Archive for August, 2012|Monthly archive page

No-Name is best

In Animals, Revision on August 31, 2012 at 5:37 am

The moments that sustain.

The others – all the others – need their full share of attention. You can’t even begin to know the value of what sustains without the context.

No one-size-fits-all in what sustains and what doesn’t. Sometimes, it can be the memory of something so fleeting, you hardly noticed it in the moment. A scent. A specific slant of light on one rock formation, or even on a piece of stone on a cracked sidewalk. The crinkle of a smile from a stranger with nothing to sell, and nothing to get from  you other than the equivalent of that hi-hi between two sentient beings on planet earth.

Or the powerful connection from a conversation with someone you’ve appreciated for a long time; someone who’s been circling you, while you circled him or her. The moment never just right; and then, here it is. The moment. What will come of it? Mystère. No matter. A connection. A direction. A form of affectionate respect for the power in things, in animals, in people. Affection, plus respect.

The moment that sustained me, yesterday, had to do with a horse and the conversation that horse allowed between myself and someone else.

The rest of yesterday had none of the blessed quality of the day before when I worked on revision as if in a place of total privacy and trust. Yesterday was fraught with a sense of intrusions and all the frustrations that come from being crowded, inspected, suspected, questioned, observed, caught out, interpreted, analyzed, labeled. A place of sleeping and waking nightmares.

The story has those moments. Life has them too. As far as I’m concerned, the story isn’t about the night or the day mares. The story is about those moments that sustain. The moments, for example,  when a human and a horse  form a bond of trust from which they can learn from one another, and give added meaning to all the experiences that came before, and whatever lies beyond the next bend and twist in the trail.

There’s no horse in this story. There will be in the next. Whether the horse in the next story will have the shape of one or of something else: yet to be discovered.

Revision Issues

In Animals, Revision on August 30, 2012 at 6:40 am

my main interest this morning is in getting on with the revision. Knowing my head, it won’t leave me alone unless I post this, then get on with things.

Main concerns as I revise:

– Balancing out the more cartoon-ish aspects of some of the descriptions and characters.

– Making sure each character speaks in his or her own words, and picks up those elements in the surroundings that make sense to the character, not to the writer.

– Giving more thought to those elements where I know persons might be hurt by recognizing elements drawn from their personal experiences. This last makes me stop and consider some scenes with extra care. In several instances, I haven’t resolved the issue yet. I’ll probably need to run over those scenes again. Even if the matter is  known and discussed openly around town, and even if names and circumstances are modified, the fundamental questions are:  if the scene is necessary, does the same hold true about those specific details? Can the scene work just as well without them or with other details used to move along the story?

The jury is still out on this last one, but as long as the question crops up in my head every time I read through the scene, I’m not ready to let it go.

Und now, what? Eh. A walk to the park with the dog (in the rain, therefore, a wet dog smell awaits when we come back); revision. voilà.

Can I go play now?

Yes, you may go play.

Writing, Deleting, Re-Writing

In Animals, Drafts, Music, Revision, Theater on August 29, 2012 at 6:26 am

The best way to keep yourself from going start raving and shrieking bananas: lots to do and not enough time.

What if life doesn’t play along? What if the Jack Nicholson in maniac mode lands on your head  – aka anxiety meltdown (no need to look it up, my term for it). Meltdown because too much time, not enough to do, and no news that’s fit to share with anyone; no one being around with whom to share it anyway.

Only way for me: shut down the computer. Find something much bigger than yourself and your meltdown. Find some way to get Nicholson out of the apartment. Get some sleep; where the friendly spirit proved to be a horse by the name of Zingaro, in this case.

Remind yourself life plays. Your job to figure out how best to deal with whatever part is yours in the most recent improv on its way to the next thing. Sometimes, it’s the sound and fury signifying nothing; sometimes your brain aches from listening to silence. Sometimes, things work.

