Archive for August, 2012

My first impression of the day was, ‘How do I keep myself motivated?” I am a fiction writer by definition. Writing anything is a singular, frequently arduous and an entirely insular act .  Being a novelist is an act of desperation, a primordial passion that drives one to fight against the natural world to envision another that doesn’t exist, it’s the act of a person addicted to  passion. Being an artist can be a zero sum game of mental masturbation, as circular as narcissism, and as profitable as a spent lottery ticket. So, what the hell get’s us up in the morning?

If I had to describe my day as a writer I would have to tell you that structure is all important. Personally, I have routines that I might be described as  Obsessive Compulsive Disorder  by any casual observer. I wake, I write until  my ass hurts, then I walk around blocks of my village, rain or shine, in various states of dress, regardless the time of year, without any attempt at athletic vigor hoping I don’t lose my train of thought in the time elapsed before I sit down again.

I’ve cut myself off from all news streams, I don’t want any contemporary information to bleed into my creation. I fear plagiarisms in my writing like I do being attacked by an accidental virus that slips insidiously into my bloodstream. In my mind there is nothing worse than being derivative, if only by association.  It would be too easy to rewrite a popular novel in ‘another setting’ or ‘style’. We see this happen too much, sometimes to the delight of publishers, but I don’t consider myself a cheap slut or  wordsmith whore for the shallow whim of an agent or publisher looking for a fast buck.

It’s my belief that as an artist and an individual I want to leave this mortal coil having left behind something entirely unique, a thought that none of the billions of my contemporaries and those  preceding us had ever thought before. Unique thought is the door to immortality . So, is that my motivation? I would have to say ‘yes’. I am the seeker of a single thought to differentiate me from history, what a monumental ego!

But what else would serve as a driver to submit to this passion if it wasn’t ego? As an artist you choose the most arduous path of all to achieve that singular act of passion fulfilled, the act of writing, this alone quantifies you as insane. This is why I don’t believe that any creative writer of fiction would ever suffer from writers block, the mind of an artist is like a volcano in mid-eruption. Submit to your passion and your guts and blood will spill uncontrolled onto the page whether you like it or not. The choice of being an artist or not is not yours to make. Often the book you write is not the work you began, the muse taking over is a good thing, flow with that and give yourself to the world instead of trying to prove what a smartypants you are by turning out some derivative rubbish. Free your mind, goes the old song, and the rest will follow.

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I must confess, there are those times when as a writer I wish I was a waiter. After writing many novels, working as a travel columnist and the continuous energy I put in to creating new concepts and characters, I feel a bit drained from time to time. Today is one of those days. So how do I deal with it…I write about it, a case study on crackpot contradiction don’t you think?  What I am doing of course is having a conversation with myself about how I feel and what I see as my vision of the world. I could have gone to a movie, set to drinking myself numb  in a bar, or any number of other frivolous escapades, but I choose to write about  the anxiety of writing when writing seems to be at the very center of my anxiety. Writing  is life. I  relate writing to the actions of an unsleeping shark forced to swim continuously against the current because flowing water is the only thing that keeps it alive.

But today I feel as if I’m dead from the neck up. I spent the entire day writing another reality television show pitch, another in a line of many attempts to gain access into the film and television industry, entirely unsuccessful up to this point. This confliction hasn’t stopped me from writing and submitting treatments for various production companies. It’s an aspect of my writing career that I have yet to master. My motivation is this… after some of the crap I see making it onto the small screen, I have to think I have to break through at some point. At my worst I’m less than half as crappy as many of the current television offerings.

Writing screenplays and pitches is stressful, rejection is almost guaranteed and immediate compared to the months a budding author will have to wait for a form letter rejection from an agent or publisher regarding their novel submission. That time in waiting serves to numb the pain of rejection but the pain stays around and lingers. Television producers get back to you right away.  At least the rejection is quick and immediate, like a mugging. Why do writers continue to write when the chance of success is literally one in millions?  That’s a question I can’t answer… for me, I am a writer, it’s what I do. I have no rationale explanations that would serve to stop my need to express myself in this way.

Happy or sad, I write, even when it is only for myself, such as now. In reality I am a relative newbie having only become a professional writer in the past ten years. Even after writing and publishing six novels and working as a magazine columnist for less than a year, I am learning my craft in baby steps. I hope I am as hungry to discover the art of creation and tred this unsatisfying path after I have penned my tenth novel.

