Retired

That’s what I am !!!!

Pop’s Stories

My thoughts are spurred  by a Tweet from Roger Ebert, referencing this blog post:

Raised in Fear: Horror Films as Schoolyard Lore | Press Play.

Grandfather Stories

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.

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STARTING 1ST ARTICLE: PROJECT 2013

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!!!!!

ONE YEAR

Gee, it’s been a year already??

renaissance posterOn 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:

Press Play: 

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 !

Four Maybachs in Pebble Beach, CA

“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!! 

Dennis 2.0 logo clean

MERRY CHRISTMAS & HAPPY HOLIDAYS

A Christmas tree inside a home.

 

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!

 

 

 

Dennis

 

 

 

2013 – PROJECT #1

Writer's Digest Book Shipment

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!

 

DOMINOES FALLING

English: Cropped version of :Image:Domino effe...

As any follower of my blog can tell by now, I tend to dwell on the GOOD THINGS in life.  I’m not untouched by BAD THINGS, I’m just uncomfortable talking about it.  What I keep hearing is that Bad Things, aka CONFLICT,  is considered  an integral part of writing.

Of course, you can’t have a novel without conflict.  Same for movies.   The hero has to struggle, overcome, or succumb, but there is conflict.  You set up the dominoes, giving each one a descriptive name,  and in Chapter One you knock over the first one.  Life is like that, and when Bad Things happen – the domino labeled “Conflict” falls –  I often wonder where and when the first one fell.  The worst dominoes are in the Deja Vu moment of  my life, the movie I’ve seen before and I know how it ends.  My  dog escapes and the one yard he choses to dig up happens to belong to the neighbor I  already have problems with. I hear the clacking sounds they make as they fall  and I think  the usual “oh, no, it can’t be happening again!”

Sometimes , if I’m smart enough, I can try to intercept one of them  before it falls.  More often than not, I sit in slack-jawed awe and watch them fall towards me, beat the crap out of me, and continue down the line.  I  look out the window and see the dog hauling ass to my neighbor’s yard.  “Sonofabitch DID happen again!”

So let me see, El Conflicto is a permanent travel partner, and if I’m writing  about life then it makes sense to at least recognize him in my writing.  Damn, that’s a hard pill to swallow.  Let’s see this example: I went to the park.  Met a movie star.  Had a nice conversation.  Told her I’m interested in writing screenplays.  She provided a contact, and  I live happily ever after. I’m not a starving screenwriter, I’m pretty content. Now I want to share that life changing experience.

And the conflict is…????????

Need to do some more thinking about this.    Discovery Moment here:  easier for me to write about conflict as a subject.

Maybe I need to get a better grip on what is conflict. Get beyond conflict = The Poseidon Adventure.  Try to determine in my example what  bad domino tumbled the one labeled “Chance Encounter Leads to Success”  ?

A Beginner’s Musings on Creative Nonfiction Writing – Summoning the Muse Part 2

Creative Nonfiction

       Here’s the rest of my essay from my Creative Nonfiction Writing class:

========================================================

While my First Assumption is crumbling, the Second is closely following. Prior to my first class, I think creative nonfiction writing meant interviews, straight reporting, op-ed pieces, and everything else falls under “creative fiction.” The first stories I read, the first assignments I write, are all in exact opposite of who I am. I thought everything has to be tales of sorrow. Personal agony, heartaches, turmoil, all for sharing. While I admire the personal courage   it takes to open one’s life to strangers, I am hesitant at first to do the same.  It’s not in me to talk about myself, let alone write about it. I’m partly sunny, glass half full, and I firmly believe there’s a pony in there somewhere.

 

I am curious about things, life, and people. I want to know what makes it work, how did they do that, what was on their mind, why did they do that? Only the DVD’s that contain the “Making of…” features are purchased. My first thoughts about this genre give me pause. One month into the writing program and I wonder if I’ve made a mistake.

 

Thankfully, I am exposed to writers like Talese and Iyer, writers who write from the “indirect I” perspective. I especially like Talese’s style. The clouds part and the birds sing again. I can do this.  There is no consent form I have to sign before publishing that stipulates, “Only stories of personal pain, defeat, despair, and/or desperation are accepted for first publication.” I am pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading about a father taking his infant daughter along on a mountain trail in the story “Cloud Dancing.”

 

More self-discovery occurs. I do share something of myself. I write about cloudy days. I share a story of a short-lived escape to New York City from an unhappy home. I share another story of the relationship with my stepfather. I notice I do not lose any sleep after. No one looks at me with sorrowful eyes, shaking their head in sadness. A comforting hand is not laid on my shoulder and I hear, “You poor bastard, that is just awful!”  I develop a recognition and appreciation of the courage of others sharing their personal pains, and triumphs.

 

I have developed an appreciation for the “creation” part of the process. I like it. I can write a plain description of my first trip to Los Angeles, and the thrill of seeing the Grand Canyon and the Rockies. I know now I can do better than that – I can take the reader with me, a companion on my journey. I love flying, so the window seat is mine! They’ll have to settle for the inside seat. Not to worry, I’ll paint a picture in words of what I’m seeing.