For now, story-wise: they saw the writer through one bad moment; they see the person through several others. Whether that means they should get trotted out on the first page of a story from a nobody who won’t get another chance at readers? A valid question. If I had a printer, I’d print them out, and set them up near my computer. I don’t, so I’ll pretend.

Tuesday morning, August 28th 2012

In Dance, Drafts, Film, Music, Poetry, Revision, Theater, Visual artists on August 28, 2012 at 5:00 am

With minor adjustments, the post I wrote on February 9, 2011 could serve as a description of the draft as it now stands. If I considered the story ready to go, the first title that would come to mind this morning would be: No Answers Available at This Time. Except I’d have to work in the notion of some singing and dancing going on as stand-ins for all the missing answers.

This Time being all those times when you may long for straight answers to your questions but you won’t get them. Or they won’t come when  you feel you most need the information. In other words, all those times when life does not play the game you thought it was playing. How humans cope with that. How you, personally, cope with that at various ages, or  in different circumstances.

I may work in a few more changes to the story. At this point, I doubt it will change much, except for specific shadings in the exchanges; perhaps some modifications in the final chapter.

But answers of the solid kind? Of the kind you can hold in your hand as proof positive of your own words and intentions, or of someone else’s? Once you get beyond the photo ops, the sound bites, the ads and the press releases, you find precious little of those.  Instead, you find poetry, music, songs, dance, painting, acting,  writing and every other way devised to pay  uncertainties – their shapes and some of their possible meanings – all the attention they deserve.

Sound of rain, starting up. Smell of earth, rising. Rumbles of thunder in the distance. Tuesday morning, August 28th 2012.

Crowded Mornings

In Animals, Drafts, Food, Music, Revision, RLB trivia on August 27, 2012 at 5:42 am

Always makes for complicated wake-ups when some of the characters are talking in the background; you start listening in.  “This is interesting,” you tell yourself. “Should the writer follow up on this, or just let those good folks be on their way?” Because while the body’s waking, there’s also the writer in revision mode listening in to expert advice from the resident inner expert. “At this point,” the RIE says, “you need to stick close to the characters,  yes of course; BUT you should be gaining a bit of elevation and distance, too; looking at the story as a whole etc” (I add the etc so the body can move on. Meanwhile, the RIE continues in the background).

Also present this morning: the body,  an essential feature, trying to get minimal bearings and sense of general direction – which way the desk, which way the coffee maker. Plus, the one who knows today is Monday out in the workaday world. Maybe yes, maybe no, today a body finds out more about if and when the next work contract kicks in or doesn’t.

Must be a couple of others lurking around. Ah yes, parents of some of the characters, also  holding background conversations.

Makes for a lot going on, so early in the morning. Allez, we set forth, bunch; we see how it plays. (Oy, now each one of the bunch starts up with the tune that works best for setting forth.)

Let’s pause for coffee.

(And the daschund now. But, of course.)

“Ha Uma Musica Do Povo” *

In Music, Revision on August 26, 2012 at 7:04 am


Little to say here, this morning. The closer I work my way toward the last part of the story, the more attentive I become to every single word, comma, semi-colon, paragraph break.

The music playing in my head right now: a fado –  the Portuguese version of the blues being the best way to describe it.

Looking forward to listening to music outside my head too; for the time being, I’ll stick to the record changes suggested by the inner disc jockey. Hopefully, he/she/it will be in a livelier and more upbeat number later on today. Usually the case, I’ve noticed, when time comes for a break.

* On the album Transparente by Mariza.

Dark, Light

In Drafts, Music, Revision, Theater on August 25, 2012 at 5:13 am


In an opera such as The Magic Flute, for example, you always find a combination of high-minded ones (usually, the main tenor and soprano) whose job it is to carry the Master Theme – something of great import. Next to the high-minded, fools or servants get to provide comic relief – either by debunking their masters or by carrying on their own business with little regard for the profound significance of the deeper meanings of What’s It All About.

Tragedy. Comedy.

