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Blog Notebook

MASTODON: Happy 20th Anny!

fb_img_15789483824517451081384724693038.jpgHappy 20-year anniversary to one of my all-time favorite bands. In January 2000 drummer/eventual vocalist Brann Dailor and guitarist Bill Kelliher met bassist/vocalist Troy Sanders and guitarist/vocalist Brent Hinds at a HIGH ON FIRE concert in Atlanta and later that month MASTODON was born when the boys had their first infamous band practice. The rest as they say is history.

 

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Notebook

Recurring Dream, Recurring Theme

Dreaming of crowds - grayscaleTypically the way it works on a nightly basis is: despite the vivid experience of dreaming, the specific details of dreams tend to fade rather quickly upon waking. However, in spite of that fade away there tends to at least be some residue of the general theme or primary emotion experienced during the slumber.

For me, for as long as I can remember, the general recurring theme has been about connection & disconnection. Gatherings and un-gatherings. The progression seems to be:

  • A gathering of familiar and unfamiliar people (i.e. a crowd).
  • A separation from that gathering.
  • A journey of some sort, often alone.
  • Abandonment – a sense of separation and loss is prevalent throughout, sometimes causing emotional stress.
  • Reconciliation – the ultimate goal is to return, reunite and reconnect with familiar people and place (belonging). This, however, is not always a successful goal.

This is the ongoing series I deal with on a nightly basis without fail. It’s not always a disturbing experience as it’s happening, but when it is disturbing I tend to recollect that aspect upon waking.

I’ve long wanted to indulge in dream analysis therapy and have someone of a  psychological profession help interpret my dreams, or at least the residue of them. But even without that I know that at my core the fear of abandonment has always been there. Why? I can’t be sure, but they say these things tend to be the result of a traumatic experience at a young age. So perhaps mine is due to getting lost at an amusement park (King’s Island in Ohio) at age six just as the place was closing and everyone was leaving. A traumatic experience for a child at that age, so far from home and faced with the unknown.

I also know that at my core I’m all about making and preserving connections to people. And, like most, I’ve dealt with more than my share of disconnections, regrettably. So I know that sense of loss is inherent to the proceedings.

Given all that, I’m inclined to believe this recurring theme will always be a part of my nightly dreaming.

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Blog Notebook

A Guitar Is Always Nearby

On the eve of Thanksgiving I was up in my bedroom alone while all the girls were downstairs watching this season’s Hallmark Christmas movies with their mom/aunt. I was getting sleepy really, having burned the candle longer this week than I should have. So I was starting to come to terms with the possibility that I was going to finally miss a day (night, really) of NaNoWriMo productivity after going a RECORD 20 DAYS STRAIGHT this year. I truly did not want to break the streak, which is just a personal goal of accomplishment, but I was a little too drained to muster the mental energy (I’m sure that whatever mental reserves I had left were exhausted after getting home from work and reading seven or so chapters of ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis).

An easy distraction for me in general is listening to music, whether it’s old favorites or discovering new-to-me artists and their tunes. Last night I was listening to various acoustic songs and since I have my two acoustic guitars in my bedroom at all times I wound up grabbing one of them and learning an old song I’ve always loved and wanted to be able to play someday. Mission somewhat accomplished . . . I can play parts of the song, but it’s a bit of a struggle since I’m not a great fingerpicking guitarist (on the bass I play with my fingers quite proficiently).

And lo, a little later as I’m contemplating surrendering to bed, I grab the guitar again to just see what comes out of me spontaneously and I just happened to come up with two parts of a new song, another in a long line of simple acoustic songs that I need to ultimately finish and record to make another collection/album. Immediately I had a vocal melody for the verse part and so as not to lose this unexpected burst of creativity, I grabbed my phone and hit record on the audio recorder app because at my age there’s no way I can leave it to chance that I’ll have the total recall of anything, especially brand new notes to a new song. Case in point, this morning I can’t for the life of me even remotely remember what I wrote last night, so it’s a good thing I recorded it. Afterward I laid in bed trying to conjure some lyrics for the verse melody, but it was to no avail. I threw in the towel and gave in to sleep with the light still on.

I write all of this simply to say that it’s real easy for a musician to be distracted and tempted to play when a guitar is always nearby.

Oh, an what was that song I learned? “Desolate Ways” by MORBID ANGEL (sample below).

And now it’s time for morning tea.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My Acoustics

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Blog Notebook Quotes

Art Junkie

We have art so as not to perish from the truth.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Back in the early days of social media, and I mean way back to like 2002-03 when I was on Live Journal (and not yet on Friendster, then MySpace and later Blogger, Twitter, Facebook, WordPress and Tumbler — sheesh), I went by the handle of “Artjunkie”. It was fitting because that’s exactly what I was and still am today: a junkie for the arts.

My primary art jams are the literary arts (reading books and writing prose) and graphic literature (comic books and graphic novels) and, of course, music. Naturally, movies and television factor in as well, but Read! Write! Rock! is my mantra, they’re the activities I do most often in my spare time (wait, spare time exists?). I consume and create a lot art (although I hoard a lot of my own artistic creations). I’ve been writing fiction and nonfiction seriously for about 25 years and have been a musician/songwriter for 30 years as of this past Summer — the Summer of ’88 was when I started playing guitar to get the musical ball rolling. Now I’m a multi-instrumentalist and vocalist with a dozen local bands and solo projects behind me. [See About for publishing credits and My Music for selected streaming tunes.]

