“…and just when I thought I was out, life pulled me back in!”
Ahh, that time in a life when creativity is challenged. Calls to My Muse are sandwiched between calls to handle life issues. The transition from legal words to lyrical words is a challenge. Thoughts of creating things are replaced by thoughts of rebuilding things. I’m spitting out all of this fetid swamp water I swallow as I’m dog-paddling to ground I can stand on. I get there and It’s only a moment’s respite. Here come the mosquitos, going for the ears first. Why does the buzzing around in my ear bother me more than getting bit?
“Just bite my ass up and be on your way!”
Swatting at them, I take a step and sink knee-deep in quicksand! Oh great! What’s the saying, “the more you struggle the faster you sink”, or something like that? Everything in my being absolutely rejects that crap. Just stand there and sink? Nah, I’m going to pray (loud and long) but I’m
turning into one Indiana Jones-acting fool also. Just trust God to make that low-hanging branch strong enough to help me pull myself out!
The temple sits shrouded in fog. Dark green and black mold covers the doors and bricks, so thick and expansive I can barely see the mortar in some spots. Sections of carvings peek out through the mold – dragons and devils and snakes and scorpions and other unpleasant creatures. I wonder… How much can I charge them to pressure wash this place?
I enter. Sections of the ceiling have fallen ages ago, scattered over the stone floor of a vast, round hall. There are what appears to be doors every few feet, their entrances shrouded in darkness. Moonlight filters in through the remaining rafters, making a pattern of lines on the floor that resemble cell bars. Cobwebs are everywhere, and where the moonlight touches them they almost seem to glow. The only other object in the hall is a circular pile of loosely placed stones, forming a seat for a thin, bald, white-bearded man. He’s wrapped in white and green cloth, and sits with his legs crossed under him. He’s resting his elbows on his knees, hands propping his chin. Across his lap lays a very long samurai sword. I’m thinking, somehow, someway, I’ve stumbled into Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Part 3.
I’m just a few steps inside the temple, wondering what to do when he points a gnarly finger at me and shouts,
“Nǐ huì fàngqì ma?”
“I’m sorry, I didn’t quite catch that. Could you repeat the question, please?” (Ever polite, am I, imitating the very proper British chap)
He takes a long, sorrowful sounding sigh.
“Nǐ huì fàngqì ma?”
A third time, “Nǐ huì fàngqì ma?”
Now I’m getting pissed, the improper Carolina chap. “WHAT?”
Now he’s pissed off way past my being pissed! He grabs the sword and hops off the stone. As soon as his feet hits the floor I turn around to run, and I see the door I just came though…is no longer there.
A bony hand on my shoulder spins me around, a wrinkled face is thrust into mine!
“Will you give up?”
Sounding like a four-year old kid who sees his bedroom closet door opening by itself in the middle of the night I scream, “Oh Jesus!”
“HE sent me! WILL YOU GIVE UP?”
… to be continued?
My thoughts are spurred by a Tweet from Roger Ebert, referencing this blog post:
Reading this blog post brings back pleasant memories of my Grandfather, who I call Pop. I remember him telling stories to my sister and me. Not stories of ancestral heroes, no tales of ancient tribal battles and victories. Sadly, those stories faded during the Middle Passage. Pop tells us funny stories, scary stories, sometimes funny scary stories. There are jokes, but mostly stories that have us laughing and crying.
I remember how he acts out the stories, sitting in his chair and gesturing and moving and mimicking the action as he talks. My favorite, really the only one I remember the most details about, is about this bad-ass brother who is either the devil or a zombie – I really wish I can remember the details. Devil or dead, he is a Spook, and I do remember he shows up unexpectedly at a campsite. Pop becomes the characters. His eyes open wiiiidddddeeee as he and his friends see this devil. Then Pop becomes The Spook. He grabs the frying pan off the fire and dumps the food right into his mouth, hot grease and all. He grabs the hot coffee and does the same. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and in a low, gravelly voice asks the frightened campers for “More!” Then he reaches into the fire, grabbing a handful of hot coals.
And a little boy and a little girl can’t stop laughing with Pop. I know now how much fun he has telling us these stories. I see his face, and see how much he enjoys making us laugh.
I don’t remember when he stops, probably as I get into my teens. At that time in my world twelve is the cutoff for “childish” games and innocence. As damn near every adult reminds me, it’s the age that Jesus assumes His ministry. Thus, on my twelfth birthday my sins are now my own! I have to stand before God and account for them, can’t blame it on being a kid anymore! I’m pretty sure the stories ends well before then.
I do get a chance to be Pop as I become a substitute teacher after my first retirement. I have an absolute ball reading “Two Bad Ants” to a first grade class. It’s not on the lesson plan for that day, but once I see the title all bets are now off – I know I HAVE to read it, for me a much as them. I can’t act out like Pop, but I read with all of the fun and enthusiasm like him, hoping they are enjoying it as much as I am.
DOWN THE RABBIT HOLE
I surprise myself over the holiday. I do a little reorganization in my home office. Rearrange my bookcase, file away the books and papers from the completed CNF classes, putting current projects close at hand, and so on. I grab a new project folder for the first article I want to publish, label it, and as I turn to put it on the shelf I thought, “Let’s just see what’s out there, just get a little taste of the project, enough to really get the motor running.”
I already have a roadmap in mind: lots of research, interviews, pictures, and footwork. I receive tremendous feedback from my last instructor, a lens through which I can focus more clearly. What I don’t know yet is how long it would take to complete. All I want to do now is just see what a quick glance at Google tells me.
