Monday, July 15, 2019

Every damn twinge.

Every time I get a twinge in my chest I'm aware of my mortality.

Linda was gone for the whole day, yesterday. It was a sample of what life would be without her. It wasn't pretty. Didn't accomplish a damn thing. (Well, I did mow and fertilize the lawn, trim some hedges, and do some weeding. Exciting life I have.)

It reminded me of the decade I spent mostly alone when I was depressed. But there was a weird compensation, somehow. I had an enormous appetite for media: movies, TV, music, and books. Especially books. I'm not sure I could do the same today.

The difference is--I'm not frightened I'm not going to have enough money for the next rent check. Yea!

I just don't have the desire to write. The longer this goes on, the less desire I have. Am I done?

Chances are I'll spend more time on this blog if I'm not writing fiction.

Is there anything wrong with just relaxing? I have inherited enough of Libby's puritan ethic to feel like I'm failing if I'm not doing something challenging. More than anything else, that was what writing novels represented for me. Every time I started a book is was a chance to get it right. Looking back, it doesn't seem like I varied all that much in quality, though it got easier to do.

I suspect that some idea will overtake me that I simply have to write.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Imposing my own narrative on my life.

I forget sometimes how much I like writing this blog. The candor of it, revealing without fear my thoughts, the honesty of how I feel. It feels good. This is the way it is, this is what's happening. You don't have to read it, or care. I'm just putting down my thoughts, to myself as much as to anyone else. Because by writing them down, I spark other thoughts, and I figure out how I'm feeling and thinking better than the amorphous consciousness that I carry throughout my waking hours. Form is imposed, a narrative.

I don't kid myself that the narrative is necessarily the complete truth--but for me, having a narrative is important.

I was thinking about this the other day as I drove into Bend. I tend to think of everything in narrative, everything a story. I wonder if artists see everything from the perspective of pictures, or musicians hear music. I don't know if this is unusual, or if everyone does it.

I decided during my depression 40 years ago to impose my own narrative. It had to feel real, it couldn't be completely made up, but I could chose what parts of my own life I wished to narrate and which parts I chose to ignore or compartmentalize.

I feel when I used psychedelics--the probable cause of my breakdown--that I was seeing real truth, but I didn't much like it. I've heard that when they do tests on depressives that they see the world more objectively than those who are healthy. My take on this is that you have to chose to be healthy, to see the world in a more positive light than your darkest thoughts.

There's a new study out that people who read are in a meditative state and that's it's healthy. I've always wondered about how my depression manifested itself. I mean, I was crippled by it as anyone who has ever suffered from it, and yet--I always had a weird faith I'd come out of it.

(I spent too many years thinking I'd somehow "revert" to my previous self. In the end, I had to rebuild my personality from the ground up.)

I had amazing dreams when I was depressed. I don't remember nightmares, I remember dreams of better days. And I read--oh, man did I read. I was stuck with myself in single room apartments, unwilling or unable to face the public, and so I read and read and read.

And toward the end of the depression, I started writing.

I think it was even more powerful than reading. I started living in an alternative and more positive world. A narrative, if you will, that I knew wasn't real but which felt real.

And so the habit of seeing everything as a narrative took hold. I don't know if my narrative of my business career is completely accurate, but it works for me. It makes me feel good about myself and I think the lessons I've learned are incorporated and preserved.

So this blog is a continuation of that. It's the narrative I present to the world, and the narrative I try to live by.
Linda's taking a church friend's kid to church camp, so I have the house to myself today. Playing Springsteen's Western Stars at full blast, contemplating my creative life.

My heart attack made me less ambitious, the opposite of what I would have expected. Vanity, Vanity, all is vanity.

But I still have the urge to create. Lately, I've been writing poems. One and done. Easy and fun, and it feels creative. So I got the bright idea of trying to write a full story as a prose poem. I'd come up with an idea for a horror novel--or at least the beginning of one--the other day. So I sat down with some scrap paper (I have a stack of paper two feet high from chapters I've taken to writer's group) and a pen and just let go.

It's definitely a different experience--the writing feels less finished. But I don't think that's a bad thing. I think sometimes the urge is to have it polished, when what I'm really after is the creative flow. I want to shut out the critic part of the brain.

The story has it's own power, which tends to pull away from the poetic part, so I constantly have to refresh my intentions.  I left the ending of the first chapter for today, so I'll have something to start with.

After my experience with Ruby Red and the Robots--which just petered out after 15K words, I should be leery of starting off a story without some idea of where it is going. But I've also written a number of novels on a whim, so you never know. Thing is, if what I'm trying to do is spark my creative side, then it doesn't really matter.

