writing


Random quote of the day:

“No writer ever wrote exactly what he wanted to write, because there was never anything inside himself, anything purely individual that he did want to write. It’s all reaction of one sort or another.”

—Raymond Chandler, letter to Charles Morton, October 28, 1947

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Desus and Mero, Beyoncé, or the Marine Corps Marching Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

Random quote of the day:

“A writer can have, ultimately, one of two styles: he can write in a manner that implies death is inevitable, or he can write in a manner that implies that death is not inevitable….If you write as if you believe that ultimately you and everyone else alive will be dead, there is a chance that you will write in a pretty earnest style. Otherwise you are apt to be either pompous or soft. On the other hand, in order not to be a fool, you must believe that as much as death is inevitable life is inevitable.

—William Saroyan, preface to The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

We’ve all probably had a number of things in our lives that made us go “huh.” I know I have. I embraced the weird some time back, and even though I always try to find logical explanations before accepting anything para-weird, there is always going to be stuff that skirts the edge of rational and . . . other.

I was remembering one such incident this morning—nothing earth-shatteringly strange or even very exciting but odd, nonetheless, and it set off a whole chain of memories of the place I grew up in. It happened when I was about thirteen at our old house in Venice, the one I grew up in, which was in itself a strange place full of odd corners and unusual atmospherics. We lived on a huge lot with a big house on the front of the property occupied by our landlady. There was a yard in between her house and ours—a little ramshackle place with four front doors because its basic structure was four beach cabins strung together to make a house. (Beach cabins: those things from the early 20th century set up on the sand where people would go to change out of their street clothes and into swimwear so that they didn’t have to immodestly walk from their vehicles to the shore in “scanty” clothing.)

A prodigious backyard sat behind our little house in which my father grew a legendary vegetable garden every year and a large but very old and dilapidated shack at the very back of the southwest corner of the lot where my father kept tools and such. It hadn’t seen paint in centuries, it seemed like, the wood chipped and splintered and that wonderful grey barnwood patina people pay big money to acquire these days. Between the back of the shack and the next property over (a dairy processing plant) was a passageway about five feet wide. My father had put trellis up on the shed back there and grew banana squash, letting them crawl up the trellis rather than spread across the ground. I liked to sit back there in the summertime because it was always cool, even on the hottest days, and smelled loamy and of growing green things. It was one of many small, urbanized sacred combes I had on that property—but not a perfect spot.

We had the dairy processing plant to contend with, for one thing. Just across from the growing banana squash was a two-foot high concrete boundary marker topped by an enormous chain link fence—at least twenty feet high—that spread the length of the back end of our property. The fence was loose enough at the bottom that I could push it inward and sit on that concrete ledge to stare at and smell the growing things, wiggle my toes in the loamy earth, and think my solitary thoughts. Just the other side of the fence on the dairy property was a massive ice freezer and ice crusher machine. Again, it was at least 15-20 feet high, but seemed larger because the boundary marker was part of an elevation of the land between our property and the dairy. It towered, to say the least. Another fence sat behind the southern end of the thing, as well. A very narrow passageway ran the length of this monster, maybe three feet wide at most. A grown person would have had to walk sideways to go back there. There was a long freezer compartment (maybe 30 feet?) which held big blocks of ice, and on the front end a platform and some ice crushing machines. The dairymen hauled out these blocks of ice, crushed them (usually at about 3 a.m.), and loaded it into bags so they could pack their trucks (parked along the northern length of our property) and keep their dairy products cool while they made their early morning deliveries.

(The ice crusher was also part of a harassment campaign because the dairy wanted to force our neighbors and our landlady to sell the property cheap so they could gobble up the entire block—but that’s a separate story. Suffice to say, it didn’t work because we were all extremely stubborn and adaptable poor people.)

