Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pulling an Adventure

Here's the latest from the world of Thistle Penn...

And just like that, he disappeared under the surface. Like a thought trailing off into oblivion... like a raindrop into the ocean. Blip. He was gone.

The mind is a magical place, that’s for sure. One moment you can be cooking up something spectacular, and the next moment, the phone rings, and you are redirected to another track. Multi-tasking doesn’t solve the problem—you just end up doing several things at seventy percent completion. Seventy percent of quality. And that’s if you’re good at it.

Thistle could disappear, like a homeless character can. Nobody would stop and ask him for any spare change he might offer, even though a few minutes with him could greatly change one’s life. He’d drift off, under a bridge or overpass, find a crack in reality, and be gone. And no one would miss him.

At least, so it seemed.

One day, while alone with himself, near the tracks on the east side of town, he gazed for hours at a weed as it danced in the wind and arched and stretched in the sun. He watched for hours as the conditions changed from cool and overcast to warm and sunny, but breezy, as was so common for this climate in which he found himself.

The weed eked out its existence without assistance. It didn’t have a cardboard sign with a list of qualifications and requests: Vietnam Veteran. Hungry. Anything Helps. God Bless.

Sure, the sun assisted with energy to grow and process things, and the rains when they came assisted with the living of the weed. And the soil provided nutrition and anchored the weed’s roots.

But there wasn’t a kilowatt hour being metered and a bill being administered. There wasn’t a rain gauge measuring the weed’s “consumption” of elements that had been in existence long, long before societies were organized and structured.

Thistle knew in his heart that he was a weed to his society. Something that the greater populace would rather pluck from the ground and toss in the garbage, thus beautifying the societal landscape.

But no amount of Round-Up would extinguish the burning hope in his soul.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Big Sure

So I signed up to go to the Children's Book Writing Conference in December this year. It's in Big Sur, a magical place, no doubt. (For Sur(e)...)

I will go whether or not I am gainfully employed by then.

I am really looking forward to it. Been working on my children/young adult's book quite a lot this year. Really launched into "making it real" after a writer's conference in Big Sur this past January with SARK. That was a great time, and I think I even wrote about it on this blog... ah, yes. SARK Retreat For easy reference purposes...

I'm afraid that my book is a category buster. It's like a fairy tale, but it's not poetry and it is more than a 1000 words. I'm illustrating it myself, although I recently solicited the assistance of a friend who brings a different, "engineer's" focus to the project. Together, I hope we can produce a good mock-up for me to take with me to the conference.

I realize that the piece is non-conforming to industry standards, and that is why I'm leaning more towards self-publishing anyway. But the conference is a great opportunity to learn more about the industry first hand, with writers, publishers, illustrators, agents, candlestick makers-- all right there. No joke about the candlestick maker-- there's a great candle shop down the road from where the conference will be held. In fact, my wife and I got our Unity candle there more than 12 years ago, before we were married.

But anyway. Big Sur is a magical place. And I plan on letting it magic away at me this next December. And at that time, there will be another reporting of inspiration and love and all things writing. I just know that I will meet some amazing folks and will have new directions to explore. And I might even have a near-to-finished product/project.

Meantime, I wanna get back to my other two books. Recounting Greece, my memoir of discovery of my bipolar illness; and my work of fiction, Primordial Stewage, featuring my main character, Thistle Penn. I will be asking any and all of you to prod me along and be co-contributors in the development of these projects.

Thistle was created while I was still in college, some twenty years ago. He's been following me around, making himself known to me, at times less subtle than others... He's gonna get his story written, and it's gonna be written by me. That has been made plain. He's a patient one, yes, but he's hell-bent and heaven sent when it comes to telling stories. And he's gonna be heard, if it's the last act I complete on this earth.

So he says.

So I don't know why I have to do things this way-- draw everything out over years and years, spreading project upon project like layers of tracing paper in the animator's hand. I guess I'm just a multi-tasker after all.

So stay tuned, stay involved, help if you can. It should be an interesting year.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

If You Can Read This…

When was the first time you realized that you could read?

Another installment inspired by the Journal Jar.

I can’t remember the first time I realized that I could read. Maybe that’s because my mother had started me on books so early in my life that I don’t remember learning to read. I just remember always reading. Perhaps I hadn’t learned how to remember at the time that I learned to read.

