Busy “move in to my new flat, try to rebuild a life in 48 hours or less” weekend left me no time to play pretend writer wannabe.
Here’s a picture instead.
Listen, there are some really good writers out there, and a group of them have a weekly challenge they call “Master Class.” Please click on the image below, or visit my “Master Class 2013” tab above, to learn more.
I’ve never had the nerve to join in the fun before, but I felt I should give ‘er a go for the upcoming Spring semester. Just to see if I can do with literary prompts what I feel I’ve become pretty proficient at with musical ones.
Although there’s no limitation on the word count with this challenge, as you can see from my post title, I will attempt to keep my entries down to 150 words past the prompt sentence. I feel the brevity of the exercise will help me to become a better writer, while at the same time guarantee that you’ll not have to suffer through my usual 1,000 + words.
So, without further ado, here’s this week’s Master Class 2013 entry.
And, in a partial ode to my constant fear that I’m writing something that someone else already did, here’s the tune I chose to kick this venture off with…
ed. note: this was originally slated to appear on Monday, as that was actually my 300th post. Sadly, unforeseen events precluded this from occurring; but I’ve no regrets about the decision to postpone, nor the post that took this one’s place.
“He’s forgotten about us, hasn’t he?”
“Clive, my friend, no. It’s worse than all that – he’s given up on us.”
“Why’d he do that?”
“I don’t know, my friend, I do not know. I suppose it could be said that it’s because one of us just struck too close to home, and the other, well not nearly enough to make a lock-tight and firm connection. Then again my friend, it might have just been that he never did have a real story formulated in the first place – no game plan to speak of, ya dig?”
“I suppose. But it was coming together Douglas! Well, somewhat any way. I mean there were ideas there – seeds. He even went so far as to research the proper name to be used for Tia; you know, in order to set up the ending. All that had to mean something, right? Right?”
“Clive, it only ever means anything if the writer doesn’t give up. He gave up, plain n’ true. Leaving you, me, Tia and all the rest in the dust. Just another amateur hack job story, collecting dust on the interwebs my friend, that’s all we are now.”
“But I could see how it was going to play out. How I was going to win in the end. How we were going to figure out exactly what you actually were.”
“But do you?”
“Do I what?”
“Do you know what I actually am?”
“See, neither did he, Clive. Neither did he.”
“So he gave up?”
“Clive, my man, I suppose he did.”
“Will I ever see you again?”
“You might. I mean he does have a daughter, right? And she’s a true and gifted writer. She may just someday find us, dust us off, and give it another go. Who knows, my friend? Stranger things have happened before.”
“Yes Douglas, stranger things have…”
Listen, I don’t really “do” numbers. All but two of my forty-three birthdays have swam past with barely a notice. But for whatever reason, in Blogsville I’m always attentive to the “00” posts. I’ve no idea why, but they always seem the hardest to write, the easiest to muck up – evidence as to whether I’m an actual writer, or just some sort of “wanna-be housewife” with too much time on my hands, and a hollow dream in my head. As you can see from the above conversation, I have always felt fairly bad about running out on the boys, and decided to take the opportunity of using Post 300 to sort of apologize to them for doing so.
As with the other “00’s,” I want to thank you for coming along on my ride with me. It has been possibly the single most expanding experience I have had in learning just who in the hell I am, and I’m glad to have been able to share it with you all here =)
PS: sometimes the most marvelous things can be found by simply throwing a random phrase into the Youtube search bar. As such, here’s Local Natives with – strangely enough – “Stranger Things.”
No, I didn’t have one of these last year. As I was still relatively new to the blogging game (a mere 5 months old at the time), I honestly had no idea what “NaNo” was when everyone first started chirping about it.
This year however, I was wiser – less wet behind my bloggerish ears. This year I was with the “in” crowd, and had actually signed up with NaNoWriMo. I even went so far as to write a post about it. One that would, in the final analysis never leave the status of “draft.” Well, not until now, that is:
I just created a NaNoWriMo account.
Now, what in the hell did I go and do that for?
