Posts Tagged ‘writing voice’

I Went for a Walk

August 14, 2016

Cleaning out unneeded documents in my computer files, I came across an essay I wrote for myself about eight years ago. I don’t recall writing it. Rereading it now, I recognize that I’ve integrated the essence of it into my self, my life, my philosophy of living, my spiritual path. I choose now to share it with others, offering a bit of my beloved grandfather’s wisdom to those who honor us both by reading my words.

A Walk with My Grampa

I Went For a Walk in the Forest was the book title and first phrase I learned to read, precociously at age three, sitting on my Grampa’s lap as he read the story over and over to me. The book was paper bound, about 6 inches high and 10 inches long, with a black and white cover sketch of the forest surrounded by a pumpkin-orange border. If you opened the book out flat, so that the back and front covers made one whole picture, all the animals met on that forest walk could be seen hidden among the trees. In the delightful manner of children’s fantasy, the animals collected in that forest ignored the habitat restrictions which would normally prevent them meeting, except perhaps in a zoo.

From the safety of Grampa’s lap I learned about lions and horses, a giraffe, an elephant, deer and antelope, and a monkey. When the reading walk was done we rested. He smoked, and I trapped the smoke rings he blew into a wide mouth bottle, where they magically retained shape until the genie who also lived in the bottle stirred them into a fog to give himself shelter.

I went for a walk at the zoo, with my Grampa, most Sundays from when I was seven until I was twelve. He would come down on the train from Baltimore to spend the day with us, and would take me for ‘our’ time. Not always to the zoo, sometimes to the park or just for a walk around the neighborhood. He would ask me about my week in school, what I had learned and what I was reading, and he would tell me about the poem he was working on, or the article he was writing (in Hebrew, or Yiddish) for The Forward (which he pronounced as though a “v” began the second syllable). It was important to him to pick just the right Hebrew word from among several choices for his poems, to convey mood and spirit, as well as meaning.

I went for a walk on the beach – alone now, a world away from my Grampa, he still in Baltimore and I on the sand at Nha Trang, picking up tiny pink and black and pearl-colored shells which elderly Vietnamese refugees from the north collected to string into elaborate necklaces. I wore a small gold pendant my Grampa gave me, with the Tree of Life etched into it. A link, he said, that would stretch from Vietnam back to Maryland, to keep us sharing our walks. Those were harder years, without his immediate presence and gentle wisdom to balance the emotional stresses of my early teens.

I missed him still, when I went for a walk in the Bois de Boulogne during my high school years. I wrote to him, sitting on a sarcophagus in Pierre La Chaise cemetery, one of the few places in bustling Paris that I could find solitude and quiet. Those were very hard years, for both of us. He was no longer working in his dental practice and had fewer places to publish his essays and poems. He was no longer as able to care for himself, and not very aware of time, so his replies to me were intermittent, and rarely responsive to the questions I asked.

I went for a walk in the Crum Woods on Swarthmore’s campus, during my college years, and felt his presence through the guitar in my room, a fine instrument I’d found in a pawn shop, which he gave me the seventy-five dollars to purchase. I’d asked my parents for the money, but my mother had responded in her usual fashion. “Why don’t you prove your interest in playing guitar by learning on a borrowed one before you ask me to spend my money on something you may not pursue?” Fifty years later, that guitar stays easily in tune and its tone is admired by everyone who plays it.

I went for walks by the Chicago shore of Lake Michigan, and along the Charles River in Boston, after helping my mother to settle Grampa in Miami, where the better weather and the presence of a few close friends made it easier for him to manage. We talked on the phone since his eyes had failed to the point that he could not write, nor easily read. With a metal-bound, rectangular, hand-held magnifying glass left from his collection of dental tools, he would slowly read the daily Yiddish press, sharing his opinions with me on the events which he didn’t trust TV news to present fairly. He worried, after the Six Days War, that while its outcome improved Israel’s security at the time, there would come from it a negative turn in world opinion toward the Jewish state. He would, I know, be distraught over the actions and decisions taken recently – the wall, and the West Bank settlements which have become symbols of oppression rather than statements of freedom.