Anyway, I was in the backyard proper one day, lying on the grass the other side of the garden, reading (though I don’t remember the book) but also feeling restless. That kind of restless that’s like an itch just beneath the skin? A disease common in early adolescence, I believe. I put the book down wondering what I could do with that restlessness when I became aware of—how to put this?—another consciousness inside my brain. Yeah, I know. I’ve only experienced such a thing a few times in my life, mostly in connection with premonitions, but it’s a very distinct feeling. A restless itch of the mind, if you will. It was telling me to get up and go behind the shed to my sacred spot and if I did, something would happen. There would be a gift there for me. It scared me, frankly. I remember thinking that I didn’t want to be kidnapped by aliens or other things, but the consciousness was reassuring and insistent. So I got up, walked through the garden, and behind the shed.

I stood there a minute thinking, “Okay, I’m here, now what?” I walked down to the end of the passage where our property ended and the low fence of our southern neighbor started. I turned around and looked back the way I’d come but . . . nothing. Then I glanced to my left. Lying on the ground, just the other side of the chain link fence, was a black, leather-bound notebook, maybe 6×4 inches. It looked brand new so I reached under the loose links at the bottom of the fence and pulled it through. It was a spiralbound notebook and full of crisp, new ruled paper—and completely blank. No writing inside, nothing to identify an owner. Like I said, an adult would have had to walk sideways along the passage beside the ice crusher, and this notebook was deposited at the very end of the freezer compartment about a foot from the other fence that ran behind the monster. It wasn’t something someone could have dropped from the platform. They would have had to purposefully sidle down that passage for it to be there. It’s entirely possible that someone could have slithered down there to take a secret whizz (although why go so far?) or maybe someone came back there to spy on our and our neighbor’s property (given the underhanded nature of the dairy owners) but . . .?

I dunno. All I know was that I was delighted with the notebook. Although I had known I wanted to be a writer since the second grade, I was flailing around about it at that stage of my life and getting a lot a flak from my mother about how impractical my expressed career goal was and what a foolish dream and etc. That notebook seemed like an important piece of encouragement to me at the time. I wrote a lot after that, despite discouragement. I’ve never really stopped, although I have had a couple of bouts of prolonged writers’ block wherein that restless itch beneath the skin became agonizing. Writing has always been the cure for that.

And remembering this incident also reminded me of something I encountered recently in my reread of Patrick Harpur’s Daimonic Reality:

I have long thought of my art (any art, all art) as an act of worship—or if that’s too strong a word, an act of gratitude and devotion. To whom? The Universe for giving me this means of scratching that itch? Maybe. It doesn’t even matter if it’s good art or bad, whether or not you’re acknowledged publicly in galleries or publishing houses and the like, the act of doing of art shows the Universe that you have the passion and the practice of that devotion. The doing is the important part. That’s why I’m an emotional wreck when I’m not doing that work and why I’m always supremely grateful when it comes back to me.

That notebook long ago was something of a talisman. I may still have it buried somewhere around here, though I haven’t seen it in years. But like any talisman it was good for the time in which it came to me and lasted as long as I needed to look on it and be encouraged. It was indeed a gift, whether from the Universe, some mysterious being, or from some random dude taking a whizz out behind the ice crusher.

Random quote of the day:

“It gets into one’s blood, this long lonely way of writing, like a long sea-voyage.”

—Donna Tartt, A Conversation with Donna Tartt, LanguageIsAVirus.com (Random House), no date given

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Perhaps I write for no one. Perhaps for the same person children are writing for, when they scrawl their names in the snow.”

—Margaret Atwood, The Blind Assassin

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“Who speaks is not who writes, and who writes is not who is.

—Roland Barthes, A Barthes Reader, ed. Susan Sontag

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.


