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Tag Archives: The Irrepairable Past

Day #18: A Preview

Up top, there’s a tab for The Irrepairable Past, which holds drafts of the first couple of chapters for one of my works in progress.  I’ve completed the first three chapters and am halfway there with chapter four and the final chapter.  There are two or three chapters between four and the last.  As I’ve written before, there are two major things that prompted this story.  One was reading a short story by a friend.  He wrote poetry for years and only recently had started writing short stories.  How he wrote was pretty incredible and I could see how poetry had influenced his efforts.  I decided to try something.  With each chapter of The Irrepairable Past, I begin with a poem that says something about what’s to come in the chapter.  I believe the writing in this story has been influenced by those poems — they set the stage for a different rhythm and pace.  Or maybe I’m just imagining it.

Anyway, here, for Day #18 of NaPoMo, is the poem that leads off the final chapter

 

Slings and arrows

Harsh glares

Cutting words

Scars cut

Permanently

Deep and wide

Memories and regret

Pain and anguish

Loss and failure

The past

Broken and shattered

Irrepairable

A moment

An opportunity

Turn it back

 

Breakfast with Buddha

I get to blog tonight!  You may be asking yourself how this can be in light of my most recent posts about trying to limit myself here.  You may also be thinking hmmm, ‘get to’ sounds somewhat like a privilege.  You would be right about the privilege thing — I need to think of it that way.  A privilege I need to earn.

Maybe you read my very last post — For Zoe — the one about a certain door being opened yesterday at a writing workshop.

It didn’t just open, it was blown open.  Since then, I’ve written 3,000 words on The Irrepairable Past.  I don’t remember the last time I was able to write that many words in a twenty-four hour period.  There’s more to come.  I know what’s coming on the portion I’m working on.  I know how it’ll end.  And, once I finish this chunk, I’ll be able to get back to the three intervening chapters I haven’t touched yet.  It’s a damn incredible feeling.

So, here’s what I want to share with you tonight.  One of my best blogging friends, Olivia O’Bryon, told me about a book a few days ago  Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo.  She read it and thought it seemed comparable to Weed Therapy, my as-yet-unpublished novel, based on my descriptions of the story.

Amazon delivered it a couple of days ago and I’ve been reading it ever since.  And doing something I never do, particularly with fiction.  I’m underlining passages and making notes in the margin.  There are these rare books that strike a deep chord with me.  Everything Matters did it.  So did The Art of Racing in the Rain.  I have this feeling Breakfast with Buddha will be added to the list.  Here’s the first passage I underlined:

What’s the point of all this? would be putting the question too crudely, but it was something along those lines.  All this striving and aggravation, all these joys and miseries, all this busyness, all this stuff — a thousand headlines, a hundred thousand conversations, emails, meetings, tax returns, warranties, bills, privacy notices, ads for Viagra, calls for donations, election cycles, war in the news every day, trips to the dump with empty wine bottles, fillings and physicals, braces and recitals, Jeanne’s moods, my moods, the kids’ moods, soccer tournaments, plumber bills, sitcom characters, oil changes, wakes, weddings, watering the flowerbeds — all of this, I started to ask myself, leads exactly where?  To a smashed-up Buick on a country highway?  And then what?  Paradise?

You want to talk about the question and conversation that has filled my head for years and continues to do so more and more and more.  In the quiet hours of the morning.  In the hustle and bustle of the work day.  While I’m alone in my car or out on my bike.  When I’m in a room full of people, listening to three different conversations but participating in none of them.  While my kids tell me of their day.  While my wife chatters on about her this and her that.

It’s right there … is this it?  Is this the point?  Is this why I do all that I do?  Is this the limit of where and who I will be?  The author of Breakfast with Buddha hit the nail on the head.  I feel like I live the ordinary and I ache for something more.  I want, no, I need, that more.  It’s right there, just outside of my reach, and I keep wondering if I’ll ever grasp it and pull it to me and live incredibly.

There are many more underlined passages I’m going to use as jumping off points for a post here, but this is the first.

What do you think?  What’s the point of what you do?  Does there need to be a point?  What does all that we are add up to in the end?  And do we even have the ability to change the calculation?

