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A HUMPDAY CHALLENGE

challengeWhile I’m looking for a new angle on the next segment of “Down and Out in San Antonio” I thought I would throw out a challenge to my followers.  Gonna be a fun thing …

But, first you’ll have to put up with a little palaver, only indirectly connected with my challenge.  I am a member of and a hearty advocate for a site called FanStory.  Some of you may be familiar with it.  I’m a writer — by hobby, if not yet by profession.  Most of my follower/friends are writers, too.  Writing can be one of the lonliest passions around.  You know that.  Most of us need to feel the warmth of kindred spirits.  I find that warmth in FanStory.

When I was a kid ( which was up to about ten years ago), I took pride in going it alone.  I fancied myself a literary outlaw.  I kept an eagle eye open for any new banner, such as: “I march to the beat of a different drummer.”  And,winning because none of this got me anywhere, I naturally fell into the joy of thinking of myself as a misunderstood genius.

I hope most of you are brighter than that.   

That’s a lie!  I hope there’s at least one or two of you to stand as a reminder that I was not alone in being  a self-inflated, adlepated waster of God’s precious time.   C’mon.  It’s lonely.  I’m a little cold.  I could use a hug. Read more…

GOOD, EVIL and WARTS

Good and Evil

I watched an interview with Justin Bateman on the Today’s Show Monday morning.  He was hawking his new movie, which marked his directorial debut.

As writers, we’re all cast in the role of director with each story we write.  Tuck that in the back of your mind (or, not—since it’s pretty obvious).  I’ll get back to it momentarily.

Anyway, either Natalie Morales or Savannah Guthrie—one of the two I always get mixed up because they look like they could be sisters—was interviewing Justin Bateman.  Now, in this movie he played a school teacher who was coaching a group of kids for a spelling bee competition.  The character was apparently pretty hard on them because one of the questions Natalie or Savannah asked him was, “your character was pretty mean, wasn’t he?”

“Well,” said Justin, “I don’t know that I would call him mean.”

And, what followed is the theme of this post:

By the way, I don’t even remember what words he used to justify the behavior of his character—mainly because I was getting ready to go to the gym (which at my age isn’t a vanity but an essential) and I can’t say I was paying a lot of attention.  Anyway, the words, themselves didn’t matter.

It was during a stint on the treadmill that the thematic worm began to burrow into my noggin.  It came up for air a couple of times during crunches and again during curls.  Knowing the worm’ll find no ingredients in that gray sponge to help it turn it into a butterfly, I’m going to yank it out now and take a good look at it.

And, here goes: Read more…

THE PHASES OF CREATING

 

The other day, I was moved by a friend’s blog post.  It was a very honest and compelling post in which she exposed to her readers her sense of frustration in finishing another year without enjoying the sense of emotional fulfillment or financial rewards that her intelligent, well-written, and helpful book should have provided.  She is a spiritual woman, a woman of God.  I sensed a crisis—not of faith—nothing could shake her faith in God!  But, that other crisis in faith: faith in herself.

Secularly, I think we can call it a crisis in confidence— and it can be especially poignant at year’s end.

How many of us plod into the year-end with similar feelings of diminished confidence, at least when contrasted with the buoyancy and unbridled promise we had felt at the beginning?  I have a hunch you’re not the only one holding up your hand.  I for one have been there … In fact, I’ve visited frequently … and recently.  It’s lonely being there.  I don’t want to go back and revisit it. 

But, I’m the cause of it … at least for me.images (6)

And, I’m the only one who can fix it … again, for me.

Read more…

DOWN AND OUT IN SAN ANTONIO ~ RETROSPECTIVE

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Feb. 7, 1962

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS.  We’d been there a little over a week now, and Marty and I, were no longer exhausted, unbathed, cold, and very nearly broke (as I said we were in my last post,  Retrospectively Yours).  The fact was, we found a two story home to rent in the very old part of town.  We were now bathed and rested.  The floor heater was rattling through the grates.  We took turns straddling it, so we were no longer cold.  Also, we were no longer nearly broke.  In fact, with the first month’s rent now out of my wallet and tucked, instead,  into the landlady’s apron pocket along with a promissory note that the last month’s rent and a cleaning deposit would also be transferred to her apron pocket in one week (with the arrival of my California Unemployment Check) … we were very, very broke.

Read more…

RETROSPECTIVELY YOURS

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Feb. 6, 1962   San Antonio, Texas.  We’ve been here a week, Marty and I, exhausted, unbathed, cold, very nearly broke.

 [Retrospective, From Jan. 13, 2013]:

I wish I could remember how it all came about that Marty and I concocted such a harebrained idea to begin with.

