Tag Archives: memory

Death of an Icon

David Bowie died last night. The timing was elegant, in line with his birthday, and a new album. Many feel that he took the time to say goodbye.

My feed has been blowing up with stories about him, memories involving him, and ways in which his music inspired my friends’ proudest moments. It’s extraordinary to see how many lives he’s touched, in so many incarnations, and in such a breadth of ways.

To be perfectly truthful, I don’t know much about Bowie beyond his participation in Labyrinth as the Goblin King. As I’m reading others’ memories, and I see how gutted they are, I’m reminded of Terry Pratchett’s death. Robin Williams’ death. I have never met either of those men, but I cried over their deaths as though they were blood.

We are more interconnected than we know.

When you witness the life of a magical being, remember how their death feels, and what feels lost. You have the same capacity for magic.

Use it now. Share it now.

Advertisements

How To Recycle Bottom-Drawer Stories

Thanksgiving was pretty amazing. It’s difficult to gather three generations in one house; but we managed it. The bourbon flowed freely, there was much wrestling, discussion of childhoods and future burials, and the revising of wills.

I had been editing a story on the flight there, and it was on my mind while I cleared out half of my belongings that my parents saved for me. Among these was a massive collection of trophies, medals and plaques. Of the three five-foot karate state championship trophies I tossed, I only regret the loss of one. It marked one moment of three big achievements for me: my first black belt competition, my first adult competition, and my first 1st place out of eleven, rather than four others. For weapons forms, no less… my true love.

Those items were a record of my achievements in music, in martial arts, and even (I had forgotten about this) science.

I once knew a brilliant sci-fi author who told me that if he doesn’t like his work, or fails to sell it, he deletes it.

Entire manuscripts — gone!

I couldn’t do that. I’m sure you can relate. Lots of writers have stories gathering dust in the depths of their desks and hard-drives. These are a mix of things we never finished, or failed to sell, or were too precious and fragile for anyone else’s eyes. I can give up trophies. The achievement matters more than the marble; but a story…?

Those physical and digital archives remind me of the stuff that piles up in warehouses and garages. You could chuck it to make room, certainly, but by eschewing materialism there’s also a great loss of one’s own history and context. The important thing is how we relate to that history and context, and how it informs who we become.

I had this story on my mind, remember. The reason it wasn’t working was because it was a literary meditation. Genre fiction hinges on stakes, conflict, and dynamic adventures. When I showed the draft to some other writers I know, I got lots of great thoughts on how to revise. Thing is, they’d all change the direction and crux of the story. It would lose its history and context. In essence, I’d be throwing it away. Or deleting it.

The other option is to pursue all options.

If you don’t want to throw anything away, then use the pieces at hand to build something new.

Think about an old story you have that isn’t working. Then see if you can find the notes and suggestions you got from others. Write all of those stories. Change the names. Change the climate. Before you throw something away, give it a good hard look. Don’t waste a chance to recycle.

 

“Don’t loaf and invite inspiration; light out after it with a club, and if you don’t get it you will nonetheless get something that looks remarkably like it.”
— Jack London

 

“Look on every exit being an entrance somewhere else.”
— Tom Stoppard

 

trophy

The orange one.

 

Sour Mead (excerpt from late spring)

Better invent than suffer: imagine victims
Lest your own flesh be chosen the agonist, or you
Martyr some creature to the beauty of the place.”
—  Robinson Jeffers

End of Spring, 2013.

It feels so warm, so cozy.  It’s the touch of a lover’s caress.
Their arms around you.
It’s a back-rub and a whisper that everything will be OK.

It pads across the floor with you. Its bare feet whisper warm
across cold tiles.
It robs you of your memories and your thoughts
Supressing your wisdom — letting it circle the drain and slip away like a shoddy, dusty thing not fit to live in the house.

You always welcome it back, sip after sip, even if you don’t like
the taste, because there’s something else with its hand over yours.

Something strong and kind,
willing your hand around the neck of the bottle
Swallow by swallow,
Inviting poison into your veins
Inviting others into your heart

I’ve been thinking of suicide more than usual lately. A breakup. A standard occurence, where standard platitudes should fit.

A pooling night, a night of crying.
A night of screaming and of sighing,
And somehow this time also dying
found its way onto the menu.

And in my state of drunken weakness, I let others in who wanted to use me to end their own stories.
A psychic invasion of errant victims, vagabonds, savages and idiot savants that no one gave a chance to.
All that pain that doesn’t belong to me… has nothing to do with me… clotting in my heart.

They knew I was a writer, maybe.

Suicides peak at the end of spring, and here at the bridge more come than any other place in the world.
Well… all save one.

How is it that in a land full of beautiful weather and plentiful harvests
So many people would want to end their lives?

The gods frown on me, because I drink mead in sadness rather than in joy.
Only the slightest warning. An ache in the jaw. Somewhere between
the neck and the ears. They know this is wrong.

I know this is wrong.

 

(I don’t remember exactly which song I was listening to when I wrote this back in May. I do know this song held prominence once I’d found it.)

 

Objects, Symbols and Affectations

When you’ve had a habit for many years, it becomes part of your persona. Your image, totem, signature, symbol — however you like.

When folks see someone with your habit, they think of you.

When they’re looking for you, they look for your symbol.

It could be anything from a piece of clothing to the way you walk. There’s something you do that’s yours.

Someone once told me that my combat boots are my signature. I started wearing them in fourth grade to be practical. When my class shuffled through the hallways in two parallel lines, some dickhead always stepped on my sneaker and make my heel pop out. I hated it. Flat tire, we called it. It was probably accidental each time, but it still drove me nuts. I started wearing boots to address an immediate problem. They became familiar. Comfortable. Preferable.

Things are different now. I don’t walk in line with a bunch of other kids. The boots’ intended purpose is gone. It doesn’t rain enough, or get cold enough here to justify heavy boots; but I still wear them every day. As a little kid, I didn’t plan on incorporating a symbol; but now the boots are part of the image I project. I still wear them because they’re familiar. The tricky thing is, I couldn’t tell you if the familiar thing is the boots themselves, or that projected image.

When you see someone walking down the street in big black boots, what does it say about them? What does your perception say about you? These objects are telling in both directions.

What’s your signature?  Your symbol?  How do objects and affectations affect your story?

Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.” ― Oscar Wilde

From one thing, know ten thousand things.” ― Miyamoto Musashi

Untitled by Shadi Ghadirian (Iran) from the "Muslima" exhibition

Untitled by Shadi Ghadirian (Iran) from the “Muslima” exhibition