Category: Quotes

Cups of Coffee And The People Over There

img_1147I have been pulled out of my own world and asked for opinions on this dreary piece of dirt recently. What side am I on? This is the question I remove my headphones to answer.  I surmise that my answer is how this eager and anxious little human will decide to hate me or use me. Lose/lose situation as far as I can see.

Ok, conflict. I get that. No story without it, but the conflict out here is the kind that ALWAYS ends badly. So I sip at my coffee and stare blankly at this buzzing little mortal. They do not go away. Annoying. I sigh, rethinking the whole bathing thing. Perhaps, if I could omit enough stench, I would not be plagued with these pick one side and stick to it sorts of debacles humans are always getting themselves into. Binary thinking. It’s so limiting. What the Hell do they teach in these schools these days? Clearly, common sense is not part of the curriculum.

I take a verse from Tolkien and give the emotionally dribbling human the same answer as Treebird. “I am not all together on anyone’s side because no one is on my side.

That pretty well sums up my politics on any issue. I figure that will be the end of the conversation and back under the headphones I can go to drink my coffee and work so I can pay rent and spend the rest of my time writing. No.

The inquirer foams at the mouth and makes an incoherent plea for their position. I hope what they want to happen (which involves death and dismemberment and revenge) never happens. That cycle turns cyclone all too quickly.

C’mon people. Cain killed Abel and after that, we never stopped killing the people over there. Eternity has cried out from rocks and burning bushes that we must love one another. A man of great peace and dignity came into the world and told us to love one another and paradise we would have. We nailed him to a tree.

Everything in us proclaims that love is the answer, the very beat of our hearts, the first cry we make as we enter the world, the last gasp of breath we take leaving it begs us to love one another for goodness sake. All we hear is “go kill the people over there.” Whoever the people over there happen to be. Until we become the people over there. How does this solve anything?

I take another sip of coffee and go under my headphones where the fate of this unfortunate ‘please chose a side so I can decide if I like you or not‘ was foretold almost forty years ago. I put on the headphones and listen to the old song, one that told me exactly what mob rule would get you when I was not even ten years old. Hatchet, axe, and saw.

Yes, I know. I am insensitive. I hear the cry to love one another. And yeah, I’m killing the people over there instead, but only on paper. I am a writer. I don’t get paid to be sensitive. I don’t get paid at all and won’t get paid unless I finish this book. Now stop all the drama so I can work. Geez. Maybe an attack of dragons really would do some good. I mean really.

There is unrest in the forest
There is trouble with the trees
For the maples want more sunlight
And the oaks ignore their pleas 

The trouble with the maples
And they’re quite convinced they’re right
They say the oaks are just too lofty
And they grab up all the light

But the oaks can’t help their feelings
If they like the way they’re made
And they wonder why the maples
Can’t be happy in their shade? 

There is trouble in the forest
And the creatures all have fled
As the maples scream ‘oppression!’
And the oaks, just shake their heads 

So the maples formed a union
And demanded equal rights
‘The oaks are just too greedy
We will make them give us light’
Now there’s no more oak oppression
For they passed a noble law
And the trees are all kept equal

By hatchet,
Axe,
And saw

 

 

Books & Beginnings XXIV

img_1115Reveal: The final reveal is the opening Paradise Lost by John Milton from Books & Beginnings XXIII. How this book shaped me and filled me with despair. It told of the fall of man, how Lucifer lead a rebellion in Heaven and sacrificed paradise, screwing everything up for humanity in the process. It filled me with rage because there is no denying my own fallen nature and that of the creatures I share this world with. However, there is that persistent and compelling light inside me that says “it doesn’t have to be like this.”

I could look at the world through the prism of both destruction and creation and see both far ends of the spectrum. I feel certain humanity can make a reality of anything they can imagine. How frightening and glorious is that is. And that is where my writing comes from. A quest to regain paradise. All our infinite power of creation free from its corruption.

This concludes Books & Beginnings. October will involve a simpler theme as I close in on hitting the query trenches with my latest work. I think it will be Cups of Coffee. That is a big driver of my productivity. Thank you for tagging along. Until the next.

