blog

writing
  • Mistakes Can Be Like Gifts

    I talk to myself a lot. 

    Not in the schizophrenic way, of course. I don't think. Though, there's nothing wrong with that, really.

    But more likely, it's the kind of thing that happens when I am alone cleaning my apartment, putting on makeup, etc. Often menial tasks. So I talk to myself in voices, make up characters, scenarios, scenes and dialogues. 

    And yes, I defy anyone to tell me that all writers don't do this same behavior.

    Anyway, so last night, I happened to be in a bit on a bit of a "A Streetcar Named Desire" kick. So what morphed from my quoting and doing my best Vivien Leigh as Blanche DuBois impression, turned into my own off-shoot, irrelevantly original scenes.

    My characters were two lovers. Orbiting each other, deciding whether they should or shouldn't. One was married and unhappy, the other single and unhappy, both for different reasons. Should they have an affair? What would be the outcome? Is chemistry, once created, ultimately impossible to resist? Should it be?

    At one point, my female character - let's call her Beatrice - said, "Mistakes can be like gifts."

    That's when I stopped my dramatics and looked at myself in the mirror and said, "Hey, girl...that was mildly profound. You probably plagiarized it from somewhere." 

    But, after some cursory Googling, I realized nope - a truly original phrase all my own. Hooray!

    Then, because I am, at the end of the day, still a cynic, I thought, "You know, this is the exact kind of cheezy meme thing that some teenage girl, (who I adore already for having been her once), would put on her Tumblr or Instagram, in an effort to provide her followers with something inspirational.

    So, here it is, girls. I made it for you. Post it in your lockers and Tumblrs. Share it with your friends who have summer jobs at FreePeople and Urban Outfitters and Gypsy Warrior. They might like it, too.

    It's my gift to you. Happy youth. Mistakes can be like gifts. 

  • Misunderstood Bukowski

    Charles Bukowski. Poet, dirty old man, and probably my one and true Patron Saint of Male Honesty.

    It kind of drives me crazy when knee-jerk, conveniently feminist, selectively scandalized women publicly decry him as being a misogynist. The reality is that he loved women -- all differently messy, ugly, honest, raw, plastic and whorish -- and his writing should serve to inspire hope and confidence in any female of clear intelligence.

    What I think a lot of women struggle with is looking for hidden meaning. It's obvious that the male and female brains work differently, and I think we can all agree as well that women are far more over-thinking and obsessive than men. I've always envied that men can be so straightforward. Even in their cowardice and insecurity, they are usually still rather demonstrative regarding their true feelings. It's women who never want to see it. Never want to believe that actions speak louder than words.

    Bukowski, as mythic and poet, encapsulates true male mindfulness. He was disgusting and crude and viciously indifferent at times, but it was straightforward and always honest. I appreciate the pulling no punches and I exalt in it. For me, that kind of honesty is a rare gift. Being that confident -- confident enough to tell someone to their face that you think they're ugly but that you'll still fuck them -- must feel so freeing. Every day, feeling like you will be 100% yourself and people with either like it or not. Unsurprisingly, people loved Bukowski, the man -- women in particular -- and I would wager that the main reason why is that he didn't bullshit them.

    For my own part, I'm doing a lot of work lately to not bullshit others, or myself. I'm trying to be more deliberate, say more what's on my mind, and walk that fine line between not being outright hurtful, but not hide behind double-speak either. So far, just the increase in awareness, the paying attention to the tone I'm using and the communication goal I'm trying to reach, has been cathartic enough.

    My favorite Bukowski line of all time follows. There is so much meaning here; so much about the poison of unspoken desires, unsatisfied power, and unquenched rage.

    "I think that when a woman has kept her legs closed / for 35 years / it's too late / either for love / or for / poetry."

  • Creativity NOW!

    It's happening. A lot of it. Writing. Real writing. 

    It's sacred. This practice. This craft of writing. Sacred to me. When you have memories and physical proof of an act that goes back to your very earliest years, it must be a sacred practice.  

    There's nothing more than this I can say, except that I am grateful. What everyone, myself included, needs to know is that I am thankful and happy that I am able to do what I love.

  • Ah, they'll never, they'll never ever reach the moon, at least not the one that we're after; it's floating broken on the open sea, look out there, my friends, and it carries no survivors. But lets leave these lovers wondering why they cannot have each other, and let's sing another song, boys, this one has grown old and bitter.

    Leonard Cohen, "Sing Another Song, Boys"
  • Anais Nin and The Anti-Blog

    It's funny. When I first started publishing my poems and diary entries to the www, it was because I was obsessed with the diaries of Anais Nin. I wanted to replicate her life. The life she had lived seemed so real and passionate and expansive, and at 17, I assumed the key to imitating this was living as truthfully as possible, and trying to chronicle it every step of the way.

    Publishing private things meant that every action, conversation, nuance and experience had to happen in absolute truth, or people would know I was lying. I thought this would also force me to live an amazing life -- who wants to read the diary of a boring shut-in?

    Only in the last year, where I've committed myself to re-reading Nin's diaries, have I realized how I went about this all wrong. Nin didn't have the internet. She didn't have a blog. She didn't set out to publish her private thoughts. In creation, her entries were only ever meant to be private, and it is their inception in privacy that makes their tone and depth un-mimicable.

    Later in life, she decided to publish her diaries. And why not -- by then, the secrets probably felt faded. The stakes weren't as high. Maybe there were some fears, but I can't imagine they compared to the fear around blogging. 

    This is the fear that ultimately makes it utterly impossible for blogs to be 100% authentic. You are not coming at writing from a direction of complete candor and privacy, as you would in your little lock and key diary under your bed. You are writing with an audience in mind. A publishing strategy. An understanding that your words will immediately be indexed. Searchable. 

    That makes you choose words and phrases much more carefully. The euphoric emotions you have for something, well, maybe other people will think they are silly, so you tone them down. You stop yourself from gushing. You take what would have been a wild-mind of thoughts and ideas and recollections in a diary entry, and you turn them into an "easily digestible bit of digital content that can be shared and amplified across the social platforms." And maybe it'll even GO VIRAL.

    I thought about all of this again today, when Silvia alerted me to this post on Brain Pickings.

    No Dream-Laden Adolescent: Anais Nin Meets Young Gore Vidal, 1945

    In one passage, Nin describes Vidal: 

    He is full of pride, conceals his sensitiveness, and oscillates between hardness and softness. He is dual. He is capable of feeling, but I sense a distortion in his vision. He has great assurance in the world, talks easily, is a public figure, shines. He can do clever take-offs, imitate public figures. He walks in easily, he is no dream-laden adolescent. His eyes are hazel; clear, open, mocking.

    Nin's descriptions of people in her life -- from the obviously brilliant and famous like Vidal to the perpetually unknown -- always make me want to meet them. Her blunt, stream of consciousness style feels effortless and unedited always. I believe this to be entirely due to these being her "private" thoughts.

    Yes, there are many great writers today. Yes, a lot of them have blogs or write articles where the descriptions are wildly raw and beautiful.  Yes, an audience raises the stakes and, save for the case of boneheaded plagiarizers, should keep a writer honest.

    But, writing. Writing for no reason other than to write. Writing for nothing. Writing because you don't know how to get the emotions out otherwise, and you don't give a fuck how much sense they make....

    Well. I'll continue to publish things now. It's the web! Everyone's a publisher! (God help us.) But I know that the things I write down and never show to anyone are the things that someday, someone will find and say, "Ohh! The life she must have had!"