, 2009
Partly this has been circumstance. There have been things to do and places to go.
Partly this has been Spouse and Son's fault. (Why have 'em if you can't blame 'em, right?) They don't see my writing as bonified "work" and constantly insist I leave it to do other things - with them. Of course I have to. Don't want them to think I don't want to be around them. (But I do wish they would leave me alone!)
Then my sleep schedule has been completely disrupted. I woke at midnight last night thinking I had slept for ten hours. I had slept four. But I woke myself up and I haven't been able to sleep since. Now I'm ready for sleep, but I have to stay away for another five hours. Then I can sleep again. (You'd better believe I'll be sleeping through the night tonight.)
And finally, I have simply found "other things to do" and ignored my writing duties and fun. So now here I am with less than 24-hours before Rabbit Hole Day, and I haven't finished my project. Aaarrggghhh!
Well, I'll definitely sleep the night. I believe Spouse works Tuesday day. I'll wake around four. That will give me just over two hours before I have to bring Son to school. I'll get home before eight. I should be able to post something by noon. That should do.
It's a plan anyway.
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Yesterday my son played in what was without a doubt the most miserable of the ten games his team has played this season. Surprisingly, he actually had fun, which was good. I did not. But then my perspective was different. I was the scorekeeper - or, rather, I was supposed to be.
We arrived early and saw the last five minutes of the game which preceded Son's. We were disappointed with the referees. This is an "in-house" league, which means no one gets paid to do anything (except the custodial staff, who are responsible for the building). The coaches are mothers and fathers who donate time and energy. The referees are ordered there by the High School Varsity Basketball Coach, who has more than a little influence in the program. So the referees are teenagers who have had no training whatsoever in the task they have been assigned. Still, there are two pairs who actually do a better than average job. Son's team has been fortunate to have one of them in four of the previous seven games played. Not so today. And what do you do? They're just kids themselves. You let them muck up and hope it all balances out. Meanwhile, you remind yourself that there is no money, power, or prestige involved here. It's not supposed to matter who wins. (If I had my way, they wouldn't even be keeping score, but that's another issue.)
Anyway, I had brought the little 35mm camera to the game in hopes of getting some action pictures of Son and some of his teammates. I picked a place near one end of the court and sat down. Then Son's coach came by and greeted Spouse and me. He said he wanted me near him during the game. (I'm a horrible coach, but a good observer.) So I moved to the players' bench. There I learned the coach of the opposing team intended to run the scoreboard. Not wanting to deprive him of coaching, I said I would do the scoreboard - but someone would have to show me how, as this controller was different than at the other school. (This would be my third stint at the job.) He assured me it was exactly the same. He lied.
So the game begins and Son's team is playing like they're asleep. One of their better players is playing hurt, and two others are trying to do everything by themselves on offense. No one was playing defense - except Son, who loves to play defense. The team was falling behind, and Son was playing harder and harder and harder.
Meanwhile, the opposing coach chose to sit at the scorer's table instead of on the bench with his players, and he keeps having to show me how to do certain things. The reason? I can't get it out of my head that he said it's supposed to work like the other scoring controller. Finally, he comes just short of calling me stupid by pointing out that there are actually directions at hand which I have not looked at (because he told me I didn't need them). I figure out what's wrong and from that point on, I'm fine. But from that point on he had absolutely no faith in me and kept interfering with my job by doing some of it himself. (I almost got up and left, but people don't like it when I get angry, so I kept my cool and let him disrupt my job.)
At Son's age, the players play eight five minute periods. It was during the third period when Son's accelerating drive caught up to him. I saw his team go down the court and suddenly he wasn't running. He was walking. He turned and I saw his face. Spouse was at my elbow and I turned and said, "Something is wrong with Son." There was only about thirty seconds left in the period, but suddenly Son turned and tried running off the court toward the rest rooms. He didn't make it. I saw him spit up. But he kept going and was soon out of sight. Only I and perhaps three other adults saw him.
So now the coaches are sending out players to being Period Four. I get up and tell everyone there is water on the floor. So now everyone is standing around waiting. I ask the coach at the table if someone went to get towels to clean it up. He said only a custodian who has been trained in dealing with these kinds of spills can clean it up, and no one can find the custodian. It would take a half hour before they did. Son's coach used the time to good measure. He came and asked me what I thought was going wrong, and I gave him three pointers. Then he went and talked to the team.
When the game finally resumed, Son's team played equally to the other. Unfortunately, they were already losing before the break, so playing equal wasn't enough. They had to play better.