You want to talk about a book that is in my head, it’s Breakfast with Buddha.  Pretty stunning thing to read a book that lays out on almost every page a thought I have, in almost the same words as I do.

 

For Zoe

Right around this time, I started attending a monthly writing workshop conducted by Zoe.  An older woman who halfway through her life took a pause and enrolled in a writing program at Columbia College.  No, not that one — the Columbia University in New York.  This one.  In Chicago.  Zoe teachers her workshops in the style promoted by Columbia College.

I may not do it justice, but we spend four hours together, one Saturday each month.  There are readings from other writers to provide for discussion of a particular method of telling a story.  Last month was model telling.  This month was dreams, memories, and fantasies.

At some point, we began to … well, I think of it as pulling words out and throwing them out for consideration.  Clear your mind and say what the first word is in your mind.  Create a place where that word fits.  Move it to the side, clear your mind, and then say the next work that pops into your head.  Create a place where that word fits.  Move it to the side, clear your mind and do it again.  You get the idea?

In all these months, and it has been somewhat off and on, I’ve struggled with a little bit of dissatisfaction about the workshops.  You know me.  I’m a point A to point B to point C type of person.  I need to feel like I’m progressing, that what I’m doing contributes to that movement forward.  I wasn’t feeling that way about these workshops until today.

Zoe said something that was so simple and basic.  It’s one of those moments where I felt like smacking my forehead and saying “doh!”

Those word and visualization exercises were never meant to just be done within the comforting confines of the workshop.  Instead, they are something we, as writers, should be doing regularly as a part of our writing process.  Spend five minutes seeing what words pop into your head. Write them down.  See if they have a place in what you’re working on or prompt you to begin something completely new.

And then another thing happened this afternoon.  The last third or so of each workshop is spent writing.  To create an opportunity to write, each of us visualize a place — it could be a scene in an existing story, a scene in a planned story, or something totally new.  Then, we begin to fill that scene in.  Who is there and what are they doing.  Identify an expected object in the scene.  Then identify an unexpected object.  Identify an expected smell and an unexpected smell.  Identify a near sound and a far sound.  And, finally, identify something that is about to change in the scene.  And, if you choose, take all of that and write it.

My last post was about how my writing energy has gone to blogging for far too long.  Today’s workshop brought me back into fiction.  My scene creation was about the scene that beings the final chapter of The Irrepairable Past.  It got those fiction juices flowing again.  I now know how I’m going to begin that chapter and with that in mind, I’m pretty sure I can write the entire chapter.  There’s the little conundrum of the three or four chapters that proceed it that I haven’t quite cracked, but …

I’m excited about this story again.  Since the workshop ended about five hours ago, I’ve been back at Sullivan Bay in Henry’s world.  It’s the kick in the pants I needed.  The spark.  Time to go write.

Thank you, Zoe.  I learned a couple of things today.

Time To Wake Up

It’s been an interesting few weeks.  Or I should say an incredibly un-interesting few weeks.  As I have described to several friends, I feel like I’m hibernating.  Things are slowing down, I’m conserving energy.  I sleep a lot when I have the chance.  There are lots of reasons for this.  (pssst, it’s called depression, but don’t tell anybody, and, please don’t worry, I’ll be fine).  I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks.  Fiction, that is.  Even more significantly, I haven’t really even thought about it.  That part of my brain has shut down lately.  No longer frustrated by the lack of time I have to write, I have apparently accepted it, at least for the time being.

hibernating bear

It’s actually one of the things I set out to do a few weeks ago.  I read parts of Mindfulness Yoga, (confession time: the initial version of this post referred to this as Mindless Yoga) at least through the portion that describes meditation.  And started to meditate.  I don’t do it every day.  In fact, it’s been more than a week since I sat on the floor and assumed the position.  But, what I have done almost every day is found a moment or two here and there to “meditate” in my own way.  Slowing down, breathing, focusing inside rather than thinking about outside.

That first day I sat and tried to meditate, I focused on this one thought.  Letting go.  It’s what I’m trying to do even when I’m not meditating.  Letting go.  The frustrations that have piled up blocking my view of the rest of my life.  I’m trying to let go of them.  One of those is what I wish I could do with respect to writing.  I simply don’t have the time, energy, or opportunity to write as much as I would like.  So, I need to slow down.  And accept it.  There are other things I need to let go of as well.  There are changes to be made.

