Friday, April 24, 2009

Word Huggers, Write & Unite - 2.

Taking Back the Words

Okay, let’s see now. Where were we? Oh yes, the blank page. Ways to fill up the blank page.

Last post I stared at my blank page and my blank page stared back. And then we talked about the practical outline followed by first writ and decided that wouldn’t do.

So then today, I tidy up the kitchen in good order for the invisible-visitor-strategy appointment at nine. But at the appointed time my invisible guest doesn’t even show. Foiled again.

Just then the phone rings. It is Middle Daughter (MD). Now I should tell you that right now MD is temporarily off work. She loves to write and has had several small articles published. So right now, although writing time is still compressed by household tasks and child-rearing, she is most anxious to use this time, not to practice the art, but rather to write worthwhile stuff that might lead to more published works.

First she tells me once again, how disappointed she is with another highly publicized book she has read. It has her distressed and her question to me is if she is going to make valuable use of the writing time she has available, what should she write about.

Now, as a Mother, I must have an answer. As a Mother I can’t say I don’t know, although in my mind I haven’t the slightest inkling. But Mothers, no matter how old their children are, must rise to every occasion some way, some how.

As MD expresses her frustration, I scroll through the TV guide with my remote and decide if that is what the public wants, neither her nor I can fill that need with any conviction. Things like action movies without story or plot. Reality TV, yuk. Starlet carryings on – as if. This is not subject matter for our quills (meaning hers or mine).

And then I don’t know whether it is Mother intuition or primeval instinct that kicks a thought into the frontal lobe of my brain. The thought of what happened in my efforts to snag popular books in the last few years. With best-sellers on my list of wanted books, obliging neighbors were on the hunt for them. Friends, and family members too. But what happened every time? I suppose things would have been different if I had passed out written details of title and author but usually I put in my orders in casual conversation by telling them the name of the book and nothing more.

And sure they found books referencing those titles. Scads of books. But all were nothing more than comments, critiques, interpretations, or background discussions of the original books. Occasionally the original book came later. But seems to me like every bestseller had a side book, or two. “The Secret”, “The DaVinci Code”, and some other popular book about a life well-lived or how to live the good life or something like that. Can’t quite remember the title and absolutely don’t know now who the author was/is. But that is what my bookshelves are full of – not the original, but some prefix, affix, suffix, or infix.

I know you know this, but it bares repeating in this discussion. Our tribe is an opinionated lot. I either like something or I don’t. If I really like something I must find words to describe it that will create such an aching longing in a reader, that they will choke up and weep. And if I despise a thing I must find words to create such contempt in a reader, that my words will lend themselves as therapy to their own dismay. Is that not what writing should do? Give the reader an earnest emotional jerk?

So now I know what to tell MD. Rather than write anything original she can interpret, recommend, renounce, or criticize the themes, characters, plots (if there is one) in other books. I think I will do the same. We will write volumes of imaginative interpretations –some realized, some disconnected.

And shouldn’t it then happen that our manuscripts will fit the trend, and be caught up, as it were, in the tail-spin draft of the original book. And when our stuff hits the bookshelves, all those rummager-booksters looking for the latest release sanctified by “Oprah” or “The New York Times”, who find the original too expensive, or out-of-stock, will buy our sidewinders. (I’ve unknowingly bought many of those damnable side-offerings myself, and I’m certain you have too).

We will not separate out too many literal quotes from the book. It won’t be necessary and besides that will create too much risk of plagiarism or copyright infringement. But of course, somewhere on those covers of those sweet-smelling releases, still warm from the printing, there will be a visible reference to the original book, a befriending as it were.

Within the laws of freedom of expression, I believe this strategy will work. And although sharing this thought with others may reduce profit from my own book-royalties, I have too few readers to think the market will be instantly flooded. At the same time, I’m willing to share this idea for important reasons that I will ultimately explain.