They had played this team a few weeks ago and lost by a single point when the other team's best player made one of two free throws. Son's team stole the ball five times in the final minute of play, but were never able to make the basket and win. This time, the opposing coach decided his team was going to be just as aggressive as Son's. They were worse. And the referees - remember the teenagers? - were horrible. Every time there was a jump ball they gave it to the other team. Every time the ball went out of bounds they gave it to the other team. I saw parents staring at each other wide-mouthed as the other team got the ball over and over and over again. And then, all of a sudden, that stopped. They called things equally. In fact, they may even have favored Son's team. But there was less than ten minutes left.
Regarding the score at this time, I cannot honestly tell you. The coach kept interfering with the controller, and suddenly I have people coming up to me and telling me the score is wrong. Everyone had an opinion, but they didn't agree. I settled on a compromise. Instead of Son's team losing by six (like the opposing coach said), or only losing by two (like Son's coach said), I put Son's team down by four. Nobody was really happy, but the arguing stopped. After that the opposing coach was too busy telling his players to "play rough". I heard him. I couldn't believe. Well, yes I could. That's the problem.
But playing "rough" worked against the other team. With less than a minute to go Son's team tied the game. Then, with just thirty seconds to go, one of the ten best players in the league (this is the opinion of other parents and coaches, folks) went to the free-throw line to shoot two. Son.
As he prepared to make his first attempt I sensed from his motion that he was getting sick again. He had played very hard. He missed. Then he took a deep breath, followed his routine, and swished the ball through the rim to give his team their first lead of the game. Then he ran off the court to the bathroom. He made it this time. The other team raced down the court, but there just wasn't enough time for them. Their coach kept looking at the controller, but I huddled over it. Time expired and Son's team had won. And Son had scored the winning basket!Just a little prejudiced. [grin] - [whoops of exubarance]
The teams this year seem to be closer in ability than other years, which is good. The one year I coached I had such a good crop of players the average span of victory was twenty points. They held one team to five baskets. The last year I coached I had a team with exactly two good players: Son and one other. We lost every game. The one game in which the other good player didn't show up Son scored all of the points: seven.
I still disagree with this concept of keeping score for young people who aren't even teenagers. This is too young to be "weeding out" good players from bad. There are no "good and bad" players at this age. There is simply different progressions of development. We keep teaching boys and girls that they "can't do this" and "can't do that" until, before they are even a teenager, they are convinced of a host of things they "can't" do.
Many parents who children develop faster physically believe - wrongly - that their children are special because of it. But what they, and most of these league organizers, fail to recognize is that the little boy or girl who can't do anything in third grade may just be your best player in eighth grade - except they have already quit because you told them they suck. I wonder how many people know that Michael Jordan wasn't good enough to play seventh grade basketball for his school?
Virtually everyone knows what to say about sportsmanship and the purpose of these games. But then you watch their behavior and decisions when the games are actually played and you realize they don't believe a word in their mouth. The year my team went 8-0 I was happy for my players, but sick about the thrashing other players had to endure. And of course I didn't feel any better the year my team failed to win a game. It isn't just the kids who poke fun at losing teams.
If I won the lottery, I would start a business. I already know the man I would hire to run it. (People don't like me, so I would handle the background work.) He has the same dream. We would build a facility in which the young people could come and learn the skills of basketball and baseball, but with the focus on individual improvement instead of team victories. What do I mean? I mean we purchase, or invent, equipment to teach things like rebounding, dribbling, hitting, catching, and running. We would take benchmark readings at the beginning of the season and periodically test players throughout. We would let them play games, but not keep score. Let them do that. (They will, but they will all be wrong. But ultimately, they will all think they won. [smiles]) What each individual player will see on their tests is - not how well they are doing compared to the "best" or "worst" - but how well they are doing "today" as opposed to "yesterday" or "last week".
It is this sense of progression which makes people feel good about themselves. Especially with young people. (And young at heart.) I've seen it with some of the "horrible" players I have coached. One boy wanted to quit. I encouraged him to stick it out. Now he's a sometimes dominant force in games. His body is catching up to his brain. (For some kids it's the other way around, and when parents indulge them, the brains never catch up. Just look at the professional atheletes of today.)
What people - young people in particular - need are confidence building skills in whatever. Maybe it's sports. Maybe it's mathematics. Maybe it's music, art or fishing or whatever. Help people discover that they have it within them to be better today than yesterday and they will be forever grateful to you. They will also be better people than they would otherwise be.
But other people don't seem to see what I see.
There must be something wrong with my eyes.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
So, here are the Ten Little Muses with their names. (Note that the images on the right have been mirrored.)
* = I had to infer the meaning from parts of the name as I could not find a close enough match in either my Baby Books, or on-line.
