A Flight of Fancy or two

I’ve never been much of a writer who has a lot of focus. Focus and me have an unspoken agreement to disagree on when I should and shouldn’t write. Mainly, we disagree about most of things going on in my life. Now, I’ve got a lot of focus when it comes to my addictive personality disorder. That sounds a whole lot better than I got a bad case of OCD. Which I probably do, but I’m too skeered to go to an actual doctor for a diagnosis. Instead, I trust my wife’s opinion on the subject. She’s usually always right. Well, she is if you believe her. I kind of have to. She had it written into the wedding vows.


Writing is all about flights of fancy. Imagination demands fuel to ignite the things lurking in our heads. As a writer spends more time in their craft, imagination isn’t the problem. We’re still basically kids hiding under the covers, wondering what lurks in the darkness beyond our beds. But, as we get on in years, we discover the darkness only hides the same stuff that the light shines on. The road outside our doors only leads to Wal-Mart. Well, it leads to jobs too, but Wal-Mart pretty much covers the reason we have jobs. You can feel free to insert your own chain department store of choice. It’s all the same. Imagination gives way to reality all too often.


With the sole exception of forced reading at school, reading is all about escape. I know I’ve probably been harping on this subject lately in these musings, but life demands we escape from it from time to time. Whether it’s in a good book, or just a vacation, our minds need to explore new things, new settings. Sure, a trip to the beach or a snow covered slope would be nice. More than nice, it’d be freaking awesome.


Unfortunately as those of us of the grown-up persuasion knows all too well, vacations are hard things to come by, and heaven knows sometimes we need a mini vacation in the middle of the work week. Since transporter technology hasn’t been perfected yet, we have a few limited options. Books, Television, Video Games, or a movie, just to name a few. Breaking out the Star Wars action figures is always an option, too, but the wife gives me funny looks when I do that.


Honestly, I myself like to dabble in all of the above, but reading has always been my first love. That might have something to do with coming from the generation who lived with only three channels on the TV, if you don’t count PBS, which only came in if you held the antenna a certain way and had plenty of aluminum foil on hand. We also didn’t have DVD players, so if you wanted to see a movie you had to go to the theater to watch one. That left a lot of room for a kid’s imagination to run wild.


This is where I fast forward to the here and now. Remember when I started rambling, the subject of flights of fancy were mentioned? Good, was afraid I’d lost you there for a minute. In this day and age, our imaginations are bombarded with imagery, input, and who knows what else to the point that our minds become numb to what amazing things they can well imagine. Why should we force our minds to create anything? There’s enough people doing it for us. We can sit back and let them do all the work. Admit it, seventy-five percent of the time we are more than happy to let them. Now, we get to the point where we discover what separates readers from writers.


Writers can’t sit back and read without thinking of the worlds living inside our heads. We can’t read without wanting to share those worlds with others. I can’t really answer why we all have our own worlds eating a hole through our skulls. I can’t even say why out of all the people who’ve been born throughout the history of mankind, authors never seem to duplicate the worlds of other authors.


Maybe, I can. Humanity is made up of people with different origins, different stories that make up who they are. Who we are. And, it is those experiences that come full circle and become the stories we as authors eventually put to paper. I like to think every one of us has a story inside us dying to come out. We’re all authors in our own right. Some of us make up stories, and others live their stories every day of their lives. A lucky few get to write the stories they live.


So far, I’m the make up story kind of guy, but I also have a story I’m living. Whether it’s book worthy or not, I’m not sure. But, it is the story nearly every human lives. It is one of dreams of youth. The uncertainty of a coming-of-age young man. It is one of pain and loss. It is the story of adventure and stupidity. But, most of all it full of love. The love of my God. The love and warmth of my family in who I always find home. It is the love of my wife and soul mate. The love of my daughter, and the overwhelming love I feel for my first grandchild, who can make me smile in my darkest hours just by me thinking about him.


With all that love, it’s no wonder I write Romance Novels. Because what is the story of mankind, but the search for love to fill the emptiness of our lives and make us complete. So I guess I am living my stories. Before I leave you to live some more of it, I’d like to assure you in spite of my books, I’m not a vampire, witch, or even a werewolf, though I am quite hairy. Who knows? Maybe I am a werewolf. Wouldn’t that be a hoot? A Romance writing werewolf with a Southern accent. Didn’t I already write that?