I went for one last walk with my Grampa, along the path beside the railroad tracks in Lamy, here in New Mexico, after he could no longer live on his own. My mother and I moved him into a nursing home outside Santa Fe, where I visited with him several times a month, and brought him to my little converted boxcar house for an outing, the one weekend he was strong enough to come. I told him the story of looking out the train window, age twelve and on my way to Vietnam, seeing Lamy as a strange, wild and western place – missing him desperately and never imagining that we two would walk together there. He answered that it was good to walk with me, though he didn’t really grasp where we were, and complained to me that there were people in his nursing home whom he could hear speaking Yiddish from a distance but who, when he came close and spoke to them, would not answer. I tried to explain that they were speaking Spanish, not Yiddish. He was by then seriously deafened, hearing just enough scraps of language to know when it wasn’t English being spoken. Like most speakers of more than one tongue, with advanced age Grampa’s communication abilities lasted longest in his first language, or in his case his first two, Yiddish for everyday and his beloved Hebrew for poetry and praise.

My grampa died within days of his official 91st birthday. Official, rather than real, because he had to transfer a birthdate from the Jewish (lunar) calendar used in what he called the “dot on the map village outside the dot on a map town” where he was born in Russia, to the western calendar he encountered when he entered the US as a twenty year old man in 1907. Knowing Shvat to be a spring month, he arbitrarily called it March. He equally firmly rejected the proposed Americanizing of his name to Hill, insisting that “no, my name is Domnitz, Aaron Domnitz.”

I go for walks now, often a brisk measured mile by Storrie Lake, or a leisurely stroll along Bridge Street, and realize I am just the age my Grampa was as my parents prepared to take us (his only close family) across the world to Vietnam. After 14 or more years of weekly trips from Baltimore to DC (he began them when my mother became pregnant with me), how great a change – and loss – that must have been for him!

I wonder – but obviously have no one to ask – why my parents didn’t bring him with us? Perhaps it was discussed and he refused? More likely, I’m afraid, my mother determined that she ‘didn’t want the responsibility’. That was her standard reply with which to block everything from my having friends for a sleep over, to helping host visiting dignitaries whom it was my father’s job to entertain. Blessedly it was also her response when Grampa needed nursing home care, so that I got to have him close to me for those precious last 18 months of his life. We went for so many lovely walks, in our talks, during my on-my-way-home-from-work visits with him!

Because life in his natal village had gone virtually unchanged for centuries before he left it, his awareness bridged nearly 300 years. Thus, we talk-walked streets of the 1700s in Russia as readily as those of Santa Fe in 1975. He shared the concern of many, that our technological skills so far exceed our ethical advances. “Will we now bring war to the moon?” was his question after that ‘one giant step’ for mankind.

Grampa’s dental cabinet, filled with a fragile, gaily decorated porcelain tea service from Vietnam, sits in my dining room. I use his magnifying glass when I need stronger eyes. The guitar provides music from many cultures, when I entertain students from the United World College. I pick my written words with care, respecting the importance he gave to nuances of meaning.

My Grampa started me reading about a walk through a forest to meet different animals. He continues to guide me on my walk through life, meeting its varied challenges. Some of that guidance arises from one of the last things Grampa said to me, shortly before he died. I’d asked if he had his life to live over, what he might have done differently. His answer was that he had only two regrets. The first was that he thought perhaps my mother might have been a happier person if he had remarried (he raised her on his own), but he’d never found the right woman. The second was that he wished he’d learned to play the mandolin. No wonder he supported my learning the guitar!

However long my own life walk turns out to be, I hope that when it ends, I will have as few regrets as my Grampa did. With his gifts surrounding me, and his ethics a part of me, I have every reason to succeed.