I can’t write. I mean, for a sustained period of time on one subject. Oh sure, I can blubber on and on about any number of random topics – made-up or real – but I can’t actually write an honest-to-God story. Or at least I don’t feel as if I can. I think we can all see that, in the “Stranger Things” tale that is spinning slowly out of control (that’s right, part 2.2 is currently sitting around with a very sour look on it’s face somewhere in “drafts;” being very hard to please and even harder to talk with). With it, I can feel myself falling into that old trap I constructed all those years ago, wherein nothing I create is ever truly good enough. “Sins of the fathers” sort of thing, you know. As a result, each installment is getting harder and harder to beat out through my battered keyboard. True, my “100 Words” tale is coming along nicely, but I’m none too sure if that’s because of me, or more because of the community involved (that, plus the fact that the 100 word limitation makes you work really hard to get your point across!)
So then, why’d I do it?
I have no idea.
Which of course means I have a very good idea. I think it all comes back to that concept about bettering myself. Finding my way. Yeah, that’s gotta be it. I’m finding my way, and in so doing, I want to share my story. A story that I just can’t believe isn’t up there in my grey matter somewhere. I know it is. I can feel it, taste it. I can glimpse it even, but every time I go to write it down, it simply disappears into the ether of my mind, hiding out until it thinks I’ve forgotten about it. But I don’t forget. I keep coming back. Trying to find it again, so that I can plunk it all down, and share it with you.
My fear is that my story – the one so rudely involving me in a game of “hide & seek” that I didn’t ask to play – is pornographic in nature. C’mon now, stop laughing, I’m being serious. I believe I’ve mentioned before just how important sex is to me. Hell, look at how many tags I’ve created involving it:
And I also think I could spin a pretty good yarn revolving around it. But you see I wouldn’t want it to be porn. Or perceived as such, at any rate. For me, sex is way too important – and enjoyable – to be muddied by plastic boobs, bleached hair and canned dialogue. That, plus I’m still not sure just where exactly J.C. stands on the whole “sex thing.” I know for a fact that the folks claiming to follow him have it all wrong, but seeing as he nary said two words on the whole subject, I would just never be sure if what I wrote was somehow sinful. Again, stop laughing. On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to “play it safe” and as a result have my story perceived as some dime store romance either. Sex is way too important – and enjoyable – to be flounced by bullshit rainbows, happy-ever-afters and over-the-top dialogue as well. You see, it’s somewhere right in between the porn and the romance. Smack dab in the middle of “real.”
Now wait, what in the flip was that last bit all about?
This post is supposed to be about writing, not sex (dammit, C is right, it IS all I ever think about). Anywho, sorry for falling off the map like that. Moving on…
So, there you have it. I signed up for NaNoWriMo. And I did so – I believe – in the hopes of forcing my story out of its hiding spot. Once done, I’m hoping that other stories will come easier. I’ve a darling blogging buddy who wants to co-author with me, and I’ve been a very bad person, blowing her off as a result of this current trepidation. I’m terribly afraid that, similar to my solitary work, I’ll start to short-circuit while writing our story together, and attempt to bail on the whole thing. I simply couldn’t do that to her. Well, I could. So I won’t. Hell, even when she asked me what we would write about, I blanked. I shut down. It’s been over a week since the question was asked, and my mind is still stumbling all over itself in the dark. And I really wanted to do this with her.
Maybe my fear isn’t that my story will be pornographic, maybe it’s that it just doesn’t exist in the first. Maybe what I feel, taste and catch glimpses of isn’t a story at all, but rather a ruse I invented for myself, something to keep me occupied. Who knows? I suppose we’ll find out this November when I’ll have to slam down umpteen words into a fashion that creates some sort of a yarn when they’re all laid out. I still have no idea what that yarn will be, so it had better come out of hiding soon…
As I think we all know, the story didn’t come out. But it’s not because of any failure on its (or my) part. No, instead school came out. And two additional kids came out. And work issues came out. And C’s (continuing) health issues came out. And – well, I could go on – but I’m sure you’ve got the idea by now. Life looked me square in the eye and said, “Son, tain’t gonna be no NaNoWriMo for you this year. Not if you want to keep your family, your job and your sanity.” Duly noted, Life. Hell, if I’m still around Blogsville next year, I might give it another go. Maybe Life might cut me a break. Until then, best of luck to all of you who are participating – I hope your keyboards are still speaking to you by month’s end!
