Archive for March, 2013

The Other Is Why I Write: Two Posts In One

Posted in life with tags , , , , , , , , on March 30, 2013 by cueball

The Other is the thing that interests me most in art.  The literary characters I have the most fondness for and interest in are the ones that did not quite fit the place where they found themselves.  Something temperamentally placed them just outside the expected norms for a person like them (Joe Christmas).  Or their point of view was slightly askew as compared to the others around them and that set them apart (Nick Carraway).

In literature, The Other, is a common trope.  The author will sometimes throw this person into a situation or a social setting as a catalyzing agent to have them upset the apple cart.  The Other is also used as the point of view character who can comment on this social setting.  Often times the character does both.

As someone who is not quite right for situations and who doesn’t quite fit into expected roles, this concept has always been of special interest.  For me it has been more Nick Carraway and less Joe Christmas.  My life has been more intellectual study and entertainment by the differences and less existentially isolated.

I have been a part of social circles and worlds, but even as I have been part of them I have sat outside of them.  I have been inside the circus, but have stayed apart of it by being entertained and bemused by what is happening around me without taking part in it completely.  Maybe that is a fault of mine.  Maybe not allowing myself to become a part of what ever world I inhabited at the time is how I’ve ended up here.  That isn’t necessarily good or bad.  I won’t know that until the game is over and the outcome is decided.

♠♠♠

Why do you write?  I have been thinking about that question for a few weeks now.  I don’t write expecting a lot of money.  (To anyone with a magazine or publishing company:  This isn’t to say I don’t want to make living doing it. I will write for money.  Tweet or email me.) I certainly don’t write to be famous.  I write because there are things only I can say and stories only I can tell and I want those out there.

You can tell the difference between someone who is writing a story that they have to tell and someone writing for a paycheck.  By stories you have to tell I don’t necessarily mean an overwrought piece of fiction trying to solve all the problems of the world.  It doesn’t have to be some earth-shattering philosophical treatise or genre changing novel.  I just mean a good story well told that only that author could tell that way.

I love sports and I love good writing about sports, so during the week I read a lot of sports columns.  Unfortunately, for every ten columns I read, at least two will be hackery.  By hackery I mean the writer is obviously taking a position he doesn’t believe or the lazy position on a subject just to get page hits and to fulfill his contractually obligated word count for the day.  For a sports columnist of certain age this leads to the inevitable once a year “I hate soccer” column.  It is recyclable and easy and will lead to many page hits from angry soccer fans.

Coming up with something new to say in 2 or 3 columns a week is hard, but you have to have enough pride in your work and respect for your readers to at least try.  Maybe that’s just me.  A guy who isn’t a professional writer hoping the people who are respect how lucky they are to do what they do.

My first of many rants on…………

Posted in Uncategorized on March 29, 2013 by eightball

When Ryan and I started this blog..we were going to write about anything we were interested in..it would be mainly about sports…but we were sure music, spirits..etc…would creep in also ….well…as with life, things changed.  I didn’t blog as much as I promised and Ryan began using this blog as a tool to get back to who he is…a writer..and I applaud him for that; he is a better person when he writes.  For me..as a guarded and reserved person…I guess I was too worried about putting “it” out there.  Well, today I heard a song that I have loved since my first listen and it sparked a series for me to write about over the next weeks.

When the Eagles had their comeback they released a song called, “Get over it!”  I fell in love with this song like I have never loved a song before. The song talks about people getting over their petty problems that become their excuses for why they are not accomplishing their goals.  I love the line that states, “I’d love to find your inner child and kick its little ass.”   These people play the victim to a point that it is their way of getting through life.  See…as happy as I am, I can…at times…be a malcontent.  But not about my life…but about other people complaining about their own lives.

With every passing day I see people’s post on Facebook  about…”it’s not my fault”…. “my life would be better if only this”… “if we would have elected/not elected (blank) …. your life would be better” or “if this law would change, life would be better.”

News flash people…..life is what it is…your life.  You can decide if you are going to be content or not…you control you.  My life sucked under George W. Bush…and it was great under George W.  Bush…it has sucked under Obama…and it is now the best it has ever been under Obama.  AND NEITHER BUSH NOR OBAMA HAD A THING TO DO WITH MY HAPPINESS.