Risa (laughter) - The Muse of Laughter
Elena (light) - The Muse of Ghosts/Specters
Yoshiko (good) - The Muse of Innocence
Isista (*protecting throne) - The Muse of Romantic Moods
Pung-Pung (*Phoenix in the wind) - The Muse of Battle Scenes
Quixa (*song seeker) - The Muse of Naughty
Sylvia (forest) - The Muse of Forest Life
Hester (star) - The Muse of Strange Events
Azure (sky blue) - The Muse of Beauty
Sonja (wise) - The Muse of Friendship
Friday, January 23, 2009
The truth is, I normally post to my blogs before 10:00 a.m. C.S.T. Often, I've got it done before the sun comes up. Not so today. I had lots of things I expected to accomplish today.
1. Morning email
2. Complete Blog Rounds
3. Do State Sales Tax for Gift Items Sold Through our Business
4. Visit New World Website
5. Post to Four (4) Blogs
6. Do Dishes
7. Crush Pop Cans
8. Do a Load of Laundry
10. Afternoon Email
11. Visit New World Website
12. Pick up Son From School
13. Check Favorite Blog Sites for New Postings Since Morning
14. Evening Email.
Well, something important came up and I spent a good portion of my day addressing it. It was time well worth spending, and I do not begrudge it. However, as of right now I have completed the following: (in grey)
1. Morning email
2. Complete Blog Rounds
3. Do State Sales Tax for Gift Items Sold Through our Business
4. Visit New World Website
5. Post to Four (4) Blogs (2 down, working on 1, 1 to go)
6. Do Dishes
7. Crush Pop Cans
8. Do a Load of Laundry
10. Afternoon Email
11. Visit New World Website
12. Pick up Son From School
13. Check Favorite Blog Sites for New Postings Since Morning
14. Evening Email.
Notice that I used what little time I had wisely. I satisfied the government by paying them the sales tax we collected over 2008 ($13.00 - yippee!). We only sold $193.70 of merchandise in twelve months. A third of that were things we took from inventory to give away to others as gifts. Not exactly a stellar year, was it?
I also got my son home from school, did my email (most important) and made at least one visit to all of my favorite blogs. Except SOF - The People, which I still need to post to. I also ate lunch. Swedish Meatballs (TV dinner). Dishes and laundry can wait until tomorrow. The pop cans can wait until whenever.
Oh, I also walked for 12 minutes at 2.5 miles per hour. I made it 1/2 mile. Good for me.
Supper's not on the list either. Haven't a clue what to make. Spouse called to say won't be home this evening, so original plan of spaghetti is scrapped. Son wants to eat chips with picante sauce (when do offspring start wanting to eat real food?) and I would like goulash. But Son hardly ever eats meat, so that could be a problem.
So, as regards Other Fantasy Works.
That Event has been cancelled for today, too.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I am nervous over how the story will be received, but far less so than immediately after I wrote it. [grin] It's actually tempting to put it before Evil Editor's Minions, but I don't believe they do short stories. Besides, I would only submit the first 215 words. Some of the Minions not only write incredibly well, but they have wild and vivid imaginations, as well as satirical prowess. Could Kiahva take the sarcasm she would be sure to suffer? Don't know.
The next meeting isn't until February 10th, so I won't know how Apprentice has been received for a few weeks. I need to try not an think about it.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
There is a point in the film where the narrator talks about how the group would periodically "freeze up" creatively. At those times they would pull back, come together (no pun intended) and return to their "roots" by playing good old-fashioned Beatles Music. That's kind of what their Let It Be and Abbey Road albums were.
I find the same to be true with my writing. Oh, I'm hardly worthy to be compared to an international rock group, I know. But the principal is the same. Some times, like now, I need to go back and write the way I did at the beginning. My subject matter has changed, perhaps, but the whimsical frolicking of just "writing what I feel" without regard to criticism, quality or content is a freeing experience. As FairyHedgeHog commented to me (on an earlier post), it "opens new areas of creativity". It does. It really does.
Today's post is supposed to be about "what I am learning". Well, what I am learning through my whimsical romps (when I dare make them) is that there is another place where I can go to write. The fantasy worlds where I have been writing for most of my life are still lovely, and remain at my disposal. But there is this new place, which I've been too fearful to explore, which promises new perspective and emotional release. And what it wants from me to enter - is whimsy. Serious writing may come later, but for now, it's about expressing joy.
The child in me is happy. I'm back at the beginning and trying something new.
It's fun and games time, people.
NOTE: Don't expect too many of these new expressions to show up, though. It's going to be child-writing-by-an-adult. Hardly worthy of a read.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Anyway, I changed Tuesday's scheduled topic from "What's the Point of This" to "Profound Thoughts". Then, in trying to write my first profound post, I realized I was not only being vain, but foolish. I haven't anything profound to say! So I changed it to "Thoughts About Writing". Which is really lame considering that's what I posted about yesterday. I am so imaginative.