I have read many ‘How to Write’ books, the internet is full of pages of ‘How to be a writer’. Some people blog about how to be a writer, never having written a single page they are willing to share with the world. In my humble opinion, to write is to live. It is not a question of location, stimulating snacks or community support groups as some suggest. From my point of view writing has to be honest and passionate, there has to be at least some blood on the page that has spilled over from the battle that rages within the author. Writers block only happens to people who have nothing to say in the first place.

For any aspiring writer who reads this I say to you, “Enjoy the agony”, it is what will sustain you through the times when you feel as if you’re dead….from the neck up.

I always liked that phrase. I have to tell you that I’m more than a little pissed that when I became an adult in the 1960’s I was told to to grow up and ‘take some responsibility for yourself”. That traditional farm community analog  is antiquated and belongs to another generation. In the middle ages children were expected to start working in single digits. In my parents generation people were getting married at sixteen and middle age at twenty nine. An unmarried women in 1957 was snickered at as being an umarriageable  ‘spinster’….a social misfit…a pariah…. barren…..strange, possibly a witch.

In the Canada of 2012 childhood has been extended to where most  don’t consider entering an occupation until they are in their thirties. I want some of that. I don’t want to grow up. I have set aside my profession, whatever it was, and  indulge my fantasies, whatever they are. The work ethic outside the First World economies is frightening. Few country cultures outside the G8 have any appreciation for what has been achieved by members of the western civilization. As the world gets smaller I fear that the lifestyle I enjoy today will be buried under the runaway success of people whose struggles to the top of the food chain have not included an appreciation of ‘lifestyle’ as a prerequisite.

I have an idea that this last few generations of western civilization may  at some point in the future be heralded by historians as a time of temporary and unsustainable decadence, a weak spark of light against the dark tapestry of time. I have decided to be one of the last inhabitants on Planet Earth to have achieved a state of grace, to live without  labor. I’ll be that solitary man standing  on the railway track of progress,  waving my rainbow peace flags  at the onrushing train of whats coming next.

I  have already been unofficially reclassified as a ‘dinosaur’ , statistics now count me as a visible minority in a land my great grandfather claimed from another race who’d seen better days…..such is the hard hand of evolution. I won’t go quietly into the twilight . I plan to run with scissors, crash into pedestrians barriers, navigate backwards down the one way streets of life’s highways…and just  piss people off while they’re on their way to work, to let them  know that I live to spite politically correct opinion, for no other reason than to prove that life is for living and not to walk a straight line of zombie-like responsibility between the womb and the grave.

Roaming troupes of clowns and troubadours used to do my job,  alleviating stress and providing welcome relief from daily drudgery, they sang songs and acted out; clowns didn’t have social media, the internet or gold credit cards. I want to drive my car until I run out of gas, use the rest of my cash to get off the continent, hitch-hike until I run out of road,  jump into the sea, swim for the horizon and discover a new land…..and find love everlasting until a new day dawns. “Rage, rage against the coming of the light”, said Oscar Wilde in his brutally honest way.

I don’t want to grow up…dammit….!  I’d like to think that at some future date parents will frighten their fussing children with stories about my life…..’Once upon a time…..there was a man….who wouldn’t conform……who slept out side….who walked among the stars as if they were hot coals under his feet’…..who never found a home his soul would claim…

‘Once upon a time there was this man who……..?’ Let the new creation myth begin.

In the modern world we are constantly primping for perfection. Nothing can satisfy us for more than a few minutes. We are conditioned to better ourselves from a young and vulnerable age. Our physical appearance is never acceptable, we are either too fat, short, dark, light, coloured, thin, tall, short, poor, unsuccessful or possess some ghastly feature that has to be cut off . Not enough of us take the time to fully understand false advertising, false prophesy, false pretense or the magic of the airbrush artist.

Nothing we do  is ever in vogue long enough to make us whole according to the social norms that guide us through our daily lives. Ours is a society one fad from guilt stricken self immolation. We exist day to day, running blind, but dressed and made up to perfection, without ever stopping to understand who we are as individuals. We are led to believe we were born wrong, strangely different , disfigured, disabled….broken. Our potential and personal perfection is lost in the noise. Aren’t you tired of running…hiding?

