Category Archives: Art

You Have To Write It

 

WITCHESNo, sorry. It doesn’t work that way. You have to sit and write it and there’s no magic in the world that’s going to change that.

As much as we love to write, you have to admit that there are times when you wish you could just snap your finger and there it is. Life keeps happening no matter what and sometimes as much as you want to sit and bleed that ink there just seems to be no time. And maybe…just maybe…you have time and are simply making excuses. Either way, it isn’t going to get done unless you park your butt in that chair and start banging away at those keys.

I’m writing this to myself, by the way. If you feel that it pertains to you, too, then by all mean continue to read. I realize that this is a universal problem. Okay, maybe not the whole universe, but certainly here on this planet wherever there happens to be a writer.

I sit down and look at the book I’m working on. It says at the bottom of the screen that there are about 9800 words to it, so far. How can that be, I ask myself. I’ve been working on it for months. It should be done by now! Why isn’t it done?

Because you haven’t been working on it, I answer.

Ah, well yes. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why I find it so hard, sometimes, to sit and do something that I actually like to do.

Maybe, because it’s work. When I was flying I never hesitated to head out to the airfield and jump into my little airplane. But that was pure exhilaration. Nothing but enjoyment. Writing is different. I enjoy it, but yet it’s not always enjoyable. I suppose only another writer could understand that. It makes you work. At least it does if you are doing something worthwhile that you really care about. And that’s the thing. It’s hardest if you really care about it. And I’ve cared about all that stuff I’ve written. Wouldn’t be bothering if I didn’t. And because I care, I want to get those words out so perfectly that it hurts.

So there’s that anticipation of pain. That might be why we find it so hard to plop ourselves into that seat and start. We know the pain is coming at some point. That’s why you sometimes take a deep breath before you begin and say, “Okay, here goes.” It’s like waiting for that needle at the doctor’s office.

And yet it’s so rewarding once you’re rolling and move on passed the pain. But to begin rolling you have to sit down and start. No excuses. Just start. Again, this is to me but its fine if you are listening.

So forget magic. And praying won’t work either. You can pray, before you go to bed, that when you wake up there will be a 100,000 word manuscript in your laptop all ready to go. But when you get up in the morning to check, the same 5,000 words that were there yesterday will still be there.

Because like it or not. You have to sit and write it.

Writing And The End Of The World

 

end of the world

Well, I’m sitting here wondering whether or not I should complete the novel I’m working on. Not because it isn’t good. I’m very happy with it, so far. It’s just that…well, the world is supposed to end on Sunday evening. Or Monday morning, depending on where you live. So, you can see that there isn’t much point. I mean, not unless I can finish it and get it published within the next couple of days. The way I write, though, that isn’t going to happen.

It has something to do with the blood moon that will occur that night. Or that morning. This is supposed to be the one, everybody. I had just stopped worrying about the asteroid that was supposed to hit and destroy most of North America on the 28th of this month. NASA decided that wasn’t going to happen. Whew! What a relief. Now I read about this moon thing. For Pete’s sake!

Seems that I’ve heard this before, though. Remember Y2K? People were stocking up on water and buying guns so they’d be ready for the collapse of human civilization. What happened there? And I was sweating out that Mayan calendar issue, let me tell ya’! The Mayans were pretty smart. If they tell you that time is going to end on a certain day you know they are going to be right. Well, okay, they were wrong.

And there have been plenty of other predictions of our demise by various people and groups. Nostradamus has been a favorite amongst the doomsday types. He has predicted our end several times according to those who study his “quatrains.” There’s something about this kind of thing that people just love. I think it’s the same reason that they get on a roller coaster even though it frightens them to death. They enjoy being scared. It makes life a bit more exciting, I guess.

So I don’t know. Considering the accuracy of all of the past predictions maybe I should just keep writing. At least it will take my mind off of the end of the world. And besides, I read another article right after reading the ‘Blood Moon’ story. It seems that a monkey named Naruto, way over on a wildlife reserve in Indonesia, managed to take a selfie of himself with someone’s camera. The picture of Naruto wearing a big grin went viral. Now PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wants to sue the wildlife photographer who released the photo to the public. Naruto, they say, is the sole owner of the picture and releasing the photo was a copyright infringement. Yes, they are actually saying that, “Naruto has the right to own and benefit from the copyright to the same extent as any other author.” They are taking this to court.

So I’m not worried anymore. I think that maybe the world should end.

Immortality

 

immortal cavemanWhat’s the most important part about getting published, to you? The money? Rolling around in all that green paper? Fame? Having people say, “Are you the one who wrote…?” Or maybe it’s the sheer satisfaction of having, “made it,” as a writer.

Hell…all good reasons. Why not? Money is good. Don’t let anybody kid ya’! And it would be cool to have someone recognize you from a picture on your book cover. And, of course, we all want to “make it.” It all means that you’ve reached the summit, as an author. Or, at least, you can see the top.

But I can’t also help thinking that being published makes you sort of…well…immortal.

Imagine long after you’re gone. Okay, nobody likes to think about that but…yeah, we’re all going. No one is here forever. I just read a news article that said even the Universe is slowly dying. But don’t panic! It’ll be awhile.

Imagine, though, that one hundred years from now, someone is reading that book you published. They saw it on whatever people will be using to buy books and they ordered it. Now they’re sitting at the space center waiting for the next shuttle to Mars and they’re reading your book. How cool is that?