If tomorrow homosexuals are able to get married….you know what….my life will not change a bit.  My lord will not stop me from getting into heaven if my gay friends are able to get married.  My first rule in life is that it is not my place to judge.  If you are not hurting someone by your actions….I don’t give your actions a second thought.  I have enough on my plate to deal with than to worry about your issues.  Recently it was reported that a new poll has come out that shows more Americans support gay marriage than ever before.  To be honest, I think most Americans really don’t care either way would be a better way to put it.  Homosexuals…don’t give your straight friends that claim to “support” gay marriage that much credit…they really don’t deserve it.  Their lives aren’t going to be affected if you are able or not able to get married.  As I have told one of my oldest friends on earth, that also happens to be gay, just remember…your homosexuality is part of who you are…it is not ALL you are.  Just as with heterosexuals…don’t let a part of your life define ALL of who you are as a person….by doing this you will not let anyone else define your life for you.

But my gay/liberal friends don’t need to get on their soapboxes, I have heard some of you be very ugly as well.f  Also…if you are not able to get married…or at minimum to join into civil union. Which in my opinion is what I agree with over marriage. (just so you will see that I have had the guts to put my view out there)  If you want people to respect your freedoms…YOU HAVE TO DEFEND OTHER PEOPLE’S FREEDOMS TO HAVE RIGHT TO HAVE VIEWS THAT ARE THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE OF YOUR’S. YOU HAVE TO DEFEND THESE FREEDOMS AS STRONGLY AS YOU DEFEND YOUR OWN.

My rant is not finished ….so be prepared for a rant on people wearing a jersey when it comes to politics.  But I have to stop now because Ryan taught me that if you go over 500 words in a blog you start to lose people…and I am at 700+.

Regards,

Terry

Faulkner Is…

Posted in books, life with tags , on March 29, 2013 by cueball

After I made the last post I went to wash dishes and it hit me, who the basketball comparison for Faulkner is:  Moses Malone.  They spent a very short period of time in college before going pro and still made the Hall of Fame (or won Nobel Prize).  Boom.  Done.

Who Would Faulkner Be?

Posted in books, life, music, rock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 29, 2013 by cueball

This was the moment I trusted my own taste.

The radio in my mother’s car only got AM radio.  It was the factory install on a 1973 Chevrolet Laguna and it would become my car in high school, with a much better radio.  Anyway, the car only got AM stations so my first musical memories are of John Cougar Mellancamp, Eddie Rabbit, and Juice Newton.  Then, the only FM station we could get at home with any clarity was a top 40 station.  The only other music I really listened to at home was my parent’s 60s and 70s R & B.  That tells you where all the musical likes I have alt. country, 80s pop music, old school R & B developed.  Over the years I added rap and 60s music to my musical loves.

However, that all became OK with those first moments of Vernon Reid’s guitar open to “Cult of Personality” on the Arsenio Hall Show.  Seeing four black guys on stage playing hard rock/heavy metal told me, “OK, you’re not strange.  It makes sense now.”

The bands that made me who am goes like this, Living Colour, Fishbone, The Black Crowes, Jimi Hendrix, Uncle Tupelo/Son Volt/Wilco.  These and the bands that have joined them in the forefront of my musical tastes all have in thing in common:  They are their own thing and moved out on their own limb to do what they wanted, damn the consequences.

The Mount Rushmore of music for my life is Living Colour, Fishbone, Jeff Tweedy/Jay Farrar (I can’t separate them), Jimi Hendrix.

What about the books?  Hmmm.  What books and authors made me fall in love with words?  First, Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time.  That is the first book I can truly remember reading and being affected by as a kid.  After that the next thing that really affected me was Red Badge Of Courage and then A Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.  It was soon after that I found The Great Gatsby.  Then I read Dubliners and that changed how I saw short stories.

What would my writer’s Mount Rushmore be?  This is where I’ve changed.  The music is still important to me, but the books are more important to me.  I have recently gone a binge of dead white guys.  Particularly of the American kind.  Fitzgerald, Hemingway, and Faulkner, plus a lot of Shakespeare has been in my reading queue for the last couple of years.  Then there is James Joyce.  Probably my least read of this group, but the one who has affected me most.  For whatever reason, Joyce has become a romantic figure in my estimation of writers.  The guy who toiled endlessly to write how he wanted to write regardless of what the public or the establishment thought.  He toiled endlessly through obscurity and poverty to write one of the greatest pieces of art to come out of the 20th century.

