Just One Page Per Day…

As a writer whom desires to become better at his craft, I have decided on a new rule for this year: Write one page per day, no matter what. Even if I really don’t want to write, I commit myself to just one page. It’s very interesting where words can take you. You can sit down, think about one thing, then write a whole page about something else entirely. The inner world is vast and merely waiting to be explored. Yesterday I wrote the following sentence: “I describe myself as deranged, creative, and carnivorous.” That sentence turned into a three page short story about a young rock star struggling with fame. You just never know where one thing will lead.

Here is my page for today, 1/5/19:

The sun rises above the sleepy town, the shopping centers, the gas stations, the plain ocher fields, as the world turns, turns. I am sitting, back erect, in an office chair, writing about the rising sun. I don’t really want to write, but I force myself to sit, to concentrate, to try. It is almost mechanical, my fingers punching the keys. I am part writer, part machine. I take in the whole house as I write. The dog running around behind me. The sun beam shining through the window, making shadows upon face, arms, and hands. My woman wet and soapy in the bath. A part of me wants to strip naked and make love to her in there, with the soapy water splashing madly about the tub sides. But no, I am here, now, writing. Why do I do it? Because I am a writer, damn it. This is what I do. This is who I am.

I write about my obsessions. I am obsessed with the naked beauty of emotion and the body. I am obsessed with cursing at the fucking dog for continually running to the back door mat to be let out, even though I had just let her out, then back, then out, then back in again. I am obsessed with the rising sun, whose rising I know is merely an illusion. The sun never rises, it stands still as a Buddha. It is merely us, revolving for near eternity within the cold vacuum of space located somewhere in the Milky Way galaxy. I’m zooming out of my life: Earth orbits the bright, brilliant, average star. In between the holy sun and ourselves is Mercury and Venus, two inhospitable homes of seething heat. Beyond us, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, then the asteroid belt, then everything, everything.

Memories of being a little boy, being forced to memorize my address and phone number in Kindergarten school. They never thought to teach us our cosmic address: Planet Earth, third planet from the Sun, two-thirds away from Galactic Center of Milky Way. The universe is open and vast, just like the writer, just like me. Stars burn inside my brain, leaping wild and dancing across my sky of synapses. They burn in by buzzed brain, they burn in the oven of my heart, which bakes the stars, and leaves elemental cookies for a pantheon of hungry, evil Gods.

They burn until supernova, baby! I want to let it out. I want to let it pour, these stars within, now a white-hot lava into the chalice of the blank page. I want to wipe out petty villages, squander the resources of poor working farmers, start another war and have any survivors left pay for it with their money and their children’s bodies. Why not? Cruelty in broad brush strokes. If I were a painter I would be Jackson Pollock. Let those vibrant colors splitter and splatter upon the canvas, son! Let it fly! Whoop, whoop!

To write is to compose cosmic funerals. Explosions of mind, white hot smoldering lava, into the flood of the external universe. A writer’s agony becomes the reader’s agony. I want to do the Dukkha Dance, baby, with you, as I am vomiting out quasars, quarks, and anti-particles.

Alright, now, settle down! Grab another cup of coffee. Yell at the dog some more. Think about your girlfriend, wet, naked, soapy, oh yes. Put me in a suit of fine clothes. Set a high-top Stetson hat upon my head. Gold watch chains around my neck. Bury me with my garb and my many thousands of pages of writing. He was maniacal! He was insane. He was a writer, did you hear? He was a musician. He painted too, but none of it mattered. He liked it when the sun rose and the dog whined and when his girlfriend got naked. What do you think he likes now?

Dear God, let this man be graciously allowed into the Kingdom of Heaven, even though he spoke very poorly against it. Dear God, let the molten white lava of his stars become solidified into a marvelous, golden planet fit for creative souls. Dear God, do not let his stars become cool, safe milk. Dear God, why do you only answer with immaculate echoes of silence!

Today Am I a Barista, or a Philosopher?

I grab the gallon of 2% milk and pour some into a pitcher. Dipping the steel nozzle safely beneath the white surface, I rotate the knob which turns on the steam. A noise somewhat like a jet engine consumes the café. What was at first a soft murmuring of vowels, a vague linguistic portmanteau of customers chatting with one another, has turned into a deafening whine. Occasionally, I dip the nozzle further down, allowing little bubbles to leap up to the surface. Then I pull back up until just the very tip of the nozzle is touching the white. This creates a loud hissing sound, as if a hundred snakes had just slithered into the room. The milk moves in violent currents within the pitcher, undulating in tiny whirlpools.