No joke. My mom enrolled me in a book club when I was a toddler. What does that word mean, age wise? Toddler equals preschool, right? Pre-preschool, in fact, am I right? Anyway, Mom got me a mail order book once a week or once a month, (again, I don’t remember) for a few years. We may still have a handful of them somewhere.

What are your memories about learning to read? Do you have them? I’d love to hear about them.

Pan to here and now– my once voracious appetite for reading has really subsided in recent years. I’ve heard that it’s attributable to my bipolar disorder. That it’s common for those with bipolar to have difficulty reading, that attention and comprehension suffer. This has been my experience, that I have difficulty starting, continuing, and completing books. It’s been a long time since I found a book that made me read it as fast as I could. I miss having a book grab me and drag me through it, needing to know how it all plays out.

But I still love books. I have a ton to choose from. I continue to find more. I have them on my wishlists. Heck, I’m even writing a couple of them!

I realize right here, right now, that I can still read. And I have more time on my hands these days… perhaps I will work on my reading skills.

I go to the library tomorrow, perhaps. Will work on my “kids” book. And will get closer to making it real.

As any of you fine people can do, and will do once you make up your mind to do so. Don’t let excuses defer you– you can do it! So do it!

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Comfy Seat

Gotta write something. Keep the pump primed. Keep the momentum positive.

Take flight.

Got new tires for my truck today. Gonna take flight. Gonna ride over the grade, go valley to valley. And I’m taking the technicolor loveseat.

Got the shakes pretty bad tonight. Making typing really difficult. My thumb bats at the other one repeatedly, spasming over the spacebar. It’s quite distracting. Is it the Lithium? The Zoloft? The Buspirone? The Abilify? All of the above?

This life as a medicated bipolar ain’t so super. Sure, it beats being hospitalized. But I am constantly feeling around in myself, for my sense of “normalcy”. What can I expect on a regular basis when it comes to my behavior, my moods, my perspective on life as we know it?

Hard to say. Haven’t got an answer for that yet. Gonna have to paddle the best you can. Don’t know if you wanna fight the current or let it take you where it will… I guess it’s up to you. As long you take your medicine, that is.

They don’t have answers, these “experts” that we consult. They have maybe’s and perhaps’s, suggestions to try like new clothing. So far, nothing fits, and what does is uncomfortable.

So. I’m writing because it’s what I do. I am a writer. I leave notes wherever I go. Or I take notes wherever I go.

I’ve gotten away from who I am as I have gained experience in this circus we call “life”. I have tried to “make a living” and put my writing on hold because that was the advice that was predominantly given to me– get a job, a good-paying job, and then you’ll have time to work on whatever you want. Financial security breeds success.

But it didn’t quite work that way. Somewhere, on my way to happy retirement, I got pregnant with the idea that I need to write and write hard. I had to drop out and take care of this nascent life. It needs my undivided attention.

So anyway. I’m writing my way through the next several moments in my life, where I’m writing about what I’m planning on writing about. I need to get back to describing the technicolor loveseat.

Okay. So. My great-Uncle Tony was a music aficionado. He had a room in his house devoted entirely to listening to his record collection. His collection was so large that even with him listening to it daily, for a few hours on average, it would take him almost two and a half years to get through the entire collection.

In his music room he had an early edition pair of BOSE 901 speakers, along with some state of the art stereo equipment, and the technicolor loveseat. The loveseat has a pattern that defies description; It’s psychedelic on the one hand, but its color scheme is conservative– red, white, black & blue. But to sit on this beckoning piece of furniture is sweet symphony… So peaceful, so comforting, so soft.

When my Dad’s uncle passed away, I inherited the loveseat, and have had it with me ever since. I don’t know how many years Uncle Tony had it, although by looks it was probably born in the sixties or early seventies. I took it with me to college my sophomore year, and introduced it to a greater cross-section of the world.

That was more than 2o years ago that I packed it up and drove halfway cross-country to go to school in Grinnell, Iowa. And now it’s time to pass the mantle.

I’m going to take it to Escalon, for my nephews to get use of it as they move into their “new” place. I’ll be helping them move the bulk of their stuff from Riverbank.

Time for the loveseat adventure to expand to another generation. So long, soft friend.