Living in Frames, by meshing the lyrical moments of life with the captured images of experience. This is a reverie, a journey, the fork in the road, and the never-ending story....

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

life is not a stage.

The world is not a stage. The men and women are not merely players.
                                                                           - the anti-Shakespearean
I had this friend with a contagious smile, whose job it was to make sure that everyone in his circle was happy, all the time-- his wife, his family, his staff, his clients, his on and so forth.
So, when I finally up and asked him one day what his secret was, how he could keep on exuding positive energy when everyone else around him seemed to be down and out , he looked at me quite matter-of-factly and said, You think this is easy?! This is damn hard work!!
And then I realized: As refreshing as my friend was to be around, I couldn't fathom the depth of his pain and hardship he suffered quietly, because he felt an enormous amount of pressure to be "ON" all the time. People just knew him as the free, fun-loving one and if he happened to present himself as anything but this persona, he felt as though he would be letting them all down.
I thought about my friend the other day, because I was paid a rather nice compliment:  You seem to be pretty confident and happy, in comparison to a lot of other people I come across who have nothing but negative things to report...
This was flattering of course, but I chose my words wisely. Because A) I knew this was this person's perception of me (as kind as it was), and  B) The above statement qualified as a half-truth.
My response was: I don't feel the need to project my troubles on others, when life is hard enough as it is.
Which I truly believe. I've been often accused, especially when it comes to my writing, of always trying to paint life as something beautiful, and lovely, and full of light.
That's not life, I've been told.
I guess the message I'm trying to draw out here, is that the focus shouldn't just be on the "hard stuff" or the "pretty stuff", but what we are able to survive. When we think that every thing around us is shit, it is hard to see a way out . And when we see life as just this grand thing with sunshine blown up our asses, then we don't have the coping skills to get through the rough patches.
What I would define as a "happy" person, would not be just some act that they are putting on, because they are afraid to be anything other than what people perceive them as.
But a truly HAPPY person, is someone who appreciates life fully with an equal understanding of both pain and pleasure, sadness and joy. A person who can converse and empathize about what's real, and then can turn around and still be smiling.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

believe it or not.

Today, I began packing up my belongings to get ready for another move. I have been in Portland, Maine for two years now, and it looks like I am going to stay put for a bit. As some of you may know, this is huge! The longest I have stayed living in a place for the last ten or so years. I'm not sure what has changed in me, and I can't say whether I am going to dig in my roots for the long haul aka. the settled life, but things do feel good right now, and I'm gonna roll with it for a while.
So, this afternoon as I was going through all the 'stuff' I've accumulated in recent years, I came across a copy of a 1934 edition of Ripley's Believe It or Not, given to me by my grandmother. Of course, this was a perfect distraction for a rainy cold day, and I found myself amused by the illustrations and captions that were once a great source of entertainment for me as a kid.
This particular segment brought out a laugh, and I thought y'all might get a kick out of it too:
 And if that didn't tickle your fancy, these are wonderful as well:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it?
What is true for writing and for love relationships is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don’t know where it will end.” -Michel Foucault

tarnation artnation.

Creativity entails a degree of sensitivity. Art is not solely born of learned skills and intense study. There is a natural element too, something ingrained in one's being--the combination of perception and translation. Not to negate craft, which is as instrumentally important to creative development. But if one appears gifted in this realm, it is likely because of an awareness that was in turn nurtured. This is as rudimentary as the nature Vs. nurture argument.
Now, let's look at the different attributions of the soul, through this lense: not all artists are good people, and vice versa; not all good sensitive people are destined to be artists. Assuming we don't know everything there is to know about a musician, or writer, or painter's private life, we still buy their albums, books, or paintings regardless. And there is a certain amount of ignorance that takes place in supporting these individuals, where we don't shun what we don't see.

But can we continue to support these public figures (because that is what they have become by being entertainers, and by putting their art into view), when we hear of their involvement with misdemeanors, addiction, abuses, misogyny, corruption etc. As moral citizens and consumers, can we reward or promote these people, when they have so clearly partaken in bad behavior? Of course, there is media spin that must be taken into account. But what about when we know these people on a personal level, as well? And we've seen them in action---both as the figurehead and the homebody. What if we know so much of who they are that we lose appreciation for the work they produce, the talent they possess. Can we be both fan and friend, after we have witnessed the gratuitous details, and seen the artist/entertainer/public persona in a negative light?
Don't we in some way want the idol to look up to? The total package. The nice guy or girl, and the accomplished individual. Don't we want art to remain in our minds, as something pure, untouchable, and possibly transcending?
In how many ways do the flaws of man, pervert and pollute the true nature of things? And how much of this, is all a matter of perception?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

fake it until you make it.

Dan Brown rises at 4 am to write every morning. If he has writer’s block, he hangs upside down from the metal stirrups of a gravity table to get his blood pumping again. And his sentences are purposefully structured, so that his readers never have to read a sentence twice.

