Do not ask who I am and do not ask me to remain the same.
More than one person, doubtless like me,
writes in order to have no face.

Michel Foucault

Sunday, April 20, 2014

SOMETHING BLUE

It was early the wind and was angry her taste lingered on my lips. It was warm and inviting. The men gathered behind me and I thought of retreat but this was the only day.
The first mate said our Captain should arrive soon.
“It’s gonna be rough. Not good for the weak stomach,” I announced.
“Think you guys still want to go?” he said
“It’s always worse from the dock.”
I saw an unwavering hope in the men; confidence pure in youth and they carried their truths on their shoulders as if cut marks on a rifle barrel. A gathering of men called T-Bag, and Stick, and Roman, and Bagger; names changed to reflect the lives led.
Southeast winds at 20 knots washed the bow as she cut west. The roll of the water beneath the hull turned thoughts to my father, his friend and the time they fought a gray and stormy ocean. Old but strong they were also men with character and true beliefs and men these men would become tomorrow as time sees you through life and the lines on your face tell stories of the generation you served. As their seas swelled the old men battled a bull Dolphin bringing him back to the dock to those they loved and they carved thick fillets and shared cigars and scotch as some men do when celebrating.
Foolish men fill this world with their follies but she knows that with a beckon of her salt spray, a calling wind and a dream of conquest all men will follow her. These were men with bravery welded into their hearts; men returning home from the exhilaration of battle and the moments of sheer terror when all is thought lost. Friendship bonds life; those around you become priceless treasures; men offering their lives so others may live in freedom and peace.
The trees at Calusa Cove were black marks low on the horizon, the sky was gray, and wind cut through our bones like a fillet knife. Fortune would depend on the kindness of the Mother and what she would give and this father asked her for kindness and giving knowing this day was the beginning of a new life for one man; his son.
The Captain stopped the vessel over the eastern edge of the reef. The men gathered courage with wobbly knees pressed astern and tossed lines into a boil of Yellow Tails. Dreams fulfilled as the weather turned worse and a few succumbed to the calling of Poseidon and prayed on their knees calling to him below the turbulent waters. Others with stability and strong stomachs and veritable character stood against the tide.
Mother Ocean had been generous but the unadmitted weakening presented clearly on their faces and we returned to port.
After cleaning the catch, the men enjoyed sandwiches and beers and talked of times in the past and then separated ways. They would celebrate again soon. Their friend in arms would marry the woman of his dreams and today was not the end.
On this day I saw that when you face battle one does not speak of it; one does not talk of time spent against the resistance and the feeling left in the heart. The warrior is quiet and holds a confidence only a man of this past can hold and he talks of times together with his comrades and how they spent their time in war and what they did outside of war and what they drank and the women they loved but they never speak of war.
Merriment was on the beach as dusk fell and they relaxed sitting at the water’s edge in chairs of wicker. A sliver of moon rose across the still water as they drank Balvenie and smoked fine cigars and talked of nothing and everything as they knew tomorrow would hold the day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

IS A LIE THE TRUTH?



In a conversation with my wife, we talked about my writing. It seems that over the past year or so I have simply not been motivated to sit at the keyboard and pound out a novel. Admittedly, there has been a bounty of challenges in my life over the last year and it has taken time to heal both physically and mentally; it seems a lot of it is in the past now and perhaps I can move on.
            To a non-writer the act of writing seems simple. One sits down and just writes what it on their mind. How hard can it be? The non-writer just talks and words come out and writing should work the same way. Or so it is sometimes thought, especially by the uninitiated. I have tried to “talk” writing; pull out the DVR and open a dialog. It never seemed to work for me, although it could for some, and I ended up at the keyboard. Then again, I don’t like audio books either so that may have an effect.
            I explained to her that writing, at least in my definition, is getting into a rut or groove. I noticed this while working on my first novel. Writing of this magnitude consumes your every thought. Your characters live inside your head every hour of the day. You dream about them. They are part of your life. It’s not like a short story, or this article. Those things pop into and out of your head like yesterday’s lunch. It over and done and you move on to the next thing.
            The other side of writing is feeling. Unless you are writing fantasy, your writing is probably reflecting exactly who you are and perhaps that is not what one needs in fiction. Imagination is a key along with creativity, but unless you have lived what you are writing, good luck with coming across as it being an experience. Or can you?
Let’s say you want to write about the time you were involved in a battle during a scourge in a foreign land. You have never been there. You have never been in a fist fight. And yet you think you can narrate something as complex as killing a man charging at you with bayonet aimed. Can you do that? If you do create character is it a fragmented memory from television, movie, or perhaps a book you have read?
            Mark Twain or was it Hemingway (seems it has been lost in translation) said “Write what you know.” Others have said, “Know what you write.” Perhaps all of them are wrong.

