Friday, December 2, 2016

OK, I Forgot.



After all this time, I said I wouldn't forget but then, you know how it is. Stuff happens, you get busy. Before you know it, it's been months since you've written anything on the page.

OK, so I'm back now and I want to at least update this page with what's been happening.

I still write on the Vanderspacebeek Blog every day, without fail. Most days I write on my current project which is a book, a novel. It started as a short story and I couldn't stop it. Pretty soon a couple interesting ideas popped up and I couldn't let go.

You probably can guess what happened after that, I write 70,000 words and now I'm having trouble with it. Endings are tough. The third act is the third rail for me. I can't let it fizzle at the end and I'm apparently to even risk the fizzle because all of a sudden I don't write.

That's going to change though. It's all a journey of self-discovery and loathing. I live with the little psychiatrist in my head who is constantly telling me reasons for my actions or inactions. I'm constantly making new resolutions that look exactly like the old resolutions but this time, this time I'm really serious.

As punishment for my sins, I give myself these tasks. Just like this one. Write 1500 words on why I set myself up for failure over and over again. I'm retired. Little is expected of me. I could sit around reading books with a cup of coffee or tea in my hand all day and if anyone at all noticed, they'd just shrug and think, he's a lazy-ass retired guy. Instead, I choose to dig my way into little crevices and trap myself, and then, if that weren't bad enough, I heap all of this homemade acid bath down onto my head for not living up to the ridiculous imaginary goals I set for myself.

What can I say? It's a living.

This morning, I noticed a great old knife in my bedside stand. It's been there for maybe 20 years. It's a Schrade LB-7. 'The Ultimate Lockback" it was called when I bought it, which was around 1982. It may be the best knife I ever owned.

I bought it because I was taking a week off to go up to cabin a friend owned by Packwood and I was going to work on a book. That was my plan. I thought if I went up into a mountain vacation area alone in a cabin, my imagination would spark and I would write. 1982. I remember being very excited about it. I planned it for weeks and I went up there and it was an adventure. I didn't write a book, I wrote, but not very much. As I remember, I was afraid most of the time and very nervous. I'd like to think I was at the top of my paranoia back then but I don't think that's true.

Anyway, I still have the knife and when I look back at it I remember that time perfectly.

I've got to get busy now. At least pretend to.

***

Monday, October 24, 2016

I Haven't Forgotten



Alright, well maybe I did for awhile, forget, that is. But not on purpose and not forever. That's the difference.

I've been busy. I've been keeping up with the writing on most all fronts. My journal blog, Vanderspacebeek.com gets a daily entry, every damn day. Check it and see. My other site, Rising-Gorge.com has gone quiet for awhile because while I was posting short stories there, my last short stories bolted for the rhubarb and became a novel.

I guess it's my non-official entry in NaNoWriMo just a little early. Actually, it has nothing to do with NaNoWriMo other than it's a novel and it will take about a month to finish it.

The only thing I can tell you about it at this point is that it's about a Hollywood-type working actor that receives a phone call from back home in Ohio that his parents have been killed in a car accident and he goes back to make arrangments.

I can't tell what genre it is, I haven't finished it and so I don't know exactly how it ends but I think it moves along and will keep your attention to the end.

I suspect I've got another week left to finish it. Of course, there will be some editing after that, but the idea will be there.

There isn't even a title for it yet, Even the working title for it sucks, "No Title."

So there, you can't say I haven't written anything here in a while.

I will return!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

A Conversation Between Two Best Friends



I barely heard the conversation at first. I couldn’t quite make out all of what was being said. But I looked out the window at an angle I could see the long black tails of the dogs wagging in the immediate vicinity of our back door, but I could not see their bodies. I knew who they were and how unlikely it was that they would be having a conversation like what I heard. It was clear that the points being made came from someone with another purpose in mind other than being let back into the house so that they could curl up on the spare “dog” couch for a nap.

So what did it mean? At the time I understood clearly that the dogs only represented the actual speakers. The dogs were being employed as a comfortable and recognizable form to me, trusted surrogates. They were after all, my dogs and my friends. So the things they were saying were to be trusted as well. At least I understand that to be the intention of the presentation. I mean, who would doubt the veracity of their own dogs?

It’s true that over the years I’ve been friends with them, about nine years on average for the pair, they’ve been wrong about many, many things, especially in their interpretation of the importance of certain events. The import of, say, opossums crossing the back deck in the night. But I have never known them to deliberately pass on as true, information which they knew to be false. That is beyond the range of any dog. The species in its entirety has a trustworthiness that is the envy of the rest of the animal world. At least in my humble opinion.

