Category Archives: Writing

Bar Reflections, With a Few Friends

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I suppose this might have been inevitable once I began writing more. “This” being the urge to add a post about how that’s progressing, my writing.

I’ve come across so many writers’ blogs recently, so many fine ones, and I don’t mind saying it is a richer experience than my networking places. Perhaps the dialogue isn’t so instant, though It’s all so much more personal isn’t it?

I’ve gotten to know only a handful of people through networking, and I’m very thankful for that, but for me it seems this is in spite of the venue and not because of it. With each of these people it is only through one-on-one and private communication where I really feel like I’m getting to know any one.

By comparison, it’s be like thinking of something like Google + as a busy night club, lots of entertainment, pizzazz (yeah, I know…pizzazz, but what the heck, I am 55), and a lot of fine people trying to impress and get to know some of the ‘each others’. And then you hit it off with some one in particular, and you begin a private correspondence, and it’s like going from a busy and crowded night club to a quiet, more intimate coffee shop. And you get to know one another about as well as one can over long distance telecommunication devices.

Blogging though, is often like skipping the bar scene and heading right to the coffee shop, and it often feels like one that is in a sort of magical book shop, full of surprises.

So I guess I’m old fashioned that way. You don’t have to think too hard to realize that in the real world a person is only physically and mentally capable of developing a handful of relationships that are meaningful at all…what’s the joke at political dinners, “I’d like to thank 500 of my closest friends for joining me tonight.”? Hmmm.

So it doesn’t matter if this place has 1 billion members and that one only 125 million…insane numbers really, especially when it comes down to you and me. Save it for the folks with the big advertising budgets. McDonald’s may have served billions, but how many do you want?

Oh, yeah, a post about my writing…well it’s coming along quite nicely, thank you, a pleasant mystery, twists and turns, a little humor, an almost excruciating amount of teasing of the reader…and soon I might even share a paragraph of two, but which ones?

Typing in the Bars

A Tender Page of Beige

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A naughty little book

for quiet fireside evenings!

An imagination,

a glass of wine.

and…  thou ? !

Such a poetic note, handwritten, and a rather pleasant surprise, as it was found upon opening the book, on a blank page of paper no less…one with many shades of beige.

I picked up this book at what is now my favorite used book store. It’s full of pleasant surprises and mysteries, some of which are too private for posting. What’s pleasant about this handwritten note above is not only the words but the beautiful calligraphy, almost a work of art in itself as it looks so genuine. And as this wonderful gypsy that sold it to me pointed out, “I wonder who she was?” which were my thoughts exactly, as in, “What was her story?

As it turns out, the book is a hard cover first edition. It is a book of short stories by an author who’s work I’ve only read once before, about 30 years ago now. It’s called “Little Birds: Erotica by Anais Nin” which was published shortly after her death.

I’ve mentioned a little about erotica in my last few posts, including a discomfort in getting caught up in its current popularity. So I received another surprise in this book, and this occurs before the stories begin, in the preface. I’m including a quote from that preface, as she expresses how I feel about the whole issue of writing of the erotic better than I can…really quite remarkable!

Before adding this quote I should mention that Anais Nin had a soft spot for these writers, ones she knew at the time, who wrote a lot of erotica. She talks sympathetically about how these people were poor and hungry and wrote in this style simply for the money. She then goes on to say:

It is one thing to include eroticism in a novel or a story and quite another to focus one’s whole attention on it. The first is like life itself. It is, I might say, natural, sincere, as in the sensual pages of Zola or of Lawrence. But focusing wholly on the sexual life is not natural. It becomes something like the life of the prostitute, an abnormal activity that ends up turning the prostitute away from the sexual. Writers perhaps know this. That is why they have written only one confession or a few short stories, on the side, to satisfy their honesty about life, as Mark Twain did.

But what happens to a group of writers who need money so badly that they devote themselves entirely to the erotic? How does this affect their lives, their feelings toward the world, their writing? What effect has it on their sexual life?

As I’m typing this quote I keep thinking of it in the context of not so much the writing of the day, but of mass media in general, the eroticism of it all, whether it’s magazines, the internet, music videos or television. The words of Anais Nin become somewhat prophetic in the sense that our culture has somehow lost its way in this assault on our senses…how much candy is too much?

And with that I look forward to finding another book of hers, titled, “The Novel of The Future”.

