LoV-Write

Suspense Excercise II

Howard Dow Jones commanded his own tank. He had dreamed of commanding a tank since he was a child, and his dream became real only after a lifetime of hard work. At twenty-seven years old, Howard Dow Jones left his wife and children in Georgia, and went overseas to fight in the same wars that had inspired him to serve. His children, a little boy named Edward and little girl Bernice, loved their father and had dreams of their own: Bernice dreamed of being a pilot while her brother dreamed of commanding his own tank just like his father. But their father will not see them pursue their dreams. Howard Dow Jones will not see them grow, or marry, or graduate, but will return from the war to find his home burned down and his wife and children cinders.

Suspense Excercise I

This story will end with a boom 100 words from now:

We were working on the set for Macbeth, discussing “The Scottish play” and superstitions when our new-hire, Mac, said he didn’t believe in curses. “Hell,” he said, “gods, demons, all that is bullshit.” And he began insulting the superstitions and ended saying: “May those little dreams, the spirits, all meet the same fate as that wretched king Macbeth.” When he said this, the men hanging drops shouted “Watch out! A rack is falling!” We all ran, but Mac tripped and fell on the microphone. And that pole stuck in his chest? That is the boom.

Observation

“I’d like them to understand what it feels like to attain the child’s dream of running one’s
own pirate crew-what it feels like, looks like and smells like in the clatter and hiss of a big city
restaurant kitchen.” From Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain
A strangely accurate reduction of restaurant work, and an explanation as to why I insist on joining the crews of Food Services.

A Coffee Bean

I’m working in a coffee shop.

This coffee shop serves resource sensitive and environmentally conscious coffee which has been planted, grown, harvested, roasted, and transported with utmost care and delicacy. This tedious process is to ensure a high quality cup of coffee for people to enjoy for a nominal fee.

The shop serves excellent coffee, but I’ll always have a soft spot for the back-burner by-the-pot coffee of those 24-hour restaurants I grew up with, and those cheap, off-brand coffees that come in two-pound tubs: those “blue-collar” coffees of the Safeway aisle and the labor-class bulk buys.

These coffees speak in softer, more familiar tones. They call with light voices through the mild musk of ground beans and thumb a milky nose at the “finer blends” through swirls of milk and sugar.

They are crasser blends, but they are, I think, a part of my history that time will not weaken, because I have memories of coffee scented music and hazy late nights that will ever remain as coffee stain on my life’s white cloth.

A Writer

Am I a writer?

I haven’t published in over a month, my journal is out of date, my reading neglected, and my next novels languish as half-written sentences and outlines.

Yet I have the gall to tell people I meet that I am a writer.

I give the usual excuses for not placing pen to paper and not opening the computer: I’ve been busy lately; I’m working full time and moving; and, I do think about my stories all the time.

Am I a writer if I neglect my writing in favor of thinking?

I’ve heard that Milton dictated Paradise Lost and never inked a quill; that Joyce spent days thinking over a single sentence; that Austen thought works into being that are subtle critiques of her society. They are called writers, so maybe a Writer is someone who cares for their language and thinks before they pen.

I wonder if they feared to disturb the Universe?

Am I writer if I let life and fear prevent me from writing?

When faced with the uncertainty of the future I find my pen quaking and futility sprawling across my pages. The Universe is far too vast to be disturbed by the symbols of my small ideas, and the marks a mortal leaves are faint, washable things.

Even so, after a while I find my muse nudging me back to the pages and urging me to record her stories and poetries, and to form a linguistic image from the material granted me.

“Silence is a call to reflect” she tells me, “neglect is a chance to care, and forgetfulness the moment to remember.”

I am flawed and inconsistent, but I am a writer.