What happens if you try to mix the two? Can you get the two ingredients to co-exist  – not only in the same opera, play, film or novel but within the same scenes, the same characters and their ways of relating to their own experiences, and those of others?

Ah. I don’t know but  this is what I’m attempting to do. Will I manage it? Maybe not; one less thing to worry about. If I don’t get the mix right this time, I’ll try it again the next time out.

Somewhere, beyond the curses

In Animals, Dante Alighieri, Drafts, Film, Now playing in a theater near you, Revision, Sanford Meisner, Story material on August 24, 2012 at 6:07 am

Words or images that come back to haunt you. Self-definitions inherited from taunts or angry outbursts. In fairy tales, they show up as the wicked one who messes up the party with that dire prediction of doom. “So you want to escape your fate? No way, ha-ha-ha.” And so on.

Somewhere. Inside your own mind – because, ultimately, there’s nowhere else to go. Somewhere, there’s something even better than the blessings from the good fairies.

Finding that somewhere when life isn’t being cooperative. When your every move seems to bring you back to the heavy, tethered place; where you feel like the large, ponderous, pre-historic hulk and the one stuck with the damn thing. Or the guest who won’t take the hint: the party’s over now; you may leave, please. Your host and hostess wish to retire now. Goodbye.

But the guest lingers on.

Moving the story along. Knowing the story must go through places that try the writer’s patience somewhere beyond its outer limits. Deciding to stick it out anyway. Therefore, reading from the top. Stepping away. Coming back. Finding every single place in the story that grates or leads back to more stuck-ness. Knowing the story is your only vehicle. If it feels like you’ve landed it on a sandbar, your job to get it moving again, whether or not there’s a two-ton rhino on board.

Something Else

In Drafts, Revision on August 23, 2012 at 6:32 am

Slow? Slow.

The moments. Which ones? Memories may seem to appear in a random and haphazard way. The brain isn’t   like that. Even if a memory seems unrelated to an ongoing event, the brain is making a connection somewhere. Something about this pulls up that association. Another part of the brain’s job to figure out the connection.

Obvious, sometimes. You overheard a few words; the tone of the voice or the words in themselves triggered an association to someone speaking that way to you at another time. You take off on the memory of that time – good or bad. File the present moment as belonging to the same category. Available as such, for future reference.

The better ones – the brain teasers: xyz is happening. Out of nowhere, a bit of music pops up; or a line from a long-forgotten poem; or a tiny trace of a stroll somewhere, lost in the mist of times. Something no bigger than a small trinket or a party favor; yet still so loaded with powerful associations, the brain retrieves it the way a pearl fisher comes up from the dive. Here you are, your brain says. Gift. For you. From  you to you.

How to apply the same principle to characters in a story being the reason for the slowness this morning.

Being Human

In Drafts, Sanford Meisner on August 22, 2012 at 5:37 am

Not as a philosophical concept, not as a topic for a school essay, not as a “what if” sending delicious thrills thanks to visions of alternate realities, out there. Uncertainty as a way of life.

Uncertainty as to what comes next. Uncertainty as to what is trustworthy, what isn’t. Whose word is best taken into account; whose, best ignored.

Telling the stories of uncertainty – your own, other people’s, no better, no worse than you. A few monsters, thrown into the mix? Perhaps; although there’s little need of full-fledged ones.

What keeps people going when there’s no justifiable reason to do so – and no belief in an afterlife gained through cheerful acceptance of the harsh, straight and narrow  as pre-requisites to it? How do they keep themselves going? What do they choose to let go in their belief system (not even talking about material possessions, although that’s part of the picture, obviously).

What do people choose as their core beliefs when life doesn’t pan out as expected? When other people they loved and in whom they trusted die or leave, or reveal aspects of their personality that change the picture in fundamental ways?

How do people deal with aloneness – the chosen kind, and the one brought on by exclusions of different varieties?

Where do people find comfort? Relief? How do they deal with others they meet, who may be in better or worse circumstances than their own?