LOVE NOR LIFE ARE SINGULAR

8 08 2017

 
There can be a real meeting 
between two people 
at the point where they 
always felt marooned. 
Right at the edge.” 
– Sam Shepard

Love and life are so difficult to define.  
Both are never singular.  There must be two.

Love is utterly singular to each person in each relationship at each
moment in time.
 We each love different loves, 
constantly navigating and
negotiating the infinite continuum of meaning 
with which we view each lover through eyes that may not even see us as we are. 
Sam Shepard‘s letters to his life-long friend, Johnny Dark
 explored love as a union of two sovereign alonenesses 
and a mutual awakening to dormant parts of each self.
 Both men belonged to “The Work”
a movement of gatherings based on the
spiritual teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, 
whose philosophy was
rooted in the idea that 
although our default state is a sort of waking
sleep, we are capable of waking up. 
In 1982, Shepard met the actress Jessica Lange on the set of the film Frances, in which he had a
supporting role. 
Lange earned an Academy Award nomination and won
Shepard’s heart. 
The two entered into an immediate and intense romance 
that effected, as Shepard wrote to Dark, mutual awakening.
What do you think?

Do we mostly live in a waking sleep
 from which only love can awaken us?
or
Can our dreams awaken us even more?




LOVE & LIFE ARE NEVER SINGULAR

8 08 2017

 
There can be a real meeting 
between two people 
at the point where they 
always felt marooned. 
Right at the edge.” 
– Sam Shepard

Love and life are so difficult to define.  
Both are never singular.  There must be two.

Love is utterly singular to each person in each relationship at each
moment in time.
 We each love different loves, 
constantly navigating and
negotiating the infinite continuum of meaning 
with which we view each lover through eyes that may not even see us as we are. 
Sam Shepard‘s letters to his life-long friend, Johnny Dark
 explored love as a union of two sovereign alonenesses 
and a mutual awakening to dormant parts of each self.
 Both men belonged to “The Work”
a movement of gatherings based on the
spiritual teachings of George Ivanovich Gurdjieff, 
whose philosophy was
rooted in the idea that 
although our default state is a sort of waking
sleep, we are capable of waking up. 
In 1982, Shepard met the actress Jessica Lange on the set of the film Frances, in which he had a
supporting role. 
Lange earned an Academy Award nomination and won
Shepard’s heart. 
The two entered into an immediate and intense romance 
that effected, as Shepard wrote to Dark, mutual awakening.
What do you think?

Do we mostly live in a waking sleep
 from which only love can awaken us?
or
Can a brush with death awaken us even more?




HOOK YOUR READER_ IWSG post

2 08 2017

The news.



 It has none of the characteristics that make something worthwhile.

It’s not fun, it causes anxiety, it gives you a warped sense
of reality, 

and people who watch it are rarely going to do anything with the information they get.

Yet, watch it they do.  Why?

If we want our books to sell, 
we need to be able to answer 
that question.




The appeal of many books, ideas and actions boils down to six key factors –

1.)  A person-centered subject matter
2.)  The presence of patterns
3.)  The odd incongruity
4.)  A topic that pushes the buttons of hope or fear
5.)  Stimuli that engage our body or senses 
6.)  Thoughts that play to our psychological biases

 Rhyming idioms are catchy, attractive and appear truthful 

because they are easy to mentally process and their repetitive sound
appeals to our love of patterns.

Idioms that at first glance appear
contradictory stimulate our keen eye for incongruity.

Fiction is so engrossing because we are hard-wired
to detect useful information 

and while part of our brain knows that what
we are reading is make-believe,

 another part thinks the characters, and
events, are real.

Some aspect of our poor susceptible minds really thinks Hannibal Lector is out there. 

Somewhere.

Have you ever left a movie feeling vaguely dissatisfied?  

You didn’t like the film but don’t know exactly why?

 Chances are, the movie failed in terms of story structure. 

 Storytelling
is so ingrained in us that it sets up certain expectations for how a
story should unfold.  

When those expectations are defied, it leaves us
vaguely unsettled.

A story is a character in pursuit of a goal in the face of an obstacle or challenge.

How the character resolves (or fails to resolve) the challenge
creates the drama and human interest that keeps us reading or listening.

