Can You Hear the Quiet?

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I’ve been doing some serious thinking about the world lately.

Can you hear the quiet?

This serious thinking isn’t a new thing for me. This bout of thinking began with the drug induced suicide of a rock star. I’m referring to it as drug induced because we’ll never really know and the fact is that those kinds of drugs can cause those kinds of thoughts, so, I think, in this case, give it the benefit of the doubt. Still though, I couldn’t figure out what it was about it that bothered me so much, I mean, I didn’t know Chris Cornell personally. I realized that it was that it felt like something of a betrayal, not that he owed any of us anything. But it felt like he was fifty-two years old and he had everything, he’d made it through when many of his contemporaries hadn’t, and, how dare he bail out, this icon of my generation. But then, remembering, it was probably the drugs. Then Powers Boothe died, but, he died in his sleep at sixty-eight years old and the general consensus seemed to be, “Good show!” Then a bomb went off at a concert, where kids where watching a former Nickelodeon star turned pop-princess perform, the bomb killed twenty-two people, the youngest victim of the Manchester Attack was eight years old. Then Greg Allman died. Then it was June. This week the President of the U.S. withdrew from the Paris Agreement on climate change, and everyone lost their nut over it. If you’ve not read the agreement or anything about it and you’re interested in having an informed opinion, you should read it, and try to understand what it says and means, that’s my advice on having an opinion, take the time to educate yourself to figure what you actually think about whatever it is. At this point in the proceedings the internet became incredibly noisy.

Can you hear the quiet?

I got to thinking about some things, I’d been thinking about some things anyway.

Everyone is talking. No one is listening. Everyone has an opinion. Despite that, the first thing that I saw when I logged onto facebook was a post that read, “FUCK NO. Not again.” I haven’t read all the details of the latest incident in London. I’d gone out, to get some air, to get some quiet. To think. Despite my having gone out, and despite my sharing my thoughts on any number of things in the last day or so, this latest attack in London still occurred. Despite the multitude of opinions and thoughts offered up by everyone about everything, these things still happened, and they still happen.

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Can you hear the quiet?

I know that venting and opinionating and ranting and all of that, can be a great stress reliever. You read this stuff, you hear about it, you’ve got something to say because it’s getting to you or everyone, you’ve been sitting in traffic for too long, or dealing with rude people or you feel helpless and powerless and it seems like the world is going to hell in a hand-basket and enough already! ENOUGH! The internet gets very loud with people saying, in their own ways, “Enough.” I understand that. I do. I’ve been sucked into that storm many times. It can make it tough to hear yourself think.

Are you free?

Are you a free person, a person who enjoys freedom? Is your mind free, have you freed your mind?

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i before e except after c. i didn’t make this one. but, still…

What does that even mean?

I was thinking about the Terracotta Warriors, also known as The Terracotta Army. Qin Shi Huang ascended the throne at the age of thirteen and would become the first Emperor of China. The Terracotta Warriors are life-size sculptures depicting his army, his whole army. Each one is different, they were not cast from a single mold. They were buried with him, along with many treasures, in order to protect him in the afterlife. Qin Shi Huang believed that “Yes, you can take it with you” and he believed it, they believed it, so completely that he replicated his entire army in these terracotta statues, more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots, 520 horses, cavalry horses, as well as many other figures and statues. The scope of it is truly stunning, completely breathtaking, to contemplate.

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stock photo, internet

Here’s a link. And on Wikipedia.

My fascination with this subject isn’t new. I happen to have a Terracotta Warrior of my very own. I should name him. I’ll think about that.

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What I got to thinking was about how Qin Shi Huang had the full conviction of his beliefs, or, did he have his army replicated you know, just in case? What about Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, all the treasures sealed in their tombs?

Different people, peoples, believe all different sorts of things.

This got me thinking about the Ganges River. Do you know about the Ganges River? The Ganges River is sacred to Hindus, present day. Hindus believe that having at least their ashes thrown in the Ganges will end the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, allowing them to attain eternal liberation of the soul. Many unburned remains find their way into the Ganges, that is, the recently deceased are regularly, ritually, thrown into the Ganges. It is one of the most polluted rivers in the world. You can read about this, and you would look at it, and you would think that the solution, to begin with, seems simple. But, they believe what they believe, completely. The Most Polluted Rivers In the World.

