Expressing What Goes Unsaid.

“The role of a writer is not to say what we all can say, but what we are unable to say.” – Anais Nin

In the alternate universe of Facebook there is one question that is always asked: What’s on your mind? Every time I read that question in my status box I am always tempted to type what I’m really thinking, but almost every time I don’t. Why? Because sometimes what I’m thinking would be highly offensive to some people. Other times what I would say would be too personal. This isn’t just true in reference to my status on Facebook, it is also true in life. There are numerous times every day when I do not really say what is on my mind or what I really feel. The reason I don’t is the same reasons I don’t say what’s really on my mind on Facebook.

Life is full of moments when we are unable to say the things we really want to say. I imagine there is a store room somewhere in the heavens that contains all the words and thoughts that I have ever wanted to verbally express. The wonderful reality is that as a writer I can visit that store room and give freedom to the words and thoughts that I am unable to say in life. This is true of every artist. The books, movies, plays, or poems that I remember the most are those that give expression to the things that I always felt like I was unable to say. It doesn’t matter if it is offensive, personal, emotional, positive, or negative it is the role of the artist to express that which the rest of society leaves unsaid.

So if you are a writer, painter, playwright, poet, or any other type of artist may you continue to give expression to those things that the rest of the world is unable to say!

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A Rewrite of Yesterday’s Post

Yesterday I received a comment that helped me along in my writing through my block. I admit at first that I was somewhat upset with the comment. How could you say the story is over? But as I kept reading what I wrote I realized that the way it read the story was over. This challenged me to take another look at the story. I realize that all I’ve done is delete a couple of paragraphs and add one paragraph, but by doing that the story has begun to open up to me even more. I am writing at a turtle’s pace but right now I’m just thankful for the few hundred words I am able to write.

No Title.

I had tried to end it with Claire as gently as I could but nothing with Claire could ever be gentle. Having dated her for 3 years, I knew that no matter what, the problem would be me. So I took full responsibility for the failing of our relationship. I admitted to her that I didn’t see our relationship going anywhere. This confession and acceptance of responsibility was unacceptable to Claire. The fact that I took full responsibility only pissed her off more. She thought that I was mocking her and just saying what I thought she would say.

Truth is I wasn’t mocking her. I honestly didn’t see our relationship going anywhere. Later that night while discussing the situation with Abby, my best friend’s wife, I realized my mistake. According to Abby, I pissed Claire off because I took away her power.
“What power?”
“The power to blame you for the failure of your relationship.”
“So you’re telling me that by me doing the right thing and taking responsibility I had taken away her power to blame me, and she needed to be able to blame me so that she wouldn’t feel responsible?”
“Yes.”
“That’s just fucked up and doesn’t make sense.”
“It makes perfect sense!”
“Because you’re a woman.” And that was the end of that conversation.

The day after I ended it with Claire I went to work not sure what else I needed to do because I had never been the one to end a relationship. Claire’s things were still at the apartment. I never went through her things so I wasn’t going to pack them up for her. Within the first hour of work she left a message with my secretary that she was on her way to the apartment to get her things.

When I got home later that evening my apartment had lost all the things that made it a home. There were no nicknacks, Cosmo magazines, framed pictures of Claire or of us together, her bathrobe wasn’t hanging on the bathroom door, her toothbrush and toiletries were gone, the little notes that we had left one another on the refrigerator door were shredded and put into the waste basket, no throw pillows or candles. My three room apartment was now barren of any sign of my former life. I was alone, but unlike all other moments I found myself alone, this time it was by my own choice. I felt a certain pang of guilt. I had chosen this but Claire had not. I then realized I had not only taken away her power to blame, but I had taken away her freedom of choice. No matter how hard  I tried to do the right thing it only came out wrong.

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Trying to Write Through a Writer’s Block

An explanation and warning for those who might read this: I have been struggling with writer’s block. I find that when I sit down to write I end up staring at a white screen with a blinking cursor for a while and then shutting the word processing program down. When I’m just thinking I can think of different stories and have even started them, but I get to a point that I don’t know the story or where it is going. So I just keep trying to write through the block. Now, since I haven’t posted anything in a while I thought I would use what I’ve written so far on my new beginning as a post for here. Understand that this is fiction and if a curse word or two offends you then you may want to stop reading now. Hell, keep reading. LOL