In the meantime, another blank sheet will soon be full. Just give me a moment while I retrieve that best-seller from behind the dresser where I threw it with such disdain last night. Then watch me rant.
And now my final thought. You think I tell you all these things as just another tongue-in-cheek exaggerated tirade. But there you are wrong. The fact that I shared this revelation with you should make you aware there is something more to what I have just said.

And the ‘more’ there is, in the telling of this, is that I hope to create a solid revolutionary movement – a clan and cult of artful word-lovers. I know from reading your blogs that most of you agree that it is time to take back ‘the literature’ – to return it to its rightful place. Because you know, as I also do, that good literature is closer to extinction than clean water, unsullied landscapes, or chemical-free habitats in our physical world.

Besides, the water, air, etc. are in good hands. Al Gore is looking after that. Meanwhile it is up to us, the wanna-be Shakespeares’, Chaucers’, Austens’ and Brontes’ to write with might so we can take back the words, the phrasing, the emotion, and the pleasantness of a really good read.

Writer’s, fight and unite!
Blank pages are no longer in vogue!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Word-Huggers, Write & Unite - 1.

How do I write? Let me count the ways?

Oh Yeh! Oh sure! Here it is again. Like so many days. That blank page staring at me, ogling me as it were with its featureless, expressionless, poker-faced, sterile-inducing stare. Insisting I must write and it will be so inexcusable if I don’t.

But what? What will I write?

And so with mind as blank as the page confronting me, I review those propositions that induce others to write.

There are the literary rules of the basic approach. That starts with an outline followed by elaboration in each paragraph. Wonderful in theory: but for me, it never works.

I can only write the paper first and create the outline later. Cause, honest to God, when I try to do the outline first, I lose the conviction needed to write the paper and completely forget what I originally (and cleverly) planned to say for the sake of emotional impact.

Of course, I never let my language-arts teachers know that the writing preceded the outline. There was no point because all of my teachers were too entrenched in the ‘proper way of doing it’ to accept that some writers are too endowed with creativity and imagination to write emotionless stuff.

So now, for the sake of clarity, please allow me to call myself “a writer”. And so, my theory is, if writers don’t laugh or weep while doing the writing or a reading review, neither will anyone else. So if there are anomalies to be considered, that is the kind of anomaly I am.

I have not the ability to simply write a paper that adheres to literary mechanics for the sake of nothing more than a passing grade or another blog posting. That would produce something frightfully foul-written. Writing so foul-written that I promise you it would pain both writer and reader’s artful senses as deeply as auditory senses ripped by a three-hour-violin-solo with a resin-less bow.

But sometimes without an internal level of emotion to work with, writers still need to write. On those days, when shallow convictions are all one has to work with, I pretend I am having coffee with a guest as blank and staring and faceless as a fresh sheet of paper. And as we converse, with he or she being so shy, quiet, and introverted, I convert to paper what is said. The finished work sounds like ‘sermonizing’ and I guess it is, having flowed from a rather one-sided conversation.


But now I have a totally new writing mandate/prompt that I will tell you about in my next post.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nibbling Mushrooms

I don’t know how old I was when I first read ‘Alice in Wonderland’ but I do know it was only a very few chapters later, when I decided it was a truly silly book. It was too much fiction. Radical fiction. There was just too much nibbling, growing, shrinking, and magical change of venue without adequate movement or explanation.

But then, just the other day, I recalled some rather delightful poetry and word-plays in the book, and the story-teller, word-lover side of me prompted me to re-read the book. It occurred to me that obviously in that first reading, I must have missed something critical, because surely with the staying power of the story over so many years, there must be gems hidden there that sailed well over my head with my first reading.

And so, once again, so many years later, I began re-reading one of the silliest stories I have ever read. And that is when I discovered Marc Edmund Jones’ interpretations of the original book.

The interpretations are wildly imaginative, but imaginative as they are, I find I am in solid agreement with some of the concepts within Marc Jones’ interpretations. And so I want to share with you, extrapolations of what I read.


