Friday, March 30, 2012

Putting the Blues into Words

Music, like all art forms, transcends us to places where our minds can wander and our hearts can cry.  It compels us to listen to voices that would otherwise go unheard.  It is there when we shop, drive, work, and in our minds when we think.  We've all had a tune we couldn't get out of our head, or lyrics we couldn't forget.  I like all kinds of music: jazz, classical, classic rock, international and the blues, and I've often speculated on the reason why I always go back to the blues.  What is it with that genre of music that stirs me?  Perhaps it's the ailing voices of the singers who sound as though they are ready to break down and cry, or maybe it's the relentless wail of the guitar that quakes in agony.  What ever it is, one thing is for certain.  The blues is a genuine crying of the soul that makes you shudder with empathy.  Its raw emotion punches you in the gut with a pain that's hard to forget.  

As a writer, it is my job to evoke a feeling, stir something within the reader that makes them sit back and contemplate their own fears, hopes and dreams.  Unlike the blues musician who accomplishes this task through auditory senses, a writer does this subtly, quietly, through invitation only.  Words in a book are only perceived by those willing to turn the pages.

Writing is a journey, and sometimes a painful one.  The ups and downs of the publishing world has ensured a tough battle for most of us.  But for many writers the majority of the pain comes in the form of the words we write, and every writer will tell you that a little bit of them seeps into each story, intentional or not.  The experiences we gather through the years feeds us, makes us stronger and more resilient.  For good or bad, our pasts shaped who we are, and our stories are reflections of the lives we've led.  Like a blues musician, the emotions a writer evokes should stab you in the heart and make you bleed.

As a writer, I embrace any hardships I've lived through, for it planted empathy in by soul and inspired my words.  Without those experiences, I wouldn't be me.

Music is the language of our soul, and the written word is the voice of our outpourings, the passions, hopes and tears of our souls.

Enjoy the youtube videos of B. B. King, Amy Winehouse, Tracy Chapman and Joe Bonamassa below.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Space and Time

When I look up at the sky on a clear night, a zillion stars twinkle in the black sky.  I can't help but to imagine all the stars with all the planets that may have life similar to our own here on Earth.  We as humans can not be that arrogant to think we are alone, or unique.  Unique?  Blaaa!  There's nothing unique about us.  We are but a speck, nothing more than a tiny dot in the center of the milky way galaxy which is itself a mere mention among millions.

The nearest star to our solar system is Proxima Centauri 4.2 light years away.  Thanks to the old TV show, Lost in Space, the Centauri system, Alpha Centauri in particular, became a household name.  Times have changed since then, but the reality of reaching that system is still no where near our future.

But this is my world, and I like to pretend.  If a ship travels to Proxima Centauri at a speed of 10% light speed, it should take about 40 years to get there.  Probably more, giving the fact that the ship must slow down considerably if it were going to make a safe landing.  Forty years is a long time.  The average person will probably not make the trip.  Because of the education and training, most astronauts do not fly until they are well into their 40s.  Perhaps we could put the occupants of the ship in some kind of stasis.
And then the problem of fuel arrises.   Hmm.

When writing science fiction, two things are clear.  Number one, the story is not true.  Number two, the science must be real, or extrapolated from current hypothesis or data that makes it plausible in the future.

I would like to hear your thoughts and ideas on space travel.  How would you like to tour the universe in the future?

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Feel'n Like a Number, or What Defines a Writer

I remember the day I walked through my college campus for the first time.  I was one of thousands, a speck among the masses, just a number.  The huge campus swallowed me up, but somehow I rose from its depths a survivor packed with knowledge and a drive that hasn't faltered yet.  The memories I took with me, and the lessons I learned have taught me never to give in.

Or, give up.

Being a writer has its glory.  It's great when someone actually reads what you write and LIKES it.  It's even better when the story gets published and you see your work in print, wondering how many sets of eyes will read it.  I am one of thousands of writers out there waiting to be read, understood, or seen as something more than a number.  Yes, there are thousands of us.

Sounds familiar, just like the old days.

When friend and fellow writer, George Appelt Jr., came to critique announcing the upcoming publication of his first novel, we were all very happy for him having read his humorous work through the years.  It was about time.   Kismet and Company, a new small press publishing company, will do the honors.  Seems to be the way to go these days since the big publishing companies slam the door in your face far too often.  They just won't let you play the game.  I wonder who let them make the rules in the first place.

Hum now.  Think about that.  There's something unique among artists.   Regardless if you are a writer, musician, painter or dancer, we as artists are steered by our own visions.  Since when did we ever follow somebody else's rules?  If there was a rule to be broken, I always found a way to break it, or bend it according to how it better suited my brain.

We writers might just be a number, a speck among the thousands, another name on your bookshelf, but we are all unique, because we are artists who never fall flat on ideas, imagination or rules to break.

So, what defines a writer, or any artist for that matter?  The desire to create our own rules to the game with the talent, imagination and drive that's embedded so deeply within us that our numbers are irrelevant.

I've come to know many local writers through the years, and their talents are a testimony of just how diverse the artist can be.  Find out for yourself by supporting the local writer.  Books by Cate Masters,  Susan Gourley, Mike Silvestri, Jon Sprunk, Dennis Royer, Don Helin fill my bookshelves.  What authors fill yours?  If you haven't read their work, check them out.  And don't forget about George's upcoming novel, Shepherd's Fall, coming out soon!

And don't forget to get a copy of SPECULATIVE JOURNEYS, an anthology of my previously published short stories.
 --Support your local writer.