The Pen is Mightier: Reflections on Writing and 2018.

Dec. 21, 2018. – At home in New Richmond, WI.

Around this time last Christmas, I was going through a tough time. I had spent three years playing and singing songs for drunks in bars, thinking one day I would make a career out of music. I had even recorded a full-length album of original material, shipping it out to various radio stations and record companies. All to no avail.

My guitar began to collect dust in the back of the closet. The power and magic I once found in those strings seemed to have totally abandoned me. Every once in a while, I would pick it up and strum a few chords. I couldn’t seem to compose any new songs. I would put the guitar back into its black case with a sigh. Why waste my time?

Three days before Christmas Eve, I sat on the floor of my kitchen. It was around midnight. All of the house was sleeping. A swift panic took hold of me. I began to anxiously ruminate over the inherent meaninglessness of life. What the hell did I want out of it, anyway? My life was utterly without music. The philosopher, Nietzsche, would have regarded such a life as a mistake. All the same, I felt too crippled to think and went back to bed.

One frigid night in mid-January, I was alone in the house. I sat slumped at the keyboard and, bored, began to type. At first I typed out only vague images…a one paragraph attempt at a story…a few poetic descriptions…and suddenly, I awoke with a start. I gazed at the clock. I had been writing for going on two hours! Where had the time gone? Where had I gone?

Over the next few days, I began to write more and more. I wrote about anything and everything. I wrote about the clock on the wall, my shoe laces, a bottle of beer I had just downed, the universe, infinity, my beautiful girlfriend, my gut feelings and my cracked emotions, about the lazy cat settling its rotund body upon my feet. I had discovered a new joy and freedom.

My life is full of music again, at last. Only this is an entirely different form of music – the music of language, which has its own tones and rhythms, climaxes and crescendos. When I am writing, I often imagine that I am God. I can say, do, and create anything – the only limitations are in my own imagination.

I am the smiling conjurer of vast, open, and endless dreams. I am a warlock with a pen, a deranged angel with paper wings. My halo is as primitive as a Gutenberg press. It is composed of a luminescent scrawl. I have discovered, as the expression goes, that the pen is mightier – mightier than anything. At this very moment, I am flying.

I continued to write steadily throughout the year. The seasons came and went and I remained at the keyboard, clickity-click-clacketing away, burning on through endless essays, reflections, poems, and stories. Occasionally, I would send off some of my work to a quirky literary magazine. I began an online blog, too, where I posted the majority of my writing. I ended up attracting a fair amount of followers, and even had a publishing company reach out to me, asking me if I’d like my essays on creativity to be featured in their upcoming anthology book. I replied with an expeditious ‘yes’. The title of that book is: Emerging Wisconsin Writers: An Anthology of Non-Fiction, which one may purchase on Amazon.

In the Spring, I joined a local writers group. We meet in a rented out board room at the Civic Center every other Tuesday. The friendly and talented members of this group have since provided me with countless insights and critiques. We have even put together a book compiling some of our best writing: The Willow River Writers Anthology, 2018. One may purchase a copy of this book at the New Richmond Friday Memorial Library. The money for each copy sold goes directly to the library building fund.

In August, I contacted the editors of my city newspaper, The New Richmond News, and inquired as to if they would be interested in an arts column written by yours truly. It turns out they were. Every two weeks the paper prints my column, The Artist’s Corner, which concerns all things art and creativity, usually with a spotlight on one of our many local artists.

I also began printing my own chapbooks at home. I write fifty pages worth of material, slap a cover on it, and print out copies to sell. They have proliferated. There are now eleven different booklets hanging around my house. I like to give them strange titles, such as, “The Sophisticated Barbarian” and “Chiseling Away at Eternity”. I draw up primitive cartoons for cover illustrations. They’re all in good fun.

The end of the year is nearing ominously. I expect to the sky to split open and for the Earth to quake at any moment. As I glance at the word count on the bottom left hand of my screen, I see it is over 114,000. Sometimes I wonder what has happened to me. 114,000 words? Am I so unbalanced? Have I gone insane? The answer is a definite ‘yes’. But it is the good kind of insanity, the wholesome kind, if there can be such a thing. I hear endless voices in my head, but every one of them seems to make their way onto the page without making much of a fuss. It is beneficial to have a creative outlet for our voices, I think. As for this upcoming year, I plan to exceed my word count and to publish my first book.

I cannot neglect to mention my gratitude for all the support provided by Tessandra, the love of my life. Within the first week we started dating, I had written her a love song and performed it for her and her friends one night at a party. I have continued to write songs for her over the years. She met me not as a writer, but as a musician. Therefore, she has had to adjust her image of who I am just as much as I have. She has not strayed for a second. I cannot love her enough for that.

At night, in bed, I share with her some of the things I have written. She critiques them openly, honestly, telling me what she likes and what she thinks could be improved upon. Occasionally, though, I still break out my guitar and perform all the songs I have written for her. She will always be my muse, regardless of whatever art form I choose to work with. Our love, too, is mightier.

I wonder what this next year on planet earth will bring us? It seems as if great changes are happening, or are about to happen. I don’t wish for world peace or tranquility (although that would be just fine by me). I only wish for the world to express itself more creatively…I wish for the world to consciously choose the paintbrush, the guitar, or the pen…as opposed to the bomb, the drone, or the gun.

On Thanksgiving (Gluttony vs. Gratitude)

On Thanksgiving

We say “Thank you, lord! Thank you for this bountiful harvest!” and after saying “grace!” we proceed to ungracefully stuff our faces with a gargantuan feast without further thought. Is sheer gluttony not the antithesis of gratitude? Perhaps it would be a more logical holiday tradition to fast together, as opposed to feast together. Famished bellies, after all, will prove far more grateful for a meal.

Might I also dare to add, upon whose harvested land are we feasting? Well, our land! Of course. The Native Americans were too busy with the conviction that they belonged to the land, rather than the land belonging to them. And so we infiltrated, sweeping away the harvests, murdering every buffalo down to the last, and purposely gifting sickly blankets with a great thank you, thank you, thank you! And behaving like ravenous turkeys, we gobbled everything up and stuffed ourselves.

Now where are we? Obese Americans argue in a fumed spittle over a dinner table while the television in the living room broadcasts a football game. What grace! What thanks! Gobble, gobble!

Perhaps we ought to be more reserved and put ourselves on the reservations.

Perhaps!