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I finally got around to reading my thank you and goodbye email from Elizabeth Warren. It made me just as sad as I thought it would.
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Clearly, I need to get out more. I’m watching a show on the search for Queen Boudicca’s treasure and I just yelled at the TV, “Boudicca’s booty!” Somebody help me.
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Mike Bloomberg on Super Tuesday: “Please, sir, can I have Samoa?” #DickensPuns
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No matter how much you do in your life there will always be people who say it isn’t enough. So do what you can and realize that most mortals have to choose their battles.
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Certain songs always make me start doing my very bad Billie Holiday impression. (And I always resent it when other singers try to do these songs because, dammit, they belong to Billie.)
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Yep, the three tones in E10 of Hellier S2 still make me nauseated and anxious even after 5 watchings. And when episode 10 finished Amazon suggested I watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
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We had a squirrel living in the yard for many years that we nicknamed Twofer because he would come up and take a peanut out of our hands, shove it into his cheek and reach up so you’d give him another one. And we always did.
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Disabled people aren’t included in most emergency evacuation plans. I found this out when I could no longer easily walk down 3 flights of stairs from my office for evacuation drills. “Stay at your desk & someone will get you after everyone else is out.” Using a cumbersome evacuation chair that the one time we tried it no one knew how to operate.
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What my VRS thinks of this election: “Doesn’t matter who I want to be president, if Bernie is the eventual nominee he’ll get my boat.” It’s a leaky boat but whatever.
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I attempted to read a book by Louis L’Amour in the last couple of days but I have failed in that attempt. The writing was just so clunky I very soon ceased to care about the resolution of the mystery and consigned it to the recycle bag. Go ahead, call me a snob, I don’t care.
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We always walk beside the Veil, but most times we choose to look straight ahead.
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Big brother with a kink? The alarm went off to tell me to take my chicken out of the oven and I said “I’m coming.” (Because doesn’t everyone talk to their alarms?) And the Google speaker on my phone said “That’s good.”
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One of the web crawlers that shows up frequently on my Statcounter account is China Unicom, but I ALWAYS read it as China Unicorn.
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I was watching Vienna Blood on PBS and they had a corpse lady laying out naked on a slab with boobs on full display. Later, they had a live lady with boobs on display but blurred them out. So I guess on PBS dead boobies are okay but live boobies are not okay to show. Go figure.
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I whine, therefore I art.

Random quote of the day:

“When I cease to be carried along, when I no longer feel as though I were taking down dictation, I stop.”

—François Mauriac, The Paris Review, Summer 1953, No. 2

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Random quote of the day:

“It seems to me that all this yapping about writers selling themselves to Hollywood or the slicks or some transient propaganda idea, instead of writing sincerely from the heart about what they see around them,—the people who make this kind of complaint, and that includes practically every critic who takes himself seriously, overlook the point (I don’t see how they can, but they do) that no writer ever in any age got a blank check. He always had to accept some conditions imposed from without, respect certain taboos, try to please certain people.”

—Raymond Chandler, letter to Charles Morton, 28 October 1947

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this random quote of the day do not necessarily reflect the views of the poster, her immediate family, Key and Peele, Celine Dion, or Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. They do, however, sometimes reflect the views of the Cottingley Fairies.

 

Some ignoramus has posted a video on YouTube showing Frank Sinatra with Nat King Cole actually singing the song, “L.O.V.E.” This is the wonderful and classy Nat King Cole:


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Two hours without WiFi and I was hyperventilating. Fortunately, it was a simple fix, but I may have an addiction problem.
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Tommy. His eyes were actually a soulful gray, not blue. He was in his forties and had done his soldiering during World War I. He became a special police officer during World War II so the younger men could go and fight.