Books & Beginnings VIII

1884Reveal: Most readers will recognize the iconic opening line of George Orwell’s 1884 from my Books & Beginnings VII post. This book cemented my natural distrust of authority. Lord, Help me, it’s been almost a half century since I first stumbled across Orwell only to watch his vision of the future become reality.

Indeed, I believe people can be easily convinced that 2+2=5 in today’s world. At twelve or thirteen, I never believed this book would ever be reality. Learning to think for oneself was still a thing back then. Now it is not taught at all. I know. I work in public education.

It was nearly the infamous year that I read 1984. It was the early 80s, maybe the last couple of years of the 70s. Orwell’s vision had not happened as our technology had not yet advanced enough. Today, in 2018, this book is more relevant than it has ever been since its publication in 1950. The wonder is that it has yet to be banned. I expect that is coming.

Up Next: Fantasy continued to be my obsession. Although, horror played its part. This one surprised me for my mother brought it to me, and she vocally dislikes fantasy. I took it second-hand from her (I often did this – my mother read at an obscenely rapid rate so she always had a large discard pile. My father read slowly but he remembered every word. He too is a writer). Skeptical, I opened it and became a great fan of this author.  Maybe there were fantasies my mother did like only I believe she saw this book as history in that often hidden romantic mind of hers.

GUESS THE TITLE:

The day my uncle Comlach came home, I was just six years old.

Books & Beginnings VII

img_1101REVEAL from Books & Beginnings VI – A Wizard of Earthsea introduced me to Ursula Le Guin. Aside from falling in love with the story, I found a mentor, an inspiration beyond the boys’ club of J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, and all of those guys. Don’t get me wrong. I loved the boys. Do not take anything away from the masters. They are great.

I was a writer from age six. I had volumes upon volumes of notebooks filled with stories by the time adolescence reared its ugly head.  I wanted to write fantasy like Tolkien. I had read children’s books by female authors that toyed with fantasy, A Wrinkle in Time, for example, but Le Guin’s work was elevated somehow. Like a Tolkien. I saw a master in her. Something rich beyond the text, an invisible force made manifest in words.

Society kept trying to tell me what I couldn’t do, what I shouldn’t do, what I mustn’t do as a young female.  I never listened. I was the first girl to play Little League baseball in my neck of the woods. I played guitar. I hunted, I camped, I played football and soccer in the dirt with dozens of boys.

I could not be forced into a dress, and I did not associate with girls much. I did like this weird insistence that girls must be pretty, and well-behaved Boys could be Jabba the Hut, and that was fine.  I was not going to be pretty and I was developing a temperment that would scare the flab right off that Star Wars monster.  Remember, horrible gender dysphoria followed me into adolescence. Reading Ursula Le Guin told me “Keep fighting. Do what you want.”

ash background beautiful blaze

In seventh grade, in my honors English class, I wrote a paper on Brave New World and Fahrenheit 451 that for whatever reasons made my teacher giddy. She read it to the whole class. As a reward, aside from the big shiny A, she handed me the next book of a great beginning that I will share with you. She felt sure I would enjoy it or at least appreciate it. She was right.

 

It was a bright, clear day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.

Books & Beginnings VI

img_1100REVEAL: The beginnings lines from my post Books & Beginnings V comes from The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. My fascination with angels and demons was deepening at this age, and this was a good introduction.

Soon after, my schooling began to interfere with my education. I was taken out of my Catholic school and received a scholarship into an exclusive school where I was a total alien. Poor among rich kids, a rebel without a clue, and suffering from intense gender dysphoria. The other students despised me as a matter of course.

I had little interest in them. I endured being stuffed in lockers and their constant teasing by silence. I would not speak a word during the school day. I wrote. It was tough balancing the much more intense school reading load with my own reading, but I managed.

