thoughts, writing

getting your story straight

I like the sound of getting your story straight.

Aside from the criminal implications, telling a “straight” story is an interesting idea. Is that the truth? The facts in order? A narrative that makes sense historically or emotionally?

I’ve got a story that I want to tell. And I want to tell it straight, how it will have the most impact. I think a lot about where that story starts. What is the beginning of it? Here? No, here. No, here! And when I start to write it, I always ending up cutting back in time. And digressing. Knowing something about the past makes the present make sense, and sets up the outcome. Chekhov and the gun in act one that has to go off by act three and that.

Which should say something about the outcome of our lives. As, at least mine, has been sufficiently set up. Except that life isn’t a straight story. The story is just the thing we make out of it, tell about it, craft out of the non-linear trajectory. And yes, it’s my birthday today. But I digress…

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trouble, writing

NaNoWriMo, day 1

Almost no one is innocent in this story. Including myself. And so, no one will be protected. They will be identified, named, called out and held accountable in the hopes that when you see them on the street, you will not be fooled. That does not mean this is a work of non-fiction. Much has been fictionalized for lack of remembering, for one thing, but it is still as much the truth as anything.

Thus starts my new book, that collection of words written under the protective coating called NaNoWriMo. We will see…

Uncategorized

Ships Unmoored

I’ve been thinking a lot about my Dad lately. September is the anniversary of his death, so he’s on my mind more than usual during the fall months. While he was fighting cancer, he said to me: sometimes, ships unmoored come safely home.

When my Dad was alive, I could have asked for the reference directly (although I didn’t at the time). So I hit the Internet looking for the source. I thought it might be Shakespeare, but I couldn’t find it. I actually have the vague memory of looking up the quote some time ago and finding it and realizing that the quote wasn’t quite right and thinking, how beautiful: “ships unmoored.” Or maybe that was now, I love the idea, the phrase, ships unmoored.

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to come safely home. How you can walk up your 12 steps and turn the lock with your key to that satisfying click, get the somewhat stale whiff when you walk inside to closed windows as your eyes go first to the couch to check and see if the cushion is turned in the way that hides the still mysterious medium-sized green stain (what was that?!). Or if safely home is really about that magical home in the sky home, where you don’t even believe it exactly but you’re hoping in some way when you die, whether you actually go home or you just feel like you go home, something (God, brain, death hormones, something) gives us the feeling that we are on our way safely home, going home, or just home.

I guess if my Dad had meant the latter, he could have said: ships unmoored always come safely home. But then he wouldn’t have been the same guy who got a good laugh out of his idea for a bumper sticker: Visualize my ass.

Near the end of his life he told me, he wasn’t scared to die, just curious. I don’t think he was worried about coming “safely home” although he did want to come home to die and he did. He also wanted to see the place where he’d be buried before he died. I’ll never forget the drive home from the hospital, maybe a week or so before he actually died, which included a drive by the lush, green graveyard. My father, leaning way back in the seat of the car, painfully sat up, looked out the window and nodded.

A few years after my father died, I wrote something about him for a class taught by the indomitable Daphne Merkin. The essay, she thought, was overly sentimental and over filled with positive adjectives (for starters) but, she said, the piece had really given her pause, and made her wonder what her own life would have been like if she’d had a father like my Dad.

Needless-to-say, I still haven’t trimmed much sentimentality out of my writing when the topic is my father. It’s probably not going to happen, so let me end, unashamedly.

My father taught a lot of classic Greek texts including The Odyssey. When I typed  “sometimes ships unmoored” into Google, it linked me to The Odyssey, book 13:

Then for Odysseus they spread a rug and a linen sheet on the deck of the hollow ship at the stern, that he might sleep soundly; and he too went aboard, and laid him down in silence. Then they sat down on the benches, each in order, and loosed the hawser from the pierced stone. And as soon as they leaned back, and tossed the brine with their oarblades, sweet sleep fell upon his eyelids, an unawakening sleep, most sweet, and most like to death. And as on a plain four yoked stallions spring forward all together beneath the strokes of the lash, and leaping on high swiftly accomplish their way, even so the stern of that ship leapt on high, and in her wake the dark wave of the loud-sounding sea foamed mightily, and she sped safely and surely on her way; not even the circling hawk, the swiftest of winged things, could have kept pace with her. Thus she sped on swiftly and clove the waves of the sea, bearing a man the peer of the gods in counsel, one who in time past had suffered many griefs at heart in passing through wars of men and the grievous waves; but now he slept in peace, forgetful of all that he had suffered.

thoughts, Uncategorized

Of Course I’m Writing A Book

I started in 2002.  Now, I haven’t been writing that whole time.  No.  And in fact, you don’t even want to know all the crap that’s gone down in the last 7/8 years.  Trust me.

The problem is, I keep re-prioritizing what I think are the most important things to do in life.  Sometimes I think the book just needs to get written and sometimes I think, why would I waste time writing a book when I could-be-out-having-fun-since-I’m-going-to-die-anyway-and-it-could-be-soon-and-in-that-case-what-will-I-regret-not-doing-the-most…

I could be baking.  That gives me a lot of pleasure.  I need to find a job and fast (well, I am trying to do that).  In that other “lifetime” I think I would have liked to have been a dancer. So, in this one, I do it at least sporadically.  (The click of “outside” shoes on a wooden floor as I walk out with my bag banging against my thigh…)

I could be giving back to my community or building one or doing various social things or planning more activities… helping people…  Practicing my guitar.

I just read a post by Marc Andreessen (and yes, he has invested in Fluther.com) about maximizing personal productivity.  I keep going to back to it, because it’s interesting but also, there’s this incredible whiff of freedom surrounding it.   It’s tantalizing.  Freedom–I just want to inhale–as if it’s a virus I could catch.  I love the days of totally open schedule and that feeling of time, stretching out like one of those slow moving airport walkways ahead, of course, always faster moving then they look.

Now I am trying to be productive in the exact opposite situation, where I know I have a short and very finite period to write something.

All of which brings me around to the point that the book isn’t finished although people keep saying, are you sure because “perfect can get in the way of good.”  Or finishing.  Very true. But still, I laugh uncomfortably and say, “Uh… yes, I am sure.”

Regarding finishing the book though, there’s a missing piece and I just had this idea about love and the lubricating nature of love (and I haven’t yet thought of an analogy), and something about the Heisenberg principle too, and how the structure of the book has a similar effect in that it affects the characters or the the central character as it progresses.   Cannot be seen and unaffected, right, structure connecting to meaning, form influencing function.  It’s on my mind.

So, yes, I am writing a book, but first, I’m going to yoga.