LoV-Write

Archive for the category “Letters”

A First Review of December

A little over two years and I’ve just encounter the first review of December. It’s a single star rating with a scathing review, affirming my sense that December is the book I needed to write in order to grow (in many ways). Nevertheless, I feel I must give this review proper reflection, and give my monster some defense.

First, the  review:

“Cole stood near the pinkish arm chair.” Okay, I thought, he probably could have used an actual color instead of the word “pinkish”, but maybe this will get better. It didn’t. It only got worse.

Just don’t do this to yourself. Wading through this “innovative” piece of garbage physically caused me and my boyfriend pain. I was curious, and now I am left wondering why we hurt ourselves this way.

“Maybe there is no point in life. Maybe.” – a quote from this pile of shit.

From Goodreads.

I wish the reader would have given me more information- but I have to use what I get.  The words that really stick with me are “innovative”, “garbage”, and the phrase “pile of shit”.

My first thought after reading the review was “Where did she get the idea that this is supposed “innovative”?” Innovative implies that it’s new, groundbreaking, or something advancing literature (it’s none of these things). It’s influenced by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, but, like a child artist copying Da Vinci, it lacks the control and education needed for full effectiveness.

My second thought had to do with “pile of shit”. “Shit,” I thought “implies waste- the left overs after digestion. If anything it’s closer to vomit- the kind that comes after food poisoning. It’s unpleasant but it cleans the system.”  In that sense, it really is a work of therapy and one should approach it like a doctor approaches vomit: with gloves and mask.

Third- “Garbage”. She found this novel utterly worthless- void of any nutrients. Arguably, and I’m no psychologist, it’s as though she was expecting roast beef but received charred cedar instead. A reasonable response. But even to this (and what a defense I’m bringing my first child), I feel inclined to say it’s “junk” not “garbage”- it’s the stuff I’ve outgrown and have placed in the attic or scrap yard.

The final thought on this matter is this: a re-assertion of my belief that December is the novel written for the sake of cleansing. It’s my mental/emotional junk designed in the style of those whose stature I aim to achieve. It’s a reminder to myself that, if I can publish and love such a weak and idle thing, then by my fourth or fifth book I will have gained adequate skill to excel.

Which brings me to my response to this disappointed reader:

Thank you for slogging through my monster of inner monologue- though I’m not sure where you got the idea that December was intended to be “innovative” (or “shit” for that matter). I never aimed at innovation (it’s heavily influenced by James Joyce and Virginia Woolf), and it is, in all reality, a mental scrapyard- it has bits and pieces that are useful, the rest gathers dust and rust. My own description of “December” is that it is the written version of banging your head against a wall: it’s repetitive, goes nowhere, solves nothing, and yet- has some soothing aspects.

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The World is Ending! It’s Over!

Oh, wait- we’re still here.

The election cycle is over, and in two months our 45th President will give his inaugural address, and we can, at last, start to see what manner of President Donald John Trump will be.

Please, take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and calm down.

He’s neither the antichrist nor Hitler reborn; he’s not going to destroy this country any more than Hillary Clinton would. What we’re experiencing is the result of the campaign these two nominees waged: a campaign of slander and bigotry on both sides.

If Trump is a Niagara Falls of mean remarks and nasty names- spewing them constantly by the hour; Clinton was the Old Faithful- gushing from time to time with her own deplorables. It’s little wonder the transition of power is accompanied with protests from the Clinton supporters, and, I’m sure, Clinton would have faced protests as well if had she been elected.

After a year of our candidates brawling in the mud, they seem to have taken the time during the count to wash it off and put on the “good job” face. Clinton ceded, and said “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead”. While Trump said Clinton “fought hard” and thanked her for her service to this country.

Meanwhile, we citizens who live on the battlegrounds still have mud on our faces. We need to pause. We need to remember that the experiment that is our country forces us to confront opposing views, and that it is our duty to walk a mile in those ill-fitted shoes.

We need to breath- the world is not ending. Our republic is so constructed that executive power is balanced by congressional consent. Yes, the Government is Red- but it’s a red of many tones.

Red or Blue, a full house means we have the opportunity to change our country and defend what we believe is right, and what we believe is good for our country. We will have conflict- but let’s commit to resolving conflict even if our adversary wants to argue.

It is time to turn protests into propositions- how can we improve our nation? Let’s stop being spectators and start being active in our self-government.