One would hate to somehow become the size of a fly and be caught inside the pitcher. One can imagine the steadily building, suffocating heat, the deafening noise of the steam being interjected into the whirling froth. The noise builds, a sort of Doppler Effect, as if the jet were approaching instead of taking off. The tiny red needle inside the thermometer jiggles rapidly and the temp climbs in regular increments. 100 degrees, 110, 120, 130… Soon the jet noise reaches its climax and rests at a flat rumble. 145 degrees is the designated temp for all hot beverages in the coffee shop. I rotate the knob to its off position and take away the hot pitcher, making sure to hold it firmly by its handle. I do not want to burn myself. Again.

I pour the steamed milk, its texture like wet paint, into the cardboard cup with four ounces of espresso at its bottom. The creamy, tan darkness of the espresso mingles with the paleness of the milk, like two forces conjoining. An image of the Tao flashes in my brain. I begin to ponder the intricate dance of the two liquids, becoming enraptured by all those intricacies known only through the laws of physics.

I place a black, plastic lid atop the cup, lifting up on it once just to be sure it is in place. How easy it is to put on a cracked lid, causing a customer to spill it on themselves. Or for me to hand it over to them, only to have much of the beverage run down upon my fingers in one blistering moment of pain.

I hand the latte to a middle-aged woman with owl spectacles and long, curly grey hair. She says, ‘thank you’ in a sweet tiny voice, like a mouse, and walks out the front entrance. I am thinking that I’d forgotten to add the vanilla flavoring she’d asked for. I can be so mindless, so stupid, sometimes. But, now she is out the door and getting into her car. I watch as the Jeep pulls out of the lot and onto the main road. I take what little milk is left in the pitcher and dump it into a nearby sink. The steam rises into the air and I think of everything as being the same, as being steam. This world, the entire universe, and especially our very lives, seems susceptible to absolute evaporation.

This is, of course, not so much a moral standpoint for one to take, as much as it is a basic law of physics. Within the bounds of every life, there is always a phase change. What was once suspected as something solid, inevitably transforms into a vague, cosmic vapor; a mish-mash of excited particles.

All souls rise, and dissimulate into the balance of nothingness.

Love in the New Year (Short Story)

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

Love in the New Year, 2019

On New Year’s Eve, Kimberly and Annie were sitting on the couch playing Mario on the Nintendo Switch. I sat in the adjacent rocking chair, spinning records and downing glass after glass of red wine. First I spun some Traveling Wilburys, then The Beatles’ Let It Be, Surrealistic Pillow by Jefferson Airplane, Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II, and to cap it all off, one of John Prine’s very best, 1973’s Sweet Revenge.

“You want to go out to the Muddy Cantina for a bit? Christa and Toby are going to be there tonight.” asked Kimberly.

“Sure,” I said, gulping down the last of the wine. “Why not?”

Christa and Toby are new friends of ours. We’d only just met them in the first week of December, at a neighbor’s birthday party. As couples, we have a few things in common. Christa and Toby are ten years apart in age – as is Kimberly and I, but plus one more. Toby and I are the younger ones. We tend to prefer older women. Our girlfriends, favorably for us, happen to like younger men.

Annie suddenly set aside the Nintendo controller, and with tears in her eyes, said she didn’t want us going out. We bribed her with Dairy Queen ice cream, to which Annie was quite amicable – after all, what ten year old passes up an ice cream blizzard from DQ?

Kimberly and I polished off the last of our bottle of Jägermeister and headed out into the last, frigid night of December.

We entered the side door of the Muddy and immediately spotted Toby sitting at a table in front several six-packs of beer. Toby is an alcohol sales rep and tonight is his night to do some business. Seeing that he was occupied with giving a pitch to somebody, we took a seat at the bar and ordered some Jaig-bombs.

“Double shots, please,” said Kimberly.

The old bartender nodded and brought us the shots. Kimberly paid in cash. We downed the stiff, black liquor and red bull, then walked over to Toby. His wife, Christa, joined us now. Christa has short blonde hair, round glasses, and like her husband, retains a rather plump figure.

“How are you guys tonight?” Christa asked.

“Doing great!” said Kimberly.

“Making a lot of sales tonight, Toby?” I asked.