A few of us live totally balanced lives. The rest of us have an intelligence and nonsense imbalance in our existence. I know I do, and if you read my blog, you also know I do.

Now Mr. Jones conceptualizes that society assumes that greater intelligence equals super-human entities, and lesser intelligence equals sub-human entities. But with none of us truly aware of who we are and why we are here, or even by what authority we should define 'intelligence', can such an assumption be accurately made? Particularly without the carefully conducted research to prove it is so?

Jones further suggests that we have bought into the assumption of who are the super-humans, because the academics say it is so. That leaves him wondering, in his own peculiar way, and I in my own way, how academics have determined without proper research that they have the best of redeeming qualities for the good-life.

Maybe in the context of life superbly lived and quality attained, simpler minds hold the ultimate redeeming qualities. Perhaps if we nibble on enough mushrooms to grow monstrous in our thinking we might come to a different conclusion. And if we keep on nibbling, perhaps we can expand the growth of our thinking enough to avoid the restrictions of material thinking. And perhaps we can even go beyond that to growth so exaggerated that all we can see is the broader spectrum of cosmic dust, evolution of matter, birth, life, death, and ultimately the affluent anti-matter of decay. Do you think then we might reach quite different conclusions about the ‘quality controls’ of lives well-lived?

It’s rather small thinking, it seems to me, that would have us assume that stuffing one’s head with facts about the earth’s radius, distance from earth to sun, speed of light, and factors of compression and decompression are truly conducive to excellence of life and all the apertures thereof. Particularly if the fact is that the excellence of quality we are discussing is more dependent on the simplicity of the beauty of a bird song, a sunset, or a stretch of sand and ocean.


More discussion later? Shall we?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fresh Air and Sunshine

How much is too much fresh air and sunshine (FA&S)? At what level does it exceed the saturation point? Surely all things, including FA&S, for the sake of a reasonably balanced existence, should be done in moderation.

But my life has been one of excess. With all the times, as a child, that I was kicked out of classroom or house for FA&S, I think I’ve had my quota.

I still remember being shooed out of the school during recess or noon hour for FA&S. But even more vividly, I remember the emotional feeling of ultimate and indescribable rejection that this act produced. It reminded me, at a point when I was just starting to feel a calming security in place and time, that my school was not ‘my school’, my classroom was not ‘my classroom’ and my desk was not ‘my desk’. A sensation that left me feeling weakened and undermined.

And, at home, the same story. So many times, when the house felt warm, comfortable, and cozy; in fact most often when floors were fresh-waxed and the house smelled of lemon-oil and baking. And when all I wanted to do was curl up with a good book in a comfy chair, and revel in it all—my Mother would eject me from the house. On with mitts and toque and coat to get outside for some damnable FA&S.

And then later, when I eventually married, now I had to contend with Hub. He, too, was forever at it. Winter, or summer.

“Roberta, you need more FA&S. If I was pale of countenance, that’s what I needed. If I was tired or weak-kneed, that’s what I needed. If I was impatient, that’s what I needed. And even when I was too silly, too carefree, that was still what I needed.

So year in, and year out, I’ve heard it spring, fall, summer, and winter. The damnable push from almost every living contact in my life for more FA&S.

Still, I’ve remained quiet and good-natured (and obliging as well) about it. But this week was too much. My good nature had a melt down.

Earlier this week a neighbor came for coffee. And didn’t he have the audacity to tell me I need more FA&S? I bit my lip but that is when the melt-down began.

And then two days later, another neighbor, began ranting like a lunatic about warm temps and sunshine, and having finished her lengthy prelude, wound it up by saying to me, “Roberta, aren’t go going outside today to get some FA&S?”

That’s when the complete melt-down happened.

“Yes,” I said, “I am going to do that. But I’m also going to put a clothespin on my nose, and a dark tarp on my head, because although I enjoy being outside, the very last thing I need is more FA&S!”