It’s true, and thankfully so, that dogs do have a sense of humor and they employ it regularly to our benefit. But it is never at the expense of others and never cruelly. So as I heard them apparently speaking outside my back door, I took it for truth that they believed the substance of what they were saying.

Let me take a moment to assure you, the reader, that I was aware this was a dream. That much was clear to me quickly after seeing that it was my dogs making the points I was hearing. This will be clear to you, if it isn’t already when you hear that they were arguing the relative importance of the writer, the director and the actor when interpreting dialog in a play or film. I firmly believe that my dogs enjoy movies as much as the next dog, but even they would agree and hold with the universal position that says that all art is a collaboration between all of the parties involved, including the audience.

I believe this too and so this elaborate presentation with talking dogs seemed a great deal of trouble to go through to point out the possible different viewpoints. Since it was a dream, I also understand that there were likely no outside agents introducing information into it. It was all coming from me. So I can only guess that I needed to review the arguments in order to solidify the information to myself.

I won’t bore you with the entire conversation as I’m sure you understand the points being made as well as anyone. But I will say there was a lot of repetition, a lot. I asked for that so that I could try to accurately remember what was being said. Having said that, it all became blurry the moment I awoke.

The dream also had some college professor-types in it taking the part of the dogs from time to time. But truthfully, the professors covered very little territory that the dogs hadn’t already gone through to my satisfaction and advanced none of it any further. After all, the various claims of the importance of vision and past experiences, the concept of “fresh eyes” in the interpretation of a screenplay or script can all be clearly made and in some cases are even self-evident.

This even includes the writer of the piece who originated the plot and dialog. Speak to any writer and ask them if they’d ever been surprised by an interpretation of something they themselves had written. They will admit this and sometimes it can form the fertile ground for meaningful introspection. Also don’t forget that these are Labrador Retrievers that we’re speaking of.

In example of the dream, I include the following.

The smaller and younger of the dogs, Smudge, said. “The director is employed to make the project come to life and so bears the ultimate responsibility, most of the time in close consultation with the author, of executing the project so as bring about the desired effect.”

I thought this was a good point. It’s true that in some case the director is the author and I think in those cases, the whole project rises and falls on the vision of that one person, unless special relationships exist with the actors. But for example in a play being performed daily or at least repeatedly, there are understudies for all the parts and especially for the main ones. In such cases, the director’s job takes on added weight in guiding the production so that the audiences are not in danger of seeing many wildly different versions of the same play.

Then the older dog, Scout, said. “But the director is powerless when the moment comes to bring the individual part to life. This is the job of the actor. The chosen actor is not a random assignment such as the third man pulling on a rope. But even the third man on the rope becomes so because of some minimal characteristics; sex, age, strength, maybe height, I don’t know how such things work. But my point is, an actor in a part is there because he or she brings with them some characteristics plus the ability to make you believe they are the part they play.”

Of course I had to agree with Scout here. He’s not only older but the more circumspect of the two in many ways. It was very true. Those who can, do. The actor is the end-organ of the production. The director may be an actor too, quite a few are, but the jobs are different. Many times you hear actors say what they really want to do is direct. That’s probably because they see the increase in the influence of creativity the director can have over a production. An actor acts a part, a director directs a hundred parts.

But still the director must let each actor play their part. The army general that tries to manage each soldier is doomed. Organizational structure makes large projects possible and so there are assistant directors to work on subsections of production while the director manages them all but at the bottom of the structure is the actor, and reading or saying or standing or running has to be acted or performed, to make the part work and tell the story.

The first dog, Smudge, the younger of the two by almost two years, said. “Don’t forget the writer or writers.” He made a good point here. Many times the writer of the screenplay is not the writer of the source material. “The writer saw the story as a whole.” Smudge chuckled at his unintended pun here. Most dogs have a fairly broad and common sense of humor and are not above the pun. “The writer sees the entirety and how all the pieces fit. The writer is valuable not for just providing instant rewrites and additions but to add the voice of wisdom in how changes will affect the entire structure. Besides snappy dialog, this ability to act as the story’s arbiter and referee and protector is a most valuable role. He who ignores the writer, does so at their peril.”

I was surprised here because I’ve never heard Smudge speak with such conviction and surety. Even in a dream. If you knew Smudge the way I do, you probably wouldn’t be surprised at his strong feelings and passion but his obvious grasp of abstract concepts would make you take a second look at him.