He frowned, brushing his curly hair away from his glasses.

“Not so much, I’m afraid.”

“Agh! That’s a bummer, dude,” Kimberly said.

We sat there and chatted at their table for about an hour while Trandy Blue, a musician, performed in the far corner of the restaurant. I had never seen Trandy perform before, but she was quite good. She played guitar and sang many classic rock tunes; standards like Blue Bayou and Bobbie Magee. She sang them with an apt passion.

Kimberly and I got back at the bar, ordered another round of double-shots. Kimberly looked over at Trandy for a bit, then returned her gaze to me.
“You should talk to her,” she said. “Maybe she can introduce you to the owner, get you in for a gig.”

“Nah,” I said. “That’s okay. I’d rather spend my time writing, I think.”

Kimberly shrugged and ordered another round. Down the hatch! We ambled back over to Christa and Toby’s table. We talked about Stephen King novels, fantasy fiction, our favorite musicians, things of that nature. Kimberly’s cell rang from inside her purse. She picked it up.

“Hi, honey.”

I could hear a faint, “Hi,” at the other end. It was Annie.

“We’re going to be home very soon, okay?”

“That’s okay. You guys have fun. I’m just playing Zelda.”

“Aw, that’s very sweet of you, Annie. We’ll be home soon anyway though, okay?”

“Okay.”

“’Kay. I love you!”

“Love you, too. Bye!”

Kimberly stuck out her bottom lip, playfully.

“She’s such a sweetheart! She said for us to stay and have a good time.”

“Aww,” said Christa. “Well, that’s very nice.”

We continued chatting, acquiring interesting facts about our newfound friends and, very drunk now, I began grabbing for the New Year’s Day balloons that were attached to the tables. I pulled them down by their plastic red strings and bit into them with my teeth, sucking as much helium as I could into my lungs.

Welcome to the Lolly Pop Guild, the Lolly Pop Guild, the Lolly Pop Guild!” I squeaked.

Kimberly giggled. Then she took one of the balloons down herself and inhaled the helium, saying funny things. A few of the waitresses began eyeing us disapprovingly. I had the feeling we were behaving like a gaggle of mischievous children. A grin grew upon my face at the thought.

After a few more balloons were popped and robbed of their helium, Kimberly and I said our goodbyes to Christa and Toby. We stopped at the bar and had a last round of shots. Then we drove the short mile home and put Annie to bed. It was about 11:00PM and she was quite tired because her usual bedtime is 8:30.

I felt dizzy and drunk. I began raiding the fridge for food to fill my stomach. A large dill pickle. A hard-boiled egg. A cold hot dog. Kimberly witnessed me raiding the fridge and laughed. I sliced up a bit of sausage and chewing it, said, “Blech! It tastes dry and old. This is how I imagine Claudette would taste like!”

Claudette is our pet cat, a rotund orange tabby.

“Ha-ha! You’re so silly,” she said.

We went into the bedroom and laid down upon the bed. The lamp on my bedside table lit the room with a soft glow.

“I love you so very much,” I said. “I’m very happy to be spending another year with you.”

“Me too, honey. I couldn’t ask for a better man. I love you, too.”

We kissed and snuggled up next to each other’s warm bodies. Within minutes, she began to sleep. I was a bit too dizzy to sleep and felt as if I might be sick. I decided to go into the bathroom and run a warm shower. Showers always tend to calm me and make me feel better – especially when I have drunk too many spirits.

I sat in the tub with the warm shower cascading down upon my head. I imagine I was sitting in a spring rain. I stared vacantly, mouth half open, watching the water circle into a little whirl pool and drop down into the drain. The clock struck midnight on January 1st, 2019 and I wasn’t even aware of it. After about half an hour of this, I stood up, groaned, shut off the shower, and dried off with a blue bath towel.

I went to bed stark naked with the vague hope that Kimberly would discover my nudity at some point in the night and I would get lucky.

At 5:00 AM, I awoke with a slight headache. I felt chilly, so cuddled up next to Kimberly. She, too, was awake. I began running my hand softly over her body, lifting up her shirt, fondling her breasts, rolling my thumb over her nipples, causing the to become erect, then dipping my fingers to her stomach and down to her bush, then around and up her back, her neck, back down to her breasts, etc. Kimberly loves it when I touch her so delicately.