Writing is an interesting art form. And it is an art form. The ability to put words together to convey a thought is not an exact science. Give thirty students in a classroom an assignment to write about what it feels like to be lonely, happy, excited or whatever, and you will get thirty completely different results - all fulfilling the requirements.
I expect I am at odds with most people regarding my feelings on good writing. That doesn't bother me. I don't need approval to have an opinion, although I often need approval to express that opinion. Today I'm not feeling especially inhibited, so I'll tell you what I think without approval.
First, and I believe this most strongly, good writing is in the heart of the Reader. Like works of art, it is only good if the Reader likes it.
There is a picture I purchased when I was nineteen. I spent my entire paycheck to get it. (That sounds impressive, but I was earning $1.25 an hour and working 30 hours per week.) It is a picture of a girl in a frilly dress. She is turned away so her face is barely a profile. The time period could be late eighteen hundreds or early nineteen. I saw it at a department store and it captivated me. After standing and looking at it for several minutes I sighed at the price and started to leave. At that moment a woman showed up with her daughter. They picked the picture up and began examining it. I was horrified to find out their interest was not in the picture, but in the frame! Their plan was to toss the picture and use the frame for a piece of cr*p one of them had painted themself. I hung around until they left - to think about it before deciding. No sooner were they gone than I picked up the picture and bought it. (I guess you could say it was my "pearl of great price".) More than thirty years later I still have it. I just went and brought it up from my old office and put it behind my monitor where I can see it. I wonder why I never wrote a story about her. Hmm.
My point is, the picture means a lot to me, but meant nothing to the woman and her daughter. So, is it a good picture? It depends on who you're asking.
I believe it's the same with writing. More than once I have tried to read books which are acclaimed as "great". They s*ck! I've got more out of reading comic books. But most people think they are wonderfully written and great stories. I guess they are. To them. Personally, I've discovered the more a work is acclaimed by the masses, the less likely I am to be impressed. There are exceptions to that rule. Lots of them, actually.
Another quality of good writing - in my opinion - is the Author's ability to cause the Reader to care about someone/something they otherwise couldn't give a damn about. To represent something foreign as familiar is not easy. Not if one is going to be believable in the process.
Recently, I participated in an on-line discussion of the book, The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron. It's a quick and easy read of just over one hundred pages. I got a copy because it was on sale and some of the proceeds supported my son's jazz band. I read it not expecting to get much, if anything, out of it. However, by the story's climax I found myself very concerned about Lucky and the people around her. I didn't agree with everything Ms. Patron wrote, and wondered at the plausibility a couple of times. But what she did do was make me care about people and conditions I had hitherto not considered. That's good writing. To me, anyway.
It's the kind of writing I want to do. My characters: I want people to care about them. Sometimes I read what I have written (I am both an Author and a Reader of my work) and I don't care. Then I know it's time to rewrite. Sometimes I care, but no one else does. That's another cue for a rewrite. Sometimes, my Reader/s care. Then I know I've written something special.
Wish I could do that all the time.
Monday, January 19, 2009
It's interesting how different people require different motivation to write. Some people need the accountability of signing up for something, such as the November writing thing. I had never heard of it until I began blogging late last October. That doesn't work for me. Neither does the so many words each day/week/month. For some, this is perfect. It's just what they need to get the creative juices flowing: pressure and accountability.
Some use a similar tact. That is to announce what they are working on, and maintain progress reports on it. I was able to do this quite well with the editing process, but I find with the generation process, I get nothing done. I don't think about what I'm writing. I think about having to write.
Some treat writing like a job. They go to their work station and remain there for the duration of their shift. Maybe they write, maybe they don't. But they are at work.
None of that works for me, although I do spend an inordinate amount of time at my computer station. Which is probably why I am not published while so many of the writers who adhere to one or more of the aforementioned incentives are. My method, while effective, cannot be drawn upon at will. This is how it works for me.
Something happens. It could be anything. A song, incident, smell or memory touches my heart, thoughts, funny bone or even libido. I have something I want (need) to say. Maybe it's touching. Maybe it's profound. It could be hilarious. Or, it just might be naughty. [grin] Whatever it is, I need to get it out of myself and either onto paper, or into a computer.
But first - and this is most important - I talk to a close friend about what I intend. It has to be a close friend, too. Casual friends, co-workers, acquaintences are fine, but they won't put the flame to the fuel. The idea - the need - is the fuel. The conversation with someone special is the igniting match. The talk may last an hour or a minute. It just has to happen. Once it does - poof! I'm off and writing. I may, or may not, return to my friend and discuss the story as it moves along. In the case of Swords of Fire, which is epic in its scope, I had to several times to reignite the flame. In the case of Apprentice, which was only seven thousand words, the original flame let me write the story through. I did require a review when it was completed, but the actual writing was done in solitude.
