So What Comes Next?


Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway

For this, that now was coming, he had very little curiosity. For years it had obseessed him; but now it meant nothing in itself. It was strange how easy being tired enough made it.

Now he would never write the things he had saved to write until he knew enough to write them well. Well, he would not have to fail at trying to write them, either.”  

– Ernest Hemingway, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”

I self-published a book of poetry recently.

(Technically, it’s the second book I have published, but the first was a children’s picture book designed for the iPad. I’m old-fashioned and have this prejudice that it isn’t really a book unless it is printed in ink on a page made of paper.)

Therefore, as far as I’m concerned, I published my first book.

It’s not important to anyone else, but it marks a milestone for me. There can never again be a first one, and I’m letting the feeling settle in slowly and warmly. You never forget your first one, they say.

An itch that I haven’t been able to scratch for more than 60 years has to leave me alone, now. I still feel I can get better, and there is still beauty and meaning to be explored. That is what keeps us young, after all. Always feeling there is more to learn, to do, to feel. Truly young, until we die of old age.

It has only been a couple of days, and a few copies have sold. I don’t have any expectations– oh, maybe to break even on the costs of marketing and buying author copies, perhaps. But that’s about it.

Practice. That was one reason. But for what?

Confidence. That was another. I needed to build my confidence. But again: for what?

I saw the Hemingway quote above, and all of a sudden realized what this book, and all the work over the last two and one-half years was about.

I hope I have not left it for too long. I could have another stroke and be unable to move or write, of course. That’s a thought I carry with me each day. It worries me, but I have had to learn how to move on, and into deeper places in me, in spite of that fear. I found out how to use it for motivation.

I don’t want to be caught short like Harry in “The Snows of Kilamanjaro.” But I also know that anything might happen. And I have to be ready for whatever comes. We all do, whether we like it or not.

(The story: Harry, a writer, and his wife, Helen, are stranded while on safari in Africa. A bearing burned out on their truck, and Harry is talking about the gangrene that has infected his leg when he did not apply iodine after he scratched it. As they wait for a rescue plane from Nairobi that he knows won’t arrive on time, Harry spends his time drinking and insulting Helen. Harry reviews his life, realizing that he wasted his talent through procrastination and luxury from a marriage to a wealthy woman that he doesn’t love.)

So I will press on, take care of myself as best I can. I want to sit under an apple tree in late summer for as many years as I can, and listen to them fall, wasting their sweetness. But I want to make sure I taste as many as I can.

I will keep writing, and write the things I’ve been putting off. “You pays your money and you takes your chances,” as some old friends used to say. There’s no point in waiting any longer. None of it is 2far–until it is.

Besides, I published a book! A little, self-published book of poetry. Just look at me.

Please call if the Pulitzer Committee tries to reach me. 🙂

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Helen and the Swan*


Photo by Richard Calmes
Photo by Richard Calme

The night of the full moon
calls her to the water,
this daughter of Leda and Zeus.
She feels it in her neck and belly,
and in the prickles on her back
where the wings hide
under her skin.

Long ago, her mother
sheltered a swan fleeing an eagle.
It was that lecherous old liar, Zeus,
In disguise and guile.
He devised a ruse to
Force himself on her.

Continue reading “Helen and the Swan*”

Dokkōdō: The Way of Walking Alone


Japanese

Stumbling around waiting for the coffee to kick in, I somehow came across the Japanese word “Dokkōdō“. Then… I wondered… If we got the news we had a week to live, what would we do with that?  While this isn’t all part of my personal belief system, there are some good ideas here and it’s not too different from several traditions in Western religion.

The “Dokkōdō” (Japanese: 独行道) (“The Path of Aloneness”, “The Way to Go Forth Alone”, or “The Way of Walking Alone”), is a short work written by Miyamoto Musashi (宮本 武蔵) a week before he died in 1645. list below Continue reading “Dokkōdō: The Way of Walking Alone”

Spillwords: “What It Is Not”


It’s a rant. A rant about poetry. But I guess it hit a nerve. @Spillwords made it a featured post this morning…AND put a trigger warning on it. 🙂 That made me smile. But be warned: it might bruise your peaches.

I think you can handle it, though.  (Photo: Pat Mansell)

http://spillwords.com/what-it-is-not/

screen-shot-2016-11-01-at-8-27-47-am

 

Let’s talk “Poetry” for a moment, if you don’t mind.
Some things have been bugging me. I’ve been reading…

So many lost lusts,
So many ‘why doesn’t he love me’s’
So many sacrifices of dignity,
Continue reading “Spillwords: “What It Is Not””

Suddenly


Raison D’êtredance_portrait_photography_alexander_yakovlev_09

The moment this happens… The moment

Something you’ve never seen emerges

Something new, different in every way,

Something a little threatening,

Something that wasn’t there a second ago.