Don’t litter.

Some believe that there is probably life on other planets.

This is where I’m not saying what I think about “science” that goes tripping off to Mars while we’ve got all kinds of problems right here on Earth.

Does me knowing about any of this, Does me getting stressed out about any of these things, does it do any good? Does one more voice added to the din do anything other than raise the level of noise pollution? The other day I took one of those just for fun quizzes about “What’s your purpose in life?” and it said that my purpose is to achieve world peace. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say, probably, that isn’t “really” my gig in life, and that the quiz came up with that answer based on information gleaned from my having shared a picture of Sandra Bullock as “Miss Congeniality” with the caption “And world peace.” Isn’t it enough to just take care of our own families, our own jobs, houses, cars, lives? ( Don’t litter.)

Can you hear the quiet?

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So there’s this story about this woman, about her whole family, and how they went into the Siberian Wilderness during Stalin’s reign, and how at 71 years old, she has lived in the wilderness all of her life. The world has gone on, but, her lack of knowledge about what has gone on in the world hasn’t prevented her from living, that’s her reality. You can read that here.

Well, you’ve got to be informed. You’ve got to know what’s going on in the world! You’ve got to CARE! How can you can not care!

Are you free? There are a lot of people in the world who don’t pay any attention to any of the societal uproars and they’re just fine, people who never watch the news, they look outside if they want to know what the weather’s like, live their lives disengaged from the din. I think, in some ways, the internet is a kind of a modern Tower of Babel, and certainly, babble. You’ve got all these people from everywhere in the world able to connect and translate, using their computers, everything into one language, whatever their language is, that makes it all one language, able to read about and know, instantaneously in real-time, right now, if there is a high-speed car chase happening on the other coast, three thousand miles away. News of something that affects them not one bit, something that they can do nothing about, but that the knowledge of adds to, perhaps, depending on how they’re wired, their overall stress and anxiety level. The internet takes us out of the reality of where we are in our own actual present, and takes us into the reality of the world, the internet can make it feel like something that happened on the other side of the world, happened across the street. What that does is, as it effects people, it changes the way that people then go out into the world wherever they are. People are taking that stress from those faraway events into their own lives and then regurgitating it back out into the world, perpetuating stress and discord.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to snap at you. It’s all the bullshit about the Paris Agreement! And some ass-hat celebrity decided to voice another opinion that I don’t agree with!” She said, as she threw her aluminum can into the trash.

Can you hear the quiet?

I’ve made a decision not to watch the news anymore. I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid the infighting that’s going on, whether it’s the Right calling the Left “snowflakes” or the other way around, or just the seemingly endless reposting of “he said this and then…she said this!” it is all fueling the fire, adding to the noise, raising the overall stress level, and exacerbating the strife, except for those who thrive on it and those releasing their own stress ranting, but really, it isn’t doing much of anything else. Is it fake news? On which channel? I’ve made a decision to disengage from the divide and conquer propaganda permeating the world these days. I’m sure I can find something better to do, and be happier doing it.

Also, for anyone who thinks that a person can’t create viable, relevant work or art if they are “out of touch”, disengaged from the noise, and/or so on, I’m just going to say google up famous recluses and you’ll find many a list of some folks who did all right going their own way and thinking for themselves. I’m not saying I’m a recluse, just not interested in the bullshit, nor in the misconception that it is necessary to the creation of viable art.

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Many, many, years ago, I lived in the desert, for eighteen months. Now, this isn’t about the desert itself, and that is very much part of the point, though the desert, at that time, was the conduit for this experience and learning. The population where I was at, at that time, was about 1,200 people, spread out over a pretty wide area. There was no cable t.v. A few people had satellite dishes and this was back when that meant the huge satellite dish installed at ground level next to the house. You could get bad reception on one or two channels if you had a decent antenna, generally speaking, it wasn’t worth the trouble. During that eighteen months, the only television that I watched was, when it was airing, during the season, a weekly half-hour comedy show, at someone else’s house, and their reception was equally bad. Never watched the news, I don’t recall the television ever really being on. Trying to get a radio station to tune was an equally sketchy endeavor, though sometimes, late at night, I could get KLOS out of Los Angeles to tune in for a couple of hours. I used to borrow my brother’s cassette player, at length, to listen to tapes. We, I, had no idea what was going on in the rest of the world, no idea at all. If they’d dropped the bomb, we would have seen the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else everywhere else who had watched the news every night and spent every day all stressed out about something that they would have ultimately as much control over and foreknowledge of, as someone who hadn’t been paying attention at all.