What we think about in our own time has come into question. Our minds have become sought after possessions to be fought over by political and mercantile institutions, as if our own thoughts are unimportant, not welcome in their perfect world. I am not advocating a rebuke or rebuttal of the greater planetary systems as described by the gods of the media, that would be a waste of time, they are too well defended and entrenched. Believe it or not I think that manna has it’s function in the world having replaced the hunt as a basic driver of the human instinct to survive. I am  going to do what I think is right for me, and step aside, while the freight train represented by society at large roars by without me onboard.

I’ve decided to like who I am, how I look, how I think and what I have done with my life and if anyone doesn’t like it they can ‘screw off’. I can live without negative people in my space. I find that by first making my own life interesting and jam packed with things that I enjoy, that this has been an effective  recipe to cure loneliness, heartache, depression and the holes in my psychological makeup of every description  that were left behind by the fact of my existence.

Having worked in advertising, I have a fundamental understanding that advertisements are like cartoons, meant for entertainment purposes, not thoughtful consideration. What other people want is not my concern. I have found that my needs of all kinds  have diminished as my sense of self worth and interest in raw life has grown. No type of automobile possession, whether by long term lease or cash payment will grow hair on a bald man or enlarge my penis. The type of persons who would be attracted to me solely on the basis of the number and model type of my possessions are of no interest to me.

The idea that drink, drugs, meditation, possessions, position, posturing, pretense, joining or cosmetic surgery will help you find fulfillment within yourself is a patent fallacy. All such avenues are thinly disguised escapism’s designed for the temporary abeyance of who you are from your current reality, into a void space of someone elses creation, where you have been relegated to unimportant monkey status. Remove yourself from the people and things you don’t like  before you try to deceive yourself with commercially available stop gap measures as being a panacea for what ails you. When you distance yourself from the things and people that make you unhappy, you’ll start feeling better as the negative influence of those persons or things subsides from your memory.

Does all this sound narcissistic and selfish? I am coming from the position that if you can’t make yourself happy and self satisfied, then you have precious little to offer anyone else in terms of the joy of your company and the enlightenment you have earned through your endeavors. A better, happier and more satisfactory life for yourself starts with you….and evolves. In this I think we can change the world one soul at a time, starting with us. This sounds simplistic, but self satisfaction has been undermined by the concept of politically correct guilt and is deeply ingrained, and as such it’s hard to shake the death grip societal ‘norms’ have on us, especially when you try to break free.

We have all be taught to consider everyone elses grief before our own. There are many religions and practices that promise to help ‘stop the internal dialogue’ by redirecting your energy elsewhere. I don’t accept that you should run from yourself, and therefore I suggest a sea-change in the way we relate to societal expectations. I’m saying “Go ahead, be happy with who you are”….”What are you saving your happiness for?”….”spend some of that joy on yourself”. I’m off to enjoy the last days of summer sunshine. What about you?

This is an insight to my perfectly satisfactory imperfect world.

Last night I dreamt that I was flying through the air, high above the world, tangled and bound  in a wrapping of shredded sheet music. Black chords, long stave’s and striped bars tripped off the pages left behind me like a ladder to nowhere;  folded flying melodies unsung  in  the wake of my passing.

The Earth below always looks the same to me when I fly my nocturnal flights,   bold greens, a yellow palette knifes edge of perfect fields and round rolling hills topped with tousle headed trees that stand alone on each hillock like solitary sentries. I  see a  a tapestry demarcated with sinewy black serpentine rivers  like sparkling eels  slithering over the meandering landscape where gravity has no reign. I have seen this same landscape since I accidentally discovered astral travel as a child. Something about it has called me ever since.

I have a feeling that it may be a vision of an ancestral land  my body yearns to return to,  the creation place where I will  plant my bones. I wonder sometimes if it is an image of Valhalla, the Nordic spirit land of my sky-fathers hovering above my lost tribe of Viking warriors,  appearing only in the minds of those who have been chosen. My spirit world manifests as uninhabited by those of the original flesh, I am alone among the spirits. Wherever it may be, it is an unwavering  archetype  from deep within in my genetic configuration that rests fixed and unchanging inside my ancient amygdala, my lizard brain .

