DAY 1845: December 4, 2017 Prompt: "Write about something you don't know. And don't be scared, ever." - Toni Morrison. What are your thoughts on this quote?
A long time ago I was lucky enough to have taken a creative writing class with author Wally Lamb while he was still teaching at my local high school, before the commercial success of "She's Come Undone" and that life-changing call from Oprah. I remember there was one thing he told us that I still keep with me to this day...he told us to "write about what we know." I've have tried to do that, keeping a grain of truth and personal knowledge running through even my fictional pieces. Even if you are writing about the unknown, some lateral universe like the Upside down in Stranger Things...if you infuse it with details and elements that are familiar to you, of which you have some insight and knowledge, overall it will make your work read with more credibility. If you always come through with a bit of personal expertise or perspective, the readers will have a much easier time of accepting your worlds, your characters and plot lines.
One of my favorite authors is James Lee Burke. He has written many novels set in different eras, not all of them ones he has personally experienced. There is enough of his impressions, enough of his experiences and details in those stories that one would think he might have time-traveled. His descriptions of the places and people are so enriched with his own experiences and insights, that they come alive. There is no doubt in my mind that someone could not write so profoundly about the sites and sounds of the such places without having listened to them, seen them, felt them on some molecular level.
“The evening sky was streaked with purple, the color of torn plums, and a light rain had started to fall when I came to the end of the blacktop road that cut through twenty miles of thick, almost impenetrable scrub oak and pine and stopped at the front gate of Angola penitentiary.” The Neon Rain, by James Lee Burke
"It was the year none of the seasons followed their own dictates. The days were warm and the air hard to breathe without a kerchief, and the nights cold and damp, the wet burlap we nailed over the windows stiff with grit that blew in clouds out of the west amid sounds like a train grinding across the prairie. The moon was orange, or sometimes brown, as big as a planet, the way it is at harvest time, and the sun never more than a smudge, like a lightbulb flickering in the socket or a lucifer match burning inside its own smoke. In better times, our family would have been sitting together on the porch, in wicker chairs or on the glider, with glasses of lemonade and bowls of peach ice cream." Wayfaring Stranger, James Lee Burke
There is a fearlessness in Burke and in Lamb that inspire me. The ability to craft rich stories and lace such intimacies through them that we feel at once in step with their characters. These authors are giants in their talent in my humble opinion. I try to be fearless. I try to write without apology. I try to make sure I weave enough of me, enough of what I might know in the fabric of my stories. I don't know if I always succeed but it is one of the things I strive for.
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DAY 1448-- December 4, 2017
Prompt: “The moon stared at me through sprinkled nighttime stardust and I alone smile.”
― Jay Long. On December 3 and 4 this year, we have the Super Moon. What kind of an effect has the full moon on you or some people you know or the characters you create?
Given the use-inspiring absolute ripeness of the super moon, its a small wonder that one had never featured prominently in any of my work.
As far as moon affecting people, there may be some truth to that. One has to wonder as fragile as human life can be, are we not at mercy to the pulls and tugs of celestial bodies moving in space? Who hasn't at one time or another blamed the irrational behavior of a co-worker, spouse or otherwise on the "full moon"?