Well, the final (9th!) rough draft of my novel, A Pack Of Dogs, is finished. I am getting some great feedback; thanks to everyone who managed to make their way through that jumbled, disheveled collection of words I call a story. Anyway, I’m compiling and making some notes, and now the rewrite begins. This is taking longer than I thought, but I can see the end in sight. Hope everybody is doing well!
Merry Christmas everybody!
The writing is going well, but is slow moving. This whole thing about spelling words right and proper sentence structure kind of gets in the way. Oh, well.
I have another short story I want to submit, but it needs a tiny bit more work. Then I go through the process of finding someone who might want to publish it. Hope they don’t mind the liberal use of the F-bomb.
I’ve finished the first rough draft of my second novella. This one is a mash-up of Twin Peaks, The X-Files, and the Muppets. It’s going to need some serious editing, but the story is fun.
As always, if anyone wants to be an editor, proof-reader, or just a plain reader of some clunky fiction, just PM me and I’ll send you a copy.
Have a great holiday season! Maria and I have new snow saucers. Time to find a snowy hill. And a nearby emergency room.
Well, I finally did it. I submitted my first short story to The New Yorker magazine. I know it’s a long shot, but hey, go big or go home. I will let you know when I get the rejection letter.
Actually, they don’t send a rejection letter. If they don’t accept your story within 90 days, they simply don’t get back to you. Kind of like the Seattle freeze. It ought to be called The Seattleite magazine. If it were a true New Yorker rejection, they’d probably say something like: “Hey, palooka, your story stinks. Get outta here.”
Anyway, gotta start somewhere. Have a good weekend everybody!
I have an Ancient, dear old friend, named Bill Baxter, an old high-school chum. He has made a career out of working the technical side of the film and television industry, and has had great success.
He recently delved into the other side of the art-form, and has written a masterpiece of a screenplay, called The White Mountain. The screenplay won an award in the World Series of Screenwriting, well deserved, and I imagine it is only a matter of time before this story is brought to the silver screen.
Bill was kind enough to send me copy to read, and I have just recently finished it. I thought I would share my thoughts.
First, I must preface my review by saying that I absolutely abhor war. It is the utmost in human failure. It is the worst face of humanity. It is chaos. It is murder. It is turmoil and anarchy, killing the belligerent and the innocent with reckless impunity. Bill’s screenplay captures the savage, tumultuous aspect of war perfectly. It is not nice, pleasant and linear, and it is certainly not meant to be Michael Bay summer blockbuster fun. It is not Arnold or Sylvester killing bad guys and cracking one-liners. It is not Bruce Willis saving the poor villagers from the evil drug lords. War is pure evil, no matter which side one finds themselves on, and follows no rules. Bill has expertly portrayed this.
The White Mountain tells the story of the Cretan Resistance to Nazi occupation during World War 2. It is worth noting that it was called World War 2 for a reason. No corner of the globe was spared. We all know about the invasion of Poland, the blitzkrieg, The Battle of the Bulge, The Rape of Nanking, Pearl Harbor, Iwo Jima, and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but World War 2 took place in countless other, frequently forgotten, places. The island of Crete was one such place.
On May 20th, 1941, Nazi troops invaded the Greek island of Crete. Allied forces fought for as long as they could, but through various tactical blunders and failures in communications, the Allies were forced to abandon the island. Several Allied troops remained, and, along with the Cretan people, formed a resistance to the Nazi occupation. This is another fine example of the confusion of war; it’s not like the movies, people. Things can go wrong, and the whole tide of a confrontation can shift.
Bill’s screenplay centers around a British Special Operations agent named Xan Fielding. As an interesting aside, Fielding, after the war, provided translations for French books into English, including La Planète des Singes: The Planet of the Apes. Not making that up.
Anyway, Fielding is sent to Crete to make contact with and aid the Cretan resistance. The history of Bill’s story is easy to be found, but I must comment on his treatment of the story itself. It is masterfully told. It captures the confusion, chaos and crime of war perfectly. The characters are rich and engaging. Some of their struggles are absolutely heartbreaking. Much of the imagery is horrifying. The dialogue is sharp and fantastic; there are too many quotes that I wish I could list here, but I shan’t without Bill’s permission. But I did love: “But they’ve surrendered.”… “We haven’t.” That’s not to say that the entire script is somber; there a more than a few moments when the dialogue is delightfully witty, biting and sharp. Bill tells a tale of several characters, facing insurmountable odds, with very little support from their Allied taskmasters, as they struggle to liberate the island from the Nazis. Again, the history is known, but Bill weaves the several strands of characters together perfectly, and, at the end, the Germans, abandoned by their Italian allies, and led astray by the poor leadership of Berlin, are eventually defeated. As the history goes, Crete is not exactly liberated. Like the larger picture of the end of World War 2 itself, the clash between capitalism and communism begins almost immediately. This screenplay, then, is a perfect microcosm of the entire War itself.