Here Scout nodded as he considered what Smudge was saying. “You’re right. I see that. I just keep returning to the fact that when the movie ends, what usually stays in our mind is the memorable acting you have seen, that and twists and turns of the story. The effect of editing and direction are mostly lost on the casual audience. Sure, they can be summoned. If someone grabs you and says; consider how that movie was put together. Think about the music and lighting, the camera angles, the rapid fire way the scenes changed or the slow dissolves between them. Only then do you slow down and see the hand of the director. It is hidden and hidden mostly by the faces and actions of the actors.”

Scout was right, there. The director’s work was hidden, except from those looking for it. The actors were the audience of the director more than the people sitting in the theater seats.

“You’re right,” Smudge said with his ears lowering. “But that’s part of the magic, the way it works. We watch and see something like real life or something completely beyond real life. But either way, it happens right in front of our eyes like a trip to the Vet out the window of the big car. And for a little bit, we can’t tell the difference between that and real life. That’s the way it’s supposed to work.”

And so both dogs stood by the back door, looking through the screen and the glass of the door. Waiting to see someone notice them and walk over to let them in. Both of their tails wagged because life was good and they are best friends and what’s better than being with your best friend in the world.

Their plan was clear. Come in go over and check their bowls to see if someone put some food in them, maybe get a quick noisy drink. Then walk around the furniture back to their dog couch and climb up on it and lay down. From there they could listen to the goings on in the house, responding when needed but mostly just drifting off into a light sleep while the world spun on around them.

I really have no idea why all this was necessary. Maybe it’s a way of getting information into the front rows of my mind. Ready to influence what I do and how I process things. But I’m glad I have dogs to help me get through my day and my night.




The End

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Twisting and Shouting


Thought I'd drop a couple thoughts here this morning in case anyone stumbles by. That way it'll look like someone still cares about the old place here.

Oh, yeah. Me and the guys pop by here most days. Sometimes to throw knives or just to fire the shotguns. You know, it breaks the monotony. Had a great picture of a slug but I used it on the other blog.  I guess I could use it on both. There's no hard rule about that as far as I know. I'll look it up later.

Working on the story of the boxman. Don't know why it suddenly got that designation but it's as good as any. I wonder why stories are so hard to come up with. I must go about them the wrong way. I need to think of stories as a single piece or a what if question. They must have a direction, at least one. Otherwise I beat my head bloody trying to come up with something.

Links,
short stories - http://rising-gorge-.com
bloggery = http://vanderspacebeek.com

If you want to give or get an apology (and who doesn't) go to - http://somebodyowesmeanapology.com

Uh huh!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Citizens of Rome



Wow, two days in a row. What madness is this that keeps the author so late at his gazebo? That ends the amount of Pseudo-Shakespearean language I can pretend to. Sorry, I should have started the piece in a more easily continued form. Like, in the format a Joe Pesci in Casino or Lenny from Of Mice and Men or Raymond from Rainman. I could probably make a decent run at those or at least you'd get tired quickly and move on. As I will.

So, you ask, What brings you to the neighborhood two days in a row. Guilt! That's what. I put this blog up as my author site and then just ignored it as I've ignored being a author of novels for lo, these many months. But it's all in a good cause.

What is the cause? You're really on it today, aren't you? Well, I'll tell you. The cause of learning to write more betterer. That's what cause. Hah!

So is it working? Well hell, you tell me. I think so. I didn't say typing better, I said writing better. I know it's hard to tell but this level of writing takes a while to sink into the old brain. You'll probably awake in the wee hours and be startled by the extra good meaning and feelings that these very words have conjured into your mind. Oooooh!

If not, it's probably just the wind in the clapboards. So get up and go check your clapboards or your cupboards, or your college boards.

My point here is obvious. If I don't write regularly I won't get better and then who will want to read my shit. Well, no one, that's who. (Pure gold, I know). So I think this should do it here for today.

But seriously folks. If you want to read the short story stuff and blogs I've been writing go to the links below. If not, juts keep coming here and I'll let you know when I get around to the really big one.

short stories - http://rising-gorge-.com
bloggery = http://vanderspacebeek.com

If you want to give or get an apology (and who deosn't) go to - http://somebodyowesmeanapology.com

Later.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Long Day's Away



Been a while since I've been here. I've been working on writing short stories and learning more about writing in general. Some of it's been useful, some not so much. I've learned about the formal rules of drama and tragedy from Aristotle's Poetics from around 400 b.c. and that he had nicer hair than mine. So I trust him to know the real beans on writing and stories. Fair enough?