Something that doesn’t fit.

Something that might make you change.

Something that might eat you!

Something more terrifying than you can know.

Something unknown that pulls on you.

A divine spark of …otherness…now here,

Something that cannot be, was not, but is.

 

We look around and say

“Hey, something amazing just happened. Did you see that?

 

But others often shrug and hurry past, irritated,

Or change the subject,

Afraid that we’re going to ask them for money,

Or tell a boring story about some problem of ours,

Anything that’s not about them?

“Can’t you see I’m busy?”

 

Busy people, busy, busy, busy.

Tuned to the wrong frequency, maybe.

The one with a lot of static.

 

But there it is, hanging shyly in the air, brand new,

As though a puff of divine breath on a closed fist

Pushed invisible fingers apart to release

An angel.

 

The Third Twenty Years


Courtesy Deviant Art
Pablo Casals, Courtesy Deviant Art

Pablo Casals had this to say about age and excellence: “The first twenty years you learn. The second twenty years you practice. The third twenty years you perform. And the fourth twenty years you play.”

I’m realizing I have a few more performances to go yet, and am looking forward to the play time. Every day starts with the thought “time to quit screwing around.”

Comedy and Tragedy


300th post. 

Horace Walpole

“The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.”

Walpole, Horace
It’s the birthday of Horace Walpole (books by this author), the 18th-century bon vivant and 4th Earl of Orford, who once mused, “The world is a comedy to those that think; a tragedy to those that feel.” Born in London to the son of the first British prime minister, he was educated at Eton and King’s College. An art historian, antiquarian, Whig politician, and member of Parliament, he is primarily known today as a prolific man of letters and the premier chronicler of the political, social, and cultural history of the 18th century. “The whole secret of life,” he wrote, “is to be interested in one thing profoundly and in a thousand things well,” and so, unhampered by the need to work, he devoted his time to social gatherings, correspondence, and writing. He wrote more than 3,000 letters to friends, family, and colleagues and, combined, his letters and memoirs fill more than 19 volumes, a tremendous historical legacy. “If I write,” he said, “I must write facts.” He believed in painting men and women as they were, and had no regrets in referring to the overly rouged Duchess of Bedford as “like an orange-peach, half-red and half-yellow.”

 

 

 

A Novel is Like a Marriage


David Foster Wallace world copyright Giovanni Giovannetti/effigie
David Foster Wallace 1962-2008

Novels are like marriages. You have to get into the mood to write them — not because of what writing them is going to be like, but because it’s so sad to end them. When I finished my first book, I really felt like I’d fallen in love with my main character and that she’d died. You have to understand, writing a novel gets very weird and invisible-friend-from-childhood-ish, then you kill that thing, which was never really alive except in your imagination, and you’re supposed to go buy groceries and talk to people at parties and stuff. Characters in stories are different. They come alive in the corners of your eyes. You don’t have to live with them.

DAVID FOSTER WALLACE

Liebster Award


liebster_award

A talented and lovely writer from New Zealand has honored me with a nomination for this award. I’m grateful, Errant, even though I’m still working at this whole blog thing. Thank you. 🙂

She a poet, essayist, dancer, screenwriter and original thinker. Her site is Errant Satiety.

According to the rules, I will answer her questions, nominate some blogs I follow (see below) and admire, relate some random facts about myself, and pass this along to them to make their own responses as I have. The purpose of this award is to help you discover new blogs, and so I’m happy to accept for that reason. There are some amazing people out there. 

 

Q&A

What quote is your favorite or gives you inspiration at the moment?

I think it’s this one, this week.

“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” 
― Marcus AureliusMeditations

 

What poem has stayed with you for a long time and remains a favourite?

“I Am the Grass,” Carl Sandburg

Do you have any tattoos, if not would you consider getting one?

No and no. I just don’t see the point…. 🙂


Do you have a particular genre of music that you listen to or is there a surprising favourite artist?

I don’t have a favorite, but do have some I don’t listen to. But at various times I like Cuban, South African, 60s and 70s rock, some blues, some jazz, and some classical. I’m a Beatles fan since forever, and own almost everything by Crosby, Stills and Nash (and reluctantly) some things when Neil Young joined them. I don’t know if it’s surprising or not, but in my top ten artists, at least half are women like Joni Mitchell, Nora Jones, Allison Krauss and Eva Cassidy. I have a real basic lustful thing for smart, strong, bold women with good voices. When I listen to Eva Cassidy sing “Fields of Gold,” I lose it and think things that would probably get me arrested.


Is there a film that surprised you with drawing you in even though it was in a ‘genre’ that you wouldn’t normal watch?