Ponder for a moment.
Was Toni Morrison a slave? Was Nabokov a murderer?
My guess is they were not and I am thinking that I am correct.

So, what do you do?

The answer is not easy and most writers shudder at the thought of creating something from nothing…although the uninitiated think they do it all the time. Should you use your past as reference? Of course. It serves as a baseline and best, but to create a real character they and the story needs to be truer than true. Hemingway, who was a master at autobiographical fiction still said, “From all things that you know and all those you cannot know, you make something through your invention that is not a representation but a whole new thing truer than anything true and alive.”
Your job, as a writer of fiction, is to take that character, that story and make it truer than the truth in that the truth is; your story based on you is probably not very interesting. This is some of what I try to point out to memoir writers. Your life…your real life…is simply not that intriguing unless perhaps you were a double agent for the KGB and the United States. Even then, you were still just a person that put their pants on like the rest of us. With that, if you wrote your memoir to include every truthful detail of your secret life, we would probably be asleep at the first page.
Write in order to tell the reader about themselves. Alan Moore said, “Artists use lies to tell the truth. Yes, I created a lie. But because you believed it, you found something true about yourself.” Your audience reads to escape their own reality. You write to escape yours.
To paraphrase Bret Anthony Johnston; Rather than thinking of your experiences as structures you want to construct in writing your story, consider them scaffolding that will be removed once your work is complete. Take small details from life to bring to mind a place along with the characters that will inhabit it. Those details serve to illuminate your imagination. Many force their fiction to conform to the contours of their life; change your methods to look at every point where a plot could be rerouted away from what you have always known. Write not to express yourself, but to escape yourself.
All of this thinking, creating, lying, truth telling and more lying and stretching whatever truth you believe as the truth can be exhausting. It requires a focus and for you to sit and stare at a blank screen or off into some space where you can adjust yourself into that groove and begin or continue the process. You sit and begin and before you realize it, hours have passed.
Point being, as I explained to the wife, it takes time and a lot of it but perhaps writing is a simply a state of mind where the truth is not always a lie and a lie is not always the truth.


Monday, March 4, 2013

DO YOU REALLY WANT TO BE A WRITER?



Driving to the office recently, listening to a morning talk show, I finally heard something worth repeating. Dave Berry had called in and the group discussed the Miami Book Fair which is slated for November. Why they are talking about November in March is beyond my intellect, but that was up to them. I am guessing the other reason was the Berry’s new book is due out soon. After discussing the new novel, the book fair and a few other topics, one of the DJ’s mentioned to Dave, his son was an aspiring writer. My immediate thought was, I can think of a lot of things to aspire to. A writer is not one of them.

In true form (and with me in agreement) Dave responded, “Get ready to support him for the rest of your life.”

Think about that response for a moment while you ponder the fantasy of being a writer. If you have any cranial propensity at all you realize…it ain’t gonna happen. In short, Mr. Berry said that few understand the immensity of writing and a lot of “writers” create one book and think that’s it. He continued, “Most people don’t understand it takes more than one book to make an author.” The reality being that a writer will probably write a number of books before settling on that ONE that becomes published. He cited that StephenKing wrote a large number of manuscripts before ever writing something that would sell. The fact is that most writers are writers long before they become writers and even with alliterative resolve, forming two words in harmonic repose is really, really difficult.