Soon we were having a spectacular bout of love making. We came to a powerful climax and, breathing heavily, Kimberly said, “Happy New Year, honey.”

“Happy New Year, indeed,” I replied.

At 7:00 AM I was sitting in my car, parked in the back lot of the coffee shop. I was supposed to be opening the store that morning, but my co-worker was nowhere in sight and I was locked out. I cranked the heat to the max, read a book and waited. At 7:35, Kelly’s car drove up in the space next to mine. She ran to the door, took out her set of keys, and rushed in.

“Damn,” I said.

I was hoping she wouldn’t show. Then I could just go home and call my boss. “I’m locked out so I can’t work today!” I would tell him. But, alas, I turned off my engine and entered the back of the café. The shift was a short one that New Year’s Day. Just six hours. In and out. No big deal.

It felt so strange putting all the chairs up on the tables at just one in the afternoon. Nonetheless, I was glad about it. I went home, and since Annie was at a friend’s house for a few hours, Kimberly and I made love – this time on the couch.

I started by massaging her feet with lotion, then working up to her calves, her thighs. I removed her underwear with my teeth.

“Want a tongue massage, Kimberly?” I asked.
Oh yes, indeed, she wanted one.

Soon she was giving me a tongue massage too. Then she was on top of me, rocking me as I held her full breasts, bringing them to my mouth. She looks like a goddess up there, her glorious body bobbing rhythmically up and down. There is a heavenly eternity in that rhythm. Yet another wonderful, Earth-quaking orgasm was achieved on both accounts.

What more can I say other than that 2019 is shaping up to be very fine year? I am surrounded with love. I hope the same for you too, dear reader, in whatever year or time you may be reading this.

At home in the mid-west at 7:30PM, on January 1st, 2019.

 

***

Ponderings: Identity, Solitude, Acting and Bad Writing.

In the play of the world, we are all God’s third-rate characters.

*

The best things about America, for me, is probably free speech and Denny’s Diner. The worst things are rampant stupidity and the Biblical Creation Museum located in Petersburg, KY – two coincided elements, obviously.

*

I am prey to my dreams and my obsessions, as all artists are.

*

I am an actor in all things I do. I am an actor playing at writer right now. I’m becoming very adept at playing the part.

*

Solitude centers me. It is like prayer, like confession. It brings me back to my Self at its primal essence. When I am alone, I rediscover both whom I am and whom I might be.

*

Identity is like a shattered mirror. Each bit of glass reflects a different aspect of who we are. When the mirror is taken in all at once, Picasso’s paintings are revealed as accurate reflections of being human.

*

There is Life and Death and in between is Time. These are the primal elements in the strange experience of being human.

*

For every ambition gained, we can lose sight of what we have. We can become ungrateful. Ambition is the desire to attain things we do not have – things we value just as much, if not more, than the things we do have. It could be said that I’m an ambitious man. Greedy for life.

*

At times, I write such trite! Such nonsense. But, that is OK. I give myself permission to write nonsense. Yet there is a sense of shame which lingers over writers when they know they’ve composed tactless art.

*

A good writer is a continuously expanding universe; he is open and vast.

*

There is a difference between being soft and being sensitive. One is a weakness, an ailment, a cowardice. The other is a heightening of the senses, an intoxication with life, an artist’s condition.

Hello, 2019.

The New Year, what I consider to be a somewhat arbitrary calendar event, is steadily approaching. My beloved family is in the living room, making friendship bracelets and playing Zelda on Nintendo Switch. I, of course, am at the keyboard, typing away like always. Looking down at my word count for this year, it reads as such:

115, 445 words.

They just keep coming to me, these gregarious words. You might say I have the “gift of gab”, at least when it comes to the written page. I guess all writers have this gift. It is a lovely gift to have.

That isn’t to say that I have not had to work to earn this gift. The ability to write did not come to me at birth — no, not at all. Like everyone else, I have had to learn and practice how to compose sentences. I have put many hours into my 115,000+ words. I am still learning and practicing and always will be. I wonder what things I may write in the next year, which is now?

I argue that next year is now because since when does tomorrow ever come? It comes today, right now at this very moment, because it is all we have.

I am inclined to believe calendar dates and concepts like North, South, East, and West are merely arbitrary distinctions created out of a human, psychological need for order and comfort. Nothing is so wrong with that, except that it is easy to lose track of what is really true, for what is merely just comfortable for us to believe. Viewed from the distance of space, planet Earth orbits a star in an infinite universe and does not appear to have such useful divisions upon its blue-green surface.

