Starbucks on 162nd Avenue, Vancouver Washington. A cold day at 3:47pm, but Mr. Sunlight is beginning the thaw that a rainy tomorrow will complete. If not tomorrow, the next day at least when the rain will pour. Speaking of pouring, I'm back on track with rewriting Ghoul World, and I see ahead after the Ghoul World rewrite several projects that I've mentioned in the past: (1) putting together the chapbook Up Your Ass about the prostate cancer experience [hopefully in the past], (2) putting together the best of my short stories into a book Many Voices One Head for sending to writing contests and (3) gathering a collection of poetry from all the "periods" of my life together for contest entries. And after that (4) I see myself writing some movies and plays. On another hand, getting back to sketching intrigues me. When I'm not doing any of the above, you can find me with mechanical pencil in hand—eraser on the end—working crossword puzzles or Sudoku. Yesterday I watched from a distance a professorial type older gentleman working away at a crossword puzzle with a pen.
ASIDE: Finished Saturday's Sudoku in two tries. The tiny slip ups of concentration can raise hell.
Another rainy day in the Greater Portland Area, i.e. Vancouver, Washington. Monday noon and I'm sitting in an extremely loud and very busy Starbucks on 162nd Avenue in Southeast Vancouver, wishing I wanted to want to get back to work on the umpteenth rewrite of my novel Ghoul World and happily anticipating the February appearance of the 40th Portland International Film Festival. I'm absolutely certain my psyche has been rearranged by my 8 month cancer journey; that and the burden of a lifetime of hoping for financial success of some kind, that is a job as poet in residence or a best selling novel that is turned into a movie. The bucket gets ever closer; the list remains the single wish to find someone other than myself to publish a novel of mine. My state of mind wasn't helped much last night when wife and I were watching the movie Solace.
In that movie Anthony Hopkins as a psychic says something like this
about cancer, "Eighty percent of the time cancer returns, then it's a bugger
to deal with."
Weekly I work the NYTimes crossword [takes all week a little at a time] and the Saturday Sudoku that requires much concentration to do correctly. Took five tries to come out right on Saturday evening. You know? I had great fun writing my scifi movie last year and felt I was better working with dialogue than writing descriptive passages. That may be my next project—another movie script. I think that's enough for this entry. Now what picture ought to accompany it? I know—a photo of self in the loud Starbucks with my Gonzaga Bulldog hat on. Wow! 15-0.
"That's My Dog Tige, He Lives In A Shoe. I'm Buster Brown, Look For Me in There Too" When I was a kid, I had to do chores in the basement frequently, and I listened to a radio show as I worked. Buster Brown shoes advertised on that show. Froggy the magic frog who twanged his "magic twanger" was also on that show. No double entendre intended.
HO HUM, HO HUM, IT'S OFF TO REWRITE HO HUM I GO. I must admit that my writing energy is at low ebb. Part of the decline is because we were out of town over the Christmas holiday, and I'm trying to get myself back into harness, but it keeps slipping off my back. Some of my lack of interest is a hangover, I believe, from the cancer scare. For many months, I lived in a bag or sack, a psychic state of existence for sure. No certain future lay ahead for me. To compensate for my low energy, I'm enclosing a poem I wrote for the poetry chapbook Up Your Ass about my prostate cancer. Perhaps the last piece of original writing I've done. I'm not happy with it so it ends with an ellipsis that suggests future work? Perhaps also I need to rethink the title.
Nothing could be more boring than hearing about another damn Booming rewrite. Right? But that's all I have to report. I'm rewriting Ghoul World.
I've had a couple more rejections come in of work I'd submitted only to the most prestigious and paying markets. What do I expect? My work is nothing like what passes for writing these days. It's not young enough and it's style, of necessity, does not ring true in a youthful mind. As
I think of the style of my writing, I realize how cosmopolitan most
young writers are. I'd class my story as appealing to a Richard Hugo or
James Welch audience of old. One of my best stories, and I know it's well written, is from the pov of a drifter and blue collar dude who finds himself working in boom town Gillette Wyoming. He befriends a naif young veteran who gets himself involved with a very troubled and promiscuous female. How it works out must remain a mystery as the story is a mystery that never gets solved.