When we want change let’s write letters to our congress; let’s propose strategies to improve our lives, and petition our State and federal government for the changes we want to see; let’s move forward together and discuss and consider each other’s views until we know for certain that what we are doing is in the best interest of our country.

We will have the voices we’d rather ignore. The White Nationalists say this campaign has opened doors, and misogynistic minorities think they’ll have leniency in this term to harass women. They have a right to believe what they want to believe, but we have the right to resist them and show them that they are a minority in this country.

Because a country is inseparable from its people- and people are flawed and multifaceted. We, the people, are the country, and any government in place is one that we’ve put there by explicit choice or implicit consent- let’s work to improve our situation, and become involved. “Our constitutional democracy demands our participation, not just every four years, but all the time.”

Dear You,

It’s been a long week. Stressful and trying in many ways, but it was, as so often happens, educational nonetheless.

The week (Sunday the 18th) started with an encounter with a woman named Bess. She’s homeless and working her way back to a state of solidarity. I talked with her awhile that day and we discussed God, and how these events teach us to know God and trust God, and realize the transience of this world. From here, the week rotted. It was busy at work, stressful all around, I’ve lost my patience on a few occasions and failed a time or ten. But, as they say, it works out in the end.

Now, in the quiet aftermath, I’ve had time to better digest these events and I’m left with this image: a figure, who is me but not me, hanging on a cross, while I look on with scars on my arms.

If this were a story, Bess’s conversation would be the foreshadowing; the week of conflict the journey; and the final image a resolution. Bess’s conversation points to God, as though to say “Listen, you are about to endure some things which will cause you grief, but will also temper you and your faith.”

The conflict acts as a microcosm of how it is to live in sin (which is to live for oneself and not for God). Because living a life of the self, by the self, for the self, leads only to malcontentment.

And the image of the cross is the completed idea that the old self is dead, and we have been resurrected with Christ- bearing the marks of our crucifixion and our old life, not as marks of condemnation, but as testimony to our transformation with and through Christ.

But this is the ongoing process- we learn by seeking God in all things, both good and bad, that we learn to pray (which is to turn our thoughts to God and speak to a friend). We learn to pray in triumph, in failure, in peace, in war, in calm, in chaos- in all times, at all times, praying to know God and seek The Kingdom, praising God that we may bless the world; all sinners and saints, friends and enemies.

It’s Ephesians, “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience, among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (Ephesians 2:1-5 )

And you know, as is usually the case, all these sequences are just a reminder of what has been said and resaid: I am a sinner in need of help, full of flaws and imperfections. I cannot save myself with 10’000 good deeds or by any act of piety. I am saved by grace.

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (Galations 2:19-21 )

I hope things are well with you,

Your Friend,

The Road Goes On, Ever Ever On

A Draft From nearly two years ago, sometime late July.
******
Today I’ve realized that I want to be an adventurer when I grow up.

I’ve realized this, because in the last seven weeks I’ve traveled nearly 20’000 miles, visited two foreign countries and ten of the 50 United States, and flown from one side of the U.S. to the other; I’ve seen the Northern coast of Ireland and the faint outline of Scotland; I’ve walked the streets of Dublin, Salt Lake City, and Roswell; I’ve seen the lights of New York and Portland; I’ve waded in the Atlantic Ocean off Ireland’s Dingle Peninsula, and swam in a creek on the Big Horn Mountains 7500ft above sea level; I’ve driven from Southern New Mexico to North Central Wyoming in a single day, sleeping little en route, then worked a 10 hour shift as a waiter; I’ve visited the Green Giant, the Corn Palace, and Wall Drug, and soon: Chicago.

I’ve broken down, been caught in traffic, stopped to reminisce, and consumed coffee. I’ve written opening chapters, closing scenes, and wallowed in the divine frustration of writer’s block. It’s like the Walking Song from the Lord of The Rings (musical):

There’s a road calling you to stray, Step by step pulling you away,
Under moon and star, Take the road no matter how far.
Where it leads, no one ever knows, Don’t look back follow where it goes,
Far beyond the sun, take the road, wherever it runs.
The road goes on, ever ever on.

 

So I’ll follow on this journey, and continue to follow these never ending roads, and may God grant me the strength to live, and more, to write.

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.