What I was thinking was how quiet and peaceful that time was, in general. I thought, well, yeah, but there weren’t a lot of people out there in the desert. While that’s some of it, that isn’t the kind of quiet I’m talking about. There was an absence of external influence from the media, from popular culture, from society. What you find, also, is that you still manage to hear about the bigger things that go on in the world, through the periphery. It creates a peaceful mind, and a feeling of being very present in one’s surroundings. Is that “out of touch” with reality? Who’s reality? I’m free not to watch the news. I’m free to disengage. You, ostensibly, can turn off the television anywhere, disengage from the “noise” wherever you are. I think that’s part of the problem with the world right now, we’re not, as individuals, obligated to take all that in. We’re not obligated to participate in the noise, especially if it does not serve us well. Some people thrive on it all. There’s that aphorism that says to take care of yourself, to nurture and feed your own soul, because what can you give if you haven’t taken care of you? How much more peaceful would the world be, if each person were at peace with themselves?

I don’t know, but I can begin with me. If someone drops the bomb, I’m sure I’ll still see the mushroom cloud, same as everyone else. In the meantime, I’ll be happier, and that’s at least one person that I can improve the quality of life for. ( Really, don’t fucking litter.)

Teri

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i before e except after c.

Internet User Stats.

About 4 billion people in the world are NOT online and do not have internet access. Current world population estimated at 7.5 billion people. Between 600 million and 1 billion people do not have access to clean drinking water.

Man mows his lawn as a tornado looms in the background, really. Because you can’t control the weather, but you can mow your lawn.

It Is Still Beautiful. Chris Cornell.

Grunge is the music that my generation created, whether the label of “grunge” is one that was met with approval or acceptance or not. Passionately philosophically divested in many ways from the heavy metal and “pretty” hair bands and glam bands of the heyday of “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” of previous generations, the “heavy” in “Grunge” was born not only of a complete love of music, but of an emotional intensity extracted from a dissatisfied, sometimes bored, sometimes angry, raw, emotion, that infested not only the musical content itself, but the lyrics, which range from the poignantly poetic, the depressed and angry, to the sarcastic and sardonic, to the socially aware. Drawing on influences from both the punk sound and the likes of Black Sabbath, Grunge was music that was, and is, awake. Grunge said that whatever propaganda it was that the world was selling, they weren’t buying it, because it “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

“People were wearing flannel here long before grunge came out. It’s cold here. It’s a cheap and effective clothing apparatus for living in the Northwest. I don’t even associate it with a fashion statement or lack thereof. Eddie Vedder did more for flannel than anybody.” ~ Tad Doyle, from Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge by Mark Yam

“I think it’s come to mean alternative (grunge) in a way. I saw a grunge compilation album with a picture of a flannel shirt on the cover, and only half the bands were from Seattle. Now it seems like that word embraces anything that’s popular. You can watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and most of the people in there are wearing their version of grunge fashion. They look like they’re from Seattle, yet it’s an R&B song. So grunge has become an easy marketing reference, a handle for people who aren’t particularly interested in listening to music or what the bands do.” ~ Chris Cornell, Interview Magazine, 1994

What I remember about the beginnings of the stirrings of grunge, as it filtered down from the Pacific Northwest, was that it was only being played on alternative radio, or college stations. I remember hearing something about “grunge” having some claim on flannel shirt wearing and thermals and thinking, “We wear those here too (when it’s cold), well, some of us.” And no one quite being tuned into the fact that what was happening was a huge shift in our culture, this was music that was counter-culture. This was music that cared so much that it couldn’t care anymore what anyone thought of it.  It was a generation rejecting a post 1980’s pretension that it couldn’t sink its teeth into as any kind of a viable reality, certainly not an affordable one, and what’s more, it didn’t want to. “Grunge” didn’t want to be labeled as anything other than music. It took the garage band to the warehouse and then on to the stadium. It wasn’t stoner-hippie music, it was “damn the man” music coming from my generation, a generation that wasn’t sure it was ready for that when only moments before we’d been tuned into Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and Family Ties. Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and Pearl Jam’s “Ten,” broke in 1991, and so did Soundgarden’s “Badmotofinger,” and the tribute album, “Temple of the Dog.” While Nirvana and Pearl Jam stormed the airways into the mainstream with big hits there was something different about the voice of Chris Cornell, from the very beginning. This wasn’t music that was just willing to be dark, this was music that had jumped headlong into the primordial muck to mosh and try to body-surf through the ages. Balls to the wall, Grunge was the ultimate trust-fall. The song that stuck with me, that still stays with me from that time, that I’ve many a night before dinner said/sung, “Well, it’s on the table…” is Temple of the Dog’s, “Hunger Strike.” Then there was “Outshined,” with heavy lines that sound like a dirge and then it melodically takes flight, “it gives me the butterflies…” and traverses the depths again just as quickly.

