A WRITER’S IDENTITY

“You’re more of a poet,” one of my favorite authors mentioned over coffee.

Huh? I had, after all, found publishers for two of my novels but none of my collections of poetry. So what if both novels were out of print, right?

Back in high school, when the writing bug hit me, I envisioned successfully working in fiction, poetry, theater, and journalism – successfully and famously, at that. That was way back before I discovered the reality of just how specialized each field can be, even before we get into the micro-subcategories, or how much rarified knowledge is required to navigate them professionally. Or how much competition there is across the board.

A first I felt my friend’s comment as a gentle reproach. There is always so much more to master, after all, as I tell myself after encountering another moving example of fine craftsmanship and deep insight.

As I returned to his comment, though, I picked up on another angle, the one that reflects a particular author’s sensibilities. He has me realizing that my basic outlook is as a poet, and that I carry that over into my novels.

Recently, another friend and I were discussing what we’d been reading, and he brought up Jim Harrison’s novels. He’d just finished seven in sequence. “He’s also a fine poet,” I said. But now, as I return to my bookshelves, I see an argument that Harrison is a novelist first, an outlook he carries over into the poems.

This is not to say that a writer has to be pigeonholed or can’t move among forms. After all, I could present a long list of fine poets whose essays I treasure. Many of them, as I noted in the Talking Money series at my Chicken Farmer I Still Love You blog, address the decidedly down-to-earth issues of income, budgeting, labor, possessions, time, wealth, and community.

Detailing what would place a writer in the poet category or else in the novelist line could provide an interesting roundtable discussion all its own. We’ll leave that for another time.

I will, however, suggest it arises in a state of mind – of seeing the world and of relating to those around us. And, I will add, I find myself far from writing or revising poetry when I’m working on a novel, simply because the fiction generates or relies upon another state of mind, even if the prose that results has poetic qualities.

 

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THE NOVELIST STRIKES ANOTHER POSE

100_9850Dear Reader:  Are you aware that this is a social protest novel? Have you delineated the symbolism running through construction? Can you guess the antecedent novels that most influenced the Author in his quest of the Muse? What form will his next opus assume? Will he learn from his mistakes? Does he even perceive them? Will he renounce writing? Who will turn this into his next movie? What music will be selected to amplify it?

Please clip and mail to the Author. Your comments are always appreciated.

Thank you.

The Author.

~*~

To learn more about my novels, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

WHICH SIDE OF THE REVOLUTION?

In drawing on the hippie era, I realize how many different strands there were to the movement. Mine happened to lead into a yoga ashram, and though we were drug-free and celibate, we were also at the crossroads of a lot of the hippie action.

All of that’s reflected in my Hippie Trails novels.

As I ponder the era, I also realize DL’s journey in those pages could just as easily turned toward underground violence, had he joined one of the cells of bombers targeting military research operations in frustration, and that version of the story probably would have had commercial publishing cachet. But to me, it would have been dishonest.

More meaningful to my vision is the comment by Mari (River Mama 5) to an earlier posting here:

Amazing how many different views there are. … Hippies to me were quite different. To me, it gave birth to great changes in our society. … I am quite thankful for … the back to the land movement and the Calvary Chapels churches that came to exist during this time. I came to know Jesus Christ in one of them.

They also pioneered living a simpler life … showing compassion to others. Taking care of this gift that is our planet. The “hippies” in America, were great artisans. As a weaver, quilter, and knitter, I look back at this time and find myself inspired by the way creativity roamed free among this way of living.

This is the side I wish to nourish and celebrate. And thank you, Mari and all the others, for sharing.

LIGHTING THE FUSE

It’s tune in, turn on, and take action in this tale of campus intrigue. Little does a small band in a remote college town realize its opposition to small-ante bureaucracy goes straight to the state capital. And then Washington and the Mekong Delta are another matter as the hippie movement hits tranquil Daffodil. Nothing will remain quite the same.

As the headline said:

BOTCHED DRUG BUST BACKFIRES.

When narcotics agents made an early morning knock-down-the-doors raid on the twelfth-floor of one of the high-rise dormitory towers, they turned up nothing – and were surrounded by irate residents before they could frame anyone, either.

“If you think the slaying of innocent students at Jackson State University was merely a racial atrocity,” Lakasha proclaimed, “you’re not seeing the big picture. It’s about an attack on civil rights – freedoms that belong to all of us. You don’t have to live in a big city to live in ghetto housing. Every student in Daffodil lives in a ghetto. Where I come from, we have a word for high-rise housing like these big dorms – the Projects. And the pigs who come charging into the Projects act just like those who busted in on the twelfth floor the other night. Never mind whether they find anything or not. Look, the university’s demanding that the students pay for the busted doors and busted furniture and busted walls. That’s why they call it a bust in the first place. Wake up, America! Demand the names of the ‘unnamed informants,’ the ones who were so wrong about the presence of illicit substances in those rooms. Wake up, I say! Mississippi’s closer to Daffodil than you think!”

~*~

To learn more about my novel, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

Daffodil-jnana

ONE LIBRARIAN’S TAKE

Perhaps you’ve heard someone tell another, “You should write a book about that,” relating to some personal experience they think would become a bestseller.

Neither of them, however, actually reads books, even if they expect others to do so.

Sometimes one of these individuals actually does crank out the manuscript and even self-publishes it (not that self-publishing is intrinsically wrong, mind you – just that one needs to be aware of the perils that route takes, whether it’s in the traditional bound paper editions or in the newer digital ebooks).

A neighbor came across one of these paper versions a few months back and decided to ask a librarian acquaintance for her reaction. After reading a page or two (often that’s all it takes), she sniffed: “This reads like somebody who doesn’t read books.”

How telling. How telling, indeed, even before we get to the swollen ego.

 

NOTHING NOSTALGIC ABOUT IT

One thing I strive to avoid in my Hippie Trails series of novels in a sense of nostalgia. Admittedly, the music, especially, can bring back groovy feelings. (The close reader will notice how little of it I touch on directly, but rather I try to look at other facets of the experience.) And, yes, it is easy to get wistful with some of the memories – Woodstock, for example, while conveniently overlooking all of the physical discomfort, or for some of the lost social life and friendships – but there are good reasons we can’t and don’t go back. Our youth, obviously, has turned to aging, and our freedom turned to responsibilities, many of them ones we’ve chosen.

We need to emphasize that much was not happy. There was desperation, in fact.

The period and the movement were far from perfect, but we also had glimpses – epiphanies, for some – and their influence is far from completed.

If we wholesale deny the dreams and prophetic directions we experienced in that youthful outburst, we cut ourselves off from our higher nature – and both we and our largely society are impoverished as a consequence.

As I look at the array of problems facing America and the world today, I sense that the more serious currents under the surface of the hippie outbreak may finally provide some much needed direction, if we can be honest with ourselves and our history.

That’s definitely not nostalgia, no matter the anthems and hymns in the music of the era.

~*~

To learn more about my novels, go to my page at Smashwords.com.

BREAKING THE STEREOTYPES

She never did drugs, and she married a soldier. She was a faithful mother and wife. She doesn’t even know the smell of marijuana, and she talks to her legislators rather than standing in a demonstration.

But in my book, she’s still a hippie. There’s no question where she falls on the granola-heads to fundamentalist spectrum.

I’d give you my reasons she’s a hippie, as far as I’m concerned. But I bet you know others who are something like her. So I’d like to hear some of the qualities you perceived that help us break the stereotypes, at least when thinking of hippie.