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I found an old keepsake box buried amongst a lot of, well, junk. Some genuine keepsakes inside the box, but also some very old story rejection letters from some of the top magazines, stuff I sent out when I was probably barely out of high school. All form letters, of course. I decided my nostalgia did not stretch to holding on to those any longer. I Kondo’d their a*ses.
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That feeling when something seemingly minor turns dark and deep and symbolic…

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I WILL NOT JOIN FACEBERG, no matter how many paranormal and Outlander live events they host. I WILL NOT become part of the evil empire! I WILL NOT! (Although I did succumb a little bit and joined Instagram. Mostly as a lurker.)
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What to do with all these calendars that people gave me because they didn’t know what else to give me? I only need one and that’s the one with kitties that I bought myself.
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Sometimes I look at my house and pity the person who, when I die, will have to clean out and dispose of ALL THESE BOOKS. But mostly I pity the books.
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Zero results from the Iowa Caucus are just about right if you consider Iowa’s relative importance to reflecting the diversity of the United States. They give such outsized importance to Iowa and New Hampshire. Nothing against either of those states but they’re hardly representative of the rest of the country. Yet because somebody gets defeated in either Iowa or New Hampshire often they’re eliminated from the race.
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I get nonsense phrases stuck in my head sometimes. When I was doing research for the WIP on Nazi occult matters recently, the nonsense phrase in my cranial echo chamber was, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn.” Research earworms. I have a weird brain. Fortunately, “Otto Rahn on the Autobahn” made me laugh.
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Ray Bradbury famously said about writing, “Jump off a cliff and build your wings on the way down.” I’m at that stage of my current WIP where I’m wondering if I’ve jumped off the wrong goddamned cliff.
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I’ve been reading Last Mountain Dancer by Chuck Kinder on and off for about a month. It’s both an interesting and irritating book so I’m not sure I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. I keep reading because it’s about West Virginia where Kinder was born and raised and when he talks about that place, the book sings. Then he goes off into the woods talking about his extramarital affairs and his bad boy ways and it gets boring. (I am so done with middle-aged male angst.)

But yeah, when he talks about what a remarkable and strange place West Virginia is on so many levels it’s worth the read. He goes into many legends, those arising from the tragedies of Matewan and the coal mine bosses, as well as Mothman and other less well-known oddities. It turns out his mother was born and raised in Point Pleasant, WV, home of Mothman, and that her maiden name was Parsons—which will have some meaning to those who follow Hellier.
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I was watching a show on Hadrian’s Wall and Vindolanda where they’ve discovered lots of messages to and from soldiers. In one of them the soldier refers to the tribes they were trying to keep north of the wall as “Britunculi”: “nasty little Britains.” My people!
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Hellier has made me way too map conscious. Every time I see something weird about a place I always have to find out where it is in relation to Point Pleasant or Somerset or Hellier or whatever. And it’s kind of amazing how much weirdness connects up.

I say this knowing full well how much the human mind longs for linkages and synchronicities.
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Lewis Black: “Trump is good for comedy the way a stroke is good for a nap.”
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Patrick Stewart was on Colbert the other week talking about when he was younger he and Ben Kingsley were here in LA doing Shakespeare, along with some other actors of the RSC. He said he and Ben went to Hollywood because they were excited to see the hand- and footprints at the Chinese theater (Sir Pat recently joined the famous hand- and footprints there). But the whole time he’s talking I was remembering being a young undergraduate at UCLA where Sir Pat and Sir Ben were doing those Shakespeare performances. During the day when they were not rehearsing or going to Hollywood all of the actors from the RSC would come to classrooms where Shakespeare and theater were being taught, talk to the students, and give impromptu performances. I was lucky enough to be in two such classes. One was Shakespeare, the other on Modern Theatre. I snuck into a third class taught in the theater department and held in an auditorium, but the other two were small English department classrooms. I was lucky enough to sit no more than 6-10 feet away from Sir Pat and Sir Ben while they answered questions and did impromptu performances. Utterly thrilling, even though neither of them was famous at that time. They were just masterful actors doing amazing performances up close and personal. Sir Ben still had his hair back then. Sir Pat did not. But his voice was that rich dark chocolate even back then. PRESENCE, both of them, and I never forgot.
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There’s hope, I think, even thought the GOP did not have the guts to do the right thing. During the impeachment trial I called my doctor’s office and the answering service picked up. As she took my message I heard the impeachment trial playing in the background. America is listening. We won’t forget. I hope they still remember next November.

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