Signs of the Times

April 24, 2016

I order books from Daedelus, usually fiction, often mysteries. I enjoy exploring places and time periods unfamiliar to me, via the settings of the stories, and am particularly happy when the writing is really good – vivid, original in its imagery, witty or incisive. I have been especially pleased, recently, with my discovery of Richard Crompton whose lead character is Detective Mollel, a Maasai working in modern Nairobi. Crompton skillfully weaves tribal culture into the present-day narrative.

But the interplay of traditional and modern African culture is the topic of a different essay than this.

Quite by chance the previous two books I read each featured a lesbian protagonist. What stayed with me was not that coincidence, but rather the matter of fact tone of the stories, each of which adhered to the expected blending of investigation into “who/how done it” with development of the character of the investigator. One was a current inhabitant of the U.S; the other an historical figure, a writer herself of “puzzlers”, now cast into the role of investigator of fictional events which might have occurred in her life. Both authors (Ellen Hart and Nicola Upson ) meet my criteria for a good read – they create the backdrop world for their stories with clarity, originality, and a fine use of language. Both present the love relationships of their protagonists in a style appropriate to the time period in which they take place. And both happen to present those relationships as lesbian.

What most struck me, as I read the novels, was both how matter-of-factly the lesbian material was included in the stories, and how matter-of-factly I accepted it as normal and natural to the characters. I think I’ve always been comfortable with the fact of homosexuality, certainly never one to think sexual orientation should be relevant to employment, housing, entertainment or any other aspect of public life.

One of my first (boy) friends shared with me that he enjoyed dressing in women’s clothing and sometimes thought he was born into the wrong gender body. Later in life he began exploring the process of changing gender identity. I lost touch with him about the time he met a woman whom he had come to love deeply, and whom he said he could share his life with as he was, “somewhere in between”. Perhaps for Jan, and many others, the solution to the North Carolina bathroom crisis should be the European model familiar to me from decades ago – unisex bathrooms, with the calm expectation that women would walk past men using the urinals, to reach the stalls at the back of the room.

But I digress from my original point, that mystery novels now include lesbian relationships as a matter of course, are marketed to a general reading public, and are not singled out or “flagged” except perhaps by the intolerant few who still think they have a divine right to judge. With so much strident name-calling and ugly rhetoric usurping public dialog, it’s reassuring to find quiet examples of tolerance and acceptance between the covers of a good book.

“Pantsing” as a Way of Life

October 22, 2015

A blog on elder issues that I follow, Time Goes By, Time Goes By recently discussed the idea of writing a ”final” post to be put up on a blog when the writer has passed away. Sort of an extension of making one’s funeral preferences known, completing a living will, etc. The stated intent, however is to have a way to say farewell to online followers/friends who may wonder what has happened, when posts cease to appear.

This is NOT my final blog, although my followers may indeed be wondering what has happened to me. I haven’t dared to check how long it’s been since my last post!

Not that I’ve stopped living, nor even stopped reflecting on all the living that is filling my days. I have, however, stopped making time to write out what I’ve been discovering during the rather brief reflective gaps in the hectic pace of my days. Perhaps now that the weather is changing, and more sedentary indoor days loom, I’ll be able to return to writing posts regularly.

Odd, that – I write regularly every day, just not “for pleasure” as is the case with this blog. I write summaries of the needs of my clients, I write persuasive letters to justify insurance coverage of exceptional procedures, I write recommendations to management for procedure changes to simplify my (and my 100 field co-worker) tasks. I even enjoy some of what I write for my “day job” but it is writing from the logical functions of my brain.

What tends to emerge in my essays that become blog posts is much more intuitive and – to me – more pleasurable. I don’t often know, when I start an essay, where it will end because I don’t “know” what it is that I know on the subject about which I have been cogitating. I wait for – and fortunately reliably receive – flashes of inspiration which mold themselves into coherence as I formulate the words to express the ideas and images which rise to awareness.