The soulful anguish, the raw ache, the depth of emotion of Chris Cornell’s voice is at the beginnings of a musical revolution. If Kurt Cobain burned out, and Eddie Vedder became, to some, something of a musical statesman, if Dave Grohl became the embodiment of no-nonsense getting up and getting on with it while still having a good time, Chris Cornell became the poet laureate of grunge. To say now that some of his lyrics are haunting is obvious and redundant, his lyrics and vocals were always haunting.

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“I’m not a lyric writer to make statements. What I enjoy doing is making paintings with lyrics, creating colorful images. I think that’s more what music and entertainment should be.” ~ Chris Cornell

Is fifty-two years old, young? Is fifty-two years old, old?

Fifty-two years old is a person in my peer group, completely my generation. Chris Cornell had gotten sober. I’ve noticed lately that’s kind of a thing with my generation, if you’re of my generation and you partied as a teenager, or in your twenties, drank your way through your thirties, at some point in your forties, you run up against sobriety. In the 80’s we used to sometimes jokingly say, for one reason or another, “It was all the drugs I did in the 60’s.” even though, or because, that’s when we were born. Now, as middle-aged adults, we can say, “Well, it was the 80’s” and that passes as a cultural definition of excess. Grunge was the antidote for the 80’s, a coming of age emotional release, that for many of my generation has ultimately given way to sobriety becoming its own kind of rebellion. I think my generation fluctuates between, “The Power of Positive Thinking,” and “This World Is Hard, Don’t Bullshit Me.” Does it ever turn out the way that any generation thinks that it will? I’m finding my peace through the acceptance of this world is hard, but it is still beautiful.

I’m upset about the death of Chris Cornell in a way that I can’t quite explain. I think that I’ve listened to “I am the Highway” about I don’t even know how many times now, I love that song. I’m looking at the world starkly, that’s what works for me, I’m not a puppies and kittens and rainbows kind of gal, I’m the other side of that coin, even though I am certainly a romantic. The world needs both, balance. But I’m thinking about that too, the world, and what are any of us doing here. Earlier today, I saw a news story about how Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is flattered by those who think he really should run for president, how “popular” an idea that is to some, and that he, The Rock, told GQ magazine that a bid for the White House is “A real possibility.” I don’t think that’s even the least bit funny or amusing. I thought it was deep down sad that that is where the mindset of anyone in this country is at, not that former actors haven’t taken up political office before, and not that I don’t like The Rock, as an actor, and hey, he might even be great at being president if that were to happen, but it’s this idea that celebrity, that “popularity,” rules the day. It’s boneheaded. I was thinking about how, in the same interview from 1994 where Chris Cornell talked about how you could watch a Tony! Toni! Tone! video and see a grunge fashion statement, Kim Thayil said that they had taken to avoiding wearing flannel in order to try to help distance themselves from what had become cliché, because it had become popular in the mainstream. What was the very antithesis of fashion, became fashion, and then the people for whom it was a usual mode of dress, they abandoned it, I was thinking how messed up that is. I was thinking that it’s awful that not even six months into the current administration the fighting between political parties has reached epic proportions and it is beyond pathetic to the point of being ludicrous. Everyone has an opinion, including me, and I thought, that’s it, this is it, the exact moment when I ceased to engage in political discourse, the moment when I heard that The Rock was seriously considering a run at the White House. I thought of the movie “Idiocracy” and of Flint, Michigan, and Brawndo, it’s popular, it’s what plants crave. Everyone seems to be feeling instead of THINKING. Has the world always been this crazy? Has the world always been this dumb? I think, it’s important to remember to find healthy ways to keep from feeling overwhelmed and to disengage from the din.