Granted, our dream is not necessarily focused on being the talent giant Stephen King represents, or being as prolific and humorous as Dave Berry. Most writers simply want to tell a story and most of that is directed at memoir writing which is typically what one will find with the writer’s groups dotting the countryside. Still, even these hapless souls would be thrilled at the aspect of completing a manuscript inevitably becoming obsessed with their little darlings to the point of boring the shit out of everyone within earshot of their voice. That said; I don’t know what the hell I want to do at this point but it has nothing to do with writing a memoir.

On a personal note, I am going to give it a year or before my mind (and life) calms down. Technically I can retire in about six years and the reality is I don’t have the time (or the inkling) to sit and write another novel—at least not until I stop working. Even then, I am sure that I will want to spend my time fishing and wondering the woods or ocean. I have two really good stories initiated but can’t seem to find the motivation to keep them going. Last year I lost my dad and my nephew and it kinda sucks right now. I miss both of them beyond any imagination. Maybe in a few months things will change. Until then, I have pondered extensively and have come to the conclusion that, while I like a good story, it’s probably best for me to be buying the book and not writing it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I have added a link regarding my dad. It's on the right. There is not much more to say at this point.

I miss him, a lot.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

An IT Blog: Introduction

For your geekers out there...

An IT Blog: Introduction: Since this is my first blog and I am completely new to blogging, I might as well introduce myself and elaborate on some of my goals. First o...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

WHO ARE YOU



I am a writer.

I have always been a writer 

I was a writer in my previous lives

I am a writer 

Always

Broken

It is something every writer knows; every writer understands. 

They know

Narcotic  

Only the addicted understand

My journey 

Your journey

We all have a story

Your childhood, your life, your family

Friends and people you do not know contribute to your words

Thoughts come into your mind when it’s quiet
Words arrive as if placed by universal influence

Happy thoughts
Dark thoughts
Thoughts you would never share  
Except through yourpassion

Your mind creates the person, the place

Who they are

It’s who you are

People that don’t write, don’t understand
I am alone with my thoughts—my world
The story from my thoughts
Characters I create
The world I live in until it is time to go

A writer lives alone
It’s survival
A writer not true to their own soul 
Choosing to live otherwise

Cannot write

They are interrupted
They are questioned
They are asked

The answer is only an answer a writer understands

I write

Do not ask me why

I do not know

It is what I do

It is my drug

My life

My expression

My release

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

IT'S THE SAME-ONLY DIFFERENT



There is a restaurant in my neighborhood called Toojay’s. My wife and I eat there often and the service is always top notch-a real diner feel in a Jewish deli, if you can imagine. To name one favorite dish is impossible in that everything is delicious! My favorite sandwich (so far) is the Mediterranean Turkey Ciabatta. 

On this day, we had been at the hospital with my ill father. Now starving, we passed Toojay’s and thoughts of a Mediterranean Turkey Ciabatta sandwich danced in my hungry mind. “We’re turning around!” I said.

Although the restaurant was crowded, as usual, we were seated immediately. The server, Lamar, arrived quickly and took the drink order. A simple decision—we always drink water. He returned momentarily and asked for our order. I asked for my favorite.

Lamar returned a few moments later and said, “We are all out of the Mediterranean Turkey Ciabatta.” 

He handed me a menu and I begrudgingly chose the J&J sandwich, then realized it comes with turkey and roast beef. I called Lamar to the table. “Are you out of turkey or ciabatta?”

“Niether. Toojay’s makes only a certain number of the sandwiches per day and there were none left.”
 
I substituted with the J&J. I figured the roast beef and turkey would be delicious.
 
“What kind of bread?” he asked.
 
“Ciabatta?”
 
 “Sure. We can do that.” He smiled and left.

I pondered for a moment.

They had turkey. They had ciabatta bread. I am pretty sure the hummus, tabouleh, tomatoes and Provolone cheese were in the deli counter. So, if Toojay’s can make the J&J, why can’t they make a Mediterranean Turkey Ciabatta?

The scene reminded me of Five Easy Pieces with Jack Nicholson when Bobby wanted plain toast. Perhaps I should have said, “Gimme the J&J and add hummus, tabouleh, tomatoes and Provolone cheese; hold the roast beef.

Funny things that make life go 'round. The J&J was awesome...and maybe I have a new favorite sandwich.

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