Another topic where it’s hard to narrow it down. See, I watch a LOT of movies. I’ve had a Netflix membership for more than six years and at last count have rented or streamed nearly 6,000 movies from them. I don’t have a favorite genre, unless you count the Swedish versions of the “Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” trilogy. So much better than the Daniel Craig Hollywood version. Do yourself a favor and watch the originals.  The actor Michael Nyqvist is the image I have in mind for the main character in my book. 


Is there anything in your life that you have really had to fight hard to achieve?

Being a good man. Still trying.


What is the most blatant lie you have ever told?

“No, dear, those jeans don’t make your butt look fat.” Kidding. (That’s never been a problem.)  Seriously, though. I don’t believe I’ve ever told a lie. And there you have it.


What talent or skill would you like to develop more?

 Ballroom dancing or learning to play the guitar. Maybe both.


If you could live at any time history, when would it be?

Are you kidding? Right now. Like….Internet. Duh.

Of course, since I have mastered time travel, I can take my pick, so it’s really a moot point.


Do you have a phobia or something you are afraid of?

No phobias I’m aware of (or admit to myself.) The fear that is driving me most now as I approach retirement is the one that asks “what have you done with your life that’s worthwhile?”  I don’t have a good answer for that yet.


Do you have a favourite word?

 No.

I mean, that’s the word: “no”. I use it whenever I don’t have a good answer. I kind of like the word ‘duck’, though. It just sounds funny. Funnier than ‘chicken’.

 


 

Here are my nominees and the rules for those that choose to pay it forward (No obligation, guys!):

My Nominees:

Random facts about me: 

  • I work in stained glass and wood as a hobby.
  • I lived in Karachi, Pakistan for two years while in high school.
  • According to some dicy research I uncovered on Ancestry.com, one of my ancestors was Lady Godiva. Another was Rollo the Viking, founder of Normandy and ancestor of William the Conqueror. (Still waiting for the call letting me know I can move into my castle.) Of course, the latter, especially, might be a complete fantasy, given how often files got soaked with sea water and blood, and ruined in those open Viking boats.
  • I live in a Victorian home that we’ve completely restored, and did most of the work ourselves. It’s for sale.
  • I have seven toes on my left foot (that’s a lie; I was just wondering if you were still reading.)

The rules: 

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and post a link to their blog on your blog.
  2. Display the award on your blog–by including it in your post and/or displaying it using a “widget” or a “gadget”.
  3. Answer 11 questions about yourself which will be provided to you by the person who nominated you.
  4. Provide 11 random facts about yourself.
  5. Nominate 5 – 11 blogs you feel deserve this award, who have less than 1000 followers.
  6. Create a new list of questions for the blogger to answer.
  7. List these rules on your post. Once you have written published it, you then have to:
  8. Inform people/blogs that you nominated that they have been nominated for the Liebster Award and provide a link for them to your post so they can learn about it (they might not have heard of it!)

 

Questions for these bloggers to answer:

  1. What was the title of the first thing you remember writing? Age?
  2. Have you ever had a dream about walking into work without any pants on?
  3. Have you ever actually walked into work without pants (or dress, etc.) on? Details!
  4. What’s the biggest challenge you have to writing regularly, and how do you overcome it?
  5. What do you read for fun?
  6. If you could be anyone in history, who would you choose and why?

 

Getting Real


Original image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of Stoere Schrijfster.

I dodged a bullet last week, and I’m still taking it easy. But the experience of having a stroke made this bit of advice more than usually pertinent. But it applies to everyone who wants to write, I think.

Write as if you were dying. At the same time, assume you write for an audience consisting solely of terminal patients. That is, after all, the case. What would you begin writing if you knew you would die soon? What could you say to a dying person that would not enrage by its triviality?

ANNIE DILLARD

The Air of Other Places


Pericles statue
Pericles of Athens

I want to know what Addis Abbaba smells like at dawn,
Down in old Africa
Where we all began.

I want to fall asleep again in the old part of Delhi,
To the sounds of temple bells and honking horns,
The chatter and laughter, the hum of millions;
To the aroma of spices and diesel fumes and cigarettes.
I want to feel the weight of 5,000 years,
Like a hulking mountain behind modern mounds,
Where the faces are dark and eyes bright,
Where the past and present are one.

I want to climb the Acropolis in Athens at dawn and
Stand amid Pericles’ crumbling marble. That’s
Where the West, the best ideas of the West, began.
Freedom. The beauty of the human form. Democracy.

I want to be where things began.
There are places I’ve never seen,
Strange places with strange people,
Who call, seductively, quietly,
“Sit with us and share our fire.
We are you, brother, and you are us.”

There is a time, at dawn, when the mists lift
Over a strange and beautiful mystery,
Where the air is pungent with undiscovered wonders,
Where, alone, it is possible to feel at one with it all.

