The Porsche Dream

One of last night’s dream seemed structured like a feature film.

It began with me becoming aware of a contest. I can’t tell you the details of the contest. They were vague and dreamy. But I entered the contest and was selected as one of the winners.

That thrilled me. As a prize, I was going to drive a Porsche 911 Cabrio. It wasn’t the current model, but a car that was part of a collector’s garage. I was happy and excited.

But the dream took a twist. Other people needed help. It wasn’t inconsequential help, but help they needed to survive. Although it meant that I would miss out on my prize, I did what I needed to do to help others. Yes, on the one hand, I regretted that I would miss out on my prize. On the other hand, come on, it’s a silly prize, compared to the larger picture of helping others who are fighting to survive. There wasn’t a question; it’s what needed to be done.

Smiling and happy, they thanked me after I helped them (I literally gave a number of people helping hands to climb out of muddy, swollen rivers.) When it was all over, I waved good-bye to them, satisfied with the result.

Taking another turn in the dream, though, a friend, Kevin, showed up. He said, “I called the guy and told him what you did and why you didn’t get your prize. He admired you, so he came up with another prize for you.” I was presented with the keys to an Arctic blue Porsche 911 Cabrio.

Oh, it was gorgeous. Although it was a cold day, with melting snow all over the place, it was sunny, and the car’s top was down. Kevin and I got into the car. I started it up and drove it carefully through puddles of slush and over patches of snow and ice.

Kevin said, “Come on. What are you doing? My grandma drives faster than this. Open it up.”

But I’d had a plan. I was getting to a place where I could turn and go up a hill onto a mountain road. Right as Kevin finished making his plaintive statements, I downshifted and mashed the throttle. As he was slammed back in his seat, he laughed and said, “Whoa, shit. This is more like it.”

Laughing, with the car’s engine in full song, I accelerated up the mountain road.

That was the dream’s ending.

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The Writing Processes

I enjoy reading about other writers and their processes. I’m primarily reading for ideas that I can incorporate or adapt into my processes, but I’m also curious about others’ takes on their creative processes. I’m often amused when people insist that writers must outline, or something like that. I tried outlining; it didn’t work for me. I felt that outlining drained the fun and creativity from my writing processes.

I was thinking about this today because I reached a pivot point. Writing organically, I’m journeying without a map. I like journeying without a map. I feel like an explorer crossing a new continent. Explorers decide, “There’s the sun; we’re following this river and heading that way for now. Let’s see where it goes.” I adapt that as, “There’s the ending; we’re following this path heading that way for now. Let’s see where it goes.”

Sometimes, as accounts of explorers will tell you, wrong turns are taken. Blind paths that lead to nowhere are followed. Yet, it’s not a loss, because they’ve expanded their body of knowledge.

That happens with me and my characters, too. They take a turn none of us expected. I don’t just follow then, though. I stop and ask, “Wait a moment. Where is this going? Are we sure we want to follow this path?”

As I’m also a non-linear writer, I’ll sometimes take a few days to write about other aspects while I think over the new potential path. By non-linear, I mean that I don’t write the novel in the order that the story is told, nor in the order of its final finish. I’m usually filling in expository bridges between action scenes during these periods. Action scenes, being sharper and more intense, come quickly, like a flash flood. In fact, I call it flash writing. A sudden inspiration strikes. It follows the general sense already created, so I let the flood happen. Other flash floods often occur in sequence as these major points are seen and grasped. After writing down their essentials, I edit and polish them, add details, and make changes for coherency and consistency.

By that point, they’re raw pearls. I want a necklace. Bridge scenes help me strand them together.

Sometimes, I make huge leaps. There’s an epiphany, and I spring forward to write it before I lose it. This is when I most feel like the novel already exists, and I’m just taking dictation.

Meanwhile, I write posts like this to help me understand what I think. As I thought about this little post and wrote it, my subconscious mind thought over the new piece and offered me some tent poles.

That caused a short interlude here as I explored the tent poles. I came to see how this new piece wasn’t all that new, but a latent piece I’d previously ignored. Indeed, I’d made a small reference to it once, back in the first volume’s first quarter. I’d flash-written some scenes without thinking about how to strand them together, but subconsciously, pieces were being put together. I just needed to remain persistent, let my mind work, accept what it gave me, and go for it. That, I think, sums up the whole writing like crazy philosophy.

I’ve got my coffee. Its smell helps me focus, its caffeine stimulates my creative energies, and it’s a component of my writing session routine. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

The Green Tooth (An Abridged History)

I’d forgotten about my green tooth. 

