Dog Ear
Angst (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 02 November 2017 19:12

come across my hating fair.”

This from Poopdeck Pappy in the ill-fated movie Popeye. It’s a great statement from the top-down look. It says that hate (and anger and other passionate emotions) are not just felt, they are controlled and considered. I really like that.

The thing is, I’ve mentioned that I’ve had a hard couple of months and work has significantly factored into this. Without going into details, all the things they claim they do (compassion, caring, teamwork), they, well, haven’t. I labored over long evenings for over a month and nobody said anything, did anything, or supported me in any way.

Don’t get me wrong. As mentioned a few DOG EAReds ago, Nemo and Ahab were two captains who let rage and resentment shape them into who they were. You can be sure that if I were going to write some sort of anti-corporate story, the events I endured would factor in. I’d simply allow the experience to course from my memories, down my arms to my typing hands, and there it would be. A lot of the first few chapters from Early ReTyrement came from actual experiences, and Skip Mattocks? I took him from a person I really resented, an absolute shit weasel. Hey, why not? Write what you know.

So the point of it is that I’m carrying a lot of resentment about the last few months. My rah-rah attitude is very much diminished. I’m not doing anything about it. No nuclear powered submarines nor hijacked whaling expeditions. No, I’m just nodding that it happened, that I got a glimpse of the true corporate soul, and I’ll carry in it my literary back pocket if I ever need that sort of thing.

But then again – my company recently sponsored a two day event where they threw a long series of exercises. It’s about play and discovery and experimentation and all that other bullshit that doesn’t mean anything, not in the cold light of my experience. There were childrens’ books (I kid you not) and coloring (I kid you not again). And did that help?

If a person was dealing with the aftermath of a horrible event, a murder of a relative, say, do you think crayons will help them?

Doesn’t help me. When I’m made to stand up, to run over and get some card so we can draw the next pointless image with our apologetically inartistic abilities (because nobody want to really draw, do they? They don’t want their art to stand out), it actually had a counter effect. I’m actually even more angry now, simmering in the resentment of making my frustrations and debasements into a game. It doesn’t answer anything. It doesn’t address anything. It is the clouding of the truth (the human condition, as dark as it needs to be) with the corporate mission (whatever it takes to get a task checkboxed for the next departmental review).

Artists grab their emotions with both hands. They don’t draw bunnies when they are unhappy, they draw Cthulhu. Most artists wrestle with depression and frustration and anger their entire lives. Artists are not “most people”. We are not consumers, and we are not suburbanites. We fuel off our passions. And our passions are not resolved by drawing circus clowns with a marker.

“I come across my hating fair.”


P.S. Okay, so the very next day, it was like the entire corporation showered me with praise. I received high accolades from people in senior positions. Everyone liked me. And that leaves me looking like an ingrate. I almost didn’t post this, but I will because this is how I felt when I wrote it a few evenings back. The point here is that we writers should ride our emotions and not suppress them.

Still, this sort of thing, I feel like Rick at the Council of Ricks. And you’re cool if you get the reference.

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 November 2017 19:18
Bootstrapping (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 26 October 2017 00:00

ow that I’ve given up jogging and I’m doing quick lunch-time rush-writing (an hour each time, typing with one hand, holding my sandwich with the other) I’ve begun to notice a thing I do that I’ve only just identified. In fact, when I wrote Indigo years back during lunches, I’d do the same thing.

So, what I’m doing is something I’ll call “bootstrapping”.

Works like this. When I settle into writing, my mind enters a streaming state where part of it is imagining the moment of the scene. It pictures the characters, their actions and reactions, the pace of the story, even the surroundings and weather.

Another part of my brain is working over this imagery, breaking down the 3D scene into a 1D stream of text. It’s one thing to imagine the moon speared by cool mountain pines, it’s another thing to process it into text data (like I did using the word “speared”, which positions the trees and moon and mood all in a single word).

And yet a third part of my brain is handling logistics and inventory control. How much description have I done in this chapter? Where are we at in this chapter? Should I be scene-setting now (you scene set usually at the beginning of chapter, rather than waste it at the end (where the reader might well walk away at that point, forgetting moon and pines and spears when he returns)).

And that’s why I love writing. My brain is suddenly lighting up across all lobes, converting my dreams into a written work. It’s very busy and brisk and leaves me with a sloppy smile when it’s time to return to the real world.

Ah, but bootstrapping.

So my brain is racing along, running several different levels of functions as I write. And suddenly it’s time to stop, to close the laptop, to return to my desk. But things don’t occur that quickly. Like a tractor trailer on an icy road (with a background of pines and speared moon), it takes me a while to stop. Even as I walk to the elevators, watch the indicator, get inside and mutter “howwazlunch?” to the returning drones, I’m still thinking of plot path and word use and phrase construction. I’ll even find myself jotting ideas down as I settle at the desk, keeping  the ideas I had after the laptop was put away. My mind stills but it remembers that skidding slowdown, those postit notes, the scene I’d just imagined. It stays through my commuting and clubs and meals and minutia. It’s there, waiting.

So a day or so later, when lunch falls and I can do back to the far corner of the break room and write, there is that moment where I ponder Now what the hell was I working on? How do I write? Look at all that empty screen. And this is when I bootstrap. This is when I remember those pines, that moon. And there is that postit note, the one with spear written on it. What was left over from last time kindles what is needed for a startup now. Sometimes I’ll drop back a paragraph or two, reading quickly forward, fingers poised. And when I hit that final stop, the keys begin to clatter and I’m off again, writing at full steam.