Should I be admitting in a public forum that I often don’t know what I’m going to say when I start to write? Will an editor at some future point read my manuscript submission and say that it’s obvious I have no idea what I’m writing about and that I’ve admitted as much already?

I hope not, since I do rework, rewrite and thoroughly edit the books and stories I send out (far too rarely now – my submission listing is sparse indeed). And I reread and edit my posts although not with the same degree of critical assessment as I give to works of fiction. It is part of the pleasure, for me, of posting, that I feel free to share what comes to me, rather in the way one speaks freely in a conversation with friends. Having to “watch one’s words” in fact describes a stilted and tense relationship between people, or at best a formal and careful one such as is the case for my day job writing which I mentioned above.

An interview I read recently asked a writer whether he was a “planner or a pantser” in the production of his novels. Like many of us would, I think, he replied that it depended on the circumstances. Some works require planning, others seem to take on life all on their own and – for me at least – write themselves through me. Those are the most fun and happily they quite commonly occur when I’m in the process of completing a post.

Pantsing this essay, I’ve come to a stop without feeling, in the logical part of my brain, that I’ve come to a coherent conclusion. Perhaps I have, however, accurately reflected the incoherent way my days are unfolding, full of unexpected events, and flashes of insight that bear little relationship to what I think of as the pattern of my days. I guess I’m pantsing my life at the moment, when I’ve always been something of a planner in that arena. Hmm… I should expect interesting new insights to accompany the very novel way my days are being filled.

Not a bad gift to self for the birthday in honor of which I’m putting up this post.
Best wishes to all – and thank you to my readers – for my new year ahead.

 

Autumn Color

Autumn Color

It’s No Coincidence

October 19, 2013

This piece has been written in sections, over time. I began it back in early August, completed it just a few days ago. Gaps in time are indicated by a change in typeface, as well as by subsection dividers.

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It’s no coincidence – I’m certain it’s no coincidence – that I spent time this morning writing out my answer to the question, “What do you fear about moving forward?” and within half an hour of finishing the exercise, received a phone call giving me the opportunity to push into fast forward. I accepted the offer (a well-paid job doing work I generally like) despite my identified reservations. Identifying the reservations let me see that they are not insurmountable challenges, merely conditions which will necessitate new adjustments to my schedule, diet, work habits, writing goals.

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Nor is it coincidence that things come to hand just as you need them. I’ve been having a discussion with writer friends, and reader friends, about how to intermix inner thought with third person narrative in my novel, in a seamless way that will pass muster with editors. (Editors are known to object to the mixing of points of view). Various suggestions have been made, including using italics for the thoughts. I tried the italics and don’t like them – they jar my awareness, as a reader, pulling me out of the flow of the story to register the fact that some change is being made apparent. I also rejected elimination of the self talk/thoughts/inner monologues solely in order to meet a style ‘rule’ that I know has elsewhere already been broken.

Ready to turn my novel rewrite back on itself, and find a way to signal shifts to first person without the jangle of italics, I was forced to turn off my computer and unplug from power to assure protection of the equipment from a fierce thunderstorm raging overhead. Reading lights have been flickering as wild electricity jumps from the sky to disrupt the flow of its domestic kindred through the lines in my house. I picked up the book I’ve been reading – Dorothy Sayers’ Busman’s Honeymoon – and there before me was a chapter of exactly the sort of intermixed action and thought I’ve been considering. It works – it reads smoothly, no italics, only here and there a couple sentences set apart within parentheses, which I find an unnecessary distinction. A separate paragraph would be equally effective and clear.

Posing the question to the LinkedIn group Authors, Writers, Publishers, Editors and Writing Professionals brings more valuable input, including recommendations for good reads which effectively mix first and third person viewpoints. I have my answer – a good writer can pull off the violation of rules. It is up to me to assure that my writing is good enough to do so.

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That I write well is no coincidence.