The last thing that I read about the death of Chris Cornell was that he may have taken an extra Ativan or two. ( Rolling Stone.) Ativan is used to treat anxiety. You never know what someone else is going through. Addiction is a big demon. You think, the guy had everything. But there’s no judging that, for anyone, what is everything? I think, am of a mind, to say, stick around, fight, see what happens, to hell with ’em! But there’s no judging that for anyone either. I don’t want to descend into a discourse on battling dark times, just, there’s no judging what it’s like for any other human who isn’t feeling great or well or thinking clearly. Reports of his last show in Detroit have been that something wasn’t quite right with him. I haven’t watched the concert footage and don’t know if I will. I thought about, wondered about, how far away do those guys get from where they started? How far away does anyone get from who they began as, if they get where they think they wanted to go? It seemed to me that Chris Cornell stayed pretty true.

I made up my mind not to watch anymore news today, I don’t know if I’ll watch any tomorrow either. Am I obligated to? Am I obligated to pay attention to the mess or to be a voice for anything? I straightened up my house, did laundry, made some food. I looked at a catalog, thought about ways to decorate, about how much I like flannel shirts and don’t give a flying fig if they’re fashionable or not, ever. I thought about the irony of the fact that the renaissance of coffee-house culture was spawned at the birth of grunge, the Seattle Sound, and how that gave way to the very corporate Starbucks, something that is the antithesis of everything grunge was about. Grunge, though, outgrew the label, the terminology, and grew into itself from those roots, the bands and musicians that emerged from that era, are the creators of the musical landscape of my generation. I gathered up some cd’s, made a plate of chicken and rice and sat down to write something about it all.

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Chris Cornell’s music has seen me through many a long night writing, and, providing that I have anything to say about it, it will see me through many more seasons to come. An important artistic voice of my generation, a musician, a poet, a soulful singing prince with an intense Jesus gaze and flowing locks, an originator and innovator, of not only musical change but of a cultural shift in awareness, Chris Cornell left us with many gifts, he will be missed. The world is a hard place, but it is still beautiful.

Carry on, my friends. Get up. Go on.

Teri

The Promise Lyrics

If I had nothing to my name
But photographs of you
Rescued from the flames
That is all I would ever need
As long as I can read
What’s written on your face
The strength that shines
Behind your eyes
The hope and light
That will never die

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As we’ve always done

And you said
“The poison in a kiss
Is the lie upon the lips”
Truer words were never shared
When I feel
Like lies are all I hear
I pull my memories near
The one thing they can’t take

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
As you’ve always done

The books still open
on the table
The bells still ringing
in the air
The dreams still clinging
to the pillow
The songs still singing
in a prayer

Now my soul
Is stretching through the roots
To memories of you
Back through time and space
To carry home
the faces and the names
And these photographs of you
Rescued from the flames

And one promise you made
one promise that always remains
No matter the price
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And dare to rise once more
A promise to survive
Persevere and thrive
And fill the world with life
As we’ve always done

Quotes from Chris Cornell.

Why I Write Fiction

Sometime last winter, I posted on a temporary page that I had going on that I was going to write this particular thing, and then I was going to write that thing, and then I was going to write this other thing. Then I looked at it and I thought, but, I don’t do that, I don’t discuss my plans like that, what the heck? It isn’t necessarily about being “secretive” about a current, or upcoming project, it has more to do with being and staying motivated to complete the work. I think that I had previously used the analogy of talking about working out or going to the gym, versus actually working out. As much as I have talked about it, it probably isn’t a secret to anyone paying attention that I have an actual list of books, stories, of my writing to work on, publish, what have you.

But, there’s this other thing that happens, or can happen, sometimes, I had a moment of, “Well, no one is going to stop me from writing this thing, and this thing, and this other thing too! So, there!” And in that, the idea of something of a memoir came up, again, in poems, sort of, not a start to finish autobiography, because I’d already said I wasn’t writing that, but something talking about the back stories behind some early poems. Well, that’s another trap that writers sometimes fall into, the trap of The Cool Idea. The cool idea isn’t necessarily a good idea, or a smart one. So, I’ll always write poems, but, and I’ll say it again, I’m telling you for the last time, I am not writing any kind of a memoir, probably not ever, and, I’ll tell you why. My thoughts, feelings, and opinions, on the subject of fiction versus non-fiction, and how I arrived at such, because, this could, perhaps, be helpful to others.