I don’t think of writers in terms of Mount Rushmore.  I think of them more as basketball players.  Who are the basketball comparisons for my favorite writers?  Shakespeare is Bill Russell.  He has all the rings and helped create this world of writers.  Hemingway is Michael Jordan.  Maybe he was not the most naturally talented one, but the one who wanted greatness the most and worked everyone into the ground to get there.  Fitzgerald is someone like David Thompson.  The one who did have all the natural talent, but the drugs and the alcohol just got in the way too often.  Joyce is someone like Connie Hawkins.  Someone whose talent got its most shine outside the popular glare of most of the sports world, but whose legend grows with each passing year.

Who would Faulkner be?  That is a good question.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about a lot of this in the recent weeks as I get ready for Camp NANOWRIMO starting on Monday.  The questions of influence and style ramble around in my head while I’m trying to go to sleep with the countdown looming.  That is partially why this post is so rambling and kind of disjointed.  Not enough sleep. Off to do some more pre-work and to set up my writing schedule for the coming week.

Late Nights, Bourbon, and Self-Reflection

Posted in life with tags , , , on March 29, 2013 by cueball

I have been avoiding writing these past few days.  I usually write first thing in the morning, but I’ve been finding reasons not to recently.  (This morning I needed to get a new tire for my car.  A 1.5 inch bolt in your tire is not a good thing.  Today doesn’t count.)  The reason, I’m afraid to fail.

The one thing I’ve wanted to be in my life (after wanting to be neurosurgeon, constitutional lawyer, and pro soccer player) is a writer.  The illogic goes, if try to write professionally and fail I will disappoint myself and never get over it.  However, if I don’t try I can’t fail nor can I disappoint myself.  Plus, I get to talk about how great I could have been if I had just tried.  Neat trick.  The thing that I know intellectually is that no matter what, I will get through it.  I have proven that to myself in much worse situations.

Not trying is akin to not living.  Not trying gets you exactly what you put into it.  What stops people from at least trying is not just fear, but also comfort.  Mine comes from fear of disappointment, but others have a fear of losing their comfort level, the things that they know.  Trying something new changes you and puts you in a place you are unfamiliar with, and many people are more afraid of that then they are failure or disappointment.

I don’t know which is worse.  Fear is paralyzing.  It keeps you from moving forward, backwards, or sideways.  Familiarity and comfort sap your energy and causes you existential crisis.  At least the existential crisis makes you engage your mind to figure out what is wrong.  Fear makes you do nothing.

So, how do I cure it?  First I try to live consciously.  That means being an active participant in your life and not letting things just happen to you.  You make decisions about what is happening and what is going to happen in your life.  It isn’t that everything you do has a purpose, but everything is considered and its consequences weighed.

The second thing I’m going to do will start Monday.  I am participating in the NANOWRIMO April CampNANOWRIMO is the National Novel Writing Month program.  Novel writing month is November, but twice a year the organization holds “camps” for writers to work on whatever they want to with whatever word count they want.  April is the first camp month and I will be writing a novel.  My goal is 50,000 words by April 30.  That is 1600 to 1700 words a day, every day.

This will be one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, and I am looking forward to every moment of it.  I think I can get to the 50,000 words.  Whether this first draft will be any good is a total mystery.  I need to see what it really takes and that I can do this.  The least that I want to gain from this is to come out of this with the confidence that I can write for fun and profit.

I’ll update as the month goes on.  Let’s have fun.

Maybes On A Monday Morning

Posted in life with tags , , , on March 25, 2013 by cueball

I have no idea what to write.  This is a first.  Usually, I can sit down and wrestle 500 words out of some lark of an idea.  This morning, I have nothing.  I don’t know why.  I had a good weekend, with good friends in a place that I love.  Yet, here I am stumped.

Maybe it is that after this weekend I see things differently.  This is what happens when I get out of town for a few days.  I get to see the world and more specifically my life with a different perspective.  Right now, that is really important as I am trying to transition to something and probably somewhere else.