Then I started learning more about modern theories of story structure and character arcs and such. I've got to say I should have saved the money I spent on those books and gotten a couple new fry pans instead. I just couldn't understand them. It could well be that I don't know enough about writing to make sense of what those books are trying to tell me and it could be that my mind doesn't work well with structure or it also could be my natural blind spots for some abstract concepts. But once again I'm left empty-handed when the wagon rolls down the road. There wasn't anything there I could use.

I can't change my nature and you can make up your own opinions about that. I enjoy writing and stories don't come easy to me when I'm not writing them. I have trouble thinking about story lines and plots and character weaknesses and such, until I start writing about them and then they flood in. I guess that pretty much tells me how I have to write. If you want me to build a box, I will spend two weeks drawing diagrams of it before I pick out the wood. If you ask me to write a story, I'm paralyzed until I start hitting keys or scribbling on paper.

So be it.

Maybe someday I'll learn how to outline and diagram a story before beginning but for now, I'll just have to go with my natural abilities. I can take advantage of what's wrong in my mind to let the story find its own structure and let the characters show their own faults and strengths. I think that's all I got.

You can find my short stories are at http://rising-gorge.com

My daily blog and warm-up page is at http://vanderspacebeek,com

That's enough for now, more later,

**

Friday, June 17, 2016

Seven (7) Reasons Why You Should Do Everything the Internet Tells You!

I used to dislike Facebook because I thought it was just fatuous and trendy and insipid and selfish and mean and stupid and mostly just pointless, like teaching yourself French when you don't speak it already and have no resources, like books or tapes, and you have no intention of ever being around any others that speak French.

A couple years later I started a Facebook page because it seemed everybody else had one and people told me I needed one. Now, as far as I remember, everything I ever did because others told me I should, was a mistake on a scale that went from "pointless" through "mildly embarrassing" all the way to "wildly catastrophic with lifelong consequences". So, even now, I wonder why I thought that this suggestion would yield any different results. I should make those last 2 sentences into a macro and assign them to F1 on my keyboard because I obviously have more need of them than I ever did for "Help" as a useful part of my day.

So I made a Facebook page, not for me, mind you, but as part of my "web presence" for my Neuraxiom.com project. It turns out if you make and publish a website, you need to have another "web presence" to elongate, fulfil and enhance your actual website. It's kind of like a Billboard for a Bricks and Mortar store. The problem is mostly that it's a billboard on a block that had 1.2 million other billboards, so some of the basic desirable characteristics of a billboard are lost in translation.

Another analogy for Facebook are those "little nickle" want ad newspapers that have a few personal ads stuffed in between a vast number of cheapo ads for everything under the sun.

So part of having a usable Facebook page is thoughtful, vicious filtering of what you see. If you don't want to spend your life paging through full length transcripts of the contents of everything that has ever been written or synthesized from writing, you must filter out way over 99% of what's out there.

The problem that I'm focused on is dealing with what's left. Just like some people have trouble filtering and of their thoughts from becoming their spoken words, there are people who can't keep from posting them on a Facebook page, or any other social media site.

When I started out on Facebook, I tried to only post what I thought would be interesting to other people. In other words, If I thought that I was the only person I was targeting as my audience, why would I want to post something? Really?

The other concern I have is the people who will post something only if they think it will inflame, provoke or insult someone else. This is the internet equivalent of the sunshine, the lens, and the anthill. Sometimes they show up as trolls and other times, I'm convinced. they just post to piss people off. Their thoughts might masquerade as opinions, but they're just extensions of personal problems, biases and hatreds. Maybe that's the point of social media, but it's a showcase and window on the worst thoughts and convictions a person can be infected with.

You might think that this is another example of what I'm complaining about, and to a degree, you're correct, except that this is pretty vague compared to what I'm thinking of. You 'd see the difference pretty quickly if I wrote the other way.

Enough, let's see. I promised 7 reasons to follow the crap suggestions on the internet.
  1. I'm sure the suggestions are well researched and thought through. How else would they get on the internet? 
  2. They write on the internet because they have your best interest in mind.
  3. They follow their own advice. Why else would they publish it?
  4. Why go to the trouble of using your own mind? They've done the work of thinking for you.
  5. You can always trust someone who spread a single, short point over 15 sequential internet pages loaded with bad-width strangling ads.
  6. The extensive bibliographies at the end of articles let you do your own fact-checking.
  7. It's maybe the only way you'll learn that P.T. Barnum was basically right but was way off on his numbers.
The old saying about what everyone has besides opinions is not only true, but still very appropriate.

Ok, your turn.