No Title LOL

Claire said that I was experiencing a mid-life crisis. What is a mid-life crisis anyway? A thirty-six year old man wearing a vintage t-shirt and jeans, riding around in a convertible sports car blasting the Black Eyed Peas with a twenty-five year old tan long-legged blonde with model assets is most men’s dream at any age. Not only that, life as a whole is one major crisis; not just some ten year period of time in an adult male’s life. Mid-life crisis is an idea some thirty to forty year old bitter women came up with who were pissed at their husbands because they were acting like the males before them. If humanity was made in God’s image then females are the part of His image that we as humans can never truly know, and males are the part of His image that is predictable and known. The truth is men do not ever fully grow up. Men simply evolve. We evolve from small adolescents to big adolescents all the while trading in one adolescent behavior for another.

I had tried to end it with Claire as gently as I could but nothing with Claire could ever be gentle. Having dated her for 3 years, I knew that no matter what, the problem would be me. So I took full responsibility for the failing of our relationship. I admitted to her that I didn’t see our relationship going anywhere. This confession and acceptance of responsibility was unacceptable to Claire. The fact that I took full responsibility only pissed her off more. She thought that I was mocking her and just saying what I thought she would say.

Truth is I wasn’t mocking her. I honestly didn’t see our relationship going anywhere. It wasn’t until two weeks later while discussing the situation with Abby, my best friend Greg’s wife, that I realized my mistake. According to Abby, I pissed Claire off because I took away her power.
“What power?”
“The power to blame you for the failure of your relationship.”
“So you’re telling me that by me doing the right thing and taking responsibility I had taken away her power to blame me, and she needed to be able to blame me so that she wouldn’t feel responsible?”
“Yes.”
“That’s just fucked up and doesn’t make sense.”
“It makes perfect sense!”
“Because you’re a woman.” And that was the end of that conversation.

I now realize that Claire didn’t want me to take responsibility. She wanted me to be what she thinks is a “typical man”, one who skirts responsibility and doesn’t care anything about the truth. I’m pretty certain that if I had played the role of the ‘typical male’ and not taken away her power, then when Claire saw me the next week driving Alexis’, a twenty-five year old blonde with model assets, brand new midnight blue Infiniti G37 convertible I wouldn’t be paying to get a new windshield installed for the Infiniti, nor avoiding various family members’ phone calls who seem to have this crazy idea that I’m going through a mid-life crisis and may need counseling.

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Paragraph Contest Result

I would like to thank all those that took the time to read the four paragraphs and either gave me an opinion or voted. I went with the voting results and submitted paragraph one. The results have been revealed and I didn’t make the finalist list. There were 2500 entries. It was a good experience and I’m glad that I took part in the contest. Now it’s time to keep writing.

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First Paragraph Poll

I follow a literary agent’s blog and he is conducting a first paragraph contest. I have decided to enter the contest but can’t decide which first paragraph I want to enter. I can only enter one. So I am asking you to vote for your favorite paragraph of the four.

Paragraph 1
Standing in the cold November rain in Manhattan I finally realized who I am. Up until that moment I had always thought when you had an epiphany that the heavens would break open with a bright light, angels would begin to sing, and the world would stand still. I was close. The heavens did break open, and the rain was getting harder. The light from the Starbucks sign above me was shining brighter than ever; green and white, glowing incessantly above my head. No angels were singing, but a mermaid was staring down at me with her fins spread open, and she was beautiful. I bowed my head and began to walk back down Broadway. I could have gotten a cab, but it didn’t seem to be the appropriate thing to do since I had just realized my true self. So, I walked six blocks in the cold November rain back to my hotel.

Paragraph 2
She could feel the ground sink beneath her knees as she kneeled down on the cold plastic tarp in front of her parent’s gravestone. Her mother’s dress clung to her body, and the rain matted her black hair to the sides of her face while her tears became one with the tears of God. Never before had death been a presence in Emmy’s life, but during the last three days, it had been her closest companion.

Paragraph 3
Even after 17 years, Isaac found that his greatest strength and joy came when he was speaking and thinking of Juliet. Isaac stood behind the ornate cherry wood pulpit with only two familiar faces staring back at him. One of them was Elijah. His blue eyes and wavy brown hair was unmistakable; Isaac had seen enough pics of him as a child that with the first glance Isaac knew it was him. The other, Kiera, was unmistakable as well. She looked just like Juliet, except with blonde hair. Isaac’s hand brushed down his navy blue silk tie as he looked down at the pulpit. The silence in the chapel was deafening and elevated his nervousness. The wood felt smooth and cold as Isaac tightly clinched the side of the elevated part of the stand to keep his hands from shaking. It had been two years since he last spoke to her. He had tried to write down some words to speak but it was to no avail. Isaac simply lifted his eyes just enough to stare down at Juliet forced his mouth open and began to speak.