Solitude is what I need to write. That's one of several reasons I am often awake in the wee hours of the morning. I'm alone with the muses. Sometimes, we have quite a party. I'm usually quite happy with what I write then.
Different people have played this role for me. For each of them I have been, and continue to be, more than grateful. A few times I have had more than one at a time. That is tremendous when that happens. The muses seem to take notice and stay extra long, making my writing extremely prolific, if not necessarily good reading.
It has been my practice to not reveal these people who are so very special to me, although it often isn't hard to guess who they are. Why the secrecy? I want to protect them from the ignominy of being known to be so important to me. It isn't exactly an honor. I suppose, too, the way I've put things it makes it sound kind of mercenary. But it isn't.
I wish I had the heart to explain it well. Now my writing skills fail me. I fear to say too little or too much. But know this: My Special People are not important to me because they help(ed) me write. They help(ed) me write because they are Special People. That has to come first.
So, I've been trying some of the tactics of other writers. Better writers. They don't work for me. Pity, I suppose. Meanwhile, I'm not forcasting. I'm just happy for important people in my life. I have Spouse and I have Son. I also have a Friend. Can life be any better than that? I doubt it.
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Another in a series of short stories about Sassy Minx, an aspiring writer seeking the gateway to fame and fortune, and Otio Afflatus, an ever eager friend lending support.
Otio’s Secret Wish
by Bevie James
Sassy and Keely stopped talking as Otio shut the door and entered the room. He went to the overstuffed chair and plopped down, slumping deep with his arms resting on the arms. Sassy gave Keely a grin and then addressed Otio.
“Come in. Sit down. Make yourself at home.”
“Thanks. I will.”
“Would you care for something to drink? Water? Or perhaps something stronger?”
“Stronger would be better.”
“Keely, would you care to do the honors?”
“I will see to it right off.”
As Keely rushed off toward the kitchen Sassy returned her attention to her friend.
“So, why are you so cheerful?”
“I was just at the auditions.”
“I take it they didn’t go well?”
“No, they did not.”
“Did you get a part?” asked Keely, handing a glass to Otio.
Otio accepted the glass and took a big drink. He held the glass out and looked at it and then Keely. “Tea?”
“Stronger than water,” said Keely, retaking her place on the sofa.
Otio took another drink. “No. I did not get a part. Most of the parts went to women. They only had two minor roles for men.” He slumped deeper into the chair. “I wish I was a woman.”
Sassy and Keely exchanged giggles.
“That’s very interesting, Otio,” said Sassy. “Does your roommate know about this secret desire of yours? Or is it secret?”
“I’ve always wondered about him and Dureck,” said Keely.
Otio suddenly started paying attention. “What? No! Come on now. I didn’t mean it like that, and you know it.”
“Do we?” asked Sassy. “That may have been a Freudian slip.”
Keely held her hand to her neck as she considered Otio. “You know, Sassy, I can actually picture him in a slip.”
“And maybe a chiffon dress?”
The girls began laughing and Otio sat up. He set his glass on the coffee table before him. “Stop it,” he commanded. But the girls weren’t finished.
“Will you be moving into Dureck’s room, or will he share your bed?” asked Sassy.
Otio jumped to his feet. “Stop it! I’m not like that, and you know it.”
Sassy clasped her hands together on her lap. “But do you want to be. That’s the real question.”
“Gay? Well, if I can be a woman I might try it. But not as a man.”
Otio went to the kitchen and produced a can of lite beer from the refrigerator. He returned and plunked down in the chair again.
“So, you’re against being gay?” asked Keely.
“No. Didn’t I just say I would do it if I was a woman?”
“But that’s just because you get some sick, perverted, erotic thrill thinking about two woman going at it. That’s hardly being accepting, Otio,” said Keely.
“Well what about you? How accepting are you?”
“Cherise and Danelle are two of my best friends.”
“Cherise and Danelle are gay?”
“Of course! They’ve been a couple for almost a year now. How could you not know?”
Otio took a drink. He shrugged. “They don’t act like it.”
Keely rolled her eyes and glanced at Sassy. “What do you mean by ‘act like it’?”
Otio’s face turned pink. “Well, you know. They’re not exactly – demonstrative with each other.”
“Not every relationship is based on sex, Otio. Don’t you know that?”
“He ought to,” giggled Sassy. “None of his are. Unless there’s more going on with Dureck than he lets on.”
“No, there’s nothing going on with Dureck. I don’t want no guy boinking me.”
Keely laughed. “Then you have something in common with Sassy.”