I’m hibernating.  Conserving energy.  I’ve started thinking lately about changes to come.  Some of those changes will be felt around here.  I started this blog about a year and a half ago, blogging intermittently until a year ago, when I decided to do the loony and commit to blogging every day.  Hell, if Andrew Sullivan can do it, why can’t I?  He has a staff who helps, you say.  Pshaw!!  I fulfilled my commitment for more than six months before realizing it was, well, loony.

In the days ahead, I’m going to be dividing my blogging between three blogs:

http://www.markpaxson.com — my blog about writing.  I created it earlier this year when I decided to start the self-publishing venture.  I should establish a website with my name on it for people to find me.  And, then I didn’t do much with it.  So, for 2013, any thoughts I have about writing, publishing, and all that will be found at markpaxson.com.  Any time I post there, I’ll probably link to it here, but, who knows.  In the crush of time, I tend to forget things like that.

kingmidgetramblings.wordpress.com — this, my first blog that finally took off, will be for just about everything else.  Thoughts.  Politics.  Interesting tidbits.  Pictures of food.  Songs that move me.  Moments of time found through the lens of my camera.  Whatever comes to mind about life.

And, well, that other blog that I told you all about a few months ago.  The one about turning the page.  Hope you remember it, because I won’t repeat it here.  All I’ll say is this … there are a lot of other changes ahead and I may end up chronicling them there.

I set out in 2012 to do a lot of things.  I believe part of the reason hibernating now (isn’t that a much better way to describe it?) is recognizing I couldn’t get it all done.  I achieved a lot, but not all of it.  I’m now trying to figure out how to address where I missed it and how to re-adjust my goals.  I self-published three books, barely selling enough to cover my costs, which were minimal.  The fourth book I intended on publishing still awaits its fate.  I’m not going to throw it out there like the other three and “just see what happens.”  I need to figure out a better way to do it.  As I’ve indicated, I’m submitting that book to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 contest and see what happens.  If that fails, I’m going to look for an agent or publisher for it.

I also will continue working, as the mood strikes me, on the other novels I’m working on.  The Irrepairable Past is a story that means something to me and, I think, it has incredible potential.  I believe I’ve got it right so far and I don’t want to screw it up.  I’ll keep taking my time with it and see what happens over the next few months.  To the extent I work on existing projects, that will be my focus, but it has to happen at its own pace.

2013 awaits.  This is not about making resolutions.  It’s not about identifying goals and achieving anything in particular.  Instead, it’s about this.  I’m still hibernating.  In my slumber, I’m thinking about what I need to do in the year ahead.  About what I want to do in the year ahead.  About how I can end 2013 better than I started it.  It’s about figuring out ways to tame the demons and find happiness and contentment.

Day #1: How Are You Starting?

Courtesy of I Saw You Dancing, I now know I’ll have a topic for each day to close out 2012.  Day #1:

How are you starting this last month of 2012?

Take a moment, close your eyes, take a deep breath and ask yourself the question: how do you feel…

… in your body? in your mind? in your day job? in your creative life? in your heart?

It’s a post-NaNoWriMo world and I’m writing now.  Working on The Irrepairable Past today, with an outline for the remainder of the story.  Something I have not had in the past.  I fully expect to write a couple thousand words on the thing today.

I’m also undergoing an effort to address some of the things that bedevil me — at home, at work, in my life.  Some of those efforts will be external, but most will be internal.  I am reading Mindfulness Yoga, will soon begin Rod Stryker’s The Four Desires, and am exploring ways to achieve inner peace for the first time in a loooong time.  The things that bedevil me will always be there, the question is whether I allow them to control me.

I’ve tried reading things like these books in the past, but I don’t think I was entirely open to them.  It’s time for me to figure out some of the mysteries of my life.  Olivia O’Bryon wrote about the difference between becoming and being.  It does a good job of describing my dilemma.  I’ve spent most of my life becoming something.  It’s time for me to stop trying to become something and be.

Debra Kreps writes that she is starting this final month of December 2012 by gathering roses.  I don’t think I’m ready to gather roses yet.  I first need to figure out how to find and then see them.

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