1.) It makes me completely miserable ( writing nonfiction). I really don’t want to. If you’re going to write something like that, a memoir, an autobiography, I think you have to ask yourself why you’re doing it. When I was younger, I had these grandiose thoughts about, well, about a lot of things, but about that this, writing non-fiction, would help people or, oh this, or saving the world, things like that. I wanted to buy the world a Coke and teach it to sing, in perfect harmony. What’s so special or different about your story, or mine? I’m saying that not to deride the value of any person’s personal story, but saying that in asking myself the question, for me, would the misery of the writing of it be worth the imperative value of the story as a “unique”story? For me, that answer is no. The truth is that there are many wonderful memoirs out there, if you’re looking for something to read along those lines. I read Shawn Colvin’s memoir, “Diamond in the Rough”, last year, and it was really good, helpful even. Now, if it was about money, how much money would make the misery involved in writing a memoir worth it to me? Not to quote Star Wars, but, “More well than you can imagine.” And trust me, on this, my imagination, when it comes to amounts of money that would make such an undertaking worth it to me, is thoroughly schooled in the math of the matter.

2.) It would, or might, hurt people who I don’t want to hurt. Anyone considering writing a memoir who isn’t considering this point, might be lacking the emotional depth needed for such a work. I’ve made no secret of the fact that I went through a very dark time, during that time, I made some not great decisions with regard to my writing, possibly in regard to some other things too. I hurt some feelings that I did not intend or want to hurt, even if people had hurt me, even if they had it coming in some way, a lot of it was still out of character for me. If you’re writing a memoir and you’ve got any kind of story to tell at all, chances are you’re going to hurt other people. There are people who I don’t owe the consideration of the time of day to, and plenty who, I’m sure, feel likewise about me, well, then be done with them, I say. Don’t give them one more minute of your life. Evil people aren’t a new invention. Most of us aren’t all good or all bad. I haven’t ever been a vengeful person, that’s not a motivation for me, I happen to be of the firm belief that life evens things out, God knows what He’s doing. There are those who think that you have to forgive people to move on, or that if you forgive them, well, then you won’t be mad anymore, or that that somehow makes them good people again, or that it makes you one. I’ve learned that you don’t have to forgive people to move on, they don’t have to forgive you, you can just be done. Indifference is a beautiful thing. Forgiveness is a deeper matter, I’ve found that if that’s going to happen, it will in its own time. But, there are others who, even if they really hurt me, I know they were able to hurt me, because I cared, and that means there was some bit of myself there that I want to respect, and some bit of them too, or of that moment. There are people who I hurt, intentionally or not, and that’s life, but what I know from having been hurt, well, a lot of those apologies don’t quite get it done. People do that to one another along the way which isn’t to make light of it, but to say that, okay, at some point, it’s been enough. So, there are the people whose feelings don’t deserve consideration in such a matter, and in most every life, at some point, there are likely situations where everyone has been through more than enough. There are also “innocent bystanders” in any such situation, meaning that perhaps they weren’t main characters but they were wherever and they didn’t do anything to me, they’ve gone with their lives, some of them are completely different people, changed or grown up or whatever, and they’ve every right to that. I thought of all that a long time ago. I wrote my autobiography once, for myself, and then I burned every page of it, more than a decade ago, because I decided then that that isn’t who I want to be as a writer, or a person. Getting older comes with the applicable comprehension of the wisdom behind such statements as, let sleeping dogs lie.

3.) In every true story, is a multitude of fiction. That right there, is a true statement in more ways than one. Telling your true story is, pardon the expression, kind of blowing your wad, in a lot ways. If you are a writer, you’re drawing from your own life, your own experiences, in some way, at some point, you can get a lot more mileage out of that if you’re writing fiction. Sure, some people who know you, or knew you, might be able to read something and say, “Hey, that’s the diner up on old highway 96 she’s writing about, she just moved it to another street, it wasn’t on that street. What’s she doing? There wasn’t no damn whale mural painted on that wall.”  That’s what makes it fiction. Once you do that, you are writing fiction. You can take that same diner and drop into a million different stories and change the painting on the wall every time, change the street it’s on, etc. Your larger audience, and hopefully if you’re a writer, at some point you’re thinking about your larger audience, doesn’t know that “real” diner, and they just know the one you made up. People out there don’t know that you wrote cousin Lolly into the south side madame, or the fairy godmother, or the Duchess of Delusion in the Forest of Barking Ferns, and they don’t need to. Fiction, is a lot more fun to write, way more fun to write, in every way.

