Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Introducing "This Is Fiction"

I have never considered myself to be all that creative. I can’t sing or play music; can’t draw or paint; don’t really have any artistic talent. At least that was how I used to think. Don’t get me wrong – I still don’t posses those afore mentioned talents – it’s just that I have expanded my view of what qualifies as a “talent” and what defines art. Many things, actually, pretty much everything can fall under that umbrella. Writing, therefore, can easily be a talent that can be developed into an art.

I have taken my fair share of “assessment” tests over the years. Many measured such things as right-brained/left-brained dominances, the artistic versus the logical, mechanical against intuitive and other variances of the same psychobabble. Although there is no intrinsic harm in measuring these factors, there is considerable potential for harm in how the results may be used.

Suffice it to say, I have never been labeled as “creative.” I think it is still true in some respects, but when the criteria and definitions are opened sufficiently wide enough, we all create. My talent… my art does not appeal to the visual or the auditory, but uses those senses to create or recreate the same magic as a personalized experience for each individual mind. Writing is an art form that leaves the final rendition for the reader to define and redefine at will. My freshman comp professor always used to say, “don’t tell me, show me.”

My job is to arrange simple symbols in such a way that they convey meaning. It matters not how beautifully the words flow if the meaning of the sum is lost. It has always been relatively easy for me to be clear with the precision placement of these symbols. I have a “talent” for painting a picture with words. I could not appreciate how important, how satisfying… indeed how beautiful and powerful word placement could be until relatively recently.

I have often confused creativity with fiction when it comes to writing. “Creative writing” tries to tap into resources that I don’t posses. I find it near impossible to weave a tale out of thin air, though I could re-tell one with eloquence. Then there’s “creative non-fiction,” whatever that means. If it refers to epiphany, revelation or introspection – then I don’t know if I’d call it creative. It is still the transmission of reality through the meaning conveyed by the symbols used to form words and sentences. It is what I am writing at this very moment.

I’ve said all that to get to this. I have added a new blog to my stable. It’s called “This Is Fiction” and that is exactly what it is. Everything found there didn’t really happen, not as told anyway. However, like all fiction, mine is based on real life and real events – some are my own and some are others’. Some may, in reality, contain more fact than fiction, but it is fiction all the same. I put a disclaimer in the blog’s subtitle that says as much. This is not so much to protect myself or anyone else necessarily, but to remind me.

The first entry is a cliffhanger. It leaves more unanswered than it reveals. I know what happened, but I don’t know yet what is going to happen. That is the freedom I’ll get from this page. One needs only ask disgraced “memoir” author James Frey how much better the facts can sound if only things didn’t occur that way. In fiction, I need not stick with the facts - I can create them. This is all brand new for me – we’ll see together where it goes.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Throwing Stones

Picture a bright blue ball, just spinning, spinnin free,
Dizzy with eternity.
Paint it with a skin of sky,
Brush in some clouds and sea,
Call it home for you and me.
A peaceful place or so it looks from space,
A closer look reveals the human race.
Full of hope, full of grace
Is the human face,
But afraid we may lay our home to waste.

There's a fear down here we can't forget.
Hasn't got a name just yet.
Always awake, always around,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Now watch as the ball revolves
And the nighttime falls.
Again the hunt begins,
Again the bloodwind calls.
By and by, the morning sun will rise,
But the darkness never goes
From some men's eyes.
It strolls the sidewalks and it rolls the streets,
Staking turf, dividing up meat.
Nightmare spook, piece of heat,
It's you and me.
You and me.

Click flash blade in ghetto night,
Rudies looking for a fight.
Rat cat alley, roll them bones.
Need that cash to feed that jones.
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Commissars and pin-stripe bosses
Roll the dice.
Any way they fall,
Guess who gets to pay the price.
Money green or proletarian gray,
Selling guns 'stead of food today.

So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Heartless powers try to tell us
What to think.
If the spirit's sleeping,
Then the flesh is ink
History's page will thus be carved in stone.
And we are here, and we are on our own
On our own.
On our own.
On our own.

If the game is lost,
Then we're all the same.
No one left to place or take the blame.
We can leave this place and empty stone
Or that shinin' ball we used to call our home.

So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And the politicians throwin' stones,
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Shipping powders back and forth
Singing black goes south and white comes north.
In a whole world full of petty wars
Singing I got mine and you got yours.
And the current fashion sets the pace,
Lose your step, fall out of grace.
And the radical, he rant and rage,
Singing someone's got to turn the page.
And the rich man in his summer home,
Singing just leave well enough alone.
But his pants are down, his cover's blown...

And the politicians throwin' stones,
So the kids they dance
And shake their bones,
And it's all too clear we're on our own.
Singing ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Picture a bright blue ball,
Just spinnin', spinnin, free.
Dizzy with the possibilities.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.
Ashes, ashes, all fall down.

Written by John Perry Barlow
Music by Bob Weir

Friday, May 26, 2006

Check this out!

Here's a crazy little thing I found on my classmate Lacey's blog. What a perfectly wonderful way to while away the hours!

Sunday, May 21, 2006

It's Too Damned Early!

6:40 a.m. - I woke up over an hour ago with a million story lines rolling through my head. I wasn’t ready to wake up yet; in fact my alarm is set for 8:00. It’s Sunday morning, dammit! Oh well, time to put some coffee on and write something… we’ll see what it is just as soon as I get my caffeine.

It’s brewing… Ohhh ya! That’s good coffee!

I never really considered myself a prolific writer. Hell, until recently I never really considered myself a writer period - and on some level still don’t. Writing has always been a chore for me. I never wanted to write anything, being good at it has nothing to do with it. In some respects I still don’t, I mean let’s face it; I really wanted to be sleeping right now. But no, I have this drive, this motivation to write and I don’t even know what.

That’s a lie, I know what. I know of several “whats.” I awoke to thinking about the first chapter in my as yet unwritten book. It went on to other ideas, the “prolificness” (not a word, spell-checker is having fits) of my writing being the one I seized upon this morning. It then wandered off to things like the nature of the universe. Yup, I think about those things! So… am I a prolific writer?

No. Not yet anyway. Most of what I have is still abstract thought. There are times such as this morning where these thoughts are crystallizing, precipitating out in the form of the written word, but more often than not I’ll resist. I don’t want to like this, but I’m only fooling myself. Old habits, however, die hard – I’m not supposed to like “the arts.”

From grade school all the way through high school, math was my forte. I excelled in other “hard” sciences too. It seemed natural enough; I grew up in the Silicon Valley during the technology boom – everyone was some kind of engineer, except the kind that drove trains. My father has a PhD in chemistry – from Stanford no less. The cast was set. Combined with the fact that I had always struggled – a little bit – in English, it appeared that I was destined to follow the same path.

I never really considered any other alternative. I would, for a very long time, assume that this was the course expected of me; that I really had no encouragement or option to explore other avenues. It was a creation of my imagination. I had simply put one and one together and came up with three, math genius that I am. There were numerous other factors that I failed to consider because I had already figured it out. I knew it all. It is therefore stuck in my now much more enlightened mind that I am no good at this. English and writing are my “off” subjects. I’m not supposed to like it.

In most every respect, I have grown very fond of writing. The resistance is more background noise than anything else. It can be, however, very inconvenient. I did not want to be inspired at five o’clock this morning. I would have preferred it come at about noon – or maybe tomorrow. In reality, all I’m doing right now is stalling; I have not satisfied the curiosity that had awakened me. It was about the book – a project that I know all too well could have me planted here all freakin’ day. Today, this will have to do.