HOW TO HOOK THE READER … 




1.) GET INTO YOUR PROTAGONIST’S HEAD RIGHT OFF AND STAY THERE.



2.) NO HEAD HOPPING


Readers will only know how the other characters are feeling through what your protagonist

 (POV
character) 

notices and perceives—their words, actions, facial
expressions, tone of voice, body language, etc.

3.) LEARN FROM THE DOCTOR DELIVERING A BABY

Slap your MC right out of the gate.   

It doesn’t need to be the main problem of the story,

but put something
on the first or second page that challenges him and makes the readers
start worrying about him.

 The difficulty or dilemma can be internal,
external, or interpersonal.

4.) GRAVITY TAKES NO BREAKS; IT ONLY GIVES THEM 


Introduce some opposition in the first few pages.  


Bring on a rival, an enemy, or a nasty villain fairly early to get things
moving fast and make your readers start biting their nails.

5.) SURPRISE!

 Surprise gets our attention by defying our expectations. 

We’re wired to
immediately start figuring out what’s actually going on, 

the better to
gauge whether the smack we’re about to receive will be on the lips or aside the head.

6.) SQUIRM!

 Science has proven that the brain uses emotion, rather than reason, to gauge what matters to us.

So it’s not surprising that when it comes to story, if we’re not feeling, we’re not reading.

 In a compelling story the reader slips into the protagonist’s skin and
becomes her/him –

feeling what she feels, wanting what she wants,
fearing what she fears.

7.) HEMINGWAY YOUR WORDS

Over 11,000,000 pieces of information dive-bomb our five senses every second. 

Don’t add to the reader’s input unless it is necessary. Bore the reader; lose the reader.

8.)  NEVER BLUR THE FOCUS


We access the universal only through the very specific.  The story is in the specifics.

“Dario had a hard day.”

There are all sorts of hard days. Is Dario a door-to-door salesman or a Roman gladiator?

Use the” Eyes-Wide-Shut test.”

If you shut your eyes, can you see it? If not, then neither can the reader.

9.) MAKE THEM LAUGH

Life is hard enough for your reader.  Give them a chuckle or two in each chapter even if your tale is a dark one.

It is always darker after a light has died than if it had never existed at all. 




10.) CARE ABOUT YOUR STORY


If you care, it will carry over into your words.


Charlaine Harris stopped caring about Sookie 

and just continued to write the novels to keep her contract.


It showed.

However she redeemed herself with her Midnight, Texas novels.

Let’s hope her enthusiasm for those characters is not tarnished by the NBC series based on them.

For laughter and reflection:




When TV gets PREGNANT

18 07 2017

When Lucille Ball became pregnant,
 the network wouldn’t even let the show 
use the word “pregnant.”

How times have changed, right?
THE X-FILES

When baggy clothes would no longer cover Gillian Anderson’s pregnancy, the X-Files went full Sci-Fi …


and had poor Scully the victim of an alien abduction in the episode, Ascension/


this scene was so particularly graphic the network originally did not want to air it.

XENA

When Lucy Lawless became pregnant, the show’s writers went full-on mythic.


In a twisty episode that found Xena’s soul both in Hell and then Heaven, 

Xena meets her arch-enemy Callisto in both places.

Callisto touches Xena in a gesture of forgiveness.


Upon her return to earth, Xena finds she is pregnant with no idea how.

The mystery is solved when Callisto’s spirit

reveals in another episode she “gave” Xena the child to make amends for all the evil she did her. 

DOUBLE DOOMED SARAH SHAHI
In the too short series, Life

Sarah played the feisty partner to the hero of the show. 
To cover her pregnancy, 
the show had poor Sarah kidnapped and held captive for most of the 2nd season.  
In the excellent series, PERSON OF INTERST,
Sarah played yet another feisty and unwilling love interest of a killer trying to turn over a new leaf,
Root.  

No pun intended.  

To cover Sarah’s pregnancy that would not have fitted at all in the story-line …
Aw, you guessed … 
Sarah was apparently killed, then found to have been kidnapped

and held captive for most of the remaining episodes of this fine series.  
Notice Sarah’s baggy clothes in the following video
whose music was composed by the same artist who composes for GAME OF THRONES:


WYNONNA EARP

Although Melanie Scarfano was pregnant the entire 2nd season, she
still did a lot of her own stunts.  

