Archive for February, 2012

Burying the Past

Posted: February 22, 2012 in Random Thoughts
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Ugly babies and past loves. Writers have drawers and file folders full of them. Some of them we never want to see again as they remind us of our past sins. Perhaps they remind us of a time in our lives when we were running with the wrong crowd. Who knows why, but we keep all of these reminders of our past.

My Past Lives Drawer is actually a compilation of disks, notebooks, and file folders. I’m the type of writer who can see an advertisement in a magazine and imagine a story that has to be told – and then drop it. For awhile there, I was writing short stories about Folger’s coffee commercials. Lame. The commercial itself told the entire story and any addition on my part would have only mucked up the happy ending.

Knowing they rob me of valuable time won’t get to me destroy them. They are, for better or worse, a part of whatever I was at that phase of my life.

When I was in my twenties I wrote an entire book about my grandmother’s funeral, as a comedy. In truth, I laughed at a funeral once. When the pastor began to speak he reminded me of Sylvester the cat. Imagine Sylvester saying “spring flowers and blossoms” and you’ll get an idea of how low of a person I can become. I find humor in everything. Back to the story.

Having arrived early (as I do for all events), I sat next to the casket and had a heart to heart chat with the dearly departed. Pouring out my heart to my sweet-mean granny as other guests arrived; I appeared to belong at this funeral. After all, I was wearing black. Soon, however, I realized that none of the guests arriving spoke English. It took me a New York Minute to figure out I was at the wrong funeral.

Throughout the years I’ve wondered how the same scene can be interpreted in different ways. To me, it was an embarrassing, comical misstep. To the family of the deceased, it was anything but funny. There, in a black lacquered casket, was an old man who had probably lived a good, moral life. His widow must have seen the blonde in the tight black dress as the person who always hung up the telephone when she answered in the middle of the night. I should have stayed, apologized, and let the old guy go into the ground in peace. I know better now that I’m older.

Old manuscripts need to be treated this way. At some point I need to stand next to them, apologize, and let them die in peace. Well, in theory that’s how I see it. I’ll let you know if I ever find my nerve to let go of any of them.

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Are You a RUDE E-Book Reader?

Posted: February 19, 2012 in Random Thoughts
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I’m either going to show my age here, or I’m going to alienate a group of people. Okay. How about I do both?

Recently I spent an afternoon stalking readers in my local, national bookseller. I wanted to see who was picking up what. Call it market research, if you will. Young families were buying all sorts of picture books for very young children.  Beginning readers were enjoying new books, running to their parents to eagerly beg for the opportunity to own the latest volume of their favorite character series. Granparents, likewise, were enjoying answering the whining, bouncing bodies around them as they set out to find something for their “special” boy or girl. Delightful. All writers and publishers, regardless of genre and delivery method, should be encouraging more reading, not less.

On the other hand (as I take a deep, cleansing breath), there are the space hogs. You know who you are. You set up court in a chair within any bookseller, open your laptop, stretch out, and then start talking on your cellular telephone. Fine. Maybe you’re not THAT rude. Maybe you’re a text message master and your fingers click so quickly you sound like a termite chomping on wood. You’re not even looking at a book in print as you coordinate your plans for the night, are you? If you’re reading an E-Book,  I hope you’re reading one of mine – or that of any other number of independent writers. We want you to read.

Please, be kind. Show some common courtesy to the rest of planet Earth as we travel through this galaxy in search of intelligent life. If you want to use your E-Book reader (Kindle, Nook, etc.), please take it into the world where it’s meant to be used. You’re free, after all, to explore the universe – all thanks to Wi-Fi. I’ve heard that you can get it practically anywhere. I’d like to offer you the excuse of saying the coffee is great, but really, it isn’t. Which brings me to another sticking point. When you go to the coffee house with your laptop or your reader, move along if you’re not going to drink coffee. Okay?