Sunday, September 26, 2010
My friend Dawn recently suggested that I start a new blog in addition to what you see before you. One with a once-a-month entry focusing on creative writings, rather than this forum, which functions as a journal of sorts. I’ve thought about it and like the idea. Some entries would draw from my childhood and young adulthood up until about 1994 or so. At that point, one can definitely argue that I was NOT a young adult. Not at the age of 37. Damn that’s funny, now that I look at it. Because from this vantage point in my life, 37 is quite young.
But we’ll take it up to about 37 or so. Through my acting days.
I don’t know when it happened, but somewhere along the way, I eased into the house of middle age and took up residence with a vengence. From this past Thursday, I am 53 you see. Well past youth, but not, I hope, forgetful of what it is to be young. In fact, I’m confident that I can look back at my youth with clarity, respect, and a little bit of tenderness. The fact is, I have looked back on it, particularly in the quick writes Ariel assigns us every week of a session. I’d never really examined my youth before, but in doing so this last year have found much to laugh about, to shed a tear or two over, and to learn from, because I don’t think acquiring worldly wisdom is a good thing if it means sacrificing those magnificent child-like qualities.
But we all do it.
As we up, the simple quality of having faith in other people evolves from wonderful and childlike, to sweet and naive, to inexcusable and insane. Insanity being defined as “doing the same thing time after time expecting a different result.” So. Look at the lessons we learn and how they’re phrased. “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” “Once burned, twice as cautious.” “There’s a sucker born every minute, and two to take him.” I could go on. You could provide some I’ve never heard of.
The fact is, I hung onto that faith far longer than many. Some friends would argue that I haven’t totally given it up, and that I’m the worse off for it.
One thing I have become aware of is that much of my childhood fell outside the norm for a boy. Boy, remember, is 37 and younger. :-) People in my online writing class have shown an interest. So has my friend Dawn. Few others, because I haven’t allowed many to read that material yet. The class was easy. I’ve never met any of them. Chances are that I might one of these days, as Ariel teaches out of Santa Fe, New Mexico now. A 650 mile drive for me. I’d like to study with her in person one day. But I probably won’t meet many from the class. That’s just the way it goes.
I trust them, though. All of them. Because they have been as revealing in their writing. And most of them write memoir. Period. Remember my blog two weeks ago? They really do bleed on the page. You have to respect the blood and treat those kinds of wounds kindly.
I can hide a whole lot in the guise of fiction. Would any of my friends believe that there’s a part of me in my villain Goodtime Charlie? A character one of my classmates has termed “my favorite despicable character?” Who knows? He’s fictional, but I assure you that a part of me understands Charlie, despicable as he is. I might have wound up just like him had I become a bestselling novelist in my twenties. Check that. I might have been worse.
So, I think this new blog idea might fly ... at least for me. Obviously, I hope people will follow it, but it’ll be a way to get my creative writing into the public eye. Slowly, I know, but surely. When I go to the San Francisco Writers Conference in February, and a prospective agent or editor asks about a blog (and I’ve been assured they will at some point), then I will have a body of work to point them too.
I’m thinking of posting memoir work at first, then maybe I’ll add in some short fiction, then some experimental fiction. Since it’s a once a month endeavor, I don’t think a maximum word count will be necessary (I set 1,000 words as the max here, and occasionally abide by it), but I doubt that anything will exceed 5,000. I will post the word length at the beginning to give the reader enough information to decide whether to read it now, or later, or not at all.
I don’t know. Maybe I won’t post the word length. For me, I’ve read 5,000 word stories that seem like 500. And 1,000 word stories that seem like 10,000. Einstein’s theory of relativity at work. Einstein also said that “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”
I like that.
So, what are some of the things I can write about/have written about? How about one of my tours through the sewer system of Dallas, alone? How about visiting my father with my girlfriend the night before he died? How about the LA earthquake of 1994? That one takes us right up to my limit and was, as Bette Davis once observed, “a bumpy ride.” Like all stories, though, it not just the story, but how its told. I’ve always had a knack for skewing a story for a particular audience. My ex-wife would say that I reinvent the story each time I tell it, and to a certain extent that’s true. Heaven knows I got just as tired of her saying in mixed company, “That’s not the way you told it last time,” as she did with me not telling it the same way as last time.
In my view, its a story, not a speech. In my ex-wife’s view it’s a “whopper.”
It is true that I have been accused of coming from the John Steinbeck (pictured) school of story telling. The writer of such greats as “The Grapes of Wrath,” and “Of Mice and Men,” told a man a story at a party that, Steinbeck had forgotten, the man had told him the previous week. When called on it, Steinbeck smiled and said, “Well, good storytellers never pay attention to the facts.”
I’m not quite that bad (or that good a writer), but I will twist the facts depending on my audience. Twist isn’t such a good word, now that I look at it. Let’s just say that I emphasize some facts over others depending on the situation. There we go.
So, let me think a little more about this new blog thing. I’ll let you know. AND, I’m past 1,000 words. Oops.
I weighed in at 272 last week, up a pound. This last week has also featured my birthday and my 35-year high school reunion. More on that next week, and probably a little more weight. No time to get it into this one. But it is a pleasure to have my friends Brent and Michelle visit.
Posted by Rocky at 9:05 AM