Paragraph 4
It had been a year and a half since the last time all five of them had been together for a poker night. The music of the Avett Brothers was playing in the background. The octagonal poker table was ornate with white, red, green, black, and blue poker chips; a bottle of hydrocodone and sudafed, a few Playboys, five beer mugs, a half smoked bowl of ganja, and flakes of various types of ash. All five of the guys were on the fringe of reality and oblivion. For these thirty something friends it had never been about the game. The game was nothing more than an excuse. An excuse to visit with the closest of friends, pop pills, smoke (whichever herb might be available), and escape. Not escape in the sense to never return, more of a reprieve from the present reality of their lives.

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When Kierkegaard Met Shakespeare

A short story I wrote a few years ago.

Life was over. I don’t mean life as I know it, but I mean my life was over. For years I had built my life up for one dream, one idea, one moment and in one second, my life ended. Her name was Rose Calloway. I never knew anyone named Rose except for women who were over 50 but I guess even they were younger than 50 at one time. When Rose walked into the room I couldn’t resist being near her. I wanted to see her, feel her aura, and smell her. She was beautiful. No. More than beautiful. She was angelic. Angelic isn’t even good enough. She was a goddess. Never before had I seen such arms that could reach to the highest heavens. Nor such legs that moved with such elegance and grace. Nor such eyes that were a pool of beauty in which to swim. Oh, and her shoulders, they bore the face of a goddess and never stooped or fell. She was that one dream, one idea, and one moment.

We met at the library. I was researching some thoughts on Kierkegaard while she was checking out materials on a paper she had to write. I sat down at the same table at which she was working. I noticed that she was reading Hamlet. I’m not sure she even noticed my arrival because she never even looked up to acknowledge me. I strummed through the pages of Kierkegaard’s papers and journals while glancing over the pages at her. Her head would tilt left and then right as her hands turned each page of Hamlet. Her lips were mouthing the words of Shakespeare and I was held captive by every movement of her lips.

In my deepest being I wanted to speak but didn’t want to disrupt the beauty of the moment. Here was a goddess mouthing the words of the man every writer and poet idolized. My sin wouldn’t have been in disrupting the words of Shakespeare but in distracting a goddess from a moment of concentration in which her universe depended. Whether or not she realized it, I was becoming a part of her universe. I was afraid that at any moment she would arise and depart, and there I would be lonely without ever praying to the goddess of whose universe I become a part.

It was then that the words of fate were upon her lips, “To be, or not to be: that is the question: whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them. To die, to sleep –”

It was her sign to me, much like God with Elijah. She spoke with a still small voice and it was only I, her chosen one, who could hear her voice. Oh, and what prophecy lay within the meaning of those words. Was I to be or not to be? It was a Kierkegaardian moment in which I had “to be” and take the Kierkegaardian leap of faith or “not to be” and end all my despair. Leap or Sleep? Leap or Sleep? Leap!!

With sweaty palms, it had been years since I was a part of the flirting and dating scene,
“Excuse me, I was wondering if Hamlet was for pleasure or class?”
“Oh, both actually, with much pleasure.” She replied never looking up.
“Interesting. Very few people read Shakespeare for pleasure, while many read him for class.”
“Why read anything if it isn’t for pleasure? True, Shakespeare can be read for purely academic purposes but I doubt Shakespeare, when writing his plays, was writing for academic purposes.”
“Why, pray tell, do you believe he wrote plays and poems?”
“Oh sir, you are not going to make me believe that you have not your own ideas of why he wrote. I recognize you and know you as a learned man.”

I was tremendously flattered that this goddess recognized me and even knew me to be a “learned man.” Then I realized, how could she not, I was merely a part of her universe and she knew her own sphere of existence because she was the goddess who created this existence.