It is the product of early indoctrination, a great deal of practice, and continuing learning. I finished a blog post (Ba Gua Lessons) in the morning, and then at noon participated in Lesley S. King’s free telephone class on vivid writing. She offered the session, full of helpful guidance, as an example of what one can experience taking a writing workshop she will be producing soon. I hung up from the hour and went back to review what I had written earlier.

Look Ma, I used present tense, active verbs, multiple senses… I hope I engaged my readers, asking questions, encouraging the possibility of dialogue. But I can do it better, as evidenced by my desire to tweak a sentence here, add a challenge there. What I gained from Lesley’s class was a framework for evaluating my writing, a standard against which to stretch myself further. Good writing is fun, it’s my passion, I don’t consider it work… but it does require effort, absence of ego, an open mind, curiosity, and an unfettered willingness to learn.

It is no coincidence that my encounter with Lesley – who encourages writers to build a career from their writing passion – comes at exactly the moment when I am choosing to once more put writing into second place in the prioritizing of how I spend my time. My new job will initially require enough attention that I can meet my commitment to myself and my readers with weekly blog posts, but am unlikely to do much more about building my platform (the latest word for audience), or marketing my novel.

I am not abandoning a writing career; I am accepting that I’ve been offered an opportunity to do something else I care about (assisting others to access services which help them live their fullest potential despite health issues), and to meet an external financial need, while I learn to maintain a balance between competing interests. Not an either/or choice, but an integrative one. Continuing to write is a crucial part of “taking care of myself” – that imperative frequently stated but not so easily implemented. One of my writing projects, a book of creative suggestions for managing the challenges of Parkinson’s, will undoubtedly be furthered through my new job.

Mind likes to create dichotomies. It suggests that just when my focus on writing is beginning to morph into a career, the rewards of my efforts are being taken out from under me. Mind might think so, but I don’t! Instead, I’m being offered the opportunity to meet both outer and inner needs, to manifest balance not only in the activities to which I give my attention, but in the way I blend social interaction with quiet time, and productivity with stillness. I don’t know yet how this balance will manifest; I’m looking forward to discovering the various ways it will express itself. The one thing I do know, with certainty, is that its place in my life at this time is no coincidence.

Ba Gua Lessons

October 12, 2013

As I count down the days until the start of the intense training period for my new job, I find myself in yet another dichotomy. Do I laze about as much as possible, wallowing in the freedom-to-do-nothing that is about to vanish from my life? Or do I begin a disciplined adaptation to going to bed earlier, getting up early, and organizing my days to accomplish tasks that it will be hard to fit into my upcoming schedule? Or, more practically, do I aim to achieve a balance of both tendencies?

My acupuncturist/friend/wise-teacher commented that it is often the case that moving to the extreme of yin (doing nothing) pushes one into yang (activity) so that resting instead of participating in activities can be an excellent preparation for the burst of energy that will be required of me. I liken this approach to the one I’m learning from the same friend and teacher when we practice Ba Gua, wherein movements are designed to “coil” muscles like tightened springs, until the point of release. The force of the release may serve as the attack (the martial part of the art) or may be contained and redirected into intensifying the next coiling movement.

It’s difficult to consider what Western culture calls laziness and idleness as appropriate preparation for a required, new and busy schedule. In that mentality, I definitely should already be adhering to the new (yang) schedule of waking, and filling my days with tasks, accustoming my body to delivering energy and clarity of mind across the ten or so hours of an upcoming busy day. But what happens if I rename the preparation period (the yin) in an Eastern fashion, and say that I am practicing stillness and emptiness? Then I am setting up a powerful contrast, with the potential for sustained energy emerging from the containment being practiced this week.

What a difference a few words make! Try them out. Spend a chunk of time playing solitaire, or just sitting and watching the wind blow the drying grasses of autumn.

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Bosque del Apache, New Mexico

Call yourself idle and lazy for failing to do something constructive with your time. Then, rename that time as allowing yourself to be still and mindless, outside your usual sense of yourself. Which set of terms weakens you? Which seems to relax and yet energize you?