After Awhile

After a while we begin to learn that life is more than molecules

And we learn that science is not salvation

And faith is not ignorance

We begin to learn that bias is human

and that no one sees with objectivity

We begin to learn that life is governed by six billion perspectives,

Each struggling to stand on some common ground

And we begin to learn that no space permits two people

We learn that a standing point cannot be shared

And we learn we really are alone and unique

And we learn to accept our losses as well as our gains

And we learn- and we learn

We learn that wisdom is no safeguard from foolishness

And fate is unused to making plans

And we learn to build on today because the future is insecure in itself

We learn to face our defeats with patience and our triumphs with grace

And we learn to smile through our broken hearts

And after awhile, we learn to live

Caryn Franklin: When Did Fashion Become Porn?

I found a website called “Elance” a while back, which is a kind of social network designed for freelance writers, artists, and other creative types. It’s a bit like online dating, except the program suggests jobs based on your criteria instead of dates.

I found one job possibility today that entailed fashion writing, and since I’ve never considered fashion I started investigating what fashion writing entails. My search brought me to “The Best Fashion Writing of 2013” and as I perused the articles I found one that caught my eye: “When Did Fashion Become Porn?” by Caryn Franklin.

Franklin’s article begins by noticing the sheer accessibility of pornography and the false expectations it arouses. She comments that there is a growing market for Viagara and even penile surgeries.

“Masculinity now, just like femininity,” Writes Franklin, “is prey to a whole host of marketing promises and pressures.”

And it may only get worse, where pornography was presented as “a misogynistic standard from a shabby back-room printing press for most of the 20th Century, now pornography is produced on an industrial scale as never seen before and, courtesy of continually developing digital markets, commands huge revenues although over 80% of young users access it for free.”

And this is problematic for developing healthy, supportive relationships whether sexual or not. According to Franklin, “Boys also have little idea of what makes sex pleasurable for women. And neither it seems do today’s young women, studies reveal girls expect relationships to be controlling and sometimes violent.”

Pornification of our popular culture is happening right under our noses.

But these children don’t necessarily learn these behaviors from pornography, they learn it from popular culture. Franklin writes that “Pornification of our popular culture is happening right under our noses.”

And it takes the form of “Grooming”, a form of media that says, “This new media porn is all a bit of innocent fun, nothing to make a fuss about. Just give us a little flash of your honey-pot and stop being so uptight.” and is presented as little more than “media at its edgiest”.

“That’s how sexual groomers work in both seedy and shiny surroundings isn’t it?” Writes Franklin, “When repellent ideas are given a fun or adventurous spin, they are always easier to carry out.”

And such seems to be our media environment. The slow development of pornographic world where humans are objects of pleasure, and pornography is matter of artistic creativity.

Franklin writes that “Grooming by individuals or an entire industry, is morally corrupt”.

But what can we do to create a popular culture that is morally sound in a world of changing moral ground? And what does it mean to be moral?

Though I can’t answer these questions today, or really at all, I have a few ideas of my own that I will present as an argument towards a new moral code which preserves “old fashions” while challenging the modern morals with reasonable constraints.

I aim to challenge the pretense and superficiality of the mass media and learn what it means to empower women and the human individual, and how to practice that empowerment.

“And so we come full circle.” Concludes Franklin, “Standard viewing of barely adult girls engaging in demeaning acts of sexual posturing, finger sucking, fanny massaging and arse waving. Cheap shots from fashion, a luxury industry loudly trumpeting its taste-leadership credentials, and music, pretending to empower all young women. Not all of us are taking it lying down.”

 

 

http://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/read/think-pieces/519/when-did-fashion-become-porn

http://www.styleite.com/news/the-best-fashion-writing-of-2013/

Michief’s Brewing

I’m terribly behind in my writing. Unfortunately, this seems to be a typical thing in the world of writers. Fortunately for us, however, the good lord invented coffee shops where we may sit and procrastinate in peace.

Better still, we look busy as we procrastinate because people who write often look busier than they really are. It’s the magic of having a computer open before you, and a coffee close at hand.

Moving on.