And took ballet lessons to keep up her strength and balance.


My Stetson’s off to this trooper.




Writing for the second season began in the spring of
2016,

and Scrofano told executive producer and showrunner, Emily Andras, 

of her happy news in September of that year,
when she was not that far along. 

 “I basically blacked out for a month, so I’m hazy on the details,” Andras joked. 

Emily seriously added,

 “I went into Syfy and basically said, 

‘I need to do a
‘Fargo.’ I really want to have a pregnant superhero. 

I want to do a
Marge Gunderson. 

I think it speaks to everything that makes our show
special.” 

And they fell in love with it.

It is a fine show that entertains with laughter and heart … 

not too many of those shows around any more.

Apparently, if you record this show on your DVR, Syfy is notified …

So even if you do not plan to watch it, please record it and play it in the background to up the ratings.

Support a new mother and her fans who love her.





WHAT IS HOLDING YOU BACK?

18 07 2017

 

“Principles are good and worth the effort
 only when they develop into deeds.”
  “The great doesn’t happen through impulse alone, 
but is a succession of little things
 that are brought together.”  
 -Van Gogh 
Teachers have long thought 
that there is in this present culture an ethical weaknesses and intellectual poverty 
that keep even the most gifted young people from ascending to greatness.
But I remind myself of the words of Virginia Wolfe in Orlando:
“It is probable that the human spirit has its place in the time assigned to it.” 
1) The QUAGMIRE of CONTEMPLATION
 Contemplators love the study of nature but only for its aesthetic
qualities :
the sublime spectacles, the beautiful forms, the splendid
colors, and the graceful structures.
 To linger over-long in the realm of faerie 
is to miss out as the world — and your opportunities — move on without you.
2.) When LABEL becomes the GOAL not the CONSEQUENCE of ACTION
 
One did not become a knight merely by parading about in a suit of armor.
 
No, knighthood was found in deeds —
 
as the term author is reserved for those who complete the books in their heads.
 
“He who knows and acts is the one who counts, 
not he who knows and falls
asleep. 
We render a tribute of respect to those who add original work to
a library, 
and withhold it from those who carry a library around in
their head.”
– Santiago Ramón y Cajal
3.) Eat a STEAK by swallowing 
the WHOLE COW
 
We all have heard the term “Baby Steps.”
Why did so many great writers start out by writing short stories?
 
They grew by doing, of course.
 
But also each successful sale reinforced their desire 
to write more stories that blossomed into writing novels.
This principle pertains to most things in life:
Tackle small problems first, so that if success smiles and strength increases,
 one may then undertake the great feats 
4.) The MAP is NOT the JOURNEY
 
The journey does not take itself.
 
Don’t plan — WRITE
 
Plotting your novel in detail may feel like writing, but it is not.
Writing one sentence, one chapter after another — THAT is writing.
 
Plan too much and you increase the odds of your novel being dead on arrival.
 
Even if it is finished, 
the spark and spontaneity will have vanished like that iridescent rainbow that shimmered so beautifully in the storm clouds.
 
 
Writing is not building a house.  It is an art.
 
Do you think Van Gogh or Picasso outlined their paintings?
 
The best stories we read, the ones we aspire to write, 
are the ones that
leave us in a more mysterious world than we knew at the start, 
stories that illuminate questions rather than answers.
5.) Our MUSCLES grow 
BY USING them
The same is true of any skill:
We LEARN by DOING
 
“The water does not flow
 until the faucet is turned on.”  
– Louis L’Amour
 
The best writing happens when the writer is discovering what happens as he or she is creating.
OF COURSE 
 
I am not the Yardstick of the Universe so these are merely my suggestions for you to reflect upon.
 
I hope I have at least amused you.




Why Myths Matter

25 01 2017

king-1507392_1920

“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”

– Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane

We live our myths.

Each of us spins a myth of who we are, of what the world is, and of our place in it – for who of us could bear to look at the Medusa called Truth?

The myth of our life shapes our perceptions, our choices, and our justifications for them both.

Our own Myth is the Perseus Mirror Shield that saves us from gazing directly into the Truth in front of us.

Despite my Greek allusions, I, like Neil Gaiman, am drawn to the Norse myths.

