Archive for Reading

I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues

Adair,

If there is one thing I know about myself, it’s what I can’t do. The list is long and includes welding, drawing, tailoring, Russian folk dancing, and writing jokes in Braille. I’m not great at making lists either, but it seems odd to mention that now.

I’m accomplished in a very finite definition of the word. I excel at using grandiose words to describe my leviathan-esque inferiority complex, but I have trouble spelling my own name. I’m okay with these facts, because I have done many of the things I want to do in life, and I’m working towards others.

But for all my attempts at humor and striving towards some sort of excellence, I know I do lack certain skills. Some, like cooking, I’ve managed to pick up and become competent. But there are some skills that either age, inclination, time commitment, or another excuse have kept me from pursuing. And one such unobtained skill haunts me above all others.

I wish I could play piano.

I sing like I’m trying, I read music like a toddler, but I still perform a fair amount. But I have never had the patience or the diligence to acquire any real level of piano proficiency. This is much to the chagrin of my various piano teachers over the years. Oh yes, it is not opportunity or specialist training I lack, but the wherewithal to focus in an academic setting to master a skill. Because who likes practicing, am I right?

I am reminded of another hack, Kanye West. The man cannot sing, but he still wanted to make music. I can’t play, but I want to make music. If bands still had “front men” I might be in luck. And if I never compared myself to Kanye again, I might actually get ahead in life. But here I sit, barely able to hit the right keys on a laptop, and counting black keys when I find a key signature in a song.

If I could, I’d play the entire Billy Joel catalog. And if I get my life together, over the next 50 years I could get there. But I had a couple shots at gaining skill at piano playing, and I wasted them. This is par for the course of my life, but something I am actively trying to correct as we speak.

Some day, I may play Root Beer Rag with the greatest of ease, but it is not today or tomorrow or five years from now. The truth is I should be a piano player and I am not. But someday I might be better, I might push harder, I may even play a song I love and sing along as if I had been doing it for years. Today, I hunt and peck around middle C and sing songs nice and loud.

Plunking out his part,

-Dan

I’ve Been Failing You

Dear Adair,

So much is going right for me this year. I’ve reached a new level of creative involvement with my peers, new opportunities after a few years of stagnation. So many new things are happening that giving the rundown of “what’s new” to people I don’t see on a regular basis has become a monologue listing these projects. But, this is only half the story.

I am involved with a lot of projects, but I am failing at even more. Half finished scripts, ideas only outlined, a rewrite badly needed, an audition blown off, and a Shakespeare monologue I really need to memorize, are just some of the items in my unfinished business folder.

Just since I started writing this post, I have checked Facebook, looked at The Black List, researched a film financing company and texted my sister. Should I have just sat here and finished this piece? Absolutely. But my attention is something that can be captured or even held for any long period of time (expect by stories of importance and science of all kinds).  My mind can create at the speed of thought, but my thoughts rattle around and trap me in a cycle of thought, attempt, failure and distraction. Rinse and repeat over the last twenty years.

I struggle on a daily basis to make my ideas manifest. Sometimes, my fingers fly and the words fall in the right order and the idea makes it through to the page. A thought comes from my head and into the world and like a demon being driven from my body, I’m freed from the unyielding locomotive of my own consciousness. And sometimes, I watch cartoons and make a sandwich because it is easier than trying to live up to the spark of creativity that won’t shut up for five minutes.

I would say that I’m getting better. And with smaller, more easily created projects and ideas, I am. The poems that used to clog my mind and prevent my sleep are safely in my hard drive. The TV series that would span ten seasons and end with with a roar is still a one page outline, but progress is progress. Every day when I hit the keys and let my mind seep onto the pages of something that may never live beyond the binary coded tomb of my expelled ideas, I am better for it. But those days are hard fought.

I failed to write every day this year. I’ve failed to finish my novel, or even share my play with anyone. But I did start a production company and launch a podcast. I have written thirty poems. And I’ve begun many new and interesting ventures that I can’t wait to share with the world. And if I can keep trying and succeeding to bring some ideas to life, I might one day push myself to having more days like today, where my mind makes the words happen in real life.

Getting better (I hope),

-Dan

Ahhhh Good Country

Dan,

As I write this I’m sitting at a picnic table under a tin roof, it’s June but the rain is pouring on the tiny farm I’m spending my weekend at.  The air smells like wood smoke and bacon and it’s so quiet except for the white noise of the rain flooding the field beyond the farm.

It’s stunning here, so green and peaceful.  And lucky me that my only task for this time away is to write.  I’ve been slacking lately when it comes to giving myself time to write, letting life become too hectic and only giving myself time for the scheduled work rather than trying to grow and expand with this thing that I love to do.

I’ve felt a bit unsure of my path lately, what to do and where I’m going.  Too busy to take inventory of all that I’ve done and all that I want to do.  I’m a driven person, I thrive on goals, but sometimes I’m so focused on meeting my self-made deadlines that I forget to enjoy the life I’ve built.

But right now it’s quiet and I’m listening to my own breathing as I watch fog cover the hills around me.  I’m sitting protected on my little bench under this roof in a place that gives off the smell of wet pine. I am happy here, I’m writing poems for pleasure and for projects.  I’m filling up a notebook with quotes and letters and I feel accomplishment as the number of scribbled upon pages grow.

I think it’s hard to stop and think on our lives as we are trying so desperately to live them to the fullest.  We are traveling and learning and attempting to grow into those people we would love to be.  But as we run around checking off items on mental lists, how often are we pausing to write about traffic patterns or subway train rides or even the sound of rain falling on a roof.

My realization out here is that I want to spend time listening for bird songs, staring at the paths of slugs and feeling rain on my fingers.  I want to take time for writing and see it as something without a deadline, a continual project with no end in site.

Rain drenched and happy,

Adair

 

The Book of Love

Dan,

Summer is edging closer it would seem and with it comes my favorite time of year, book season. Yes I know our reading habits are not limited to the summer but I feel like enjoying a book is easiest when inhabiting a sunny patch of grass or sand around Seattle. As you mentioned, we are book people and so what better time to share a favorite title with you then at the start of these warm literature filled months.

Surprisingly I don’t own the book I’m suggesting to you but don’t let this fool you, I loved it and wish I had read it more than once through the last few years. No you will probably not gain any skill as a writer from reading it but I can promise you a unique insight into infatuated love, I know you’re on the edge of your seat now.

The book is a collection of love letters between F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald entitled “Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda.” I know it’s not the typical type of literature that comes to mind when you discuss the topic of non-fiction but this book changed me. I borrowed it at a time when I was at my lowest and needed inspiration and was wishing for guidance out of my own tumultuous experience and this book delivered.

The love between F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald was complicated from start to finish; the letters in this book are filled with longing, obsession, creative struggle and mental illness. No their love was not one I envy, it was tragic despite the passion and adoration. But it brought to light something I was struggling to see in my own sadness.

This book showed me that inspiration is everywhere, struggle could help build my story and frustration could fuel my creativity.   I could use this emotion to let myself grow rather than allow the feelings to bury me.

The book is not a happy one, you see the deterioration of bright and beautiful lovers but if you hold it up to Fitzgerald’s work you can’t help but be impressed with what he made of his own tragedies and labors. This collection showed me that we all have our obstacles, and it’s our choice what we make of them and how we let it effect our art.

Jumping Hurdles,

Adair