Fitzgerald Wolfe and Hemingway

Fitzgerald Wolfe and Hemingway
Editor, Maxwell Perkins, circa 1943

I’m reading a wonderful book—Max Perkins: Editor of Genius by A. Scott Berg.  Perkins was the editor for F. Scott, Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemmingway, and Thomas Wolfe, among others. It’s a very intimate portrait of Perkins as he related to his writers and as he himself grew as a man.

It’s very revealing of who these men were in their day-to-day lives, their brilliances, struggles, rages and elations and how Perkins, whom they respectfully and affectionately called Max, managed them. He was editor, mentor, psychiatrist, financial advisor, and a deep, deep friend.  His belief in them kept them going. He inspired them to produce at their best.

It opened my mind to the realities they endured and I felt support by Max.

I’ve found it more than worth the read.

Getting Over a Wall

Getting Over a WallI think every writer who writes fiction—i.e. not a journalist reporter or documentary writer—writes autobiographically. Where else does the content and imagery come from? I’m working to finish an autobiographical trilogy—Leaving Home—and I can get trapped in thinking that story details have to parallel the events of my life.

Well today I was released.

Not journalism.

I had no problem in the first two books but hit a wall with the third—having to recount actual events. NO! I’m writing a story. Yes it’s about my life. But it’s first and foremost a story. I can build it how I want to make the story work.

What a relief.

Reflections

ReflectionsThe world is a mirror reflecting other mirrors.

Mirrors upon Mirrors.

I’m at Starbucks. I see a man with a pot belly. I think of Buddha. Not as a representation but as a justification for a redemption of the man’s pot belly.

Have you ever seen Buddha’s belly? It’s huge.

The man at Starbucks’ sits down with a medium cup of coffee and milk (I don’t know Starbuck’s jargon that describes sizes) and a pastry, perhaps the cause of his belly, perhaps not.

As I look around, all the men, including me, have potbellies except one, a football player type. We all mirror one another and are mirrors for one another whether we’re aware or whether we like it or not. We are mirrors for all pot bellies around the world. Mirror upon mirrors.

 

How Do You Envision Your Imagination?

How Do You Envision Your Imagination?In see my imagination as a field impenetrable to light, a black opacity up from which ideas, feelings, characters, stories emerge from my investigation and choice. They are immaterial invisible actually, and they become as concrete and palpable as this chair I’m in, as the computer I’m using, as the figures that people my paragraphs and pages.

Writing About the Process of Writing

writing-about-writing-a-bookI‘ve never seen a writer write a blog about what it’s like during the process of writing.

What’s the day-to-day like—really like?

What’s it like when everything is flowing?

What’s it like when you have to pull teeth to get a sentence on paper?

Not just talking about the craft of writing but the work of it. That’s what I intend to do with this blog. Report on my work as I am doing it. I’m going to do this not just because I’ve never seen it. I’m going to write and publish this blog because I fully expect it will make me a better writer for the effort.

As I’m here at the edge of this final book in my trilogy project I have no real idea what will happen. Sure I have ideas and I, no doubt, will put many of them on these pages. But the depth of what will happen, that’s another story.

I’ll write about the good times and the bad times; when words fall into place and I sit back and read beautiful sentences; when I just don’t hit a wall but merge with the wall so I feel like I’m inside of it and can’t get out, forward or back. Is that “writer’s block?” I don’t think so. I can always write my way out of jams. It’s more than that. It happens when I feel lost, when I don’t have a feel for the story so I don’t know what to do next. Am I procrastinating? Waiting for inspiration? What the hell is happening?

Anyway, that’s what this blog will be about for now.

Writing—the work.

I invite you to join me. I hope you will.

Does What You Believe Belong to You?

What a silly question. How can it be otherwise?

Are you religious? A believer in one faith or another? Were your parents believers in that faith as well? Your extended family? Your grandparents? Your neighborhood? Your nation?

From your birth, were you given a chance to choose from a variety of religious faiths or perhaps no faith at all?

Were you even taught, as I was, that when you walk past a church other than Catholic (fill in your own denomination) you were to spit? Or should you as much as step foot into another church, which constituted a mortal sin, and did not rush to immediately confess yourself you were liable to be plunged into hell for all eternity without recourse or remedy (again fill in your own sin)?

Have you tried to deconstruct what you believe and arrive at your own conclusions as to the verity and validity of what you believe? Did you succeed? Some do. But most give up the effort because it takes painstaking and meticulous commitment to trace what one believes to its core and thus be able to question it, dissect it, and eventually get it to evaporate (sort of).

This is all true, in one form or another, of all religious dogma and doctrine. And these pronouncements have been in place and preached for millennia so they did not originate when you came into this world. I ask again—were you given a choice?

The point here, using the example of religion, is that the task of uprooting and dissolving unconscious beliefs brings with it an inordinate demand because much of what must be identified and unraveled is buried out of sight in the unconscious. Only and until life visits you with a belief-breaking event does it (in most cases) even arise to mind that you might be embedded in an illusion—or at least some precept that no longer works for you.

In An Ambition to Belong Jim, now 13, is betrayed by his fellow street-gang member in a way that collapses his hope for feeling accepted and respected and that launches him on a journey of self-discovery that takes him into re-defining who he is and what his life actually means to him.

It Begins with Your First Breath

At the moment of your birth you began to receive impressions of the world you were born into. The impressions were environmental—the emotional feeling tone that surrounded you—and physical—touch, sound, sight. At the time of your birth

your brain hadn’t yet developed sufficiently to record your experiences in any other way. But you were recording your responses nonetheless. Those impressions were arising from both the external world around you as well as what was going on inside of you. Your experiences were pre-verbal, that is to say pre-cognitive, and they were already beginning to form what will become the unconscious “ghosts of childhood” aspect of your life experience.

So your life, as is everyone’s, is a composite of your more mature conscious awareness and your unconscious content—the impressions that were recorded beneath the level of your awareness throughout your whole life.

During your infancy up to about two years old your child’s brain cannot distinguish between inside and outside. It’s all one and the same. But as you grow that distinction becomes more apparent and is often very frustrating leading to what some parents call “the terrible twos.” But what’s actually happening is that the child’s brain is growing in its ability to distinguish between “me” and “not me” and a rudimentary self is emerging.

What’s important here is that the early and ongoing unconscious impressions can grip and hold you, resulting in feelings, impressions, and behaviors that, although they are yours, are not wholly within your conscious control.

Just think of a time when you did something or said something that surprised you. It’s quite common for people to say things like—“Where did that come from?” or “I can’t believe I said that” or “I didn’t realize I was doing that.”

For another example—have you ever been driving and when you reached your destination you couldn’t remember how you got there?

Or have you ever walked into a room and couldn’t remember what you were doing there?

These experiences are evidence that there is more to your behavior than meets your awareness.

Many people feel the need to change their lives but discover that it isn’t as easy as it sounds. Lose weight. Begin a project. Change how they feel about something. But they feel gripped by internal “forces”—the Ghosts of Childhood—that have more control than your conscious intentions. These unconscious forces, what’s called unconscious content, can be far stronger than whatever they have set out to do. It’s a common experience.

When have you experienced this stuckness?

In An Ambition to Belong, the second novel of my trilogy, Leaving Home, the main character, Jim, struggles with the content of his 13-year old unconscious mind and his desire to break free. His worldview is challenged, his hopes are betrayed, his need for love and acceptance is thrown back in his face. He desperately searches for someplace to belong until finally he faces himself straight on, stripped of many of his illusions, ready, with new awareness, to move forward and construct, as consciously as he is able, his ongoing life.