“You are correct that I have my own ideas but part of my responsibility is to see that others have their own ideas.”
“Very well then. My own idea is that he wrote for three reasons. First, he wrote for pleasures sake. I see no reason for anyone to write unless it brings some pleasure to him or her. Secondly, he could do nothing else. Writers, or any artist for that matter, should do anything else unless it just burdens them to do art. Lastly, would be money. I’m not saying a man should only write for money or that to be considered successful you must be a best seller or have a movie made out of your book. I am saying everyone as well as Shakespeare must survive and make a living.”
“Interesting.”
“I am flattered that you find my ideas “interesting.”
“If I may be so bold…”
“Of course sir, I could think of no other way for a man of your stature to be except bold.” “Thank you. As I was going to say, I find more than your ideas interesting, I find you interesting.” Kierkegaard would have been proud of my leap.
“But sir you do not know me, we have just met.”
“It is true that we just met, but it is my belief that your ideas are ultimately who you are because they affect your behavior.”
“Ah, so then you think you know me because you know my thoughts or ideas on writing. I think sir, and I mean no disrespect, that you may know a part of me but you do not know the whole of who I am.”
“A man must begin with a part before knowing the whole.” She laughed and looked down somewhat embarrassed at my forwardness and overly sexual comment.
“Well sir, I must leave you with that part for I have a date this evening.”
“A date?” My eyes fell.
“Yes, you sound surprised.”
“No, not surprised. As beautiful as you are, why would I be surprised? It would seem quite obvious that you should have a date.”
“Well thank you for your compliment of my beauty. My date is a true romantic and Renaissance man.”
“Miss, he is a lucky man to have your acquaintance.”
“Why thank you again, but he does not know me.”
“Not even one part?”
“No sir.”
“So is this a blind date?”
“Sir I do not date men I do not know and I do not believe that love is metaphorically blind as many believe.”
“I just find all this quite strange. You know your date, but he does not know you.”
“Maybe sir, it would help if I explained myself somewhat. My date is dead and has been for sometime now. That is why he does not know me.”
“I’m not sure what to think.”
“Sir, I am quite amazed that a learned man as yourself has not figured out who my date it tonight. I have given you obvious hints to his identity.”
“Maybe your view of my intellect is too high.”
“On the contrary sir. It is not too high. I just believe that I have been able to distract your mind from focusing upon the subject at hand.”
“What is the subject at hand?” My mind was turning in circles and I wasn’t sure what we were talking about.
“Why my date sir.” She laughed.
“Oh…yes…. so who is he?”
“Isn’t that somewhat of a personal question?”
“Depends.”
“On what?”
“On whether this date is a public or a private date.”
“What is the difference?”
“Well, very simply Miss, a public date is one in which the two people go out in public for their date. A private date is one that is shared by two people in closed private quarters.” “Oh…well in that sense, it is a private date.”
“Then my question is personal. I beg your pardon.”
“It is quite fine sir. Well, I mustn’t be late. Maybe we shall meet again soon.”
“I hope we do and it would be my pleasure.”
“Good day Mr. Taylor.”
“Bye,…my goddess.”

She never heard the words “my goddess” because she was walking away as I whispered those words. She walked away and was out the door of the library before it hit me, she knew my name and I had no idea of her name.

She preyed upon my mind constantly. I never really believed that I would see her again, but I lived in torture every moment because somehow she knew me but I had no idea who she was. I had always prided myself on knowing everyone I came in contact with on a daily basis, but somehow I failed to notice her. It seems impossible to me that someone of such beauty and intellect would go unnoticed by me. I notice all the beautiful women and I remember all the beautiful intellectual ones. Somehow and in someway I had to see her again, if for any other reason but to find out her name.

The very next day I walked into the library in hopes of finding and seeing this woman in who was my very reason for existence. As I opened the door I knew she was there, it wasn’t a premonition that told me but rather her scent. The day before when I first met her I smelled a hint of citrus in her perfume and cucumber melon in her hair.The scent was unmistakable.

As I turned the right corner to focus my attention in the direction of the table we sat at the day before and in full splendor there she sat in all her glory. She had not yet noticed that I had entered into her realm of existence, or at least I didn’t perceive that she had. With every step toward her I grew more and more nervous. I felt like I was back in grade school wanting to speak to Amy Black but too afraid of rejection and what my friends would think.