His latest novel has just been released, and I am already tired of the dog and pony show. Man, this guy knows how to stir up the theatrics.
I won’t assume what his personal life entails, or his work routine, or his belief system. I can’t despise the man because he is a multi-millionaire, and has successfully positioned himself in the publishing world so that everyone wants to ride the wave with him, or cash in on a fat paycheck.
So, why do stories like this irk me so?
not my photo.
Maybe because writers who get lucky, who were in the right place at the right time, who sat down one day in a café and decided they could turn out a novel (after never having studied the craft), have given the general public the wrong impression: that writing is easy, that anyone can do it, and you can get famous reinventing the wheel by making it a flashier, tricked out model.
Then later, when these writers are rolling in the dough, they get interviewed and the media and masses want to know when their next book is due, and their agent and publisher begins hounding them to produce, produce, produce. They all want more, more, more. And the author starts realizing, Shit! Writing is actually hard when you have to do it on cue. Writing does take time, especially when done under expectation. And regardless of how many copies were sold, writing that isn’t of a certain level, will almost always be critiqued by the literary experts (devalued by the lack of experience that is so transparent in the author’s work).
Then they disappear from the limelight, or sell flop after flop. But it wasn’t as good as their first, the people will say. Their die-hard fans will continue rallying in their corner, and for the author it makes them believe they are worthy of all the publicity and wealth they have received-- maybe they even rationalize it, maybe they become experts themselves on their version of the wheel.
Fake it until you make it, is a rather funny saying to me. I never understood it, but I know people who abide by this motto, and who lead lives and careers by way of these words.
I wish Dan Brown all the best in his consumer and commercial success. And I in turn, will go back to laboring over my silly stories that have nothing to do with wheels, and attempt to make a living of sorts.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

"writers write"

When I first took interest in writing, I kept it to myself. I didn’t do it because anyone told me I could or should write, or because it had been pointed out to me that I had any skill whatsoever.

I wrote because I felt a need to create something beyond what I perceived life to be. I did it in the woods, upon rocks, like a sun-bathing salamander; in my bed, with a book lamp, before the lights went out; and in hidden spaces I would crawl inside quietly, trying to escape the everyday woes of being an eleven year old.

I kept journals, as a sacred form of expression for my pre-adolescent self. My entries weren’t all truth and honesty either, but a construction of how I wanted things to be. I fantasized, I pined, I wrote out my anger, letting my inner-monologue do all the talking. I developed insomnia, because I feared what lurked in the dark; and when I did get to sleep, my dreams were filled with such a vivid kind of world, that at times I found difficult to separate myself from. Some would call this an over-active imagination, but for me it was just part of who I was.
Why this means anything to me now, is what I am coming to recognize in my development as a writer. In my late teens and early twenties, when I really began to take my passion seriously, there was this shift in how I viewed the act of writing; where before it was simply something I enjoyed doing. Suddenly, I started needing assurance of whether or not I was any good. I implored teachers about my grades, and asked for suggestions in making my writing better. I was hard on myself to a fault, and yet I felt inadequate on every level. I gave up, and tried not to think much of it, but really I couldn’t bear the thought of not making the cut.
I went to school for business, then for art education, and finally settled on the social sciences as a last ditch effort (when it was almost too late to choose). I fell in love with a musician, who challenged my choices, who thought I was crazy for thinking about law school, and who could not understand how I could keep living this lie I told myself each day, that was:  I wasn’t any good, that I would never be a writer, and that no one gave a damn about what I had to say.
“Writers write,” he would say to me. And it wasn’t that I had stopped writing altogether, it was just that I was too self-conscious to show anything off I had written.

In 2008, I started a blog (this blog). And at the time, it was a way to “feel out my audience,” in a similar practice as a musician who tries out a new song at an open mic. The feedback was mixed, and it was clear I needed a lot of work. Subsequently, I started a longer project, though I can’t say I knew in that moment that it would become my first attempt at a novel.
I decided to leave my decent paying job in the city, and move home. I applied to graduate school for writing, not actually believing I would get in. And in the midst of all this, my relationship floundered, as I looked for the sort of reciprocity I just couldn't see.
Why I am laying this all out, is because it is the basis for my most recent observations—
“Writers write,” he used to say, and I would get all pissy about the assertion. Now, I see things for what they are, and that is: writing as a one-sided relationship—the real relationship starting with one’s self—the creative one, within.
Before blogs, Twitter, and Facebook, what writers wrote about didn’t require constant affirmation, a “platform”, or a band of followers who praised their every word. What they needed was time, and solitude, and a place to detach, if only for a temporary period, from all the others fraught with opinions, and suggestions, and demands.
Just like in a relationship, we want to be the best possible version of ourselves for our counterparts (or audience), which can only happen after we have worked on who we are first. We love because we are better people for doing so, not because an expectation exists, or is forced upon us. And we as writers (and artists) create, not because someone is telling us we should, or could. But because we must.
Henry Miller, I believe said it best: “Artists never thrive in colonies. Ants do. What the budding artist needs is the privilege of wrestling with his (or her) problems in solitude--and now and then a piece of red meat.”

And if that isn’t a note of reason (if there ever was one), than this may be: Miller’s first real attempt at writing was a book he wrote while on a three-week vacation from his low-paying job at Western Union. It was never published, and seen by very few. For ten more years, he worked on novel after novel, rarely sharing his work with anyone, until finally at the age of forty-two, a piece slipped out worthy enough for print. It was called, The Tropic of Cancer.