All right, most likely it’ll just be someone sitting in their living room. But they are reading something that you wrote and it might even have your picture somewhere. Words that you’re writing, right now, could be entering a person’s head over one hundred years from now. It’s hard to even think about that without it blowing my mind. Your name is being mentioned by someone living in the year 2115. “What are you reading,” someone asks them. They tell them the title. “Who wrote it?” comes the next question.

And then…wait for it…they say your name!

Yes, someone in the year 2115 is saying your name.

It’s not true immortality, of course. But you will never be truly forgotten as long as something you have done lives on. We’re still reading the works of men and women who have been gone for hundreds of years. Everybody has heard of Mark Twain. He’ll live forever within the pages of his stories and books.

So, think about that as you write. You could be writing for the ages.

But I like the idea of that person at the space center, waiting for the next Mars shuttle.

He’s reading a book on the holographic reading app that he’s wearing on his wrist. It’s also a phone and a computer.

“What are you reading?” asks someone.

“It’s called, ‘Jenny,’” he answers.

“Who wrote it?”

“His name is…” wait for it… “Joe Bucemi.”

You hear that? Someone in the year 2115 said my name. I’m dust, but my name is still being mentioned.

“How is it?” they ask.

“Ah, it’s okay, I guess,” he says with a shrug.

Just okay. Oh, well. At least I’m remembered. Someone waiting to go to Mars in 2115 is reading my book. How cool is that?

Kids Need To Read

BORED

HASNT MOVED

Enough said!

Opus Is Back!

 

OPUS

Opus is back! What do you mean, “What’s an Opus?” Opus is not a what…he’s a who. He’s Opus the penguin. One of the best and funniest characters to ever grace a comic strip page. He was one of the stars of “Bloom County.” And in my humble opinion, he was the star.

Bloom County was a terrific strip. Written and drawn by a cartoonist with the unlikely name of Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County was peopled (not all were people) by some of the most unforgettable individuals on the comics page. Yes, page! There were newspapers then. That’s how you got your news. Well, there was also the television. But that was it. No. I’m not kidding. There was no internet and people didn’t walk around, and drive around, staring into little hand held screens. You younger types can stop looking at me as though I’ve lost my mind. It’s true. Ya’ can’t make this stuff up.

It was popular as all get out. But then, twenty five years ago, Breathed decided to call it quits to the horror of all of his fans. I was one of those horrified millions. I’m sure there were millions. I hugged my stuffed Opus doll all night.  Let’s see…I would have been…um, thirty-seven. So I was thirty-seven years old and had a stuffed Opus doll. So what!?

But he’s back! And the whole crew that populated Bloom County is back with him. I found out when I jumped into Facebook a few days ago. Breathed has decided to put the strip out on Facebook for some reason, and I think it’s great. Some suspect that the return of Donald Trump to the race for the Presidency has also brought about the return of Bloom County. The comedic value of this cannot be overlooked. Every cloud has its silver lining, they say.

I was a real fan, back then. And yes, I really did have a stuffed Opus. Bloom County even made me want to do a comic strip. I came up with an idea and submitted it to a cartooning syndicate. I got a very nice rejection letter. I’m still a fan, of course. And I see, on Facebook, that so many others are too. How can you not be?

Opus’s followers are legion. Breathed himself has said that he can’t understand how so many people can become so infatuated with a character that isn’t real. His exact words were, “I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.” I think he’s being humble. Opus’s combination of mischief and innocence makes him  fascinating and hard to resist. If you aren’t familiar with Bloom County, start following it. Or look up the old archives on the internet. Or pick up one of the many Bloom County books. You’ll soon want a stuffed Opus doll of your very own. I may even get another one!

Pictures Worth a Thousand Words?

Is a picture worth more than 1000 words?  Do words carry more impact than a picture? Perhaps it depends on the words, and the picture, but the question is an intriguing one.

I recently watched a movie called Words&Pictures with Clive Owen and Juliette Binoche that brought this question up in an interesting way, as both Owen and Binoche play teachers at a private high school where a “war” arises between the Honors English students (lead by Owen’s English teacher and struggling author) and the Honors Art students (championed by Binoche’s artist and art teacher). There are installations of both words and of pictures set up by each side making a case for each. There is also ultimately a challenge where the artist presents one painting that the author will then meet with a thousand words in challenge. Which wins? Sadly the movie is really just average and has a rather lame rom-com type scenario where the two verbally spar and then fall in love, then there is a conflict. Blah blah blah as Binoche’s character says at one point, but the concept of  a war between words and pictures was a good one.

Since my majors in college were English and Speech Communication, you can imagine my tendency to rule in favor of words being the most powerful. However, I can concede the overwhelming power of a photograph, a drawing or a painting. We writers frequently use pictures as jumping off points for our writing and we certainly can come up with at least 1000 words, good and probably not so good, or more stemming from our reaction to that inspiration. Many artists, too, find inspiration in the great works of literature or other powerful words. While I liked the idea of a challenge pitting words against pictures, it would be impossible to rule in favor of one over the other. All art has power to affect and inspire, in ways we seldom ever could realize.

Having recently fallen for the art of poetry, I think it a lovely combination of both words and pictures. Plutarch said:

Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks.

How perfect is his description? I find poems often evoke a stronger more immediate response, like seeing a painting in a museum might, than a longer work such as a novel might. I, of course, love a novel, but the elegance and power of a poem seem most like viewing a picture. Both seem to let the reader/viewer fill in what is left to imagine. What do they make you feel? It’s a beautiful thing.

What about you? Do you think a picture is worth a thousand words? Is that preposterous, words obviously win that war? Or does it just depend? What words and pictures do you think of that make you lean one way or the other?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments. 🙂

Have a great week!

~CJS