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

 

Dear Reader: LoV-Write on Amazon

Dear Reader,

I mentioned before that December is now avbailable on Amazon.com, and now I have an official author page there as well. There you’ll find a brief biography, a link to this blog and my twitter feed. But that’s not all. You’ll also find a picture of me. It’s a self-portrait I took by using my camera’s timer, a tripod, and a mirror; I then edited it on my computer for a sepia tone.

With my updated Amazon, I have also updated the About LoV-Write page. Now you’ll find a more complete explanation of my brand name as well as a short author biography and photograph.

 

Until the previous time,

 

Judah LoVato

Rocky Road to Dublin: Post III

Dear You,

It was a Thursday night -in Dingle- and we had just finished drinking wine with a fellow named Wally and his buddy Peanut.

By “we” I mean myself and one other, who I’ll call Cyprus Rotor, had shared two bottles of wine in the course of three hours. Our first bottle was an Australian white called “Wally’s Hut”, and the second was a Pinot Grigio. I forget the brand. Hence: Wally and Peanut. When we had finished the second bottle, we walked back to the main street -we had been sitting on the shore along the marina- to a pub called “The Court House”.

We had been to the Court House the night before, and there we had met some locals as well as a fellow traveler. The locals were lovely. One, a young woman who sang and played guitar, was simply captivating. She sang and spoke with a wonderful confidence which is hard to explain. What I found most pleasing is that she sung “I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You” by Tom Waits.

The other local, a manager at the Grapevine Hostel, was a charming man. He played classical guitar and listened to the Beatles. He also knew “Romance” by Juanillo d’Alba and the song “I’m My Own Grandpa”. Essentially, both of these locals had a similar taste in non-current music that Cyprus and I also had.

The fellow traveler was different. He was a lad of 18, long dark hair and Californian with pleasent features and an endearing honesty. It was strange for me, in talking to him, to recognize a fellow spirit. This Californian had had an incredible journey of injury and sequences* which lead to our meeting and my giving him a copy of my book which, I hoped, would have something to say to him.

This was a fine evening, and both Cyprus and I stayed up far too late speaking with these people. She went off with Grapevine manager, and I went to a different pub with California and Singer. Though I could go into the minute details of this evening, the point is less the conversation and more the drink that I discovered while I was there:

It was Dingle Gin, and, like the people of that evening, I had taken only a short sample of its flavour and character. It is a beverage, however, (and they are people) who will linger for many years to come in my memories of Ireland.

*Sequences is an idea I’ve taken from the work of Patrick F. McManus.

 

Rocky Road to Dublin: Post II

(Or: a letter of resigned frustration)

I don’t intend to write chronologically. I hardly mean to write logically, yet, strangely, there’s a certain logic to it: things are connected. What I mean to say is that something that happened four weeks ago has real repurcussions today.

Four weeks ago I was in Ireland, Galway in fact, and I had just been paid my monthly student salary. I had to order books for an event on June 8, and I knew I had had to order them yesterday for them to make it in on time. I made a mess of the order. I put money on the wrong card and asked for a different address than is on my file.

I kept my fingers crossed.

The weeks passed and I had returned from Ireland. I was preparing for my book event June 8 in Billings, MT. No books. I kept waiting. No books. The event came and went. Still no books. Now today is June 10, and I need to continue my journey. No books.

But this strange failure is cause for reflection: what could I have done to make the order work? Email the week before to request a post-poned payment? Checked and double checked my card to make sure I had money on the right one?

Any number of things. But this is done and gone, and the sad reality is I have no books. I have, however, learned something for myself: a something I will keep to myself.

Dear You: I Think I’ll Become a Comedian

Dear You,

I’m graduating college in about a month, so I’ve been reflecting on my past and my future. I’m starting to think I’ll become a comedian. And I don’t mean by choice. I mean that I’ll just be doing serious grown-up things when I’ll suddenly realize I’m a comedian doing stand-up. The change will be slow and imperceptible; I’ll start off doing workshops or short lectures on English and writing, then slowly my audience will expand and then, there it is, I’ve suddenly become a Comedian talking about English and the finer points of Grammar.

I suppose this would be an alright thing to turn into; there are worse things to be –or not to be– which means I’ll accept my fate and keep moving along. My one hope is that I’d at least attain enough notoriety to appear on QI with Stephen Fry someday.

Well, I hope things are going well with you,

Until the Previous Time We Meet,

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