Sassy slapped at her. “Stop it, you. So, Otio, did you just come over to talk about your sex life, or did you have another purpose?”
“I didn’t come here to talk about my sex life.”
“Pretty short conversation anyway,” said Keely.
“Oh, ha, ha, ha. I came over here to see if I could get some comfort for my disappointment.”
As if on cue, both women hurried to Otio and began lavishing him with phony kisses and caresses. Otio fought them off and they sat back on their heels.
“Hmm. When we started this I was just joking about him being gay. Now I’m not so sure,” said Sassy.
“Indeed,” said Keely. “You are far more responsive than him.”
Otio’s eyes perked up. “What are you talking about?”
The women exchanged glances again and returned to the sofa. This time they sat close.
“Whatever do you mean?” asked Keely.
Otio leaned forward. “What’s going on here?”
“Going on?” said Sassy. “Why nothing, Otio. Keely has just been staying with me while her apartment is being refurbished.”
“What do you mean?”
Keely waved her hand. “Just some repainting and new carpeting.”
“That’s not what I’m talking about, and you know it. You’re fooling with me, aren’t you. Playing with my mind?”
“Why would we play with you when we have each other?” asked Sassy.
Keely put her arm around Sassy and pulled her close so she could caress her face. “I’m thinking about giving up my apartment and moving in here. What do you say, Sassy?”
“I would like that, Keely. Would you?”
“I don’t believe you! You can’t fool me. If you want me to believe there is anything between you, you are going to have to show me.”
Keely sighed. “Should we let him stay the night, Sassy?”
Sassy considered and then shook her head. “No. I make it a point not to have sandwiches in bed. I don’t like the crumbs.”
Keely gave Otio a look. “It would be crummy, wouldn’t it?”
“I think so. Now maybe if he was a woman, I would change my mind.”
Keely looked at Otio and shook her head. “Sorry, Otio. It looks like you failed another audition.”
Otio grunted and got to his feet. “Funny. Very funny.”
He turned and left the house. The two women giggled and turned on the sofa to watch him get into his car and drive off. Then they sat back, resting their heads on their hands and elbows on the back rest.
“So, what do you think?” asked Keely.
“He doesn’t believe it, but his curiosity has been piqued.”
“So you think he’ll be coming back?”
“But probably not until after we’ve gone to bed. He still has the key?”
“Would you like me to sleep in your room tonight?”
Sassy smiled. “Definitely.”
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Often, I imagine myself performing the song. If I'm alone I'll sing along. Some songs frustrate me because I just don't have that great of voice. (It's kind of like beef jerky. Either you love it or your hate it. There's no middle ground. Most hate it.) When they stretch for high notes I can't keep up and fall silent. Other songs I sing perfectly (in my mind).
Some songs make me cry. And on those days when the need is there I want to listen to those songs just over and over and over and over again.
If a song is powerful enough I can take it with me without actually hearing it. That's how I wrote a funeral scene in Tavaar's backstory. I was at work and writing in a journal without the benefit of music. I wanted (needed) the scene to be powerful, so I drew upon a beautiful love song and let it run through my conscious memory while I wrote. Perhaps no one else will be affected at all should they read what I wrote, but the pages are stained with my tears. For me, it was powerful.
Probably the song which most affects me is Elton John's, Levon. It reminds me of my Daddy. I remember how much I love him, and how mean I was to him the year before he died. And how I never told him I was sorry. But I was sixteen. If you're sixteen and your daddy's dying, stop being a mean little snot right now and go tell him you're sorry. Whether you do or you don't, you are going to remember what you did for the rest of your life. Make the right choice.
Every day I seem to have a song which speaks more to me than any other. I don't always post them on "Today's Music". I linked to "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road". I have a story about that one, too. It's about quitting. But that's not my song for today. I'm listening to the song which speaks to me today: "Fool on the Hill", by the Beatles.
Someday I will learn my own lessons and truly become wise.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
I decided I will rewrite Book I - from scratch. In its current form it's just crap and no one will want to represent it, much less publish it. So, I begin again from the beginning. Well, I guess that's not entirely true. There are things which need to happen which I've already written, so it's reasonable I will incorporate that into the new draft. Maybe this time I can write something that doesn't flat out suck!
NOTE: Not expecting much to be accomplished today. Son is home from school (it's -30c/-20f here in Minnesota), and that ususally means an interruption every fifteen minutes or so. It's like clockwork. Don't really mind. I'm not alone.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I put this together a couple of months ago on JamStudio.com. I can't afford to sign up for the service so I'm restricted to the elements which are free. This means I am not able to download the music - or end it properly.
What I did was play the music (when I still had speakers) and record it. This reduces the quality considerably, but the tune is still there.
Holly Furd is a name Stephen coined a long time ago. I use it sometimes.