When I fly this way the sun is neither risen nor setting against an endless cloudless sky. I  inhabit a world of perpetual twilight. The Earth is always the focus of my flight-sight when  astral -traveling takes me  to this alternate plane. Perhaps my unconscious soul seeks something not found among the stars and why they hold no interest. In my heart and mind I am temporal, earth bound and restless. In this ethereal world I am  martial and fit, in my dreams I am fearless. In my dreams I cast no shadow as I pass overhead, my energy originates on the surface of the sun, forming only as falling rain and primary colours against a featureless sky.

I heard a regular trilling. I  imagined  fingers stretching along the wide mouth of a concert piano in perfect scale. The two halves of myself passing into one another created a moment of temporary flux, where I paused between  worlds, and I rested. My eyes fluttered open , first one, then the other, the dream world disappeared and re-emerged as something more familiar, except for the tactile residue of fleeting impressions left behind by the night-travel.

A cool breeze wafted through my bedroom window, the air slipping under the gauze drapery like a sultry intruder who lifted her skirt to tantalize me as it passed beneath the folds.  Piano music floated out into the air from the apartment of the concert pianist  living next door. She had begun practicing, stretching , reminding her hands that they were skilled beyond blessing. It was her time.

It was  ten o’clock on a Monday morning. I had overslept and languished in bed. I  gathered myself, letting the spirit of the day enter and fill me until I was satisfied. My lower body was loosely wrapped in  silky soft  maroon sheets which after their last use had been tightly packed  in Bangkok.  Trisha had only laid them on the bed the night before. They had released their exotic essence into the night and into my heart.

The cloth smelled of the jasmine and dust of our old apartment, of everything so familiar.  I lay there and drifted in and out of sweet memories, the kind that set your mind and body on disonant courses. For a time I remained in a floating world, relishing that state of living on both sides of a dream, and listened to the music.

I’m always looking for material metaphors. I’m a great believer in synchronicity. I have always found it wonderful when having realized that something I did, was doing,  or caused to be done in the moment or distant past has come around to lend a meaningful relevance in the here and now, or begins to affect someone whose life-force has enjoined the same sphere as my own. In my second novel ‘The Enablers’ I toyed with the theory of a 1950’s physicist who proved mathematically that we live in a multidimensional universe, with certain people uniquely tuned in on the altered states existing all around us. It is our personal  bio-electric signal vibrating, something  generated by each and every one of us, that holds the key to inter-dimensional travel and insight into the universal mystic.

I don’t wonder that cross-boundary travelers have  influenced my decisions from time to time. I have met beings who physically resembled humans but had no absolute hold on this reality. They appear with a single purpose and act in simple and childlike ways as undeveloped characters who don’t reflect the complexity around them, as if they dropped as innocents from the sky. I now recognize that several of the spirits I have encountered were manifestations brought about by specific energy signals that were emanating from me and the place I was in at the time of their appearance.

There are geographic places of great energy, this has always been known, and these special places shift continuously. When a ‘sensitive’ human accidentally aligns himself/herself with one of these shifting energy vortice’s or gateway’s, where the energy separation is compatible with the persons own energy signal and thin enough to penetrate, then communication with other dimensions is not only possible, it is highly probable. I know  I have crossed over many times and have experienced shifts of time and space. And as I have explained I have encountered many beings who have ‘visited’ our world.

These beings had always appeared and disappeared at very specific moments in time, at times of high energy, as if they had known my life was in flux, at a crossroads where either direction was possible but only one was preferable, and I needed a nudge to put me back on the wavy lines of some nebulous master plan that has never been clear to me. When I was young I explained this knowledge of inter-dimensional phenomena away with the practical explanations of an inexperienced mind as being borne out of psychological drama or the intruding element of past mistakes in a ragged confluence of random events. I’m not so sure anymore.

Far from being a frightened child I now willingly engage any mystic event I might encounter. I welcome coincidence and crazy fortune. The beings I meet might appear on park benches and lonely bus stops, might speak in strange languages, I listen with my heart. I have my function keys engaged at all times. I have no idea what life will bring. My universe is  a raging river that has flooded the broad plains of contemporary civilization. I never know where I’ll wake up. As they say in Spanish “Estoy Listo”…I am ready.