Let's Speak The Same Language

Thursday, September 22, 2016


One of the agents I send my work to.
The past few days have proven to be worrisome. Several times I thought I was ready to let go of the insanity of continuing to seek publication of a novel or to send out poetry and short stories to lit. mags, then, yesterday while walking in a beautiful local park and having cancer on my mind, I told myself, "One day at a time, dude. Stay in today. Today you're alive and well. Let that be enough." Then this morning, the fog and gloom lifted, and I'm ready to get back to reworking the stories I hope to collect together under the title Many Voices, One Head. I get it that when a writer is sending stuff out and hoping for one of his novels to land an agent, he or she is living always in hope of a future event. When stuff starts trickling back from the outside world, rejections mostly,  an ominous sense of futility begins to bite one's ass. It has always been so, but staying in the now, the writing gets to be fun again.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


It took some flippin' flipping but, at last you can read the cover of the first issue of the last year FourByTwo will be in existence. It's run it's course, it's blown it's gasket, the bird will be dead so you ought to get this last year stowed away on one of your book shelves before it's too late. If you never unfolded one of them yourself, you've missed a treat. The poetry is always excellent and the way it's put together is ever a thing of beauty. I'm happy to say I've got all the issues. I hope my great great grandchildren will take them to Antique Roadshow and find each issue is worth 3 dollars and 76 cents at auction. Klipschutz and Jeremy Gaulke, our glasses of Diet Coke are raised to you. 

Wife and I went to see "Snowden" this afternoon. By director Oliver Stone, it's more straight forward than some of his past works of history and bio, and the details are telling. The biopic is full of information I didn't know about. It's a great love story too for those who like them.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


Yesterday I finished the 7th rewrite of The Porn Writer, but the doubts are back, a swarm of squids on the sea floor of my imagination. Today I'm reading at the Black Rock on 164th Avenue, Vancouver. Twelve ounces of soy chai for $3.75. At Starbucks it's $4.39. I found a shiny dime on the floor just now. I'm making the mistake of reading Plimpton's book on Truman Capote: in which various friends, enemies, acquaintances and detractors recall his turbulent career. If you read it you'll conclude that you must be alcoholic or bat shit crazy to be creative. It's a picture of how I tried to behave and talk during my drinking years. I thought craziness equated to genius. At least two women in my past told me that the way I used language in those days was a sign of a mentally unbalanced mind. A psychologist who was leading a weekend group encounter session in the Huckleberry Mountains north of Spokane once told me I had a "quicksilver mind". I was quite proud of that, then he asked me if I was there to learn something. When I said, "Yes," he asked me to shut up and listen to what the others had to say. I kid you not, I fell over on my side and went immediately to sleep. That first session he'd put out bottles of wine to loosen us up. I was quickly very loose. The second time I showed up I'd quit drinking. During a walk down a mountain road, the psychologist told me he hadn't liked me very much that first weekend. He said I was now a very different person. I was, but for all my trying to behave like a creative person [my output is immense], I'm 78 [79 on October 20] and have little financial or public acclaim for my efforts. Sometimes I wish I could grasp even a fraction of the way my mind shot between metaphors and linked them in mad clusters of language when I drank. I can't even come close. 

Friday, September 9, 2016


Had a good day of rewriting The Porn Writer yesterday and all the doubts that I expressed in the previous blog entry had disappeared. Yesterday's writing is okay today and the story is meaningful again. My doubt today is about agents and what they want. Serials for one thing. Also two women, not agents, have told me they wouldn't read a novel about a dysfunctional relationship between a controlling male and an incest victim in which the male begins to understand that he needs help while the woman goes on to [censored/spoiler]. Most agents these days are women, so that's a potential problem. Watch Lifetime movies if you want to see that limited viewpoint in all its crabbed glory. I don't know how a male author can deal with that mindset. Why must the woman nearly always be the victim? Aha! That statement ought to make the pot boil. It's a hot potato for certain. Also, I must warn that porn passages  my protagonist writes are included in the novel, and for good esthetic reasons. Some readers, of course, won't accept my explanation and will daintily hold the novel between thumb and forefinger as they extend it above the trash heap and release.

Thursday, September 1, 2016


Another short story rejection this week from Boston. Missed that gol-dang bull again and, currently, I'm experiencing a
This photo may be better than words....
period of doubt. At my age, after a lifetime of doubt, why should it be any different today? 

Lately I've been dealing with several mental states or attitudes that are hard to describe. Picture the flying cowboy above. That's my inner state ever since I got the prostate cancer diagnosis; my psyche suspended in an emotionless state of peril. Ain't that photo something?

I realized lately that another mental state has altered in me when it comes to my writing. Always before when I was actually writing, a sort of indistinct futuristic attitude accompanied the writing effort, a wordless and unperceived sense of anticipation that I am only able to recognize now because of its absence. It kept me going. My current writing is neither accompanied nor relieved by that indistinct attitude of "something ahead in the future". It's not a wall exactly; it's a disquieting fog. The bull has disappeared from the photo I guess.

However, I am bound and determined to finish the 7th rewrite of The Porn Writer. After that, who knows? Back to algebra or continue the pursuit of my single bucket list item?

Monday, August 29, 2016


The following paragraphs remain to this day as relevant to me as they did when I first read them decades ago. All my discoveries came from understanding our painful human experiences in those terms. I can't remember from which of many books I took it. I see the influence of Alice Miller in it, but I'm certain it's not her writing. These paragraphs are at the root of my novel, The Porn Writer

"Those who think they can will themselves back to health with the trick of forgetting only trick themselves. The trick of forgetting is the denial which kills them. We think we’ve come to terms with our pasts when we learn not to feel the feelings associated with our memories. Our feelings, specially if they’re rooted in severe childhood abuse, seem overpowering and too huge to face. So we refuse to feel them and pretend they don’t affect us.