The human brain is amazing. So versatile. So creative.

Book critics should get one.


Writing at the edge (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 19 October 2017 19:32

t’s been a hard couple of months for me, facing everything from a loved-one’s passing to the storm of a century (with more of those yet to come) to the inanity of our President (really, is it even  in doubt anymore?). At one point, doctors were testing me for a possible degenerative disease over a number of tense weeks (just Carpal-Tunnel, whew). And I’m getting older and not wiser, no, just creakier and more fragile. As mentioned in other pieces, I hurt myself jogging which has ended that for me. At least I’ve gotten the bike back under me. I still have that.

So in a world where a fuckbag can kill 59 and injure 527 people and it changes nothing, where burning coal is more important than our survivability on this planet, where people will support a disputable lie instead of the solid truth, it’s hard to keep your shit together. And over a couple of days, I really lost mine. I threw all my passion and belief behind my words and bashed everything from the our president to stupid FUV owners on Facebook (the popular place for ranting). I honed each word, eyed the line of each phrase and put every ounce of disgust I had into it.

Okay, so maybe I went a little overboard.

A couple of people checked in with me – a friend and a sibling. And that’s fine. Yeah, I’ve been under all this pressure lately and the idiotic world needed it thrown back into its collective ass. But one Facebook friend really came unglued by all this. Perhaps he supports that president of ours, perhaps he really hates the NFL player protests with more passion than he does the thought of police officers killing citizens in the streets. I don’t know which of my comments broke his frail camel’s back. All I know is that he wrote an indigent post about what a mean person “someone” was, how everything “that person” wrote was vile and nasty. Yeah, yeah, okay – I suspected it was me. But he left his post up for five days, just ranting about it and how he wanted to remain until “that person” saw it before unfriending them. On the day he threatened to do so, sure enough, I checked my friends count and it had clicked downward one notch.

Well, don’t let the door hit you in the ass, you big baby.

At first, I was irked at the nature of that whole thing. Sure, you can bloativate about it but you didn’t think of posting me a cautionary message first? Or just quietly dumping me (which I have done to people whose grinding I have found odorous)? Annoying.

And then I looked at it as a writer. Sure, what I wrote pissed him off, but on the other hand, what I wrote pissed him off. In its own way, it was a complement to my writing, a show that my carefully chosen words had hit a nerve, that David’s stone had struck Goliath. In his theatrics, he actually confirmed that I can still move people to act (even if it’s to blow me out the Facebook airlock). So thank you for that affirmation, little angry man.

Still, having taken what my other friends to heart, I did tone it back down going forward. I started thinking of nice things to write about again. And after a particularly nice bicycle commute in, I described a few moments of the enjoyment that peddle-pushing can provide. Posted those up. And for that, a work friend responded that I wrote “beautifully”.

And this is what writing is about – sharing your emotions and moving people. It’s what we writers do.


Legging it (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 12 October 2017 20:32

’ve jogged for years, ever since my first Corporate 5k. And I hated every step of it.

When I cycle, there is motion and wind and fun. If I stop peddling I glide like an eagle (as opposed to jogging, where when I stop I feel black guilt). I’ve never felt that “runner’s high”. I’ve jogged and jogged and never gotten any better, holding a just-over 10 minute/mile rate. And my support squad, the Lunch Runners, has dropped from a dozen years back to… just me.

But still I had a commitment to this; Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, even though it took out three hours of what was once enjoyable writing time. So, instead of coming back to the desk after lunch feeling jazzed about an idea, a phrase or story, I’d limp back sweating (even after the shower in the unventilated locker room) and drip into my shorts, taking forever to cool down.

Thus, a week ago I found myself outside in the noon-day heat, shooing away the beggar ducks as I stretched and reminding myself to get into that lookout-fer-the-cars mindset. And off I went. The run itself was unremarkable – since my efforts have been haphazard, I’m still not up to my prime and found myself stopping at just over two miles to walk out stiff calves. Got back to work, took my shower, got some water, at my lunch at my desk, worked for some time, went to stand up.

My right knee flared with hard pain.

And that was strange. Nothing in the run felt wrong but afterwards everything was.

So this is about the forth injury I’ve suffered running. Feet, knees, calves, everything has been damaged at one time. And when I hurt myself jogging, I can’t ride my bike (which sucks even more). So I found myself sitting at my desk, still dripping, my leg icepacked with a coffee-filter baggy filled with drink-machine ice, and thought Enough.

That’s it. I’m done. While I’ll miss the respiratory and cardiovascular benefits of running, I am going to do myself serious harm some day if I keep this up.

And then there is the added benefit – I get to write again. So this first week off the treadmill of suburban jogging, I found myself writing once again. I read over old efforts. I kicked out a short story (just a for-fun experimental piece). Of course, there was that first day where Micro$oft Office started its configuration nonsense. As I mentioned, I just went over to Open Office and that settled that.

Yeah, I might not be as healthy as before (baring all the injuries and agonies) but at least I’ve rediscovered the “Joy of Writing”.


Last Updated on Thursday, 12 October 2017 20:38

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