One of the central themes, I found, is communication. It is key to both the occupying Nazis and the frequently tattered resistance. There is difficulty in several characters speaking to each other in different languages. And then there is the always present difficulty of trying to radio headquarters for instructions. Like I said, one of the many unfortunate aspects of war is confusion.
Ultimately, this is an extremely well-written, compelling, gripping and very realistic portrayal of war, skillfully written against the backdrop of the Island of Crete. Bill captures Cretan society, and the geography of the land, perfectly. I am quite confident that this screenplay has a bright future. Well done, Old Friend.
My girlfriend, a talented artist named Maria Berg, wrote the following poem. It is in the style of dadaism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dada), which is essentially an absurdist form of prose. She didn’t actually write the poem, she simply took snippets from an interview of someone we all know, and re-arranged the order of the sentences. The results are quite good. And not too far off from the original form, I’d say.
EYE FOR A LIE
Shouldn’t be doing those things,
but that’s OK.
I could ask you people–
you know, is it the worst you’ve seen
once it’s done–it was my original theory
Once you’ve won, once you’ve done it,
and they’ve done it, once you’ve done it,
there’s a lot less pressure.
It’s like a surreal experience,
in a certain way,
but you have to get over it,
This is actually the heart, though.
a good–he’s a good boy.
We keep it interesting.
But so we’ll see what that’s all about.
But once you get that motion, it’s in
It’s hard to get in, but once you get in
So we’re going to see.
Once you’re there, you can, you
oh, say hello.
Just to stop talking about Trump for a moment, if you will allow my meandering thoughts:
The word ‘art’ is a very broad term. Just about anything can be considered art, as long as it’s performed with passion and skill. Professional football can be considered an art form. Skillfully driving a car can be considered a form of art. Hell, working at a bank can be considered an art form. These types of ‘art’ are what I consider vocational art, when someone is in the zone, who is executing a particular task with grace and prowess, without even having to think about it.
However, I am considering ‘art’ in the classical sense. Painting. Acting. Dancing. Making music. Writing, like I’m trying to stumble through. These are what we usually consider to be art.
Art, in my opinion, is the intentional endeavor, by the artist, no matter the medium, to manipulate their audience, whomever that may be. I don’t mean manipulation in the treacherous, devious sense; I mean it in the overt act of trying to elicit an emotional reaction in the beholder. This is what a good artist does. They pull a reaction, a feeling, an emotion, from their audience.
As human beings, it’s in our nature to feel. We want to feel emotion, we want to be moved. When we let an artist into our heads, we are inviting our emotions to be monkeyed with, for lack of a better term, in order to feel something. Sometimes, there is an intentional response an artist is trying to invoke. Other times, an artist is simply trying to get us to look at the world in a different way.
And other times, often, an artist is simply making art for the sake of making art. But it is still likely to have an impact.
In any event, good art will make the viewer, audience, or whomever stop and think, and, ideally, feel something stirring.
Just my opinion. Feel free to comment.
Well, I’ve shared the 5th rough draft of A Pack of Dogs with several folks now; maybe I’ll get some feedback, maybe not, or maybe people will think I’m just plain nuts. Anyway, there comes a time for an artist, no matter what their medium, when they find that their work is out of their hands, when it is completely open to the interpretation of the viewer, or reader. I’m fascinated to see what people think.
I would be remiss if I did not mention my girlfriend/editor/best friend/all around detonation of creativity, Maria L. Berg. She is one of the most talented artists I have ever met, in so many mediums. Currently, she is focusing on her writing. She has two rough drafts of novels, and is currently working on a third, a convoluted tale that makes Carl Hiaasen and the Coen Brothers look like Mr. Rogers goes to Baskin Robins.
She has also published a series of children’s books, the adventures of Gator McBumpypants. These are fantastic, if you have little ones. The illustrations are amazing; instead of drawings or computer generated imagery, she uses actual stuffed animals, posing them for pictures to tell the stories. She does amazing work.
She also writes about the craft of writing itself. Her blog can be quite inspiring, for any writer. Check it out sometime: experiencewriting.com
That’s all for now; I’ll keep you updated. Have a great weekend!