Wednesday, February 17, 2016

In Other Words

This last year was a difficult year for me as far as writing.  Things happened that caused my mojo to collapse altogether so there was a while here I had to drop out for a few weeks.  I couldn’t write.  Couldn’t think of anything, and when I could I couldn’t follow through.  As a writer, things had simply crunched to a halt.

Life went on like this for quite awhile and then it began to come back.  But its changed.  I haven’t written anything actually erotic for quite a while, and though I miss that writing form I’m still active as a writer.  As a language artist I’ve changed my sound but become more public. I’ve begun writing plays and found an outlet in the local theater where they’ve become, little by little, in demand. I’ve also begun giving sermons at the Unitarian church where I’m active.  So I’ve done what I’ve so often done - I’ve reinvented myself.

Last year the play was “Fidelis”, which I posted here, about a married couple in trouble.  The husband has prostate cancer.  This year I offered two plays and both were accepted.  One - “Petrichor” - in its very first incarnation appeared here as a post on the week when the theme was “Sex and Food” as the story “Miss Mercy”.  The other play was based on an unpublished short story of my vampire girl Nixie, originally titled “The Dying Light”, and in its theater version “From Your Lips to God’s Ear”.

I would never have seen myself as writing short plays or giving sermons, I always saw myself only as a short story writer, specializing in erotic stories.  Then circumstances take a twist and everything changes.  Life is so unpredictable I wonder how anybody can make a living with ceative work since the whole business seems so fragile to me now.  You can lose the magic in an instant and you don't know if you'll get it back.  I think to be a pro you have to treat it like a pro.  Be out there everyday at the keyboard, don't just wait for inspiration to find you.  You have to make it your job as much as your art.  For dabblers like me, other things are allowed to get in the way so easily that the thread of an idea or a story slips away from us.   We haven’t made it into a proper job which I think to some extent it has to be.

There was a time, when I was kid, I had hoped, maybe naively, I could earn a living as a writer.  Circumstances took me into another direction towards other dreams.  I think to earn a living as a writer would have been a hard and unpredictable and insecure thing.  A person would have to be willing to live with uncertainty and also find a way to keep that fountain flowing.  The most popular writers, like Stephen King or J K Rowling, are maybe most amazing not just for their writing, but for their ability to have a life outside of writing and yet still find the ability to keep the lightning moving along for them and still be consistent.  I suppose having a lot of money in the bank helps, but that would also be a temptation to laziness.  What makes them special is their ability to be so successful and yet resist laziness.

Even though I’m a frog in a very small pond here, it was a great thrill to see players on the stage, under the lights, in front of an audience, speaking the words I gave them, and even more to hear the rising applause of the crowd afterwards.  Writing prose is a joy when the magic is working, and even more if someone buys what you have and puts it in a book you can hold in your hands or see on a screen with your byline.  But in my case short stories have always been these rocks you toss into a lake.  They fly, they go out like little prayers, they fall and there is no answer.  You never know if anyone reads them.  Plays are instant gratification, you see your creature rise from the lab table smoking of the lightning storm that just passed, or lie inert and dead in the presence of your fellow man in real time.

Sermons are like that too.  There’s a little more pressure because you’re speaking in front of people you know.  You know these people as though they were an extension of your family and yet it still scares you to talk in front of them.  You wonder if you sound pompous.  You know you’re expected to speak with some spiritual authority as a given, and to give a sermon not a lecture, but its so easy to sound full of yourself up there.  You wonder what people will really say about you after you go home.

Of course the hardest thing for a shy person speaking to a congregation of any kind is stage fright.  I had coffee with the actress who played Fiona in ”Fidelis” and asked her if she gets stage fright.  Oh yes, every time, she said.  What do you do about it?  She said you don’t resist the energy of fear, you step into it.  You ride the lightning and make it work for you.  I’ve found this is true for sermons, maybe life in general.  You don’t resist fear, step into it.  Use that energy like a resource to push you forward.  I think writing is like that too.  When you’re close to the bone,you feel it.  But that bone, that little bit of your own blood is what you want to give your monster life.  This is when writing crosses over into meditation because you’re calling on a different part of yourself which is usually out of your reach unless you set up this way of going to look for it.

There is this flow to life as we get older, which I don’t know how to write about yet.  Where the magic doesn’t come cheaply anymore and you have to reach into different corners of your damage to find it, corners you never knew were there.  Then writing becomes a spiritual path.  A kind of zen.  My zen.


9 comments:

  1. Live stage is different. There are actual human beings, in the flesh, performing for us. I actually feel very privileged when attending a play. Feels like the writers, director. stage crew and performers have all given a part of their lives just entertain us.

    As far as sermons go, I don't know if I'd be the guy for that. My tack is to allow people to choose their own fairy tale to follow. There is no religion that works for everybody. Truth differs among us because we travel paths others may not have trod.

    Take the Animist belief systems. I'll bet those beliefs are more suited to their geography and living conditions-- when they take into account how the mountains, rocks, earth, water, wind and rain provide for their lives. Certainly more than some ill-humored white guy with a beard sitting in the clouds.

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    1. Hi Daddy X!

      My ways are definitely not anyone else's ways. I trust my ideas because I think they were arrived at the hard way over a long period of time, and also because many of these ideas don't necessarily make me happy. They just seem to match reality and then some a more probably but unprovable reality.

      But even these ideas permeate a lot of my writing. I don;t preach or let my characters preach unless they want to. But the influence is there.

      Garce

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  2. Garce, if you ever have a video of a performance of something you wrote, we would love to see it here! I know what you mean about the immediate response of an audience. Sometimes I even get an unexpectedly positive response to a classroom lecture. In 2004, I had the thrill of watching 2 professional actors perform a one-act play I had written. Skilled professionals (as distinct from friends/acquaintances reading lines) can work magic.

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    1. Hi Jean!

      I might be able to do that in the future. I notice from last year that the theater makes videos of the final performances and posts them online. When these things run their course I may have a chance to do that.

      And its thrill, as you say, seeing somebody do your stuff. I wish that for everybody.

      Garce

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  3. This is a beautiful meta-piece, Garce--the way you use the persistent Frankenstein references. I'm so pleased you are gaining an audience for your brilliance. And don't blush or dispute me. You *are* brilliant, in the way you plumb the depths then bring jewels to the surface and polish them for us to admire.

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    1. Hi Lisabet!

      And thank you for reading them. I have high hopes for these two plays. Maybe I can post them here sometimes.

      Garce

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  4. Seeing your work in performance, and discovering within yourself the talent to write plays worthy of performance, must be a great feeling. Performance art may be the oldest form of story-telling, and it may also be the future of storytelling, as the written word alone declines in appeal.

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    1. Hi Sacchi!

      yes, that is scary how written stories seem to be declining. I don;t think they;re declining in appeal, I think they;re declining in profitability. Alessia Brio recently posted on Facebook that in spite of high sales on the Coming Together anthologies on Amazon she only made $2.50 to offer to the charities. How can a writer make a living that way?

      Garce

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  5. Congrats on the plays! I'm really happy you're having a gratifying creative experience in that venue.

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