In any case, the New Year has approached, and it is here, Right Now. What do people do at these kinds of things? Oh, yes. They say – Happy New Year!

What immediately comes to mind in this New Year is that I love my family. I adore them to the bright, brilliant stars and beyond. I know that’s a cliché, but isn’t it the case that clichés nearly always begin in a bit of truth?

Clickity-click-clack goes the keyboard, whose sound brings me an alive and idiotic sense of joy. I find that writing brings my life a sense of purpose and happiness. So, clickity-clack I go.

I raise a bottle to you, friend and reader. May your days be ever brighter, starting right now, at this very moment.

Sincerely,

Tylor M.

The Walker (Short Story)

I’m walking along a barren road at sunset. All around me are hills and fields cast in a golden light. A mangled corpse of what was once a man lies beside the road. Crows land and pick at his intestines. I am glad.

A crowd of people gather around the body. They are dressed in traditional, 19th century clothing. They must all belong to a nearby Amish farm, I am thinking. They are crying, on their knees, praying to the Lord above. A woman approaches me and, noticing that I am not praying, nor shedding tears, asks if I am at least feeling compassion for this poor, murdered man.

“No,” I said. “He was my enemy and I am glad that he is dead!”

Tears stream down her ruddy cheeks. She adjusts her white bonnet, falls to her knees, and, lips quivering, folds her hands in prayer. I continue walking down the road, with the horses and carriages sitting off to the side. A cold wind whines through the trees, past the field, and chills my cheeks. I give a last look back, peering at the bloody carrion that was once a human being. I wonder why I had such hatred for this man, this man I never knew. What exactly had happened to him? Who had struck him and then carried on as if nothing mattered? Who could do that?

Then I knew. It was me. I was the man who had struck him, who had nodded frankly at the supposed rightfulness of his death, and who had continued on, meaninglessly, down this road.

This dreadful road, called Samsara, I am still walking. The sun sets eternally, but never sets. I am walking down this narrow way, this dire path of forever.

I become mindful of my each step, and I think, what if I did fall to my knees? What if I did fold my hands, and, like an idiot, prayed to the empty yellow sky above? What if I did? And what of it?

My heart began to palpitate, and, with my whole body shaking in ecstasy, I walked back to the grim scene of prayer. I knelt down beside the people, my people, and I wept, wept, wept.

My tears ran off my cheeks and cascaded down upon my folded hands. I murmured sweet offerings, tender protections, and compassions.

The people’s hands all fell to their knees and they turned to me, slowly. And in their teary eyes I saw not sorrow, not grief, not compassion, but joy – pure, sweet, and eternal joy. I became overjoyed with bliss.

The golden evening light suddenly faded and turned dark. The bright, fiery stars burned in the heavens and I knew that we, all of us, are golden. We are bright, we are stars burning like holy torches in an eternity of dark, and we, too, as much as Hell, can be of Heaven.

If we choose.

 

For the Love of Books (Reading in 2018).

Reading is a wonderful thing. To crack open a book and be able to read it is the veritable gateway to being an active participant in the intellectual, creative, and imaginary life of the world. There are few things sweeter.

It’s been a year of tremendous exploration for me. What does your reading list look like? Are there any books you would like to read in the upcoming year? Are your library fines paid up yet?

Here are the Books I’ve read in 2018.