PS – I didn’t realize it before, but her writing is the epitome of “The Elements of Style”…a wonderful companion!

 

How Can They Be Free?

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When I was a kid, over 40 years ago now, I think I was in grade 7 at the time, Friday night was kind of special. How this became special I cannot remember, nor can I remember how I ever came to be involved in this activity. It seems what was special about this activity was the score, and the coinciding peer pressure. Getting one down the center was the ultimate goal and doing so frequently was some kind of achievement.

I’m not talking about bowling here; that was reserved for Saturday mornings. This was a school-related activity, or at least it happened underground, beneath this one-story elementary school, the one where I spent grade 5. The oddity of this didn’t even hit home until just this very day. You see I was always told that this underground facility was built during the wartime for training purposes. It was a shooting range. There were perhaps 10 or so alleys, the targets seemed much further away than the pins at the bowling alley, and the circles on the paper seemed so very small…and I had great eyesight.

My friends and I thought this was pretty cool. None of us owned the 22-caliber rifles; they stayed with the bunker and we just bought our weekly supply of bullets. There was no time pressure or anything, just the pressure to score highly on a weekly total of 100, kind of like a percentage. So at the end of evening the boys and I would compare our sheets and I was never much better than average, so it wasn’t so much fun. On the other hand, no one beat me at bowling, which was so much more fun.

It seems this was a winter activity and only lasted a few months. When it was over one or two of my friends were awarded pellet guns by their parents. It was springtime by then. In no time at all there must have been about half a dozen of us with these guns. Mine was one of the cheapest as my parents probably had less money than all of the others, so I was kind of envious of some of the others’ units. This too was a competition. Pellets were pretty cheap and the river was very close.

The implication of that was that there was no problem exploring our favorite paths along the river, surrounded by plenty of ample bush and trees, only now we had arms. We usually wondered in pairs, perhaps three if there was an odd number. For practice we would shoot at tin cans and so the competition continued, though it didn’t stay at cans for long. You see there were birds to shoot, and the prowess became the hit rate on sparrows and robins, shot for no other reason.

Thankfully I was not very good at this activity, and regretfully I never thought much of what I was doing. I don’t remember this hobby lasting more than one summer. Neither do I remember when everyone else stopped. However, I do remember as clearly as this evening’s supper how I came to cease and desist. It happened on a very fine day and I was standing on the river bank right next to a big bend in the river. For whatever reason I was all alone. I had my pellet in my gun in case a bird should come along.

Sure enough while looking around this bend I spotted one flying, more like gliding along the path of the water. It wasn’t a sparrow or a robin though. It was a bird like none that I’d seen before, more like a great blue heron. By the time I noticed the beauty of this magnificent bird I already had my gun raised to shoot. And then it happened. I saw this bird for what it was, but more than that it spoke to me in that wonderful silence, as if to say to me in a very gentle voice, “Why do you want to hurt me?” And as I sensed this my arms fell to the side. The question remained unanswered and I’ve never shot a gun of any kind since.

I’ve seldom had such a moment of clarity, and such a calm and peaceful one at that.

So fast forward 30-some years and you will find me in a very confused state. It is in the fall and like so many people, I am immersed in a battle without even knowing it. The tragedy of 9/11 is still very fresh and there is this talk of taking action, a part of the battle of the hearts and minds. My children are with me at this time, they are around 10 and 11 years old and I am driving them to school one day. I don’t know how it came up, but there must have been a question that arose on this issue of war. I hadn’t been able to make any sense of the news, couldn’t understand any of the arguments, but I did mutter something about the need to protect freedom.

Well the discussion pretty much ended in one of those other moments of clarity. It happened very spontaneously in the form of a question that kind of answers itself. So in response to my comment on freedom, one of my children said something that will stick with me as long as I can think. She said, “But daddy how they be free? They carry guns.”

Today when I see the birds there is freedom I see and a togetherness that is so truly inspiring and of course I am a dreamer and I wonder if we will ever be that together. It seems all I can do is hope.

PS – The picture at the top is yet another unpublished work of mine, still in progress, but almost finished.

Body Language, or Parts of It!

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Lately when I go to bed I start writing…fiction writing. Lately when I get up I realize that I’m now writing about something entirely different.

For example, this morning I woke up thinking about nudist colonies of all things. I’ve never been to one, and after this dream I’m sure I never will. Perhaps it’s a little of that Groucho Marx mentality that I’ve had most of my life, “Why would I belong to a club that would have me as a member?”

