Sunday, July 14, 2019

On Deck

I've been thinking a lot lately about what's next from a writing standpoint. I realize I have two forthcoming poetry books, Thoughts From A Line At The DMV, and Genetically Speaking and ,another major memoir in the works, but like any good writer, I'm always looking ahead.

Of course finishing memoir #3 is first on the agenda. The Cretin book is at 65,000 words or so, and just in need of some attention and commitment. I may have sent it to its room for misbehaving. I'll let it out when I've had a chance to step away for a bit. It's going to be quite good, but right now I'm thinking the book and I should see other people. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and all that.

While I don't want to commit just yet, my ideas are threefold.

My first idea is to write another memoir about Milwaukee, my move to it and the life I've built once I got here. It would be in large part a book about moving away from Minnesota, finding out who Jim really is, establishing a career, and my blooming relationship and eventual marriage to Donna. I've already got a couple of stories started there, stories that could serve as standalone stories if I decide to start submitting them.

The book would certainly give me plenty of material and thus is my first choice. All I need to do is start hacking away and see what happens. If it becomes something, I'll follow through with it. If not, I might have some decent stand alone stories.

My second idea would be to re-work my uncle Jack's book and try and get it published as a co-authored book. It is an intriguing idea, but would take a whole lot of work, with all of it being in the fiction genre, which is not my area of great experience.

And finally, my other thought is to work on an entirely new fiction novel. Not having done much fiction writing though, this one seems the most daunting of all. It would probably be a dark humor sort of novel - possibly science fiction with a humorous twist. Lots of possibilities.

So, like an unfocused kid, I can't keep my train of thought on any one of those for very long. I think I will just start hacking away at #1 and see where it goes for now.

I've often said my only regret is not starting my writing sooner in life. Now I'm trying to catch up for lost time and writing like a maniac.

And that's a good place to be. At least for me.

Blogging off...

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Coffee And Lightning

As usually happens at my Thursday coffee discussions with my buddies at a local coffee shop, the conversation took twists and turns that one couldn't have predicted if they tried.

In this particular case, the conversation started at a discussion of reparations for Native and African Americans, but ended with a discussion of hearing the voice of God.

It was a winding path, to say the least. I can't recreate the thread that got us on to that topic, but it was an interesting one indeed. Basically, one of the guys said that if the Bible is the only way some people say we hear from God, does that mean He's not talking to those people, or are they just not attributing a moment, an experience or an emotional reaction to perhaps being the voice of God. The whole discussion started on the topic of the Originalists with regards to the Constitution and went on from there.

But the best part about the conversation was how these two guys and I all told stories of our artistic pursuits, music, art and writing that led us to have either emotional reactions or a feeling of unwarranted inspiration. The question for all of us was, was that God moving in some form? The answer is, who are we to say it isn't? If you put God in a small box and say He doesn't operate that way, then, you're talking about a different god than me, (and my friends would probably agree.)

We talked about our old days as more conservative people of faith when we had God (and God's word) boxed up pretty tight, mostly out of fear of the lightning bolt. (Some of which still exists, mind you.) We joked a little about the days when a friend said they didn't like to do Christian book studies because it was just someone else's thoughts about God, and why shouldn't we just stick to scriptures?  (Wow, okay)

We kick around our understanding of the Bible and all of its good and bad. We talk extensively with both reverence and a bit of healthy questioning about what the "Good Book" really is and should be used for. Because none of us claims to know what it really is, and most are a little scarred by the way it was used to drub us in the past. We know its good, but we also know it can be used for harm. {Waits for the lightning bolt...}

I could go on and on, but the crux of my story is these guys, every Thursday, help me work things in the world out. We talk politics, world issues, religion, family life, art, and pretty much anything else. I would say it never ceases to go way deeper than any conversations I have the rest of the week. And for one hour a week, I am challenged to look at my faith, my country, my world and myself.

And I've said it before, it is one of the best hours of my week.

Blogging off...

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Genetically Speaking

While I don't have too many memories about my dad, I do have several of my stepfather, Jack. He and my mom dated for nearly 10 years before they married in 1979. While he was by no means a perfect father, (I mean, who is?) he was all I had growing up, with maybe the exception of a few father figures that played various roles in my upbringing.

Perhaps Jack's most redeeming quality was his sense of humor. He was nicknamed Happy Jack because of it. It carried over into his drinking where he was known as a happy drunk. (Believe me, I've seen both happy and mean drunks, and I'll take a happy one any day.)

But his sense of humor was what carried him through life. It made him more tolerable and someone whom people loved to be around. I credit much of my own lightheartedness to him. One of his famous phrases was "Not to worry," said with a hint of an Irish accent. I use that as my mantra most days of the week.

I bring Jack up because this past week, I had a poetry manuscript accepted for publication. It is centered on the theme of Fatherhood and is a product of a 30 poems in 30 days contest that took place in April. As part of the contest, we submitted our final 30 poem manuscript for judging. Mine took an Honorable Mention so was offered for publication as a chapbook (chapbook = a short collection of poems).

Frankly, I am ecstatic about it because as a collection about fatherhood, it is intensely personal yet, I feel it will resonate with practically anyone who has had (or been) a father. (Which about covers the whole world, right?)

In the book, I look at Fatherhood from all different angles including stepfathers, fathers in-law, godfathers, father figures and would-be fathers. Of course I build in plenty of my own fathering experience, having recently entered the empty nest phase of life.

The book was incredibly inspirational for me, causing great introspection as I wrote it. My experience as a young boy with the death of my natural father and the introduction of a stand-in surrogate for 10 years, then formal stepfatherhood provides plenty of diversity in my reflections. It was both healing and revealing for me, and not all the poems are happy-shiny fun. Some are raw and tough to chew. But the sum total of these makes for an interesting collection that I think people will love.

So, stay tuned as I await publication time frames and details. This will be my 5th poetry collection and my 7th overall book. And like all of the rest, I feel it's important and represents stories I think need to be told.

And I can't wait to see it in print.

Blogging off...