For some time now I have had the nagging sense that Book I cannot get published starting where it does. It's too slow, and while I don't necessarily mind a book starting slow, today's readership will not tolerate it. The days of spending time creating mood without action are over. Maybe they never existed.
Personally, I don't always like books that start out with the action blaring. Movies can do that, and often have to. But movies are almost entirely visual and auditory. They play against a viewers emotions directly, instead of through the brain, like words do. That's why reading a book is better for one's brain than watching the movie version, or even listening to someone else read it, although even that is better than watching. Watching is passive. Listening is active. And reading is engaged.
Today's books, particularly fantasy, are supposed to engage the reader right from the start. Don't give them time to get comfortable. Get things moving right off.
Historically, that's not the way I write. But, historically, I remain unpublished, too.
So, I am strongly considering tearing Book I apart and rewriting it from scratch - for probably the fifteenth or twentieth time. Poor Book I. Another new beginning. Will it never be finished?
A published author (he has a trilogy out) at the meeting told me he worked on his original book for fifteen years. Then he abandoned it as "something for myself". He started a new series and was published. Fifteen years ago I seriously considered tossing Swords of Fire in a box and forgetting about it henceforth. That lasted a year, maybe. Now I've spent another fifteen years on it. But if it's going to happen, I expect I am going to have to learn to enjoy stories that start off with a bang. It's an acquired liking. Like coffee. Who knows? Perhaps I'll even start drinking coffee? Yuck. No.Bleeping.Way. I just bought new tea. I'll stick with that. Some things can't change. Meanwhile, maybe that should be the title I use for Book I: Another New Beginning.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Do you know what she means? I do. Some stories are private, at least at the beginning. Like butterflies fresh from their chrysalis they need to pump the juices of life into their wings before they attempt to take flight. And then they are beautiful!
I told her I kind of wish I had kept my mouth shut about my latest work, except to state it exists. No matter. It's not dead yet - nor deformed. As far as I'm concerned, I'm not committed to anything I've written about it and if it needs to change in order to fly, then change it will.
The exchange got me to thinking. So many times I have been asked about my writing: What is the point? What are you trying to tell me? And so many times I have fallen into the trap of trying to answer that question. It's easy for me to do because I would very much like to be wise, having important things to say which make people's lives better for having heard my words. Pipe dream.
The truth is, my purpose in writing is not to provide any message to anyone, at least, not the writing I enjoy most. Another friend wrote that she loves her manuscript. That's the reason we write, isn't it? Writing is an expression of some kind of love which can only be released through the power of the written word. It is powerful, and sometimes even touchy-feely.
We write to express ourselves, and that is why it can hurt when others don't particularly like what we've written. Nothing hurts so badly as unrequited love. And a story which fails to reach its readership is exactly that - even if its a how-to book on properly mucking out the barn.
Messages? We write for ourselves and hope others love what we've written. Isn't that so? Or am I deluded again?
Good luck to my friends with their works. I know their butterflies will be beautiful indeed.
Monday, January 12, 2009
No comments on the ten points I have, so I guess I'll proceed as though everyone thinks they're wonderful. Regarding the actual work of writing the story - I have yet to pen/type the first word. However, I have come up with names for the main characters.
Auryea will be my Main Character. She has a nice name. Means "song". In fact, all of the twelve maidens selected by The Music have names which mean "song". I may have to alter the spelling on a few (such as I did with Auryea), but they have names. Now they begin to leave the realm of mists and shadows and enter the world of light and clarity. (Wish I could write like that. My writing tends to stay in the mists and shadows - so no one can figure out what the h*ll I'm trying to say.)
Musette is another of the "Chosen Maidens". My emotions are telling me Musette and Auryea are going to be friends.
The Prospects for King have been named, too. Their names all mean strength, power or something along those lines. There are four Prospects, but somehow I'm thinking (feeling) that Mogens and Raghnal are going to wind up being the top candidates. We'll see.
The Old King's name is Sholto, which means "sower". He is dead at story's beginning, but there is this idea of him appearing in some kind of flashback or mystical sense. Not sure, but I named him just in case.
Finally, I have named The Music, which was the ruling power of Sholto. With Sholto's death, The Music is now dying, too. She is referred to as The Music, but once she had a name, and with the king's death she has the power to converse with the selected maidens. Well, kind of. Her name is Mandira, which means "temple, melody".
The pieces are on the board - well, the starting pieces anyway - so it's time to find a high place, jump into the winds and stretch my wings. I think they still work. If not, I'm going to have one h*ll of a headache.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I've developed some ideas for that story which continues to germinate (see Let Your Love Flow from January 10th). It's enough to begin, I think.
Please tell me what you think.