Now, here’s a little ditty – the BEST song the 80’s EVER produced, I might add – to help spur you along…
So I never even realized that there was such a thing as “The Daily Post” until I stumbled upon it one day not too far back.
They offer a daily prompt on a – well – daily basis, to help writers who may be struggling with a bit of blockage. Here was yesterdays nudge:
Invent a holiday! Explain how and why everyone should celebrate.
It sounded cool. And then I remembered that I had already done just that years ago, and then I even wrote a school paper about it. You can find it in the “stuff i have to write for school” tab, along with a whole bunch of other goodies, or you can simply scroll down and continue to read it from here…
They never performed together while alive, and it has been noted that they weren’t even particularly fond of each other, but fate has ensured that Bobby Darin and Frank Sinatra will forever more be linked in our cultural history.
For those who care*, May 14th is celebrated annually as “Bobby/Frank Day” due to the fact that both Bobby Darin’s birthday and the anniversary of Frank Sinatra’s death fall on this date. Celebrations can vary, but certain time-honored traditions seem to span across all walks of life.
Being awoken by the radio alarm that boldly announces the anniversary of both events is a joy experienced in almost every household, and in addition to being a gentle reminder as to the reason behind the holiday; much like the lighting of the advent wreath, it also harkens its “official” beginning. Other traditions and customs, while not being as universal, are also held dear to those who practice them. These can include Sinatra and/or Darin Film Marathons, playing the music of Bobby and Frank exclusively throughout the day or even exchanging discs of either artist with loved ones. Due to the somewhat limited output of each, this tradition has seen a downturn as of late, but record companies are working diligently to increase volume by packaging previously unreleased sides with almost every sound a recording session ever captured, including sound checks, banter, and in the case of Sinatra, fist fights with members of the orchestra.
A more recent phenomenon has been the occurrence of people clogging the internet in an effort to post Darin or Sinatra videos from YouTube onto social networking sites such as facebook, while others perform online searches for the “perfect” quote from either performer to be used as a status update for the day.
Sadly, like many other major holidays, Bobby/Frank Day has also seen a recent push to become more secular in nature. While certain groups try to argue for inclusion of additional artists such as Martin, Bennett, Torme and Davis, Jr.; based solely on these types of performers being “close enough”; others go so far as to open up the holiday in honor of all “musicians”. This second group in particular seems to be involved in a poorly veiled plan to only increase the cash flow associated with this holiday.
While groups and motives such as these can be seen as spoilers to an otherwise beloved and enjoyable holiday, it is felt by most that fate will once again intervene, and work alongside believers to ensure that the true spirit of Bobby/Frank Day will remain in tact, and hopefully, until the end of our cultural history, Bobby and Frank will be swingin’ together.
* Including the author, there are approximately 3 people in the world currently who care.
What? You didn’t think it was going to be a Sinatra track, did you?
No, Mr. Darin won’t be joining us today.
But I wouldn’t feel too terribly upset about that if I were you. After all, we all have a little Darin in us. Yes indeed we do. Look way down deep within yourself, and you’re sure to find at least a bit of the finger-popping, hip swaying “cock-of-the-walk” element that he embodied so well. We all have a touch of his brash confidence, his sense of urgency, and his desire to try as many flavors as possible, before checking out and meeting the Big Daddy who made them all for us to taste. Even if we bold-face lie and deny this fact about ourselves to ourselves, it’s still deep down in there, and it’s still 100% true.