Another writing problem is how to finish the poetry book [more likely chapbook] Up Your Ass about the 8 month cancer bout I just finished dealing with. I have no interest currently to write a concluding poem, but I feel the series requires one. It's almost a disappointment that it won't end in my death. I know...how could I say that? Well, writing requires a conclusion, and I'm not ready to conclude yet. Happy trails to you...so Roy Rogers would say.
Hello! Hell, times fly and seniors stumble. According to blog aficionados, I've been too many days between entries, but blogdarnit, I'm not an aficionado of blogs. Here's the latest news. I'm on my 4th? my 5th? or my 6th? rewrite of Ghoul World. I don't know. Each time I rewrite I attempt to cut away dross, make my sentences more straightforward. I did this morning have an idea for a new story appear from the hidden realms of my brain into consciousness which, it so happens, is only capable of holding 7 thoughts or words or images at any one time. Such is the fragmented nature of human reality. I also strongly intend to got to Ghost Town open mic where I've been absent for all the 8 months while I learned of and had my prostate cancer irradiated. I'm going to read four poems from my cancer chapbook. Each day I feel my strength returning, and I push my exercises to more intensity. Have I mentioned that before treatment I used to do 20 to 25 sit ups, but now can do but 3 or 4? Stopping here. Gotta dash home and make spaghetti for supper.
Yesterday my wife and I visited my radiation treatment doctor, and he declared, "Your body's free of cancer." My wife's ecstatic, but I continue in my present calm state of one day at a time. Now, all I've got to do is concentrate on my bucket list item, but, wouldn't you know? After several days not writing that included Thanksgiving's pleasant visit of my daughter, her husband and my youngest son to eat ham and everything else vegan and to play board games, I've lost the impulse to continue writing. Even the happy PSA reading hasn't brought a poem, and the poetry contained in Up Your Ass inspired by my prostate cancer seems dull and silly. I see no opening ahead, no light of inspiration streaming in through the tunnel walls I'm walking in. I'm 79 years old and, interestingly, a hand-written rejection note from Fiddlehead was penned on my October 20th birthday, a birthday gift I just received in yesterday's mail. Will this period of writer's block pass? Who knows. I'm getting old, but the bucket's over a distant hill now, and I've a far piece to walk ahead.
The number of days remaining to me for the pursuit of my lone bucket list item,i.e. to get someone other than myself to publish one of my novels, hasincreased hopefully. My first PSA [prostate-specific antigen] test measured at 0.02 at the three month mark following the radiation treatments. The test measures the protein produced by both cancerous and noncancerous tissue in the prostate. As the prostate grows so does the protein content in the blood. Five point zero [5.0] is the high limit for safety. I'd be ecstatic save for the outcome of the presidential election, my natural tendency to imagine the worse and the fact a small amount of blood is oozing from the head of my penis today. I wonder what that means? It's got to be bladder or kidney cancer. Right? After all I was told secondary cancers sometimes result from radiation treatment of the prostate.
I'm reading a poetry chapbook Duwamish Head by Richard Hugo put out by Copper Canyon Press in 1976. That's the year I got sober in Cheney Washington and, sober, attended a party celebrating the end of a two week writer's workshop at Eastern Washington University to which Richard Hugo and James Welch unexpectedly arrived dead drunk after a longdark spur of the moment drive from Missoula Montana. Welch's Winter in the Blood had not long ago come out in 1974 and Hugo was at the top of his game. Just the sort of drunken shindig writers have been famous for since the days of Homer andDionysus, and there I was a sober observer of the doings of what to me were the immortals who were driven to drink by celebrity and the suffering that informed their writing. Ah yes, to suffer is to write. Ahem.