1. The kingdom has been in decay
2. The king needs to reach the Powers of Understanding in
. . . order to rule
3. The Music gives the king the ability to reach the
. . . Powers of Understanding
4. When the king dies, The Music dies with him
5. The most recent king has died
6. The Music comes from maidens gifted in Voice and Heart
7. The maidens must sacrifice themselves (die in the
. . . flesh) to impart their Music
8. Twelve maidens and four men are chosen
. . The Dying Music chooses the maidens
. . The maidens choose a man
. . The men choose a maiden (eight maidens will not be
. . picked) Only one pair can be king
9. One of the four men will return the kingdom to glory
. . Two of the four men will diminish the kingdom even
. . . further
. . One of the four men will destroy the kingdom
. . . altogether
10. The chosen maiden is given a choice before sacrifice
. . Give herself to the king, or return to her life and
. . . let another make the sacrifice
Main Character: Auryea
Main Conflict: Auryea must decide if she truly wishes to sacrifice her life for a king and kingdom already in decay. Maybe it's time the Kingdom of Farren just fades away and everyone returns to being simple farmers.
Son is at the top of his class academically. He is the youngest musician to be accepted to the school jazz band (tuba). He draws comic books (several hundred pages now). He has a great sense of humor. (Well, of course I'm going to say that. It matches mine perfectly. We watch movies on television and insert our own dialog.) And he's a good athlete.
He got to demonstrate the latter yesterday morning. Son plays basketball in an In-House League, as they call it. There are six teams made up of local fifth and sixth graders. Son, while not the tallest, is one of three "big men" (as the coach calls them). He is also a holy terror on defense.
The coaches for this league are mothers and fathers who are willing to volunteer. Sometimes they have to be dragged forward because there aren't enough volunteers. I actually coached for three years, but my style pi**ed off a lot of people and I quit. (I'm against keeping official score for players below seventh grade. At that level there should not be any "winners" or "losers". It's far too young an age for people to be learning what they can't do. They'll get enough of that later. But the world thinks I'm nuts and isn't afraid to tell me so.)
When I coached I would put Son against the opposing team's best player - no matter who they were. (I told him that if he wanted to know how bad he played, he should find someone not as good. If he wanted to know how good he was, he had to go against someone better.) I still remember him playing against the player that everyone said was the best. My instructions to Son were: Don't try to steal the ball. He's probably too good for that. Just try to stay between him and the basket. Make him take bad shots. In the very first minute of the game Son stole the ball. He played such a harrassing defense the poor boy he was guarding never got a shot off.
That's the kind of defense Son plays. Most of the time the players he guards never get the ball - no matter how good they are. More than one highly praised offensive threat has whined about wanting someone else to guard them.
As the boys have grown the game has become faster, and so Son can't always keep the ball out of the hands of the boy he's guarding. But they very seldom score. Son has also learned to go help out when a teammate gets beat. Which brings me to what happened yesterday.
It was late in the game. The score was close. Son's team was up by a basket, I think. The other team came down and their best player broke free with the ball. Son left the boy he was guarding and rushed across the lane. He arrived just as the ball was released. His arm went up and his hand caught the ball and smashed it back down to the court. The ensuing echo sounded like some sort of blast, and every parent on both teams stood up and cheered. After that Son was like some incarnation of the Tasmanian Devil. His teammates were inspired and joined him in the defensive assault and outscored the other team 20-6 in the final eight minutes. (And while I was so happy for Son and his team, seeing a boy on the other team cry only reinforced my belief these people are too young to be dealing with winning and losing.)
After the game I was telling Son how I overheard his coach say, "That boy can just plain play basketball." In typical fashion, Son set his face and looked away so that I wouldn't see how much he enjoyed the compliment.
It's just a game, but I'm glad he's good at it. He's good at a lot of things. What he's best at is caring about others. A couple of years ago, when he learned Spouse and I would not be exchanging Christmas presents because of our money shortage, he took the money his grandmother gave him and went to a school "garage sale" and bought us each a present so we would have something under the tree, too. I got a little Hagrid action figure (it was the only Harry Potter character he could find). I don't actually play with it, but it's on a shelf with other important things I own. I keep a diary for him. Have since the day he was born. It's got 4,449 entries now.
I think I have a great son.
Thank you, God.
A Tentative Schedule
Where am I with regard to the Current Book
Tuesday - Thoughts About Writing
I was going to be profound, but let's be real
Wednesday - What Am I Learning
What can I take from what I am doing
Thursday - Work Sent Out For Review
Respondes to my submissions
Friday - Other Works of Fantasy
Some of my other fantasy writing
Saturday - The Impact of Music
How music has influenced what I write
Sunday - Venting
My 'morbid' time. A safe compromise, I think