None of that has anything whatsoever to do with any of this though, so I suppose I should stop dicking around and get to the task at hand, which is this. My friend Ria dropped us another line about The Uninspired Chronicles, AND she’s giving away cool stuff to some of the people who are willing to conspire with her (give the link a click and see if you care to play along!). Now, I’m pretty sure I would do just about anything for her regardless (within legal limitations, of course), but the lure of receiving free booty in exchange doesn’t hurt either. So much so, that I’m actually dedicating a second post in the hopes that I can win me something – errr – help out a dear bloggin’ bud with her latest endeavor.
OK, so here’s part 2 of what I usually do (besides talking to dead people) to get out of my creative funks:
I listen to music.
Well OK, I do do that all the time, but when I’m trying to break my funk, there’s an extra component involved. You see, in my normal course of creation, I will write a post. I will then edit the post (yes, these things are actually edited). I then read it aloud (yes again, each and every post is actually read aloud – several times in fact – before I hit the “publish” button). I then rub my hands briskly together and tell myself what a wonderful and witty writer I am. And then, I find *just* the right tune to end it all with.
When I’m in a creative funk however, I turn the process somewhat around. When I’m in a creative funk, I find the song first and then try to write the post around it instead. And the hard rule is, it has to be a song that would normally never even be a contestant to end any of my normal posts with. “Happy Hour?” Yep, that was one. Imagine how boring that post would’ve been had I just droned on about being a mopey, pissy youth who didn’t look terribly attractive in camouflage? “Mr. Balloon Man“? Right again! I desired to share that jaunty lil tune for so long that I actually faked a business trip to Las Vegas just to be able to finally post it.
OK, well maybe “fake” is a bit strong, seeing as I actually did go on the trip, but that’s not the point. The point is that I was finally able to use a song I think is simply spanking AND I was able to bust a bit of a creative funk at the same time. Pretty cool, right?
And this post will be no different. For this post, I’ll include a song that I will NEVER be able to squeak in anywhere else (unless of course, I already have at one point in time…) Don’t believe me? Give it a listen and you tell me what I could ever possibly write about that would make this ditty the best choice to end a post with. I mean, even IF this is one my children’s favorites to sing along with (well, the two out of the three that acknowledge that music exists at any rate), and even IF it is in pretty much constant rotation for each and every SKAturday we celebrate. Even with all that, I simply can’t imagine that I could ever find a topic suitable to my normal rants, for which I would be able to make its use.
And there are so many other juicy choices as well. So many other beautiful pieces of work that deserve to be heard, but in the normal course of things never would be from my blog-house, had I no funk that was in need of breaking. Now don’t get me wrong, I am by no means endorsing creative funks as a viable alternative to simply being a wonderful and witty writer, but they do provide me with the chance to share some of the more obscure musical tidbits I’ve enjoyed picking up along the way, and to that end, I’m glad that they sometimes occur.
As I mentioned before, Mr. Darin will not be joining us, so don’t look for a song by him just below. And the song chosen doesn’t have anything to do with him either. Well, at least I hope not. But it is a romping good time, and thanks to Ria, I finally have an excuse to share it. And that makes me smiley…
PS: to all of you who read – and believed – my previous post about actually starting to write stories, I haven’t forgotten. But this weekend, in addition to writing scholarship applications, I had to concentrate instead on updating the greatest piece of fiction I have ever created – my resume.
PPS: I simply loathe having to use “PS’s.”
OK, here’s what I said. I said “I love these pics – as I love looking at the treetops as well. For me, they always have been the place where the earth touches the sky. The place where birds perch, mocking those of us who only wish we could fly.”
And here’s what she said in response. She said “Hey t, I trust that “Writer’s Block,” will break free any minute now. Thanks for stopping and for the comment. Onward and Upward. :)”
And would you believe, she was right!
As I drove home, I stopped staring at bumper stickers, and looked upwards instead to the spiny dead trees, softly scratching at the surface of the sky. Tickling it’s soft underside until the firmament almost giggled itself into a warmer shade of blue. Now don’t get me wrong, I also kept my eye on the road (you can’t say I haven’t learned anything from Jesus). But whereas a normal day would have found me ruminating about any number of things earthern-bound, I found my mind focused instead on the tree tops, stiffly swaying this way and that. I focused on them, and on how blessed they are to be able to “touch” the heavens as they do.