The dream, if you can call it that, is perhaps only an hour old and already it is hard to remember, especially how I got onto the topic in the first place. So here’s a snippet by recollection, but be warned, my dreams have a tendency to be ‘politically incorrect’.

I think what woke me was a kind of self-censorship as it seems I was already in ‘write-mode’. Should I really say that I feel bad if I don’t find all women adorable in their nudity? There is no need to get into graphical details or numbers of any sort. As for the men, it gets even worse in that department. It reminds me of a study I once read about that found women tend to rate themselves as being much heavier than others would, while men tend to see themselves as being much slimmer than others see them.

As for me, I’m certainly not half the man I used to be…more like one and a half!

I’m not so crazy about looking at myself naked at the best of times, so why would I want to subject others to my stature of exceeded limitations? So there are two basic things that I would worry about. One is that I’m too big, and the other is that I wouldn’t fit in!

Now I’m sure there are the purists out there who will claim it’s all about looking at the inner person and not the body, that you’re there for the intellectual experience. On that level I’d probably kick in with some smart-ass comment about some great thinkers who talk about the ‘mind, body and soul’ and then ask why we should ignore the middle part.

Then there is the whole issue of the narcissism of the whole scenario, perhaps even this dream itself? I just read a blog last night that touched on social networking as being a form of narcissism. There does seem to be something self-indulgent about this strange need to express one’s freedom…for me freedom has become a somewhat funny word, at the very least a very curious one!

It’s almost like making a statement like, “I’m naked, I can talk about anything now, and I’ll just shut off my sexual urges at my command”. (And on top of that, I’ll do my damnedest to hide any revulsion!). And that’s a lot of, ‘my my my’ isn’t it?

So there’s the crux of it, no nudist colony for me, though someday maybe I’ll visit a nude beach, who knows? With my luck I’d probably wind up in lawn chair sitting next to Stephen Hawkings with no visible tan lines…and nothing to say! 🙂

PS – The picture at the top is another of mine, though an unpublished one called “Grand Beach”.

PPS – When I find someone adorable, clothes don’t much matter, definitely much less than she thinks!

1,000 Shades of Beige

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Bound and impatient. With these three words I could launch 1,000 stories. I’m sure to do many, and with just nap three or four or five plots begin their journey. In fact, as far as fiction goes, I’m already thinking that I’ll give it a whirl, start everything I write with these three words and see where my story takes me. This way it will be just like doing art!

So once more I have to thank someone I know in a way but have never met, a kindred spirit I suppose. She has this knack for showing me and picture and zoom, with the exchange of a few words I’m off and writing.

She let me see one of her works of art, though not the picture above, which is one my unpublished works. The picture she let me see depicts what most would consider mild bondage , which can be so hot when the element of patience comes into play, even hotter when the element includes impatience. There was no surprise as the conversation inevitably lead to the mention of Fifty Shades of Grey, a book that I’ve never read nor do I intend to read it, and yet I’ve conversed with 4 or 5 people about my writing and each time this book comes up.

Pardon the pun, but I’ve only heard about that book in snippets. I won’t read it only because I don’t want it to influence my own writing.

While I have no intention of engrossing myself in erotica, I certainly don’t mind my hot chocolate getting a little steamy, in a playful way. And there is the rub of it, the invisible window between play and something else…danger? With luck and the wind, perhaps I’ll mix a little of the gypsy magic with the adventure of an adult Harry Potter character, of sorts? One way or another, let there be some humor, dammit!

In the spirit of the gypsy Harry Potter then, “bound and impatient” becomes a story of an old leather book and the impatience of curiosity…the search for the knowledge of, “Well, you know…”

So these stories will twist and turn and I will tease and taunt you as best I can. Certainly some laughter, perhaps a few tears, and some secret “oh my”s along the way. Eventually they will take the form of an ebook or a dozen. All this on top of my art, which if you’ve seen my site, you should be warned…I’ve only just begun. And I have no intention of ever being done; who would ever want that?

After all, being done is certain to lead to impatience. Then there is this issue of writer’s block, the kind where one has too much going on in one’s mind and is bound by the constraint of a single keyboard, when about five going at once would be preferred! So the block isn’t a block at all but more of a timeless ocean, which is a nice way of putting it given my new acronym of the day…SWIM…see what I mean? 🙂

Hanging In There Until The End