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.

You Can’t Unbreak An Egg

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There are some opportunities in life that only come along once, some things that you only get one shot at. You can’t unbreak an egg.

For the most part, I’m one to be philosophical about such things. My go to example is one morning many years ago when I was running incredibly late for work, and I’m not a person who is generally or habitually late, especially if being late is going to keep other people waiting because that’s incredibly inconsiderate and it devalues both your time and theirs, so I had that going on where I was thinking “I’m going to be late. I am never late.” My alarm didn’t go off, I couldn’t find one of my work shoes, eventually I got out the door. If I’d been on time that day, I probably would have been involved in a multiple vehicle collision that resulted in four fatalities and sent three other people to the hospital.

By the time I got to work, I was shaking so badly that I couldn’t work, thinking how angry I’d been that I was late, and that being late had probably saved my life, in that instance. Ever since then, I figure there’s a reason when things seem like they aren’t going “right,” or going the way that I want them to, or think that I want them to. Really, there have been countless times when things seemingly haven’t worked out and later on, I’ve realized that it saved me from something, one way or another, even though it really was a drag or completely broke my heart at the time.

There were a lot of things that I really wanted for myself when it came to my writing, in fact, there are a lot of things that I still want, but, the reality level of my expectations has changed considerably. That’s been a tough thing, but it’s okay somehow, perhaps it is even a good thing.

As a writer, I started out ( we’re talking decades ago), dreaming of winning a Pulitzer Prize for poetry, then I thought I’d write something epic like, “The Stand”, and then I’d write crime fiction, at some point, I learned about The Bram Stoker Awards and thought, wouldn’t it be cool to win a Stoker? Never mind even thinking about the “Big Book Deal” that would catapult me to never-ending financial success. That was before I ever really understood anything about being a writer. I’m kind of proud of myself for thinking so highly of myself that I’ve dared to have such lofty daydreams, I mean, if you’re going to dream, then dream big. Talent, however, isn’t everything. ( is it the only thing? probably not.) I’ve had some challenges along the way, not to mention having previously admitted that I knew nothing about the modern publishing world going into this, but I didn’t let that even slow me down, I mean, there was no time to waste.

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The truth is that you get to certain places in your life and there is a narrowing of certain possibilities. I mean, yeah, okay, anything is possible, but at some point, it’s kind of about probability as well. I still have really amazingly large dreams, and wonderful hopes. I also have a pretty good reality where having let go of a lot unrealistic, if not immature, expectations, I can just write again, and have it be about the writing. That is an incredible relief. You know, I figure, one way or another, things are happening the way that they’re supposed to. So it goes, keep moving forward. I probably won’t ever win a Bram Stoker Award. I might hold out some hope for that Pulitzer but, even at that, it is more important to me to be doing work that I think is good work, work that I want to be doing.

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There’s not a little truth to this.

Writing that I want to be writing, for whatever reason it interests me.

To that end, I had about seven different beginnings written for the sequel to the vampire novel, a completed outline, and it just wasn’t working. I was staring into space, a lot.  I was getting discouraged, I was getting depressed. I realized that my heart really wasn’t in it. There are a lot of jobs that you can do and do well if your heart really isn’t in it, writing a full length novel isn’t one of them, at least, it isn’t for me. I rationalized myself into that being the first book I was working on this year because it’s the one that would take the longest for me to write, etc. I thought, Why am I doing this to myself? I don’t want to write this, I didn’t want to write about vampires to begin with. I gave myself permission to not write the sequel to the vampire novel. I am not going to force myself to write something that my heart isn’t in, that would make for a lousy book and be a waste of my time as writer. It’s really important to know when to cut bait.

When I did that, I gave myself permission not to write a bunch of other things that I don’t want to write or re-write either. I’ll never re-write “Souvenirs, The Rain” that was my first novel, a psychological thriller, the one that I just about sold, and I’ll call it a learning experience, but that’s still my work so I may use some parts from it, or not, and writers do that quite often, cannibalize their own work, however, I am never re-writing that book as that book. ( Never is a long time.) I will tell you that the opening paragraph is one of the best things that I have ever written. I just read it again and it flat-out flys and sings, but it wasn’t meant to be, or it would have been. I’m likely done with my Sci-fi/Western as it is too, it has recyclable parts as well. “Westworld” kind of kicked everything’s butt on the western front for a while, I think. I wrote both of those books in 2012, and they both broke my heart in different ways, for different reasons, I’ll salvage what I can, but it’s time to cut loose of them. I learned a lot from writing those books, but it is time to move on. That’s kind of freed up my writing schedule ever so slightly. There’s always poetry, a couple of collections that need serious editing for the sake of well-being and continuity. I can also tell you that the original draft of the “Loralee” novella was not quite twenty-six thousand words. (Sometimes it just isn’t the time for something. Things change. Who knows.)