Norse mythology still somehow speaks to people around the world.

Like us, the Asgardians knew that it would not end well for them, that there was no escape.

Drawn to Ragnarok by invisible forces they did not understand, the Asgardians could only find meaning and solace in how they lived until that Day.

What did Ernest Hemingway write?

Every man’s life ends the same way. It is only the details of how he lived and how he died that distinguish one man from another.

What matters most to me is how myths can inspire us to live our lives in new ways.

Those who are familiar with my novels and short stories know that I love to merge myth into what we laughingly call the Real World

(though none of us ever perceive it in its totality).

None of us understand the world.

Perhaps it is enough to live each moment in it with full awareness.  And in doing that, we will come to understand enough of the world to make our own lives matter.

ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO MYTH

As I have said: I love to weave all the world’s myths into the fabric of my stories so it was only natural I sculpt the House Eternal for my story, SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK.

It is an eerie structure, where creatures light and dark make their home, gods and demons and friends and foes emerge from the hidden corners of the mind.

They glide through the streams of Man’s unconscious as the Caretaker makes the journey with them in this shadow structure that exists between the realm of night and day, the real and surreal.

Caretaker?

Every estate needs one so I chose, fittingly enough, an Einherjar – the Chosen of the Valkyries.

I remembered the famous love myth in the Norse Sagas of the doomed lovers, the Einherjar, Helgi, and the fiery Valkyrie, Kára, whose name means “the wild, stormy one.”

Kára was the reincarnated Sigrún, a cursed Valkyrie who dared to love someone other than her betrothed.

helgi_und_sigrun_by_johannes_gehrts

The seed of my story was sown, and Helgi became the Caretaker.

His story becomes one with the House Eternal, the quest for meaning when love has gone, and fighting off the fear that it might return.

Writing fantasy for me is like picking up a machete and heading out into the jungle.

I get to write in places and go to realms to which I had not wandered before.

Myth is best when you make it true, and you make it true when your characters face the core struggles of life and react in ways that evoke a sense of kinship with them in the heart of the reader.

(For authors do not write to people but to a person.  That is what makes true stories intimate and real.)

All stories, if continued far enough, end in death, and he is no true-story teller who would keep that from you.

Yet, he is also no true story teller who does not murmur that there may be some things that transcend even death.

I hope you read SOMETIMES THEY COME BACK with half the enjoyment I had in writing it.

Let me know what you think of it in comments on my blog, WRITING IN THE CROSSHAIRS:

http://rolandyeomans.blogspot.com/

I’ll be looking for your visit this May.  Roland

Source: Why Myths Matter





NEVER TELL ME THE ODDS

30 03 2010

The odds are against us. Worse. Look at the headlines of suicide bombers. We are against us.

There is no director to yell “Cut!” No stunt double to take our place. And no new movie to star in when death swallows our person.

We must be our own hero. Wear our own spandex. And, if Kate Beckinsale of UNDERWORLD is to be believed, spandex pinches. And so it should. Pinches remind us that pain befalls us all, to be kinder who someone whose pinched face shows us that the spandex of his/her life is less than comfortable.

The picture of this post comes from Cassandra. She is a hero, a woman who could have surrendered to bitterness and defeat. But instead she has chosen to choose life, healing others, and going forward. Though she would deny the heroism of her new life, I consider her a hero. Her trauma is hers to tell. I am just tipping my hat to her heroism.

And in a fashion, all we authors struggling to be published have to be our own heroes. The odds are against us in this harsh market. It seems that the motto of agents we approach is : “If I don’t want your autograph, I don’t want your manuscript.”

But giving up can become an addiction, a way of life. Never surrender. Never yield to despair. Stumble, yes. Fall, of course. But gather your strength, your wits and get up. You can do it. Others have before you. Fling the blood and sweat from your eyes and smile wide. You can use those acid feelings searing your will and heart in your writing, becoming a deeper, more perceptive writer.

And more importantly : if you refuse to give in to bitter hopelessness, you will become a deeper, more compassionate human being. When you succeed, and you will succeed, you’ll be able to thrust out a helping hand and word to someone, down and hurting, who needs a boost back onto the path. You’ll be able to give them a pat on the back to lend strength to their steps. The pats lower leave to the agents and publishers.