I peek into the rabbit hole, the ground under me gives way, and down I go. Four hours later, I have two pages of handwritten notes, several links and web pages copied to Evernote, a couple of YouTube videos marked, and I have to force my self to stop. I am supposed to be reorganizing. So, quicker than planned I’ve begun to gather material for the article. OK, I guess this is a good sign, and encouraging.
MUSCLE MEMORY CHALLENGE
Just about every book I’ve read about writing has one common recommendation: write, read, and write. Rinse and repeat. Or, as they describe it, develop my “writing muscle.” What I’m doing lately is posting comments to web articles. Getting in a little of both at the same time. The temptation I’m fighting is to start another blog. I want to keep this dedicated to my writing journey, but I know I’d like to follow up on my second blog idea, which lost out to this one as my initial foray into blogging. Trust me, the temptation is strong. Thankfully a quick glance at everything on my desk yells “Caution: Overload” and I come back to earth.
Still, there’s a lot of fun in the back and forth with people (especially sports and politics) and I find myself wishing I could preserve the dialog. Thus, the thought about following through with the second blog. Reading, writing, and preservation. Thank God blogging is cheap! Thank God I’m reminded I really don’t have the time. Thank God for knowing that somehow, someway, I might try anyway!!!!!
Gee, it’s been a year already??
On January 1, 2012 I published my first post. A home for the stories of My personal Renaissance, my life post-retirement, and my adventures in media. It has been an incredible journey, and I’ve written about it often here.
For the last post of 2012, I present:
Glory to God
At this time, want to say a big Thank You Jesus for All of the Blessings I received this year! This has been the one of the best years of my life so far, and I’m very, very, very THANKFUL. Especially thankful for getting me through the last quarter of this year, where it seemed like I faced the most difficult period. Many, many obstacles and issues popped up, but I refuse(d) to let the gremlins win!
And… I want another year like this! Or, as the Henny Youngman joke goes:
A woman and her grandson were walking along the seashore when a giant wave sweeps the little boy away. She begins wailing and crying, “Lord, Lord, please save my grandson! Please return him to me!” A few minutes later another huge wave crashes on the shore, and there at her feet lies her grandson, coughing up water, gasping for air, scared, but alive. The grandmother looks up at the heavens and shouts “He had a hat!
Yep, a greedy little bastard am I !
“Dear Lord, I sure would like a Maybach, and if you can throw in a chauffeur also, that would be awesome!”
Thanks to My Wife
A Big Shout Out to my wife for her support. Couldn’t have much fun without it!!!! Hope to make her proud in 2013!
Speaking of 2013…
I consider almost everything I’ve done this year as “preparation.” Absolutely nothing’s been wasted in terms of lessons, travel, books, and writing and voiceover tools purchased. Obviously taking classes qualifies it, but all of the other Writing and Voiceover tasks I have done (and continue to do right after this post) have set the stage for results next year. Among the many things in my head I want to:
- Publish my first article
- Book my first voiceover job
- See the newly discovered comet
- Watch Season 3 of Game of Thrones
- Attend the Atlanta Film Festival (gift from wife)
Already told you about my writing plans. There’s a big voiceover event in March here in Atlanta that I’ll be a part of – really looking forward to that. Let’s see… what else… oh yea, continue chronicling My Personal Renaissance, right here.
HAPPY NEW YEAR AND GOD BLESS!!
Wishing every one of you the BEST HOLIDAY SEASON !!!
In spite of the recent tragedies and no matter what your faith or belief is, take a moment and reflect on all of the GOOD THINGS that have, or is happening, to you!
After Christmas I will be working on my end-of-year post, which also marks ONE YEAR since I went live! Sheesh, seems like only a few short months ago, but on January 1, 2012 My Personal Renaissance went live! What an adventure it’s been. I already know I won’t “wax nostalgic.” I thought about tackling a Christmas tale from my past tonight, but I think not. Let’s just see where the Muse leads me when I start typing the year ending post..
Once again, ENJOY THE SEASON!!!!!!
GOD BLESS YOU ALL!
Ok, I have an idea for my first official, genuine, bona fide, serious, magazine article. I’ll be working on it the rest of this month, getting everything prepped for the next step – my Query Letter. Right now I’ve submitted it for review, and once that’s done I’ll adjust accordingly and get it in the mail. As it’s the holidays I’ll probably submit in January. So here we go…jumping into it!
2012 has been all about preparation and training, learning the tools of this trade. I know that I haven’t learned everything, but now I’m anxious to get rolling. I know I haven’t wasted any time this year; as a matter of fact I’m in the home stretch of my Certificate Program (Thank You Jesus) and I’m really proud of that. Basic Training is about done, and in 2013 I’ll be on active duty.
Thank God so far I’ve received good reviews from my instructors, so that’s an extra shot of confidence. I’m not even worried about rejection, I’ve already had a couple of op-ed pieces I submitted this year turned down. However, I did get a comment I posted to an article in the New York Times web site recognized by the Editors, listed with others under the “Top Comment” section. I can live with a one-for-three score now.
So next year can’t get here fast enough. I’ve got my Voiceover plate spinning at full speed also, and as I’ve mentioned in previous posts I’m still doing my balancing act between the two. Big things are already under underway for that as well next year, but at this point I’m going to start detailing that in a separate blog dedicated to just voiceover. An interesting thing I learned from my Publishing class is that almost 100% of the marketing and branding techniques are the same in both fields. So, a VO blog will be another web life form next year, and Dennis 2.0 will just be about writing.
Oh, before I forget, I’m very happy, proud, blessed, and Thankful to have one of my earlier posts referenced by another blogger, so please check Amaya Ellman out: ellmanbooks.com/2012/12/13/creative-nonfiction-is…
See you next post, definitely plan to get one in before New Year, as I went live with this blog on New Years Day 2012. One year!!! Thanks to God!