You can’t unbreak an egg. I was putting the eggs away when I dropped one the counter and it’s like another secret of the universe revealed itself to me. I cleaned it up. Then I cleaned my house, and I did some serious thinking. I thought about quitting. I thought about it all day, because if I’m not making the beaucoup dolores or winning awards, becoming exceedingly popular, etc., ( could all still happen) then what’s the point?

Every writer’s first audience is themselves.

Long before anyone ever knew that I was a writer, a real and true honest to goodness dyed in the wool writer, I wrote for me. All day, all night, whenever, on and on, I wrote because I love to do this. I love to write. So, having thought about it, I don’t really see the point in quitting. I have, however, adjusted my thinking about it all, to accommodate happiness.

TS

Here’s a link to an article, The Truth About Publishing, it’s from 2005, but it might be helpful to those who don’t quite grasp how tough this business is.

Writing Implements and Accoutrements

Ideally, the perfect notebook would be able to get out of its own way. Meaning,  that it would fold back on itself like spiral notebooks do. It would have at least one pocket, preferably on the inside cover. The paper would be of sufficient quality so as to not be completely transparent so that one might write on both sides of a page, and, be able to read both sides of the page thereafter. It would be 6.5 inches wide, by 9.5 inches long, however, six by eight would be sufficient as well. It would contain at least two hundred, college ruled, pages, white or cream-colored, and, those pages would not be perforated. Said notebook would be available in a variety of solid colors, though I’m not opposed to novelty covers or some interesting picture or something cool. They would be reasonably priced, that is to say, not to exceed five or six dollars a piece in price, and really, I think that’s too much because I use a lot of notebooks, but I know, I’m talking about the perfect notebook here so really, I’d probably pay as much as seven dollars for one, or possibly more than that, but I don’t want to get into specifics.

This morning as I was reading, jotting some things down, wrestling with a composition book, I suddenly had the great waking moment of looking at said notebook and wondering just what I was doing with a composition book in the first place. Now, don’t misunderstand me, a great many writers happen to also have an addiction to paper, stationery, office supplies, pens, and the like, and as such, most have their individual preferences, which is to say, there are those who swear by the standard composition book as preferred notebook, and that is wonderful, good for them, I am glad that they have found their notebook of preference and choice. I, however, despise the standard composition book. I cannot, for the life of me, explain why I purchased several of them, however inexpensively, because the chances of me actually using them are slim to none. I’ve used the one of them that I will use. I will, however, find some way for them not to go to waste, of course. I mean, the paper around here will get used, I just won’t use them, those notebooks, for what I bought them for.

I’ve yet to find the exactly perfect notebook as described in the first paragraph of this post. I’ve found many notebooks that are close to fitting the description, though generally they will have perforated pages, obviously that isn’t a complete deal breaker because I’ve got to have a notebook. (Well, really, if it gets down to it, and I know this because there have been times when it has, what I’ve got to have is some kind of paper and a pen.) Usually I find myself returning to the standard spiral notebook made by the standard spiral notebook companies, in the 6.5 x 9.5 size. I’m not a fan of the Moleskin. I don’t care for the hardbound book-type journals or the stitched pamphlet style ones, I’ve enough of those to feel as though they’ve been thoroughly tried and tested. Oh, but the composition books, they simply will not do at all. Trying to write in one of those composition books, well, it reminds me of Mike Myers trying to figure out how to use a “Thighmaster” in the film “So I Married An Axe Murderer.” At any moment, the composition book may launch itself across the room and hurt somebody or break something. I realized this morning that I hadn’t been writing as much down notebook wise and that it was because of these notebooks, I hate using them so much that I was only writing down, making note of, what I couldn’t stand not to. Lately, I’ve been taking more notes, enough that it finally occurred to me that it’s the composition notebooks causing me writerly grief, I shan’t use them ever again, if I can help it.

Now, as far as pens go, I’ve found that uni-ball makes a good product, (it’s the name of the company), the Signo, the Deluxe Fine point, the Vision Elite, all good pens. However, my favorite pen for writing longhand, is the Sanford Expresso. The Sanford Expresso is a joy to write with, it makes me want to write. As far as pencils go, if I find for some reason that I have to use one, I’ve preferred the Papermate Black Warrior pencil for a number of years as I’ve found that they don’t break or splinter during sharpening. Had only I been paid for these endorsements.

Now, I think I’ll get back to said writing, since I now also have some notes to relocate into different notebooks. I am trying to be/get somewhat organized. Ah, the writer life for me.

Teri

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