"But hidden memories take a secret toll on us because we hide them under addictions. We control them by not acknowledging their powerfulness in our lives. We control them by getting drunk or getting laid or getting high or getting power in high places, or by working seven days a week or by losing ourselves in another person, by watching seven hours of TV a day. On and on. Control is addiction.

"Then we lie to ourselves and to others, thinking we’ve put our memories behind us because we are not able to feel them anymore, except in little flashes. We say to ourselves and we tell others, ‘A person’s got to get on with their life. You can’t dwell in the past forever.’ Yet everything we do, everything we speak, everything we are is influenced by the secret we try to keep.

"Of course we’re never aware that our whole present is but a reflection of our past. We think we’ve neatly escaped our memories, but it’s plain as day they haven’t gone away once you make the breakthrough from addiction to acceptance.

"The secret is, was always, a big billboard on the top of our heads which blinks the truth to everyone around us while only we are unaware of it. It’s like that card game in which each player places a playing card, face outward, to his forehead so that everyone but himself can see the card, then tries to evaluate the strength of his card by the cards he sees that the others are holding to their foreheads. We don’t know what card we’re showing, but to the others, it’s obvious.

"However, there is better though more uncomfortable way. We can choose to dwell from time to time in the past, to face the awful truths, to grieve our losses and accept them and, specially, to accept and embrace the wounded person inside us who needs our love and acceptance rather than our denial. We have a choice to be courageous and admit our pain or to spend the rest of our lives running from the truth in every deed we do and every thought we think.

"Sadly, if we deny the painful truths of our pasts, we deny ourselves and team up with the abusers of this world. We become self-abusers and, finally, abusers of others too. Abusive people are often the ones who most want us all “to quit crying and get on with our lives!” Then he or she can go on about their business of abuse without interruption.

"In the end, you have to lose control to get control. Eventually, you must give up and surrender to the pain. This surrender is no easy task. Re-feeling the pain, you become, for a time, helpless as the child you once were, the child who is being traumatized. All your defenses come down, and you are as vulnerable and naked as you were at the time when the wounds were inflicted on you. It’s a frightening and painful experience, but only then can you experience the magnitude of the damage done to you and begin to grieve and relieve your loses.

"Though recovery is actually practical and sane, the path back to a moderately-successful, healthy frame of mind feels frighteningly irrational and painfully emotional as you walk it. The way back is through pain and darkness and, at times, does not feel like the way to light. You may think you will drown in darkness, alone and unloved, but let me assure you, you won’t. You only think you will. However, it does take real courage to do this work, to walk this path. It’s not a job for the weak. It is the weak who scream out, ‘Forget it and get on with your lives!’

"So we do have choices to make. We can shut down and never feel any true feelings, except terror or nothingness, or we can dive right into them and experience our true feelings, our true selves, swim through them and come out on the other side. There is hope. Every time we honestly get in touch with our childhood experiences, we cry and take pity on ourselves and get a little stronger. The feelings get a little less blind control over us and we become a little more conscious in our choices.

"The process isn’t a clean, neat scientific work. It’s a magical work in a wonderland of seeming monsters and heroes, with princesses and princes, villains and good guys. It’s all within you. Many things are inexplicable, things happen as a result of re-experiencing them that are completely magical and very real. Reason will never get us there but fearlessness and feeling will."

Thursday, August 25, 2016


I caught me one good poem for my book Up Your Ass. So all my creative juices haven't dried up yet. I'm experimenting with this long line form. Sometimes it works. Some of the lines don't break correctly because of the format of the blog. I just corrected them so now they do.


You wake one morning when the alarm sounds in the middle of your life and cancer battle,
and you begin to toddle about the house with an aging mind, trying to formulate a beginning
when you suddenly miss your wife so much that tears rush into your eyes and a hole opens 
in your belly. For a moment you don’t know what it is you have to do to keep yourself alive,
then you imagine yourself as an even much older man, alone and missing a woman’s touch,
and you remember the old man they brought into the nursing home where you were working
in that small town of long ago because you’d just broken up with wife number three. You had
to make a living, the same way you always had to make a living no matter how or where.
You recall they found him in his farmhouse out in the boonies alone in shit stained undies.
He’d lost his wife of 60 years and couldn’t cook for himself and hadn’t cared for himself.
His sons found him that way, more dead than alive among the pines, delusional with grief.
You recall how you saw him as an example of the pampered male, so dependent on a spouse
that he couldn’t live without her and how his dilemma was smugly humorous to you back then
when you were contemptuous of all the members of your own pampered gender, the idiot male.
That was before counseling where you learned to have compassion for the male you were and
where you wondered how you’d come to hate your manhood so much you didn’t want to be one.
Maybe that’s why at puberty a few times you stood before the mirror in your stepmom’s undies
to give yourself a thrill. In counseling Bob asked why you’d stopped doing it, and you told him,
“I don’t know. I just stopped.” That was before counseling with ex-priest Bob who left his order
because his succubus was so beautiful that the sap rose up in him like honey and blinded him,
and you saw how, for guessed at reasons, you’d taken the women’s side in the battle of the sexes
in the turmoil of the 60s that busted up all the John Wayne foundations of American existence, 
and you sank into a quagmire of self loathing, booze and woman needing you called your self,
and you heard Pete Seeger singing, “Sometimes I feel like a motherless child,” one morning 
like this morning when the tears wash up out of your silent interior into your eyes, remembering.