Soon, this will not be my only significant writing during the day.  Besides other blog posts, I am going to participate in Camp NANOWRIMO during the month of April.  This is one of two “camps” the National Novel Writing Month holds.  National Novel Writing Month is November, but I am going to make an early go at writing 50,000 words in the month of April.  That is around 1,600 words a day.  I don’t know when I’m going to sleep, but I feel this is going to be an important step for me in many ways.

I also took the time this weekend to think about where I want to work and where I want to live.  I plan to transition away from my current employer this year and probably also move to a new (or maybe old) city.  City being the operative word.

Maybe my inability to write something scathing about the NCAA is caused by my reintegration into my normal life and routine after a weekend away.  Maybe it is caused by being lost and disappointed by a recent employment opportunity falling through.  Maybe, I just feel crappy on a Monday morning.

Maybe this weekend showed me I’m living someone else’s life.  This one only occasionally feels like mine.  Those occasions usually involve sitting here in front of this computer writing.

My screensaver says, “I may die today.”  It comes from reading Zen philosophy and the idea that you should live your life as if you may die at any moment.  You should make sure that if you were to die today that you left a life worth leaving behind with few regrets and fewer people to hate you.

For a long time I lived life as if the road went on forever, but as the years have added up and the chances started to dwindle I noticed that I was not content (happy is momentary, content is a more permanent state).  So, I started reading and writing every day, to prepare for something.  I try to write about the things I care about and why I care about them.  It is hard to do that when your full-time job isn’t one that asks you to use the actually skills you have and in some ways asks you not to use them just so you can get through the day.

The funny thing is, some people I work with may read this and not take that last sentence too well.  I’ve learned you can’t worry about that too much.  One of the things you have to learn in life is how to balance your happiness with that of others.  My happiness lies in this, the writing, the expressing of thoughts and ideas.

Maybe things will change quickly.  Maybe they won’t, but one way or another, things in my life will change.

Beer Soaked Thoughts During A Long Weekend

Posted in life with tags , , , on March 23, 2013 by cueball

It is always good to be in the presence of old friends especially for an extended period.  People always fall into the old familiar patterns like comfortable jeans.  The more beautiful thing is how the positions are often the same, but things shift and change just slightly as everyone gets older and moves to different places in their lives.  Marriages, divorces, kids, new jobs, promotions all change how people see themselves in their real lives and how they relate to each other in their familiar past lives.

The sarcastic old jokes don’t get old, but they take on an air of nostalgia and occasional wistfulness.  Not sadness, but a feeling of things past, not forgotten, and forever loved.  These old patterns aren’t some need to relive the past, but a comforting way to remember your former younger self.  That point in life when almost all things were possible and your life was all ahead of you.

The older you get, the closer you get to the end then you are to the beginning, the more you need to remember what you used to be and what you thought you could become.  The familiar jokes the stories of the great times had are all just a way to stay young.  Not in a sad stunted way, but in a celebration of former lives and potential that may still exist.

This feeling is often manifested during the extended family dinner.  Usually some banquet of bad food, beer and shit talking that only old good friends can participate in for an extended period of time.  The joy of insulting and being insulted by people who have seen you in your best and your worst yet still want to call you friend is unmatched in any other part of life.  Family is blood.  They have to like you or at least deal with you on a regular basis.  Friends choose you and you choose them.

That makes the bond different and in some cases tighter then families.  You have to decide every day to keep friends in your life.  You have to choose to accept their faults and hope they accept yours.  That is friends are often more important to me than my family.  That is not to say my family isn’t important to me.  The events of the past few years has taught me how important and how loving family actual is.

However, my friends, my true friends, have been just as constant as my family and often have expected more from me then my family.  That is the beauty of the friends.  They have seen you at your best and your worst and since they love you they expect more of the best always.  They don’t always demand it vocally, but they demand it none the less.

If your life is successful, on those dark nights of the soul when you are trying to decide what went wrong you should think of the people who know you and want you to be successful more then you should think of all the shit flowing through your life.  Thinking of how they believe in you will make you continue on.  Those people will keep you going even when you don’t think you can succeed yourself.