This One Has Legs

2 03 2014

The wine is warm from the stove
I would be fine cooking
When she wears so little
Around her waist; my hands
Tremble, the thought of burn
A raw infusion so deep:
The oil takes pains
To embody her flavor.


Ideas Aren’t Always What They Scream

24 03 2011

There is nothing like when your passion takes hold. The flame spreads, it gets higher and higher. The heat is palpable. In fact, I have to write this blog just to let off some steam. What began as a spark and grew to a flush of inspiration is on the verge of exploding up into a full-blown practice.

I know everyday won’t be this productive. Believe me. Any writer who is still writing has dealt with drought. But since they are still writing, they have learned how to turn that to their advantage, to find some creative opportunity be it just a sentence a day, a word, or even just staring at the screen or a notebook for fifteen minutes a day (which can be akin to something meditative). Something in that ritual pulled them through; they pulled themselves through. Because they had to. Those no longer writing? I guess they didn’t need it bad enough.

It makes me wonder what it is that we need. There can be no more pretentious thing to say than, “I am writing a novel.” Perhaps that is why many young writers are so glib about telling people. They either want people to know, or they realize how ridiculous it sounds but they still want people to know because it is such a large task.

At thirty four, I am not sure I am still considered a young writer. But I know that I don’t want to tell anybody I am writing novel. Of course, I just told you. It’s like walking around with a giant egg. People are not sure whether it’s real or not, let alone whether it will actually hatch.

One thing I want to remember, is how I feel right now. Because the exhilaration won’t last forever, especially when the work really piles on.

A Continuation

9 03 2011

Over the last few hours, I feel as though I have come to understand two important lessons, which I always understood in theory, but as of recently I haven’t been able to put into practice.

1) Play to your strengths. It’s simple enough. Do what you’re good at. But it might take you a while to be good at something. Or it might take you a while to KNOW you’re good at something. In my case, it has been about focusing less on what other people’s strengths are and more on what I know to be my own strengths. Some of which I have know about for years, some I am still becoming aware of, both of which remain to be mastered. Some are yet to be discovered. This journey is the exciting part.

2 Write what you know. Again, it doesn’t take a whole lot to understand this one. But again, it takes a little wisdom and experience to put it into practice. At some point, you are going to have to write about something you don’t know about. It then becomes your job to learn about it so you can then incorporate it into your writing. Hello! It’s what journalists have been doing since the dawn of time. Learning, observation, travel. These things also can be exciting.

I know these concepts may seem elementary. And they are. They should be. Because they are lessons one should come back to, they should be part of the foundation of our practice. As a practitioner evolves through his or her experience, early lessons can acquire deeper meaning and significance when held in the light of this experience.

What Am I In For?

9 03 2011

Yesterday I began work on a novel…again. I spent over a year writing on this idea back in the aughts, and it clearly never became of anything. So what possesses me so much about it that I feel compelled to give it another go? Well, it’s almost that it won’t let me go, much like music, which I am ecstatically bound to until the day I die. Every time I thought I had put this silly novel stuff behind me, some new revelation to the story would come my way. I started taking notes, and the elements almost put themselves together. I would have visions during meditation or at the end of a yoga class. But, as always, the hang up was the sheer volume of work required, and the discipline not just for that work, but for working through all the mediocre prose that would inevitably be discarded to unsheathe the final work. How is this all going to come about?

We can blame my ever deepening relationship with WordPress. I wanted to have a blog for a long time. Just for the joy of having the words come out of me again, and seeing them on the page, however digital. The problem was finding a subject that would interest me long enough to maintain an almost daily blog (I love the idea of writing everyday, in fact, I am nearly there, and will have to be to complete the novel!). What happened? I got fed up with the tedium of photography on Facebook. Sure, photography is creative, an incredibly important art in our lifetime, but in the hands of everyone, it’s just like anything else. So I had the idea of taking that image that I might post to Facebook and writing a haiku about it instead. I would do this everyday for a month. Well, I about to hit two months. The plan now is to go a full year, then print up a little flip book with 365 haikus.