See, Marty and I had been taking a creative writing class at Allen Hancock Community college in Santa Maria, California.

The professor was a first year Irishman transplanted to California.  I’m sure his countryman, James Joyce, had ignited a fire in his soul and Professor O’Dwyer even had his own abstruse, Obscurantist novel secreted away in his closet and was only teaching this class to keep the cinders alive until his own Finnegan’s Rebirth  was, well, birthed.

We’d been over to Mr. O’Dwyer’s apartment a number of times during the semester, swilling bitter European coffee and platitudinously chastising the popular writers of the day.  It was college, after all!  Professor O’Dwyer frequently alluded to a novel in his closet that he was working on—but we never encouraged him further.  Marty, Joe (who was another friend and fellow classmate) and I often snickered to each other the suggestion that O’Dwyer would’ve loved to have taken any one of us into that closet.

We only visited Professor O’Dwyer in twos or threes.

Read more…

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 11,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ars longa, vita brevis

Ars longa, vita brevis.”  Anyone who has been writing seriously for any time at all would agree that the Greeks hit the mark imagesCAXME1FXon this one.  “Art is long.”  And, given all the inconsistencies, stumbling blocks, bad breaks … and the self doubt to which all else contribute while the writer is struggling to learn his art—indeed, “life is short.”

Perhaps in the heroic quest of safeguarding one’s own unique voice in the pursuit of his art by shunning writing courses or self-help manuals, the writer runs the risk of reinventing the wheel again and again and again until he finally runs out of precious time, or the flame of enthusiasm, which are one and the same. Read more…

LOVE, WISDOM, EMOTION (distilled to 140 Characters)

Social networkers who know me might get the inkling that I am a fan of Twitter.  Social Networkers who know me well,Twitter Love will tell you if they stick a pin in me would (after they listen to my obscenities), expect I’d bleed in short spurts of 140 characters.

That is to say, Twitter is in my blood!

My wife would tell you what my good friends and my very tactful new acquaintances, away from the internet, won’t.  And that is this: when I’m left to my own devises, and have no outside restrictions imposed on me, I can talk a subject to death while trying to get to the meat of it.  It’s just the crazy way those zany electrical conduits race on their circuitous route from my brain to my mouth.  I don’t control them, so I disavow any responsibility over uprooted signs, overturned food carts, or crossing guards resigned to shaking their staffs, along their way.

But, put me on Twitter and my brain becomes a master of brevity—which is not the same thing as being the master of intelligent brevity. Read more…

THEN AND NOW — PART II

[This blogster is getting frugal in his retirement.  If this post looks familiar to any of you it is because it was posted in my once lively, now defunct,  Jay Squires Writer's Workshop Newsletter.  I think it has enough general interst that it should be included here.  Curiously, I had an earlier blog post entitled THEN AND NOW (A WRITER'S LIFE) -- a title which I totally plagarized myself by using in my Newsletter (fortunately, there's a law against suing oneself or I'd lose what little income I have in my retirement -- I had that good a case against me!)  Even more curiously, I apparently had forgotten I used this same title, though the content in the two articles was entirely different.  Anyway ... hence the PART II here.]

 

*     *     *

(A Writer’s Life)

   It was about 1961 or ’62.  I had just moved from a comfortable room in my parents’ home to a flat in San Francisco I shared with three others, only one of whom I remember.  His name was Joe, and I remember him because he, like me, left a comfortable home in Santa Maria, California, to experience life in San Francisco.
   We were oh so ready to begin our suffering. Read more…

WARNING: CONTENT WITHIN IS POSSIBLY INFLAMMATORY

I am about to post something that has the potential to instantly polarize my followers, possibly to cause a goodly number of them to unsubscribe from SeptuagenarianJourney altogether.  I hope that doesn’t happen.  But, if it does …

So be it.

I didn’t approach the controversial nature of the subject-matter with the sense of adventure I might have shown as a younger man.  You won’t find any courageous nose-thumbing from this corner!  As a matter of fact, a thorough exegesis of both sides of the argument by an expert would have been welcome relief to me.  But, with no such balanced analysis forthcoming, it is apparently left up to me. 

I’m taking a risk that’s not easy.  I’m sorry if I insult any of you.  That is not my intent.  On the other hand, it is impossible for me not to take sides, so I can’t even protect myself from the wrath of some of you by pleading for you to please “not shoot the messenger.”

Indeed, I am the messenger, but to some of you the stand I will be taking may be considered a shootable offence.

Again … so be it!

Fire away! Read more…

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