How did I forget? It was right in the front of my upper set of teeth. Dark green, it beckoned others’ curiosity, disgusting them. I saw that in their expressions.

The tooth was a product of playing blind man’s bluff in our Pittsburgh cellar in the dark. The cellar had a few steel support poles. I ran into one in the dark and broke off the bottom half of my tooth.

That was fifth or sixth grade.

We were a lower middle-class family struggling to get by. It took a few months to get my tooth repaired. Meanwhile, I walked around with half a tooth in my grin. Already a little shy, retiring, self-effacing, and insecure, I took to smiling and talking less. When I spoke, I mumbled, to avoid showing my teeth. Eventually, though, I received a nice fake white tooth on a post.

Then I knocked it out.

It was replaced.

I knocked it out again.

This happened several times. Eventually, that fake white tooth turned green. Nothing I could do about it. So I endured, thirteen years old, with a green tooth. A perforation developed in my upper jaw bone. The summer I became fifteen (the year I met my wife), my upper gums became swollen and infected. I solved that by thrusting sharp objects into my gum and squeezing until the pus burst out. It was a little painful and bloody.

Did I mention that I’m not too bright? That’s pretty evident by now.

I moved in with my father that summer. The perforation remained. My gum would become swollen and infected about once a year. I’d heat a steak knife, cut it open and drain it. I got pretty good at it. Yes, I know how lucky I am that the infection didn’t worsen and kill me.

I did this alone because my adventures with my tooth upset my parents. They were exasperated that I kept knocking it out. That exasperation spread to me. I also became aware of being studied and judged. I didn’t like the judgement I heard. I became overly self-conscious, and secretive about my tooth and what was going on with it. My mumbling increased.

Eventually, I joined the Air Force. Uncle Sam replaced my post with a pink, plastic denture. That lasted about ten years. I’d break that tooth off, too, then glue it back into place. I struggled to eat with it, so I’d take it out, usually wrapping it in a napkin so that others didn’t see it. Of course, that left a tooth-sized gap in my smile.

My wife would sometimes need to remind me not to forget it after I’d taken it out.

A metal bridge replaced the pink one. Also uncomfortable, held into place with little silver holds that wrapped around my bicuspids, Seeing those metal things, people would ask, “What are those silver things on your teeth?” I’d explain it was my denture, and offer to show it to them.

It was pretty flimsy. The bridge would end and twist. I’d try fixing it. Eventually, a new fake tooth on a new post was installed.

Naturally, I broke it off. While eating a hamburger, in fact. I glued it into place. It broke off again. That became my regular thing: glue it into place, and then break it off while eating.

After years of going through all this, I had a new, permanent bridge implanted. It cost me thirteen thousand dollars, but it was worth it. By then, I was fifty years old.

It’s interest how such a trivial matter affected me and my life, and how much of it I’d forgotten. Most of us have something like this that shapes us.

When I think of all the things that others endure, I’m fortunate that it was so trivial.

But I still mumble.

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I first heard this song as a version by the Byrds in 1969. Then it sorted faded away, but resurfaced a few years later, by the Doobie Brothers. I’ve found that many others have covered it. It’s just one of those songs.

“Jesus Is Just Alright” has interesting (but not numerous lyrics). Upbeat, with changing tempos, it has religious overtones but remains light and reflective, and a simple statement. “I don’t care what they may say, I don’t care what they may do.” I love that firm belief, this is what I believe, believe what you want.

I feel obliged to mention that it’s about faith, not facts. You can have firm beliefs in your faith; that’s cool. If you’re a fiction writer, you can create your own facts within the structure of fiction. But when it comes to reality, you can’t just declare, this is what I believe, I don’t care what your facts say.

Challenging to hold this apparently contradictory processes and directions in your head. Messy, innit?

Something to think about on a Tuesday.

 

 

Floofomachy

Floofomachy (catfinition) – a disagreement or dispute about or over cats.

In use: “The kittens at the adoption fair were the epicenter of floofomachy as children and families all wanted to take them home.”

January Fitbit Update

Managed to continue averaging eight miles per day in January. I hope I don’t jinx it, but I’ve started Feb. strong. I achieved nine miles per day on two days, one day when I reached ten, and none under eight.

Of course, it is only February fifth….

Walk on.

(Which makes me think of the 1973 David Essex tune 1973.)

Floofoolery

Floofoolery (catfinition) – foolish cat behavior; playing silly games with a cat. Tomfloofoolery is used to designate foolish male cat behavior, or playing silly games with a tom cat.

In use: “From the sounds at midnight, it seemed like there was a lot of floofoolery going on in the other room.”

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