To a large extent, even when I’m not engaged in writing, I live my life through words. My grandfather taught me the importance of choosing the right ones, when he talked to me about his poetry. His choices were in Hebrew, and constrained not only by the meter and rhyme of his verse, but by his dedication to purity of the language. (Words created for items that did not exist in ancient culture should, in his opinion, follow the traditional structural frame as to number of consonant sounds).

My experience of parents whose behaviors were often in contradiction with their words led to my dedication to accurate and clear communication. A lonely and isolated childhood built my desire for connection with others, and to the understanding that communication is a two-way street. I do not communicate when I talk (or write); I only communicate when what I say is heard and understood by another.

For others to hear and understand me, I need to understand them – hence my choice of psychology as a major in college, and my continuing interest in neurology now. Also my engagement with the several programs I lead or teach (including Alternatives to Violence Project and Chronic Disease Self- Management), both having to do with learning concepts that help one direct and control behavior.

Which brings me back to Ba Gua, teaching my body new ways of moving, and simultaneously reinforcing flexibility of mind. And back to the importance of just the right words – stillness and emptiness creating a vacuum which attracts energy, to be stored and contained until it explodes into action. So much more sustaining than to label my down time as idle laziness that should be filled with doing.

The first time I attended a feast day dance at one of New Mexico’s Pueblos, I observed a dancer carrying an old-fashioned alarm clock, the sort that is wound with a key, ticks loudly and has a clanging alarm. The dancer teased non-Native observers with the clock, shaking it in our faces, setting off the alarm suddenly and startling visitors with its discordant noise. Eventually, he tossed the clock away and joined the line performing traditional steps in a mesmerizing, repetitive pattern. Time did then disappear, as spectators and participants focused totally on what was happening in the moment.

I suggest that much that we like, whether a good book, a particular hobby, an activity, or a piece of art or music is liked precisely because it has the capacity to capture our attention strongly, and thus to eliminate our sense of time and ego. Being present in the moment with the object of our attention creates a satisfying energetic stillness, and an expanded sense of connection, of capacity, of self.

Those fortunate individuals who are able to combine such likes with their means of employment do not describe what they do as work. They are more apt to describe a career as pursuing a passion. Those less fortunate in the choice or conditions of employment go to work, and then try to find free time for pleasures to balance what they have sacrificed for the earning of income.

You may have noticed in previous posts that I have not called my new job “work”. For the past eighteen months, I’ve been able to live mostly in the present moment, doing what is in front of me to do each day. I really like this way of being. My intention is to continue in this manner, acknowledging that there will be more things in front of me to do, in many of the upcoming days, than there have been in the past ones. I have determined not to change my approach to the doing of them. I will find energy for the doing by assuring that I remain centered in being.

As my body improves its stability and strength through Ba Gua practice, so too my mind – and its use of words – expands its capacity to “hold the tension of opposites” and to achieve balance. For important external reasons, I am starting a new job. For vital internal ones, it will not be work. Activities required of me by the new job will be integrated into the pattern of observing, of writing, of being that has nourished me of late.

Please, if you notice that I’m falling away from center, alert me! If my words seem poorly chosen, my posts less reflective, give me a nudge. I need to know that I’m continuing to communicate with you, not slipping into a stress-driven rant.

Thank you for reading, and for feedback.

Ain’t No River Wide Enough

May 21, 2013

“Choose a topic you’re interested in, something you’re willing to talk about on a regular basis.” Such is the advice routinely offered to people considering starting a blog – especially writers who want to get themselves and their ideas and their books – “out there” to be read. Simple advice, and totally useless to me, as my interests run wide more than deep. They are the Mississippi, not the Grand Canyon.

