A Storm of Scenes

The muse had warned me, “Set aside expectations.”

Of course. Muses are always telling me that. I readily agreed. She was the muse. Lead on. That’s how it works.

“I’m serious.”

I didn’t doubt that.

“You need to discard preconceived notions. Drop them like they’re too much clothing on a hot, sunny day.”

Um…okay.

“Can you give me some clues about we’re where going, what’s going on, and all of that?” I asked. I tried not to sound miffed; I don’t want to irritate the muse. I know my place, but… “I am the writer, you know. It’s supposed to be my work.”

“You’ll know when you need to know.”

She was pretty damn haughty.

She was right, though. I’ve always enjoyed writing my novels. I’ve had a lot of fun writing them. They entertain me. The muses do usually lead in unexpected directions.

This one, though, has been wildly different. The writing and story-telling pace are much, much faster than usual. And as she warned, the scenes, characters, and ideas introduced are constant shocks, little that I expected.

It’s a storm of scenes keeping up with her. Write, write, write, faster, faster. Then, after writing, update the bible to ensure everything’s been captured as far as details so I’m not slowed down by searching for some detail later.

It’s tense, exhausting, and exhilarating, leaving me on a natural high that life just can’t match. It’s a shame, then, to stop. But stopping is required, to go on to do other things and deal with the mundane of existence as a married white American male in 2019.

Once again, it’s been a great day of writing like crazy. I highly recommend it.

Not That

I’m not that old when you look at the seas

not that young when you look at me

I know I’m male, maybe five on a scale

but I don’t know what that means

I’m not that white when you look at snow

not that dark when you look at me

not that dumb when you see a rock

not that smart when you talk to me

I’m not that bright when you look at the sun

not that companionable when you’re looking for fun

not that simple when you add one and one

not that easy when you take away one

not that worldly in the sum of my parts

not that able, strong, or smart

not that forgiving in what I’ve seen and heard

not that judgmental in the lessons learned

Tuesday’s Theme Music

Yesterday, someone said, “I waste too much time. Every night, I think of the things that I wanted to do that I didn’t do, and think of the time that I wasted.”

I didn’t agree or disagree. I understand what’s he saying. When he said he was wasting time, he meant that he’d planned to accomplish things that day and didn’t. He did other things instead. In answer to my question about that, he said, “Read, watched the news, read more, ate and drank beer.” He laughed.

Was it really wasted time? No, just not time used as planned. But people get the sense they’re running out of time. They’re coming up on deadlines, end of life, a new week, month, or season.

I’ve drifted away from that. Part of my drift is because so much of what’s on our lists are impermanent matters given amplified importance. You got to sort through these things and decide what’s really important, and what’s just being driven by the ghosts of the past called tradition, or the demons of expectations.

Meanwhile, the conversation naturally kicked a song into the stream. Several, in fact. One that surprised me leaped in from 1972 and an album called Eat A Peach, when I was sixteen. That Allman Brothers album, released after Duane Allman’s death, had a lock in my playlist for over a year, joining another Allman Brothers favorite, At Fillmore East, a double live album.

The song that jumped out was, “Ain’t Wastin’ Time No More”. It really came, again, as I stepped out and called in a cat last night. I looked up for the stars. The cat was right there, but clouds obscured the stars. From there came the song’s lines,

Lord, lord Miss Sally, why all your cryin’?
Been around here three long days, you’re lookin’ like you’re dyin’.
Just step yourself outside, and look up at the stars above
Go on downtown baby, find somebody to love.

ht to AZLyrics.com

Yellows

Wash me in yellow

the bright color of hopeful change

spritz me with marigolds

press me to get out of my lane

 

Soak me in yella

optimism and light

help me see past the madness and badness

and pursue what’s right

 

Drown me in yeller

make it an ocean of chance

a place where all are happy

and there’s singing and dance

 

Coat me in yellow

let it cover me all

like dazzling leaves on a tree

in the bright sunshine of fall

Writing Reflections

A friend’s question prompted some post-response thinking as I conducted my pre-writing walk.

Before 2014, I wrote six novels. I never edited or revised them, and never sent them anywhere.

Between 2014 and 2016, I wrote four more novels. Since 2016, I epublished them. None did well. In fairness, I barely marketed them. I still remain fond of Returnee.

Since 2016, I’ve written five more novels. I haven’t published any of them. The first four were the Incomplete States quadrilogy that begins with Four On Kyrios. I shopped them to forty agents or more. None showed interest.

I finished April Showers 1921 last month and began shopping it with agents. Sent it to twenty. Three agents are showing interest by requesting more material.

Progress?