Oh well, wishing you all a great week, and more importantly wishing you a life worthy of being a best selling story.


Serving Two Masters, or Two Muses Bullying Me All the Time




Over the past weeks I’ve rediscovered an old passion. No not Oreos, I never lost that passion thank you very much. As I might have said before, I started life as an artist. When I began writing back in 2005, art slipped away from me. I did the occasional sketch or painting if someone pushed me into it — but steady artwork — just didn’t happen. I filed that under you can’t serve two masters. With a day job, writing and art just can’t happen. I am not the best when it comes to budgeting time if you really want the unvarnished truth.


When I write, I am totally under its sway. I write, or I do nothing. Mostly nothing – with giant rushes of writing over short periods. It’s how my muse works, so who am I to complain? But complain I do — frequently.


The same goes with painting. Call it OCD — my wife does — but I can’t stand an unfinished painting. It’s like looking at a puzzle with half of it still sitting in the box. It just frustrates me to no end.


Now, if I know I’m under a deadline would I even contemplate painting? Simple enough, when I found out I was going to be somebody’s grandpa, I wanted to give him something from the heart. After being in his room for the first time, I wanted him to see magic. Not to say my daughter hasn’t done a wonderful job of making his room homey. She has, but I wanted him to have something different. Which brings us back to magic. I wanted to give him the same sense of wonder I had as a kid, without the introverted paranoid delusions to go along with it of course. I wanted to give him something to say that anything is possible if you dream hard enough.


Growing up, I had that magic in my life. A fervent hope that the world could be different if only I thought it could be. I grew up believing in a planet where apes evolved and talked, a world where a man was worth six million dollars, superheroes all lived in New York and fought crime and well you know, Darth Vader existed and was the coolest man alive. I also believed in Greek Heroes, Sinbad and that if I wished hard enough I might become a musketeer. The point is, I want my grandson to experience that same sense of wonder.


So, I wrote a book. Hey, it’s what I do. At first I started doing sketches to go along with the book. Then it hit me. Why not just paint a couple of the things I saw so vividly in my head for his room? So I did. Or, I am doing. Like any true crazed mad scientist of the artist sort, I threw myself into painting. I’d wake up at 4am so I could squeeze in a couple hours before work. I even painted on my lunch break and after work. All I could see was that half finished puzzle mocking me from the entertainment center. Within a week, I was finished with painting one. Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t seriously painted in ten years.


Best of all it captured the dreams in my head. One of my earliest memories was of flying. Or, imagining I could fly. Arms spread wide, and flapping. A cape made out of an old towel draped around my neck. The rush of air smacking me in the face as I struggled to propel myself into the clouds. None of that actually happened, but I always thought maybe next time. Those are the dreams of youth. The dreams of the improbable that sing to us in our childhood. They’re also the dreams that make young boys and girls into writers someday.


Only thing is, they also put a crimp in actually writing, because my brain had rewritten itself to be a painter. Yep, you guessed it – my authorly muse decided to go on vacation because she had a fill-in occupying my time. Muses get huffy that way.


But, after returning to my first love, I find it hard to lose her again. I had forgotten how much I loved creating worlds of magic in pictures instead of words. So, I am resolved to find a balance between words and images. I still have a second painting to finish for my grandson’s room, and other paintings rolling around in my head. Will I get to them? I hope so. I enjoy returning to the dreams of my youth. I’d like to be a painter again.


Whether I’m good at it is another thing, but that really doesn’t matter, as long as I’m good enough for me. As with my writing, if I can walk away from it and say that I did my best and be satisfied that I have, I am content. Not content enough to not strive to be better, though.


Art, be it painting or writing, is all about expressing something about yourself. If my words paint a picture in a readers’ mind they can’t shake, I’ve succeeded. Same goes with my painting, if someone looks at a painting and just can’t forget it, I’ve more than succeeded. I’ve made a lasting impression. Now, that I realize I can do that with the two halves of my brain, I can say I feel complete in a way I haven’t in years.


That in no way admits to me being sane. With all the voices in my head, I can safely say that will never happen, but where’s the fun in being sane. Crazy is more than a state of mind, it’s the world I call home.


And, I invite you to step into that world on occasion. Just don’t plan to stay too long. I don’t have enough room for lingering house guests. My Smurf house is a one bedroom.


On that, I wish you an overactive imagination and the drive to make your dreams come true.