“But t, trees are hardly the tallest things we have, and barely do they touch the sky at all, by comparison.” True, but of all the monoliths upward bound, the trees are the bees knees – The wha..? – OK, I have no idea what I meant by that just now, but I felt driven to write it. It just seemed so right. Heck, I’m even gonna go back and read it again – hold on for a second – OK, I’m back. Digressions aside, instead of writing what I wrote, what I was actually going to make mention of was this: yes, the buildings climb higher than the trees. But these are of man, and as such, inherently corrupt. They do more to pierce the sky than tickle it. They thrust upward in function alone, invading and taking over, instead of peacibly coexisting. In short, they are rude and oversized phallic symbols, trying veinly to impregnate the sky with Man’s pride. Mountains too, reach much higher than the trees. But they reach so high as to no longer be visible to one so small as myself. In fact, in many cases they reach heights as to pass through the sky altogether, thus ruining the illusion in the process. So, of all the monoliths, I lean towards the trees when sky-dreaming, simply because they are the least inclined to act like monoliths in the first. Never mind the fact that lying on a soft blanket of grass, while sky gazing under a tree, is far more comfortable than laying on the sidewalk outside your local skyscraper and doing the same.
Within the trees you can find the animal that I am most jealous of, and for the purpose of today’s post, that animal is the bird. If I were feeling particularly base right now, I would insert a joke here implying that my jealousy revolved around the birds ability to publicly defecate anywhere, and without breaking stride. But seeing as I’m not feeling particularly base right now, I will refrain from making mention of any such thing. Instead, I will simply let you know that it’s not so much the bird I’m jealous of, as it is his power of flight. Flight. Can you imagine it? Flight without devices, or jets, or gizmos of any kind being required. Flight whenever desired, and for as long as as well. Flight, by simply spreading your wings and setting sail. Now, that’s for me Jack! I know that in order to have this power, I would also require hollow bones, a development that wouldn’t necessarily be to my advantage at the next bar fight. But let’s be honest, I can’t imagine I’m going to encounter any of those any time soon, so I’m willing to make the trade. Of course if C were here right now, she would also make mention of the fact that with hollow bones, my blogging days would be over as well, seeing as I’m a very aggressive hunter-pecker. My poor keyboard simply weeps every time I sit before it. Crying over the bruises that it will have to endure, as a result of the one thousand plus words I’m getting ready to inflict upon the blogosphere for that day. One brutally punched key at a time. Of course, if I could fly, I’m none to sure that my state of bloglessness would bother me too much. I’m of the belief I’d take flight over type to cure what ails me, open air over written word to set myself free. As I’m pretty sure the percentage regarding incidents of accidental bug consumption is about the same for either task, I’m thinking the power of flight would be a clear winner. Seeing as it’s a theory I’ll never be able to test, I fear you’re simply going to have to resolve yourselves to being stuck with me. But don’t feel too bad, at least you’re not my poor keyboard.
So, I am a grounded human who can not fly. One who is more rooted than the tree, simply by having the knowledge of my roots, the awareness of my chains. But unlike the trees, and the birds that rest upon them, I can dream. I can dream of tickling the sky while I fly across it. I can envision the world beneath me, and I can enjoy my vision. The tree may very well touch the sky. But it never knows that it does. And the bird may very well drop a bomb on the car of the biggest, richest Pisser ever, but it feels no righteous satisfaction in it’s action. Oh no, wait. That was going to be my “feeling particularly base” response. What I meant to say was this: the bird can simply take wing whenever it wants, but instead it is locked into so doing only when instinct mandates it. Of the three of us, it is only I who am truly free. Of the three, it is only I who will ever be able to suffer writers block, and be glad of the experience. I am neither the flying Prince nor the sky-tickling Old Lady Shade. I am rather, and possibly more importantly, the little child who can one day rise higher than them both.