These days it seems all I want to do is consume and create art, my social life (and work life if I could) be damned! Sure, art is a great source of entertainment (and we’ve been in a golden age renaissance of television the last decade-and-a-half at least), but the arts are a great coping tool for the many things that ail us. Art can be good for daily stress, mental health, exorcising personal demons, enlightening oneself on life and helping us better understand the world and understanding our place within it.

The late great German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is notable for saying that “Without music, life would be a mistake.” I wholeheartedly agree with that one.

In addition to the quote at the top about art, he also said:

06693-nietzsche-quote-badge1-413x413

I’ll leave it at that.

 

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Authors Blog Journals Notebook Writing

Brother, Can You Spare Some Prose?

~ Notebook #11 ~

When you’re looking to reincorporate lean muscle to your prose and you turn to the maestros of the minimalist, clean, no frills, straight-to-the-point (and straight-to-the-heart) narrative technique. I have a tendency in daily speech and writing to use a lot of complex sentences (and parenthetical asides) and when I’m not mindful of it, I tend to let that creep into my prose, especially when I’ve not been writing fiction narratives for a good while (an obvious drawback to mostly writing in a nonfiction capacity daily for so many years now).

I’ve been reading both Elmore Leonard and Bob Thurber since the late 90s (starting with Thurber at an online workshop just prior to his entering award-winning publishing success). Both of these authors cite Ernest Hemingway as a major influence on them. Only makes sense that I finally dig deeper into the guy at the top of this literary family tree I’ve adopted, so I hit up my local public library for Mr. Hemingway’s collection, and since I don’t (for some odd reason) own Mr. Leonard’s collection, I grabbed that too.

On my bookshelf I already have a few novels of Mr. Leonard, and naturally I have a personally signed copy of Mr. Thurber’s dysfunctional novel, Paperboy. On my hard drive I have a couple of Mr. Thurber’s collections of short stories, most of which are micro and flash fictions — hence the reason I dubbed him the Maestro of Microfiction over a decade ago, also because he writes with absolutely no fat in his narrative prose — it’s lean with only the most essential nutritional literary ingredients.

If I’m going to attempt to finally re-engage myself in pantser writing, and writing actual first drafts again with little regard to upfront editing (I’m an obsessive on-the-go editor), then I will need to help curb that OCD tendency by writing as plainly and as succinct as possible. Taking a refresher course with these three professors will help immensely.

Who are some of the writers you turn to when you’re needing to recharge your batteries?

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Blog Journals Notebook

Bibliophilic Bookworm

~ Notebook #10 ~

bibliophile – a person who loves or collects books.

bookworm – a person devoted to reading or studying.

Guilty as charged. When you can swoon at the olfactory interaction of books–burying your nose in them to inhale their great scent–then you (I) might have a book-loving problem. I can’t get enough of them. I also can’t read them fast enough. I’m a bit of a collector–not quite a hoarder, but I do: 1 — prefer to have things in a physical, tactile form, and 2 – physically keep the things I like. I’m that person who would, if he could (and maybe someday) line a room in his home with nothing but bookshelves filled end-to-end with books, a collection of mostly yet-to-read books. Nothing represents potential quite like an unread book (just like an unfilled, blank page).

And of course this all naturally extends to what I like to call my Comic Book Fetish as well.

Speaking of comics, I saw this the other day (ignore the 2015 date — there’s no expiration on this kind of initiative for literacy).

wp-1486086602100.jpeg

You can even support this initiative annually without spending a dime when you participate in Free Comic Book Day, every year on the first Saturday of May. This year it’s on May 6th. It should be a national holiday.

fcbd_wide_logo

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Blog Journals Notebook

Notebook 9 | Waving the White Flag

I’m baaaack! Yeah, I wasn’t gone long and as I stated last week, you know what this quick return means. Details below.


How ’bout that NaNoWriMo experiment?

So what did I learn within my first couple of days of NaNoWriMo?

  • My new fiction prose is VERY rusty. I seem to be sharper when working on my previously written prose when revising and editing. And I can flow here in a nonfiction or even a journalistic mode with ease. I suppose my previous years in the role of a fiction editor as well as spending the last 5 years mostly writing nonfiction will do that to a fella’s fiction flow.
  • Contrary to my optimism, I can’t use a first-person POV for a long-form prose narrative like a novel.
  • Aside from very short fiction, I am far outside my comfort zone when stuck with the lack of narrative control that is 1st person POV. That lack of narrative authority.
  • My best prose writing days might just be behind me, or so my mind, lacking confidence, has been whispering to me. At least in terms of long prose fiction. We’ll see how it’s looking once I (someday?) shake the rust off.
  • It turns out that what I’ve been writing for one long-term character of mine has actually been the story intended for a different long-term character of mine who belongs to a different and even more aged unfinished project of mine (which originates as far back as the mid-to-late 1990s).

So what does this mean moving forward?

  • Well, at a mere 1,426 words in the first week on a troubled project, it’s safe to say I’ve failed NaNoWriMo 2016 and have effectively bowed out of the initiative/contest.
  • You can say that all of this is a litany of excuses, and that’s fine, but at 43 I know full well how my psyche works against me.
  • Serialized fiction seems to be the ideal setup for my wayward, unsettled self. I’ve been telling that to myself for a while now. Get in quickly for a short intense burst of creative output, get out and back to life, come back to do it again, rinse and repeat.
  • My online library, archive and de facto publisher RUCKERPEDIA could be the perfect venue for that mode of operation. Stay tuned.