©Hemmingplay 2014

To Be or not


Diving into a difficult part of Running Girl this morning, and as I sometimes do, I get warmed up by reading better writers. This is one of those, and it fits the tone of today’s chapter. Hamlet is musing about why we put up with all of life’s pains and disappointments, if not simply for the fear of what we’ll face on the other side of life, in that great “undiscovered country” from which no one ever returns.

Hamlet’s Soliloquy

To be, or not to be, that is the question—
Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die, to sleep—
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? ‘Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there’s the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There’s the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor’s wrong, the proud man’s Contumely,
The pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveler returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o’er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered

House of Cards Isn’t The West Wing’s Polar Opposite — It’s Its Younger Cousin


HOUSE OF CARDS

Watching it right now, as a matter of fact. I liked West Wing, and like HoC, although the darker, cynical spirit of it does go make me want to get a drink.

jordan fraade

Been working on this Think Piece-y essay for awhile. I got a late start watching Season 2 of House of Cards, but after watching it and mulling it over, I think the similarities with West Wing are more striking than many people realize.

Also, thanks to the Twitter-er who pointed out that this needs a SPOILER ALERT for HoC.

___________________________________

House of Cards has already earned its place in history. Even if the series itself were an artistic disaster, the fact that it’s Netflix’s first original series, available for streaming and binging on the viewer’s own terms, signals an important shift in the way we watch and analyze TV. But what’s not new about the show is the way it creates a hermetically sealed D.C. Fantasyland for viewers to lose themselves in. Everything about the show furthers the impression that you’ve stepped into a different universe. The show is heavily…

View original post 1,351 more words

We are such stuff as dreams are made on…


Time to wrap for the day. Saw this earlier in some notes, and it seems a good way to wish all a  good night:

Our revels now are ended.
These our actors,
As I foretold you, were all spirits and
Are melted into air, into thin air:
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision,
The cloud-capp’d towers, the gorgeous palaces,
The solemn temples, the great globe itself,
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded,
Leave not a rack behind.
We are such stuff
As dreams are made on, and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.
— “The Tempest”, Shakespeare

Delicious slice of evil


Found this quote on the blog EsoterX, and it struck me as a central truth. The tracing of evil in otherwise good people is a delicious line that runs through the heart of mystery and crime fiction. It’s easy to paint a villain as totally despicable, but much more difficult — and more true to life — to deal with someone who is a 49-51 mix of good and depravity.

“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
-Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Privileged Wellesley Students’ Knickers Twisted Over Fake Guy in Underwear


This brightened my afternoon. On my campus, this sort of nonsense is all too common, so I guess I’m just jaded.

“Yes, the statue of a hyper-realistic sleepwalking man on the Wellesley College campus is truly creepy. His outstretched arms and lolling mouth make him look like a pasty, middle-aged zombie. His flaccid penis sagging in his graying briefs will haunt your dreams forever, like the ghost of your future sex life….”

I suppose I’m missing something profound, but I found myself agreeing with this paragraph in the story:

But the problem with Awareness Culture is the expectation that once offended – or, in most cases, once a hypothetical offensiveness has been identified– the world must immediately act to make the “bad thing” disappear. There’s something spoiled about our knee-jerk reaction to abolish anything that could be considered even remotely insensitive. The message is, “it’s possible that someone somewhere might feel momentarily bad because of this, so get rid of it right this second! And by the way, you’re an asshole if you don’t agree.”

Read more: Wellesley College Sleepwalker: Tony Matelli’s Statue Is A Boogeyman | TIME.com http://ideas.time.com/2014/02/06/wellesleys-boogeyman-wears-tighty-whities/#ixzz2sahRekU1

Read more: Wellesley College Sleepwalker: Tony Matelli’s Statue Is A Boogeyman | TIME.com http://ideas.time.com/2014/02/06/wellesleys-boogeyman-wears-tighty-whities/#ixzz2saZkNcEA

Face Of The Day


This suggests some science-fictiony story possibilities. Anyone want to take a shot?

The Dish

dish_featherfotd

Artist Lucy Glendinning’s “Feather Child” series explores “the allure and dangers of artificially propelling human evolution”:

Inspired by the Greek myth of Icarus, she imagines future humans treating our DNA as a medium of expression and wish-fulfillment; in the poem accompanying the sculpture, she envisions feathers like “A decoration applied with / a gene, not a needle.”

The Art Circus Review adds:

Covered from head to toe, the feathers may act as a camouflage, keeping the children hidden or they may enable them with a unique ability to survive whatever landscape they now populate They may also just be tired freaks, taking refuge in art galleries. Glendinning’s tactile sculptures are beautifully crafted, showing a very sensitive and vulnerable side to her bizarre subjects, leaving the viewer uncertain whether to take the mutant child into their care or throw them into the fire.

More photographs of Glendinning’s sculptures here.

(Photo…

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