This adventure has been a success, so far as catalyzing my creativity. Haikumatic led me here, which I originally wanted to update everyday, but do to work in December, that became harder than I was able to maintain. But alas, I shall not concede to the demons…I’m still here. ENHM has allowed me to stretch my legs, to experiment, not to wander into esoteric lands, but to find a new diction, to test my ability to write clearly, all the while shedding skin to find a new true voice. And it’s there. I found it. My words may read that way or not, for I have no idea of knowing how they come off, but inside, I feel it. And I feel I’ve found the tools I need to write everyday, to work through the ennui, and come out the other end with something complete, something I can hopefully be proud of.

For more on writing everyday, check this:

Search for Purpose Yields An Answer: A Footnote

3 02 2011

I feel kind of bad. Well, not bad necessarily, but maybe a little dishonest. You see, I believe when started this blog I was quite adamant about the subject matter being about not one thing in particular, and as of late, my writing has been overwhelmingly music-centric. Those who really know me will not be surprised at all, and anyone else with a heartbeat, after learning that music is my true passion (writing, a skill by education), will find nothing out of the ordinary about someone writing about what moves them. I understand this too, and also subscribe to the notion that one must follow his or her muse. I should’t feel too bad. Indeed I should be ecstatic at the outpouring on the subject, considering how long I remained silent.

Yet still I wonder if I should alter the course a bit: either 1) decidedly narrowing the scope of this blog to only music, or 2) intentionally taking up a different subject just to mix it up. And now I guess there is a 3) go with the flow, because you have already made steps to mix it up, just let the ideas come to you for that will be most genuine. And that too was a promise I made from the very beginning.

Extreme Tardiness

26 01 2011

How long can you carry the stone?

An article appeared in the New York Times today about author Barnaby Conrad and his newly published “The Second Life of John Wilkes Booth.” The topic of the book is not important to me; what is amazing is that it took him 60 years to write it. That may seem extreme, especially for Conrad who now feels as though a great weight has lifted, but consider that the man who suggested the idea, Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis, told him, “You are never going to be a writer unless you write that book.” What a gauntlet! What a long time to wait for validation in a craft where pros must swim an infinite sea of harsh criticism. Such weight would sink less serious writers by the dozens. Yet, after writing over 30 books, and living a rich life that included a stint as a bullfighter, Conrad doesn’t have much left to prove. But I would bet he’s glad he doesn’t have to carry that one into the next life.

Click here to read the original NY Times article.


25 01 2011

In college, I had an instructor who idolized Raymond Carver, who worked as a janitor (among other occupations) and would do twenty or thirty revisions of his stories, sometimes writing in utility closets on his breaks. With a family to raise and support, he was not known for belonging to one scene or another, like so many other artists, though he did serve as an instructor at various points in his life. Following an all too familiar path, life’s pressures led him to dependance on alcohol, which he would never shake. It wasn’t until after his death that his work achieved wide-spread appreciation.

Carver’s story is a sad one, but also inspirational. He had a meticulous work ethic (pre-alcohol) all writers should all strive for. Painstakingly crafting stories in a dim dust and ammonia filled closet! That’s the point my instructor really tried to convey. A brilliant writer can arise from the most unlikely of environments. As a student, with no real life experience comparatively, I found it hard to convince myself that my own writing could ever contain the same clarity, such eloquence and authority. Obviously, I missed the point (revise, revise, revise, revise), and continued to miss it for over a decade.

The one thing in your favor when delaying a career in writing is life experience. But is it worth writing about? Going out on a limb, I would say, yes, any experience can be worth writing (and reading) about. The success depends on the skill of the writer to make it interesting. This goes beyond the Composition 101 lesson of show don’t tell. As I reader, I want writers to cast a spell, to concoct an intoxicating brew that you can smell, touch, and feel, not just see. It’s a painfully high expectation that leads to many disappointments. (Context, as well, is important. I don’t expect such wizardry from a staff writer at the AP, although I have read a story or two in the New York Times where a writer took the meat of the facts and glazed it with some artistic license).

As a writer, I hold myself up to these same standards, even though the record itself will show my words to be frequently less than magical. With age, I have warmed to accepting this. Yet, young and still fresh out of college, I could not live up to the unreasonable standards I had set for myself, some due to certain literary circles but otherwise self-imposed, which is why there is missing from a ten-year period of my life a single cohesive written work. But now that time has passed, and my anxiety and insecurity has softened, I can look back on that time away not only as a period of growth, but also as pure, raw material.