Manna – the look on a face at the end of the day. The sated, satisfied, sleepy look of a boy who took every breath of his day at full speed. Or of the person whose every breath went into recovering something they lost. I read two books, I changed countless diapers, I painted, I drew, I …
“I don’t have naked cowboys. I don’t write, draw, sculpt, paint, or photograph naked cowboys. I write, draw, sculpt, paint, and photograph literature, scenery, dragons, houses, and children.” “But no one will flock to your book, sketch, statue, work, or picture unless you lure them in with a naked cowboy. Look …
Inspired. I’ve never stood beneath a large white “W” on a blue background with a small white “almart” following it, and been moved. But I was while standing beneath the face of this building, along a street of shops in NYC. Inspiring. As a writer I hear a thousand stories …
A poem that has been around the block many times, and warrants being sent around once again. Why the occasion? Because my brother, a pure businessman, saw something of me, a writer, in these words. So from Ms. Graham’s thoughts to Ms. Demille’s, from my brother’s heart to mine, and …
Daring and impossible relationships make great subjects for the imagination, for art, and for novels. Two opposites meet – the differences are cute, quirky, exhilarating. Two opposites become a pair – the differences are obstacles, annoying, and getting old. Two opposites find it necessary to separate – the differences are irreconcilable, the other person’s fault, and proof the relationship was a mistake from the start. I was a dog to begin with, and you were a cat. It was silly of us to even try. Wait, was it? What about Milo and Otis?
Conflict, conflict, conflict, and the determination to overcome it makes for a great story, a great character, a great subject, and great success. Turning the other cheek is good. Turning away…the story is done.
Because we are opposites, we attract. Since we are opposite, we repel. But that’s only the beginning!
I’m a detail person by day, in the laboratory where it’s necessary. But in my other life, my real life of writing novels, I create. I can’t be weighed down when a story is churning in my head, with mechanical things or processes that falter or foul up. Those things bog me down, they slow the free-flow thinking process, they turn my novel into something that sounds more like a scientific journal than an engaging slice of life. When I’m in creative mode I expect the details of living to manage themselves. I want my car to start, the washing machine to cycle, my mower to run smoothly – in other words I want the mechanical elements in my life to magically do their job and refrain from distracting my thought flow. So I thank you Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Eli Whitney for allowing me to think creatively. Thank you that I can engage with my characters instead of rubbing two sticks together, chasing down the horse to harness it, or tying the goat to another section of my overgrown lawn. And maybe most of all, thank you, Mr. Crapper, for advancing my plumbing to the state of the art it is today. There would be no Annabelle, Julianne, or Kyle from my book, “Mine to Tell” if I was toting chamber pots to the back forty or kicking a tank of water that wasn’t doing what it was supposed to do. Thank you, all other creative geniuses, for allowing me undistracted time to write.
I remember when my mom turned an antique hobby into a business, and fun became all business. Instead of letting it sour her, she mastered it. She became the best walking price guide anyone had ever known. If writing is turning into a business for me, then I want to tackle it the way she did her antiques. I love creating a story, I love editing it and working with my publisher and scaling the social media learning curve… And now, instead of doing that with just one book, I’m doing it with three. Mine to Tell, Asked For, and the as yet unnamed beginning of novel number three. It’s a challenge, a new definition of fun, and Lord willing I’ll master it! Artists create and artists evolve!
Of course I did! It’s art! It’s someone’s art and I stood at a crowded auction, waiting, until it was mine. I didn’t care for the look on my friend’s face when he asked. It was a smile…no maybe a smirk…but his brows were furrowed like he was confused. I wasn’t confused. I wrapped my arms around my purchase and held on until I got home. Maybe as a writer I appreciate the act of creativity. Could I have carved or whittled this? Never, no matter how much I wish I could. Someone built an expression into this wood. Maybe it’s Paul Bunyan, maybe it’s God, maybe it’s how someone’s great-grandfather looked when raccoons devoured his sweetcorn patch. But it’s art, and I appreciate it.
Don’t let the feet propped on the railing fool you. This is phase two of bringing a novel into the world and to fruition – the edits – maybe akin to the last trimester of pregnancy, or the terrible twos, or those teen years where you bang your head against the wall and wonder what you’ve created. Is your art form this way? Do masterpieces spring from you with ease, or is there the occasional C-section? The question of paternity? Or just the exhausted pleasure of knowing you’ve put your all into your progeny and now it’s time to send them forth? The conception of an idea is something I take very seriously. Giving it form and voice and getting it onto my laptop is tedious, but thrilling. Then there is the joyous moment of approval when my publisher says, “Yes!” followed by the knowledge that now the real work begins. Feet on the deck railing. Fine tuning that creation, making it fit for the world while leaving it very much me and my own. Or yours and your own when it’s your art. Go forth and multiply, labor and love.
I’m in between novels, a time of writing without a determined course, a way of keeping in shape much like a marathon runner trains between events, staying honed until the next official race or story appears. It’s an unsettling time and I feel lost when I’m not writing with purpose, so I decided to try something radical to help the next subject come along. A pipe. A tool my grandfather used to relax with, and professors to achieve deep thoughts. Then why not me? They made it look easy, and so when the smoke shop’s owner didn’t flinch at selling a set of pipes to a couple of non-smokers, I was encouraged at the prospect of inspiration, like smoke, curling upward from a briar bowl. The two of us were thrilled. We took pictures, first of the pipes, then of each other as we tried to light and keep lit a mere one third bowl of tobacco, the recommended beginning amount according to the page long instructions the shop owner had included in our bag of smoking paraphernalia. We had scoffed at the measly one third, it seemed pansy until our thumbs were scarred and chafed from the lighter and its flames. And Cherry Flambe, a sweet tobacco name that had thrilled us in the shop, felt like the dregs of a forest fire in our nostrils by the time we were done. We put the pipes up, letting the ash harden in the bottom of the bowls. I had to conclude there was no shortcut to inspiration. Neither was smoking a pipe to be taken lightly. It is an art form in itself, and my hat is off to those who have mastered it. Maybe practice makes perfect, just like in running, and also in writing, when you’re in between major events.