For nearly three years I wrote a weekly commentary column in a local paper, so I know I can keep to a regular posting schedule on a blog. Sitting in a workshop session at the recent New Mexico Book Fiesta held in Albuquerque, I suddenly realized that if I think of a blog as simply an updated, online weekly newspaper column, I know how to do that!

I’ve taught workshops on improving communication skills that include two exercises which are the inverse of one another. The first is “Making the Familiar Strange” – i.e. describing something with which one is intimately familiar in a manner that suggests one is seeing/experiencing it for the first time. Doing so helps the participant to appreciate how much in communication is taken for granted, and how easily therefore, it is possible for misunderstandings to arise.

The second, inverse activity is “Making the Strange Familiar”. That is what I accomplished when I was able to equate a blog (web log, web-related, still part of a relatively new world to this older person) to an opinion or commentary column. Suddenly the project transformed from daunting to fun and familiar. And here we are, with the first posting to 1eclecticwriter. I vividly recall a similar transformational insight, which occurred during a Southwest Writer’s monthly meeting, where the speaker used the phrase “character-driven plot.” I had, up to that point, published a host of articles and essays, but was stymied when I tried to ‘tell a story’ – i.e. generate fiction. I’m the opposite of a raconteur, quiet rather than voluble in groups. But I know characters! Boy do I know a host of characters – and once I recognized that I could be their ‘voice’, they began clamoring for me to tell their stories. Some pretty dark stories, so dark that I had to ask myself, “where in the world did that come from?” Because, yes, I’ve had some difficult times, and yes I’ve devoted time and energy to working toward understanding my own mind and emotions, and never did I come across anything THAT twisted!

I talked with Annam Manthiram at the NM Book Fiesta about these dysfunctional characters and how they take over and demand that I write what they want told. She laughingly acknowledged having the same sensation as she produced the stories collected in her recent book Dysfunction:[Stories]. What I didn’t get to ask her, but will try to going forward, is the same question a good friend recently asked me – why are there so comparatively few stories about good, happy, fulfilled people? I replied to my friend that, for me at least, it’s hard to write a good, happy, fulfilled character who doesn’t come across to the reader as insipid, or a goody-two-shoes. Stories require tension, conflict, something to move the characters to action and in search of a resolution – and a good, happy, fulfilled characters are the opposite of tense.

But there’s more. The unenviable human characteristics of envy, jealousy and mistrust seem to come into play quickly whenever a really good person is under consideration. “No one can really be that perfect,” is how the doubting may begin. I remember that there was carping about Mother Teresa’s interpersonal qualities with the sisters she supervised – along the lines that yes, she did good works but she was not an easy person to work with. Good, happy, fulfilled characters are apt to not be believed by the reader, and their stories will thereby not hold interest.

Sad, that fact… but proven true with every failed ‘good news’ paper or magazine. Even proven true in the difference in number of lines of print, and length of aired story about the rescuer of the three kidnapped girls in Cleveland, versus the number of lines of print and length of aired stories about their abductor. We think we know and understand and don’t need to hear more about goodness; we are fascinated by its opposite.

So what do good and evil have to do with being a renaissance writer, or offering a home to other eclectics? Being ‘focused’ is considered good. Having in-depth knowledge is considered good, while its opposite, being “a jack/jill of all trades” condemns one to being thought “a master of none.” I’m not even supposed to be able to blog until I select a topic! Well I’m selecting the topic of eclecticism – of interest in many different things – whether to the mastery level or not remains to be determined.

I hope you’ll join me, exploring the huge diversity of human nature, animal awareness, plant communication – you name it, we can reflect on and communicate about it. I’m working on a (fantasy? really?) story about animals attempting to communicate with humans regarding the challenges facing our environment. And a story about a man with multiple personality/dissociative disorder (the shrinks can’t agree on what to call the phenomenon, although those living with the problem are very clear about it). And an historical suspense novel set in Vietnam in the mid-1950s. And a short love story for Woman’s World. And… and… and. Eclectic. The Mississippi, in all its broad a sweeping variety. Join me!


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