It mattered a lot at first that I finish my novels, because in my previous career I'd stalled out too many times and it had started to become a bad habit. But I've proven that I have no trouble finishing novels so I can let myself to explore now without fear of failure.

It's the flow that counts, not the results.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Another street closure today. Did a little below average for the month, but not too bad. It isn't like the old days where the closures killed us, because we've become much more mainstreamed.

I still don't like them much.

I was a little surprised that none of the city councilors answered my email about the last street closure, especially since I understood that I wasn't the only merchant writing to them. I expected some kind of "we're looking into it" answer, but not even that.

But I gave up on all this stuff a few years ago.

Having a good month overall. This will probably be the 7th out of the last 8 months that we've beat last year, mostly due to new books and graphic novels. Becoming a true bookstore, in some ways.

By the way, I'll be going back to work this fall, at least on Sundays and Mondays. Dylan is going off to school in the east and Sabrina and I decided we could handle the hours ourselves. I'm looking forward to it.

My writing has slowed way down. I have a huge backlog of material that needs to be finished, so I'm resisting starting anything new. At the same time, I'm finding it hard to be motivated in rewrites--but I'll get them done eventually.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Farewell Bend
writer's group,
Christmas Party, 2012.

"Merry Christmas everyone!
Farewell, I'm going home,
I'm busy writing!"

Plotting the story in the car,
not a second wasted,
my characters are calling.

The words come fully formed,
the scenes alive in my head,
I'm not missing a moment.

Word count clicking,
like a metronome,
a thousand here, a thousand there.

Weeds sprout in the garden,
bills pile on the desk,
Fuck that, I'm writing!

I'm writing a novel,
with another one waiting,
and more jostling ahead.

It'll come to end,
someday down the road,
but not now, not until then.

Stories take their turn,
waiting to be told,
an endless stream.

And then a year later,
sending the first one off,
getting rejected.

But I'm busy writing,
can't be concerned,
I'm getting better.

An opening,
someone says they like it,
even if it's not their thing.

I try them again,
something I'm sure they'll like,
with a cover ready.

He takes it,
and the rejected story before,
and there they are, printed.

I'm not slowing down,
every idea is a yes,
every story will be written.

Killer pigs,
and Golem gangsters,
sexy succubae.

Vampires and werewolves,
Bigfoot makes himself known,
giant snakes and gnomes.

Dragons and Old Gods,
ghosts and mercenaries,
each take their turn.

Looking back in
surprise, as fictional
as a dream.




Sunday, July 7, 2019

A Million Little Words

Kafka wanted his words burned,
or so it is said,
Jacqueline Susann worshiped the Golden Calf,
praying she might be read.

Thomas Wolfe stampeded his words,
while Maxwell Perkins culled the herd,
Hemingway chose words carefully,
a style new, he was sure.

F. Scott Fitzgerald drank,
the Roaring Twenties in the rearview mirror,
Joan Didion looked fragile,
while aiming to perturb.

J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a tale,
that the world embraced,
he looked at his fans,
and recoiled in horror.

J.K. Rowling wrote in coffee shops,
uncertain of her future,
and became the richest woman,
in Albion of yore.

George Orwell traveled
to the future, while
Philip K. Dick's psychosis
became real.

J.D. Salinger wrote a word a year,
resting on his laurels,
while Harper Lee never
wrote another.

George R.R. Martin wrote a
million words,
but let others
finish the story.

Bestselling authors are forgotten,
Uris, Wouk, and Robbins,
other authors write more than ever,
now that they are gone.

And now a million writers,
clamor to be seen,
lost in an ocean of words,
written on machines.

Somewhere between Kafka,
and Susann, I write my little stories,
hoping someone hears them
and fearing that they will.

Friday, July 5, 2019

I'm amazed I ended up in such a good place.

It's a little unexpected. After a miserable 20s, I wrote a book, met Linda, and bought Pegasus Books. Worked hard for the next 30 years--mostly just trying to keep our head above water.

To find the time at 59 to go and write my books, to spend the next seven years in my own home, living creatively while the store continued to do all right. (A little more than head above the water--if not much more.)

The heart attack has definitely put more of a premium on the moment. I think until I had the heart attack it was my assumption that I'd live into my 80s at least. Now...I realize that every moment counts.

It hasn't made me more industrious. If anything, the opposite has happened. I'm allowing myself the luxury of being lazy.

They talk about second-childhoods, but this is more like a second teenage-hood. Listening to music, reading in the afternoon, going for long exploratory walks. Driving around. Hanging out with Linda, talking philosophy and psychology and--when we slip a few cogs--politics. Stopping by the store a few times a week to put away books, being around books and comics, seeing old friends.

It's nice. I like it.