  • The Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller
  • The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto by Mitch Albom
  • Kingdom of Fear by Hunter S. Thompson
  • The Portable Henry Rollins by Henry Rollins
  • A Preferred Blur: Reflections, Inspections and Travel in All Directions by Henry Rollins.
  • Imperial America by Gore Vidal
  • Death of the Liberal Class by Chris Hedges
  • Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance by Noam Chomsky
  • The Communist Manifesto by Marx & Engels
  • Dreaming War by Gore Vidal
  • Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  • Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace by Gore Vidal
  • Inventing a Nation by Gore Vidal
  • Wisdom of the Buddha: The Unabridged Dhammapada
  • How to Be a Stoic by Massimo Pugliucci
  • Tao Te Ching by Lau Tzu (RB lakney translation)
  • The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays by albert Camus
  • Reel Terror by David Konow
  • Interviews with Henry Miller
  • The Power of now by Eckhart Tolle
  • Stand Still Like the Humming Bird by Henry Miller
  • The Hearth of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Zen Keys by Thich Nhat Hanh
  • A Profound Mind by Dalai Lama
  • The Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra
  • Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein
  • A Universe From Nothing: Why There is Something Rather Than Nothing by Lawrence Krauss
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson
  • The Meaning of it All by Richard Feynman
  • Uncertainty: Einstein, Heisenberg, Bohr and the Struggle for the Soul of Science by David Lumley
  • A Man Without A Country by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Good Without God by Greg Epstein
  • Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankel
  • The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
  • Desperation by Stephen King
  • The Ascent of Man by Jacob Bronowski
  • The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
  • The Air Conditioned Nightmare by Henry Miller
  • Quiet Days in Clichy by Henry Miller
  • Hocus Pocus by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Existentialism is a Humanism by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Talking With Sartre: Debates and Interviews by Gerassi
  • The Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump Whitehouse
  • At the Existentialist Café by Kate Blackmore
  • A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
  • The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer
  • Willow River Writers Anthology 2018
  • Baudelaire by Jean-Paul Sartre
  • In Favor of the Sensitive Man & Other Essays by Anais Nin
  • Civilization and Its Discontents by Sigmund Freud
  • Diary of Anais Nin: Vol. 1: 1931-1934
  • Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  • Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg
  • The Stranger by Albert Camus

 

Then there were plenty of books which I’ve started but never finished. I have a rule: If I’m not intrigued by the first 20 pages, I put it down. Bad TV can at least be entertaining. A bad book, though, is unredeemable – especially if it is boring.

These books have nurtured me and taught me many lessons. They have been indispensable to my creative livelihood. I am very excited for all the books I may discover in the upcoming year.

I often like to tell people that I value my library card far more than my driver’s license. Driving on public roads may be a privilege, but reading (and writing) is a human right. Or, at least, it ought to be.

I like to think of it this way, sometimes:

Books are a life support system for the mind. A library is a mental hospital. The reader is the ailed patient. The authors are our doctors, our healers, our cerebral nutritionists. For maximum health, I advise one to read, read, read…

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.

Reading & Writing…in the Bathroom.

I have just relocated my writing place from the dining room to the bathroom. The results of this transition have been wonderful. There are many good reasons for writing in the bathroom. Among the most important is that it is a place of privacy. No one is allowed to bother another if he or she is in the privy, even if they know taking a dookie is not what you’re doing in there.

Best thing to do is grab a TV dinner tray and set it up in front of the throne. Place all your writing artifacts on there. Pens, paper, notes, laptop, and so on. Then, you sit down and get to work! While writing from the toilet, one may be sure never to take themselves too seriously. By not taking ourselves seriously, we avoid the all-too-common mistake of being pretentious. This will open up the door to composing real literature.

Now, it may be the case that someone, a family member perhaps, will need to use the bathroom at the most inconvenient time — while you are in the midst of your work. The best thing to do here is to ignore them. If the person banging on the door becomes too distracting, just tell them to go away. They will simply have to water the bush outside, use a neighbor’s bathroom, or else be patient and wait until you are truly finished writing for the day.

Eventually, a writer may have to take a break from composing in order to practice some composting. In this event, there should be no problem. Simply pull your pants down and your sleeves up. Keep writing. Preferably flush when done. Spray some Febreze if you feel like it. Orange or Lemongrass scented shall do just fine. Ker-plunk! and onward.

The toilet is a wonderful place for reading as well. I believe the ultimate test of a book’s literary worth is to read it while committing a bowel movement. If one feels somehow ashamed or not worthy of the words on the page while doing such a natural activity, then chances are the book is pretentious, self-righteous, and/or otherwise banal. In this case, it is best to put the book down and never look back. If, however, we find the book to be profound or enjoyable, chances are that it is a very good book indeed and one should continue reading it.

This article has been one of many I have written in my bathroom. In the case that you are reading this in your own bathroom, I can only hope that it has stood to the test.

Writing: A Happy Rage

I adore the sound the keys make as my fingers punch them down. It makes me think of little bullets being fired. The more passionate I am during my writing, the more rapid the fire. A busy writer can make the sound of a tiny machine gun. Pew, pew, pew, pew, pew, pew!

Within the rapture of creative flow and inspiration, one experiences the power of an instantaneous, inner-flowering. Writing is an exulted, open and happy rage.

Pew, pew, pew!