Even now I know that those two fears are ever before me now. But how can I fight against what is true? As I sat down she looked up from her reading and our second conversation began.
“Good evening Miss.”
“Good evening sir, fancy to see you here two days in a row.”
“I do hope that it’s not too surprising and the fancy is good.”
“I know no other type of fancy. I was just under the impression that on one day you read and the next you would write and since I saw you reading yesterday I figured you would be writing today.”
“Well it is true that that is my usual routine but I am known to shake things up in my life on occasion.”
She chuckled, “Good, all lives should be shaken up. Discipline is a virtue but monotony should be a damnable sin.”
“So how was your date last night?”
She leaned over the table and began to whisper as if what she had to tell me were details of a hot private date.
“To be honest, it had its ups and downs. I think he expected more but once I fall asleep it is all over for me.”
“Oh…”
“Don’t get me wrong, he was wonderful. In fact, I can last longer with him than anyone else I take to bed with me. He just has a way of keeping my attention better than any other!”
I was devastated and didn’t want to go any further with this line of discussion but I could not argue with the goddess of my world. “That is great. I guess you will see him again?”
“I beg your pardon?”
“You know, another date.” She began to laugh and I grew very self-conscious because I knew she had to be laughing at me.
“Mr. Taylor, you mean to tell me that you never figured at who my date was last night?”
I knew at that moment that she was going to point out the obvious to me and I was going to be standing there feeling like the biggest jackass, and that is exactly what happened. “Miss, I have no idea who the lucky man was last night.”
“Mr. Taylor, my date was Shakespeare and the paper I had to finish.”

She laughed heartily as she noticed that my reaction was one of embarrassment. I had to laugh at myself. I had allowed her to distract my mind from the obvious and missed every hint at who her date was. I had heard many young people use the phrase, “A date with Shakespeare, Milton, Camus, algebra, or science”, but the phrase never entered my mind in relation to this lady.

“Miss, that seems quite obvious to me now.”
“Oh sir, do not feel embarrassed. Sometimes the obvious is the hardest to understand and know.”
“You are quite right my lady. It is a lot like love.”
“Love, sir?”
“Yes, sometimes love is staring in your face and you don’t even know it, and who can explain it?”
“I will have to trust your opinion on that issue.”
“What? Have you never experienced love?”
“No sir, I haven’t. I have seen what many call love, but I have never and will never experience such pain and confusion.”
“Miss, love is not always painful and confusing.”
“Sir, I must strongly disagree. Read Shakespeare or any of the true romantics and love ultimately leads to pain and confusion.”
“Yes, but love is worth the pain and confusion.”
“Maybe to you sir, but not for me. I myself have chosen to take a vow of chastity.”
“You must be joking.” I could not believe that such beauty would be wasted and never experienced.
“Sir, love and chastity are no laughing matters for Rose Calloway.”
“Then I must say that I am saddened by such a vow.”
“Why would my vow sadden you sir?”
This was the moment my life ended. The moment my world crumbled upon me. I had to tell her the truth, even though the truth would mean pain and confusion.
“In sadness, I love a woman.”

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Frustration Along the Way

After I finished writing my first novel I felt a sense of accomplishment because a goal had been achieved. I realized I had done something that most people only talk about doing. I felt good to say the least. After I queried different agents and experienced the impersonal and personal rejections I tried to edit my manuscript. Then, I got tired of rereading the same story over and over. I knew the story backwards and forwards, and I had no idea what I was doing as far as editing went. So, I laid my manuscript aside. I had read enough about other writers’ experiences to know that even the best writers had been rejected, and that often times the first novel they wrote was never published. All that was left for me to do was to start on my second novel.

The moment I sat down in front of my laptop and opened up my word processing program I realized a difficult truth, writing is a lonely endeavor. I found myself sitting alone staring at a white screen with a blinking cursor. The longer I stared, the blinking turned into a throbbing that was in rhythm with the flow of blood to my head as I grew more and more frustrated. When I began writing my first novel I had an ending in my head, (it wasn’t the ending that I ended up writing), I knew the three main characters, I knew the conflict, and all I had to do was let the characters tell me their story. The problem now is I have no story.

It doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been writing, writing is not easy! I guess to the average person it might seem that it would be. We all know of some of those authors out there who seem to put out a 300 page novel every other month. And they are best-sellers because the book carries the name of that author. But, I would be willing to bet that 9 out of 10 of those author’s books have the same story with different character names and maybe different setting. I’m not knocking the writer, I’m just making the point that writing a fresh story is not easy. Ever since I finished that first novel I have been trying and I have little to nothing to show for my effort. This is my frustration. Maybe I’m wrong and for some writers the story does come easy, but for me it has been a difficult and lonely process. Just because you do something once doesn’t mean that you have it all figured out. Honestly, I have no idea what I’m doing. But, I keep telling myself, if you can do it once then you can do it again.

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