Last week I began writing another novel. The writing is the thing, you see. The new project has me laughing as the muses pitch crazy new twists on the whole thing. It’s the fun stage. It’s hard to keep up but I’m going to try to enjoy it while I’m on it.

Of course, like ocean waves, it’s not all linear, writing a novel. Ups and downs, setbacks and advances, excitement and frustration are ahead. Each will probably be endured multiple times in the months it takes me to write, edit, and revise this piece. That’s part of the process.

Got my coffee. My ass is in the chair and the computer is on. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

The Waves

Stressed and blessed

encouraged and discouraged

he’s riding the waves of the day

Angry and numb

frustrated and feeling dumb

she’s riding the waves of the day

cascading and rising

falling and sliding

the waves lift you up and

take you under

man and woman

no matter skin or order

all of us ride the waves of the day

Tuesday’s Theme Music

I was walking and thinking yesterday (amazing that I didn’t hurt myself), pursuing a flotilla of random thoughts when a scene between a traveler and a Tesla driver caught my eye. Traveler is the name given to homeless around here. Homeless is an easy term for a complex situation. Local agencies have interviewed a number of homeless and discovered that some are homeless by choice and enjoy traveling from area to area along the I-5 corridor. Ashland doesn’t welcome travelers but the community strives to enjoy everyone has a few meals a week and shelter during cold weather.

I don’t know what the conversation was about between the Tesla driver and the traveler. I knew the man was a traveler because I’ve seen him before and had bought him food a few times. I hadn’t seen him for a while, and thought he’d moved on. Maybe he did, and came back.

Watching the exchange, though, lyrics from the 1968 Sly and the Family Stone song, “Everyday People” came to mind. I feel fortunate that Sly and the Family Stone was making music then, as they released several terrific albums. This song is just one that I remember and enjoy.

The song’s sentiment is timeless.

Sometimes I’m right and I can be wrong
My own beliefs are in my song
The butcher, the banker, the drummer and then
Makes no difference what group I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah, yeah

There is a blue one
Who can’t accept the green one
For living with a fat one
Trying to be a skinny one
Different strokes
For different folks

And so on and so on
And scooby dooby dooby
Oh sha sha
We got to live together

I am no better and neither are you
We are the same, whatever we do
You love me, you hate me, you know me and then
You can’t figure out the bag I’m in
I am everyday people, yeah yeah

There is a long hair
That doesn’t like the short hair
For being such a rich one
That will not help the poor one
Different strokes
For different folks

h/t to AZLyrics.com

Yeah, we’re all everyday people.

The Muses’ Pitches

Things went well for an unplanned process, defying expectations. I finished revising and editing a novel, felt I something to submit, and began that process. I finished all that just in time to fly across country to visit with my Mom. I won’t say how old she is but she remembers listening to the radio to get news of World War II. She’s recovering from shoulder replacement surgery and it was her birthday. It gave me a chance to visit with sisters and their families, too.

It turned into one of those visits that makes me nostalgic, one that finds me wishing that I lived closer to these family members and socialized with them more often. I left that part of my home before I had a driver’s license, so much of their living and growing has been without my presence. They’ve grown into people that I never foresaw, and their extended families of children and grandchildren amaze and delight me.

Now back home, I’m ready to begin a new writing project. Four concepts have reached the finals. As I walk about, live life, and drink coffee, muses have taken up representation of each concept. They’re pushing hard on their babies.

All of them would be fun and challenging to write, (otherwise, why bother, am I right?). One goes into a completely different direction. Another continues my recent trend of writing ideas. A third concept returns me to write another of the Life Lessons with Savanna series (two books have been written and self-published). The fourth concept takes me into the murder thriller realm.

All are books I’d like to read. That makes them books I’d like to write. I’ve given each concept some BRAM (Biological Random Access Memory), sketching scenes, forming characters, and outlining rough plots and arcs in my head. As I contemplate my choices, I remember how many other concepts I have stashed in my head, waiting for daylight. I feel bad for ignoring them but no muses are stepping up to rep them. I imagine the muses that stood for them before sitting around in their bathrobes, drinking beer and wine from coffee cups in small, cluttered sitting rooms, reading newspapers and magazines, watching television, and noshing on snacks. They’ve aged and lost hair, and aren’t the beautiful young muses that they once were. They’re not interested in generating the energy to dress and give a proper presentation. “Another time,” they say with a wave of their cups and food, as they continue with the activity.

Sounds like I’m running an old muse home in my head.

After writing all of this, I sipped coffee, did a stroll and mulled the projects. The muses made their pitches again. One concept was chosen.

Here I go. Got my coffee. Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.

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