I was too young to see lots of the popular movies that came out during my childhood years such as The Exorcist and a few years later, The Omen. However, no one could stop me from reading the books. I became intensely interested in the demonic, how such malevolence worked, if demons or the devil could manifest themselves as more than whisperings on the soul like the vile Wormwood from The Screwtape Letters. As my adolescence grew close, I became darker and darker.

img_1054Then, at the sunset of my 11th year, came the time of the year, starting on September 22nd annually from my 8th through my 22nd years, I would reread The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings.  That made me hungry for dragons, something far from this dull and dreary world. That drove me to the bookstore and a search of the shelves. Fantasy was less popular then than it is now, and there were not that many titles to choose from so I read them all.

This book was important because it introduced me to an author who would have a profound influence on my own writing in years to come. From this first line, I knew I would love this book.

The Island of Gont, a single mountain that lifts its peak a mile above the storm-racked Northeast Sea, is a land famous for wizards.

Books & Beginnings V

LordOfTheFliesI cried for days after finishing Lord of the Flies. I knew those boys described in this devastating tale. I was friends with boys very like Golding’s British school children.  I knew in the same circumstance, more of them would be Jack (a violent bully) than Ralph (the kind, logical, courageous, and thoughtful protagonist). All I could think about was the fat kid, Piggy. Everyone has known that insufferably awkward and shy kid. I had mistreated and lost him as surely as Ralph did when I was a young beast myself.

Ralph wept for the end of innocence, the darkness of man’s heart, and the fall through the air of the true, wise friend called Piggy.   – Lord of the Flies, William Golding

It terrified me to realize children are NOT innocent. They are basically cruel beasts when absent security and supervision. Without guidance and love, they turn into little monsters that grow well-fanged. Yes, most children are like the bullying Jack. Few are like the logical Ralph or the empathetic Piggy or the strange and mystical Simon.

People like Ralph often stand alone;  isolated, despised. Power and fear cannot abide logic and light, and often the masses will rise against such voices. It takes such courage to defend the Ralphs of this world, simple and logical who speak unpopular truths.   To paraphrase Winston Churchill, when people stumble upon the truth, they often run away as fast as they can and pretend nothing has happened.

In the course of this brilliant book, the mystical Simon, also an outcast, makes a chilling statement that echoes through time. This simple observation destroys our desire to find some external enemy to defeat so as to solve all our short-comings.

“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.”

assorted books on shelf

 

Lord of the Flies is the beginning referenced in Books & Beginnings IV. Do not watch a film adaption of this book. Read it. A film cannot do it justice.

Next up, I found a very thin book hidden in my parent’s now infamous bookshelf. It was by an author I had already enjoyed. It had a funny title and strange format. It was a book of great humor that made me think in ways that I never had before. Then it kept making me think for the next forty years and counting, the mark of great literature.

I have no intention of explaining how the correspondence which I now offer to the public fell into my hands.

There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them…

 

Books & Beginnings IV

img_1099Watership Down by Richard Adams both traumatized and delighted me. The story ensured I would never look at rabbits the same again nor would I ever eat rabbit stew again. This masterful tale is an engaging and amazing story of family, strength, courage against impossible circumstance, and vulnerability born nobly. This was the book’s beginning from my post Books & Beginnings III

The next book enraged me, sent me into despair, and informed me on the corrupted nature of my fellow man.  It turned the playground bully into a monster. I had met in some form or another every character in this book.

When I finished it, it was a summer evening. I was nine years old. My parents were on the screen porch having a drink. I ran out, book in hand which I had finished in a single day,  and slung it at them. I wished my mother had never told me of its existence. It haunts me to this day.  It is brilliant. It is true. It is fiction. I wonder if you recognize it.

The boy with fair hair lowered himself down the last few feet of rock and began to pick his way toward the lagoon. Though he had taken off his school sweater and trailed it now from one hand, his grey shirt stuck to him and his hair was plastered to his forehead. All round him the long scar smashed into the jungle was a bath of heat. He was clambering heavily among the creepers and broken trunks when a bird, a vision of red and yellow, flashed upwards with a witch-like cry; and this cry was echoed by another.

“Hi!” it said. “Wait a minute!”