4.) What do you want to talk about? Imagine that the book you’ve written is the biggest hit in the world. You’re on a book tour. People love your book, and day after, they’re coming up to you and want to talk about what you wrote. What do you want to talk about? And is the paycheck you got for writing that memoir enough to make it worth it to be talking about it for however long? Telling an anecdote now and then, saying, “Oh yeah, that’s from my own life, kind of based on this trip we took once.” isn’t the same thing as writing your true story, not in the least, not at all. If I say that it was my mother that introduced me to the likes of Perry Mason, Kolchak, Alfred Hitchcock, who gave me a book to read about a vampire, who let me watch the film “Ghost Story” with her, and said I might like the movie and the book, “Wolfen”, ( I still need/want to read that book), sharing those anecdotes, that she encouraged my poetry and fiction, or honoring those influences, isn’t the same as writing a memoir or autobiography. Saying you got an idea for a story from a song, or rambling about books, music, and movies, also, not the same thing. So, what do you want to talk about? Stuff that makes you miserable, or stuff that makes you laugh and smile and that makes writing a fun thing for you to be doing?

5.) Vampires and Werewolves OR Whatever You Want to Invent to Write About. I recall when I thought that all stories were fiction, unless they were books about important historical figures, like the biography of Abraham Lincoln.  I even remember when I thought that biographies were boring. I didn’t want to write about vampires. I threw a lot of fits about that, for quite a while, and I now think of it as part and parcel of my own snarling transformation to writing fiction, and writing horror. I am, primarily a noir writer, a crime story writer, and a poet. I started writing my vampire novel, THE SLICK FURIES, and I couldn’t stop writing it. The story was rolling and I knew where it was going and I knew the ending and I was excited to be writing it. Writing fiction is limitless. I’ve learned more truth from writing fiction than from any true story I’ve ever written or tried to write. I’ve published four books, of those four, the vampire novel is my favorite. During the course of the last five years, I wrote six books that were completely new, and amassed enough material for a couple of others. I’ve written a variety of fiction, and of varying lengths, everything from flash fiction to full length novels. It’s afforded me the opportunity to figure out what I enjoy writing, what I want to do. There are stories that I’ve written that, while I think they’re very good stories, I didn’t enjoy writing them, and to even think about some of them, makes me kind of sick to my stomach. There are stories that I’ve written that I even think are great stories, but that I wish I hadn’t written because looking at them now, I really understand where that influence was coming from. I don’t have any interest in writing things that make me feel that way. Like figuring out that for me, “On the Road”,  was something that I read at the end of a phase that I was going through, and though it was my favorite book for about ten years, more than ten years ago, well, I’ve read some other things since then.  Jack Kerouac died an unhappy man, his glory days and ability to revel in them, or lie to himself and romanticize about what he was observing or had observed, behind him, he drank himself to death. Stephen King and Anne Rice both got sober. I don’t know if that’s really any kind of comparison or not, but there you go. I think, as a writer, it’s important to give yourself the time to figure that kind of thing out, to sort out your own influences, and sometimes, time, is the only thing that can do that for you. I love writing long form fiction, and I can do it, not everyone can. I love the challenge of it. It makes me happy. ( Though, personally, I’m probably done writing about vampires for the foreseeable future.)

 

I did some complaining on my way to these realizations and decisions and understandings and what not, took some wrong turns, have had to make corrections. Really, it was the first time in my life that I know I was, for a while, a “complainer.” So I guess I needed to, in that it provided some kind of relief, but the reason I was never a complainer was because, it really doesn’t do any good, never really has made me feel any better, like just talking about working out. Which is also why I didn’t share the four thousand word rant that I wrote last night, it was helpful to me, but otherwise wasn’t constructive. Now, here you have why I’ve become a fiction writer, I enjoy it, it’s fun for me, it makes me happy.

Every writer, every person, has to find their own way, has to find what works for them as an individual. Like I always say, find what works for you, and treat it like the gospel.

TS