I have embarked on an incredible journey of unemployment and relocation, and I find myself with a great deal of time on my hands. Theoretically, this means I could work out and finish another book or two in the next few weeks as I apply to jobs and wait for responses. The reality, of course, is that I tool around and haunt coffee shops.

Not that I’m a complete bum.

This particular coffee shop -Mischief’s Brewing- is located in Libertyville, Illinois, and the owners have agreed to host me on August 17, 2014 for a third attempt at a book event. I can’t say I’m over optimistic, given the last two events were about as lack lustre as they come, but I’m content for the opportunity.

The shop itself has an air of a reclaimed train depot, and rests on the corner of Milwaukee Avenue and the Fox Lake-Chicago train line. There are a number of tables strewn along the walls and potted plants in the windows. Across from the counter, is a fireplace around which is a ring of black sofas.  From what I gather, the owners are hoping to become a kind of cultural hub for the city, and are the venue for a number of events each month.

I can’t say I know much more than that, but, if you happen to be in Northern Illinois anytime soon, it’s worth a stop for a cup of coffee, a quick round of connect four, and, maybe, a book signing.

Fictional Realism

Dear You,

I know it’s been awhile since I wrote, but I wanted to get your take on this idea I’m playing with:

The idea is that the world is a massive book: an encyclopedia which, like Hermione’s bag, can be entered and explored. How I picture it is as a maze of letters: rows of books within books and shelves upon shelves containing and composing the history of the Universe. It’s the Library of Babel and the number 42. It’s extensive, complete, and vast, but ultimately limited to the constraints of Time.

What this means, I think, is that the split seconds are recorded with intensive detail by some unknown “scribes” of this encyclopedia, and the day to day realities of life are reduced to a story which, in our histories, are perceived as fictions even though they really occurred. That is, Napolean is no longer a person, but a character in a story because we can only know the man through the written texts. And, like a character in a fiction, our understanding of these historical figures are limited by the information we have available.

In fact, every interaction we have in the day-to-day is reduced to a kind of vague document outlining the events, but lacking the minutia of the split thoughts and partial comprehensions.

This encyclopedia or library, then, is a multifaceted construct which preserves both the crust and the core of these histories. Some of the entries or books provide the minutia, while some relate only the vaguest of suppositions.

It’s difficult for me to digest, but it’s like this: the world is literature, and we are readers and critics assessing the story and pulling meaning from the words we understand.

I’m not sure how this thought came to my brain, I think, perhaps, from reviewing my old journals and realizing that I understand and imagine the past in the same way that I understand and imagine the stories I read.

I’d like to know what you think of this,

I’m not sure when I’ll write again, but I will when I will.

Until the previous time we’ve met,

Your friend

 

Learning Curves: Marketing, Signings, and Planning Ahead.

I held my first “real” book signing June 28 at the Sheridan Fulmer Public Library in Sheridan, Wyoming. The turn out was non-existent, but, when I think about it, I’m not really surprised.  I’d like to take a moment and point out my “miss-steps” on the off-chance you ever plan an event. Many of them are common sense, but here’s my defence:

My primary miss-step was poor marketing, and this comes down to a series of events I’ve dubbed “The Book Ordereal” (because it was an ordeal surrounding my book order). But that doesn’t matter because that Ordereal comes down to poor planning on my part, and bridges into the point of this entry: planning is a must for marketing.

I received my books last Friday, and, since the Ordereal had me questioning the reality of my orders, I didn’t create a Facebook page or flyers for my event until Tuesday (June 24) of that week. Therefore: no one knew about the event aside from me and a few people far far away.

That aside, it isn’t a complete loss because I know better now and I know what I need for my next event in Buffalo, Wyoming on July 12: a plan. My plan, which I have initiated, is this: create a facebook page for the event and make some flyers.

So far I’ve done both, and hund flyers in the library and a couple local shops. Unfortunately, it was late afternoon when I managed to have time to print said flyers so I didn’t canvass many places, but, I hope, this event will have a wider turnout than just myself.

 

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