The 40-Year Writing Style

My friend is writing a book. She talks to me about it every so often, and I know she’s making progress, at least in her estimation. The book is just about halfway finished, if I take her word for it. I have to trust in her estimation and take her word for it because she won’t let me read one word until the entire thing is done. Seeing as it’s taken her the whole of her adult life to get to this point (over 22 years) I’m thinking I’ll finally get to read this thing by the time I’m 60.

And that’s okay. I’m sure it will be amazing once it’s done. I know her writing style because I’ve read many other pieces she’s written (of a shorter length, of course), and I trust her judgment on the time needed to finish the book. It’s going to be like that book, The Lifeboat, when it appears as if out of nowhere by an unknown, and it’s going to sell truckloads. Or at least it will be really good enough that it should sell truckloads. There is a difference there, a subtle one, but there nonetheless. The difference is between her being able to retire when it comes out and having to work for another five years.

That got me thinking — when she brought it up again the other day in idle conversation — about all the other books that are out there not being read for whatever reasons. Perhaps the author is on hiatus from it, or maybe it’s just taking a very long time, or possibly it’s even published but the publisher’s PR department dropped the ball so no one knows that it’s even out there.

And I wonder how word of mouth gets out about books, like a grassroots campaign. One person tells another person who tells several more people who tell all of their friends, and the book becomes sensational on the basest level. Then even that groundswell dies and the book is back in the cobwebs. Maybe it’s better to still be working on it 25 years later, to have that uncertainty that comes with the expectation, and not to have it published and go through the agony of it not selling.

Maybe.

My friend once told me that her process is a slow burn, and I had no idea what that meant. You know me — I move quickly when I write. So, she explained. She said she has to be in a special place to write the tale that has unfolded over these past 20-some years. Sometimes she goes three years between writing a single word in the manuscript, and at others she writes for three straight days. And that works for her. It wouldn’t be so good for maintaining a blog, so she doesn’t have one, but for what she wants to do, it works for her. She’s satisfied.

And she’s still got me counting down the years until I get to finally read what her style has produced. Anticipation is my best friend and my worst enemy when it comes to waiting for that day. But when it gets here, it’s going to be special indeed.

Sam

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Isolated Moments

Life is a series of moments, strung together and laid out flat. If you paused for a second and looked at each one individually it would be like frames in a cartoon flip book. Each one looks slightly different from the one before it and after it, but you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you saw them in motion, one after the other. That’s life.

That couple at the grocery store were laughing last week. You took a mental picture. They seemed so happy, you wanted to save that moment for posterity.

The old man on the bench in the park had tears in his eyes. You noticed it without staring, but you wished you could go over to him, put your arm around his shoulders and tell him that everything was going to be okay, even if you knew it probably wouldn’t be.

The woman in front of you in line at the airport trips the metal detector. Agents drag her into a side room when she resists being patted down. You collapsed into the nearest chair after you got through with no incident, and you remembered the agony on her face. In that moment it seared itself into your brain.

These people are not just third person characters in the periphery of your lens. These moments aren’t random and isolated. There is a beginning and an end to their stories, but you don’t know either because your paths crossed in that moment. For you they all become isolated, and you could drive yourself crazy wondering how the stories end.

But that’s just it. That’s life. And you keep walking.

Sam

2 Great Loves

I’m a firm believer that we all have two great loves in this life. And I know some of you will say, “But Sam, I’ve never been in love, and I don’t ever see it happening, much less twice.” Some others of you will say, “But Sam, I married the first guy I met in high school and we’ve been together for 43 years.” And still others of you will say, “But Sam, I’ve already been in love more than twice.” No worries for all you worriers out there. You see, some people never get a great love, and some get three or four, but it all evens out in the end. Most people get two, and I’m sticking with that.

Now, I’m not saying these loves are always reciprocal, because they don’t have to be. And I’m not saying you’ll always know they’re happening, because you might not. But the fact remains that we all have two great loves. What makes a love great?

* Chemistry

* History

* Math

*English… oh wait, I forgot what I was listing.

Chemistry simply means the level of connectedness you have with another human being. Often people refer to this as a bond, which makes me think of types of adhesive. Adhesive love, that’s it.

History means the shared experiences, or the common experiences you have with another person. It doesn’t mean you have to have had those moments with him/her. It simply means you both have gone through similar issues.

Math means adding or subtracting other issues, like socioeconomic status could be the same, so add it in. Or political affiliation might be different, so subtract it. If you have more additions than subtractions, the love has a better chance of lasting.

And contrary to popular opinion, both of your loves could happen at the same time. Usually, when people refer to a love triangle, one person in that triumvirate is dealing with both of his/her great loves at the same time. Great loves might also suffer from the “other person” syndrome. If you’re with another person when you meet your great love, your level of commitment to the other person might derail your chance to be with your great love. Or sometimes people cheat on the ones they’re with by being with their great loves on the side. Don’t ever do this. A great love should be cherished and set on a pedestal, not shoved into “quickie” status that you keep on the side.

We all have two great loves in this life, but so does everyone else. So be patient.

Sam

Just Nod Ya Head

I admit it. Sometimes I just nod along when others are saying something I have absolutely no clue about. I know I should probably just ask, but I don’t want to feel like a rube. That’s what using Bing to look something up after the fact is all about.

I’m sure you don’t do the same thing, though. I’m sure it’s just me. I think there are a finite number of topics any one person should know a lot about. And if they try to learn more than that their brains might possibly explode or become fondue or something.
Continue reading “Just Nod Ya Head”

Daily Prompt: The Artist’s Eye

Bridge by Monet

Art is subjective, and it always has been. Don’t get me wrong, you can look at a piece of art objectively, and I’ve done it many times, but somehow it feels wrong to do that, like I’m denying the power of the art by breaking it down to its essential non-essential elements, like thickness of paint strokes and such.

I took a history of art class once, a long time ago, and I remember the instructor telling us about lines, about perspective, and about artist motivation. Artist motivation! I thought it was funny then and I think it’s even funnier now. Even artists don’t always know what their motivation was for creating a work of art, so why should we, once, twice, or thrice-removed from that artist? I like art because it connects with me on some level, and that’s it. Continue reading “Daily Prompt: The Artist’s Eye”

Standing Up: How to Deal

The great Richard Pryor

I wanted to be a stand-up comedian. Honestly. I thought all my problems would be solved if I could just laugh about them in front of an adoring audience that would then forgive me for all the horrible things I’ve done and clean the slate. Absolution with a touch of ribald humor, always a winner. Of course, my problem is that I’m horrible with a punchline. Ask anyone (except my children, they think I can do no wrong, and they love my “pig” punchlines). There’s something about timing, phrasing, pausing, you know, every single thing that makes or breaks a punchline. Simply put, my jokes just aren’t funny. I’m much better at random sarcasm.

So, how to deal with my problems, to get them out without being able to laugh at myself in front of an audience of my peers? Well, that’s what friends are for, right? My problem has always been in finding friends, though, and then once I’ve found them, maintaining them. Maybe it is my tendency to be randomly sarcastic that has something to do with not maintaining them, or perhaps it’s how often I laugh at myself. Maybe I just need therapy. If I talk to someone who has to listen because I’m paying her, would that solve all my problems? Continue reading “Standing Up: How to Deal”

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