Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Where do those Characters Come From?

Round and Round We Go

Picking up where we left off in the last post, what was it, exactly, that urged me off the sofa and into the writing chair?

As is often the case, the answer to the question is a bit complicated or perhaps multifaceted might be more descriptive. I’ll try to explain. Some of you might remember the cartoon character, Droopy. Those who don’t can easily look it up. Anyway, the animated pooch was famous for his droopy face, which intentionally defied and hid the emotion going on inside the character. I used to be a lot like that. However, most of us reach a point in our lives, typically around the middle-age mark, where we become disillusioned with the way things have turned out. Never being one to under emphasize things, I rode the disappointment wave with a zeal that would have made old Droopy crack a smile. Stephen King summed it up quite well when he wrote: Creative people tend to have creative breakdowns. I believe the phrase showed up in his novel, Duma Key, but I could be wrong about that.

But that’s enough of that. Long story short, Kathi and I lost everything we had and moved back to Tulsa to start over. It’s turned out all right. Rather than give in to self-pity, I directed my frustration and poured my anger into my characters, especially the villains, cathartically cleansing my soul in the process. I know, but I have to get expressive now and then.  The writing has been good for me. Through my characters and the stories they populate I’ve learned a lot about them, and about myself.
I hope my emotionally charged characters and unusual stories have, and will continue to entertain you.


Thursday, June 18, 2015

You Have to Start Somewhere

The need to create stories, characters in situations, seems to be a part of my makeup. However, had I not taken a certain class during my 9th year in school, – I won’t mention how long ago that was – my novels might have existed only in my imagination.

As it turned out, typing was a required subject in those days. Otherwise, I would never have enrolled in such a class. And had it not been for Mr. Brown, who was in the habit of giving his budding typists a qualified free-time during the last ten to fifteen minutes, it still might not have clicked. I say qualified because we couldn’t leave the classroom, talk amongst ourselves, or cause any disturbances, but other than that it was ours. We could use the time to practice the day’s assignment, do our homework, or sit quietly. I did none of these things. I began typing short stories.

I truthfully don’t know where this came from. I grew up in a blue-collar family in every sense of the word.  I was taught a very no-nonsense style of life. And, quite frankly, reading, much less writing, was never discussed. I was never told it was a waste of time, but it was pretty much inferred.

Nevertheless, there I was, alone with my typewriter, and short stories, featuring a bungling superhero began spilling out. I didn’t take the stories home and I didn’t dare tell anyone I was writing them. I just left them on my desk, hoping someone would read them. As it turned out, I developed quite a following, as it didn’t take the students long to figure out who was creating the comical series.

Unfortunately, or not, depending on how you look at it, after the class was over I went back to being who I was before; a shy boy who avoided attention. Many years later, the dormant but never extinguished desire fought its way out again.  

Click the link below to read a sample of Beneath a Buried House:

Monday, June 08, 2015

Too Much Time on My Hands

Kathi and I often have lunch in a park that’s located in an area, which is not far from where we work. One day during the May monsoon of 2015, a curious break in the precipitation occurred during one of these luncheon interludes, which offered a short opportunity that the birds and squirrels quickly took advantage of.

Feeling sorry for the critters, Kathi threw out a few scraps of bread. Typically, the birds battle it out for precedence over the handout. However, on this occasion, in the midst of the ornithological onslaught, a squirrel fought its way in and grabbed a tidbit of the soggy bread. The squirrel immediately jumped onto a wooden pole just in front of the car, where he began to eat his procured morsel, as if, in order to honor his benefactors, he chose to dine with us within the bird battlefield, rather than retreating to higher ground. 

Afterward, the weekend, now seemingly cemented in routine, came and went rather quickly. Sunday afternoon, after church, and after staring through the window at the steady rain, I step into the office to get a bit of writing done. However, as often is the case, my mind refuses to cooperate, and my hopes of diving into the world of Detective Elliot are dashed. I begin to go bonkers. I’m the type of person, who has to have something to do; all the time. This can be a good thing, but it hardly ever seems that way. I should envy those people who enjoy sitting on the couch for hours completely submersed in some television program, but I don’t. I cannot even begin to understand it. Even the thought of it drives me up the wall. But nothing else comes to mind, so I decide to give it a try.

Have you noticed that most reality programs concentrate more on personal problems between the participants than they do on what the show is supposed to be about? I love cars. I always have. When I decide to watch a program that’s supposed to be about cars, I want to see the cars, and not worry over Joe Blow getting the wrong part and missing some trumped up, artificial deadline.

And what is it with all the prescription medicine commercials? Aren’t commercials designed to convince us to buy stuff? And shouldn’t doctors be making those decisions?

I switch off the television and begin to make laps around the kitchen and dining room. The rain continues. It’s commonly believed that the amount of water on earth never changes, but gets recycled, moved around in some way. The water you drink today could have been swallowed by dinosaurs millions of years ago. I do not find this thought pleasing. However, if that is the case, it stands to reason that if one area is experiencing too much water, then other places are dealing with too little. I pray for balance, not for the rain to end, but for it to move on to areas where it is needed.

I think back to the squirrel, and how his attention seemed to be completely trained on eating his lunch. Of course I cannot know what was going on inside his furry, little head, but I imagine it all revolved around the bread. That would make a good line in a poem. I don’t think the squirrel was concerned about what had happened yesterday, and I doubt he was worried about what might happen tomorrow.
God does work in mysterious ways. Through the squirrel, he reminded me that life does not have to be complicated. Throughout the New Testament of the Bible, Jesus often makes this point, for those who have eyes to see, and ears to listen.