One of the most horrible features of war is that all the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.George Orwell, Diaries - April 1, 1942
Isabelle Dequenne’s great-great-grandfather (or, if you prefer, her arrière-arrière-grand-père) Frédéric Dequenne was an Alsatian winemaker and a perceived Protestant. In 1871, the Prussian Otto von Bismarck besieged Paris, reduced Europe’s most epicurean diners to eating dogs, cats, rats, and flowers, and subsequently annexed Alsace-Lorraine for Germany. Not wishing to be German, Frédéric fled Alsace and settled among distant relatives in the Manche department of Normandy in the village of Pont-Bocage. Upon arriving in Normandy, Frédéric abandoned his perceived Protestantism, converted to a perceived Catholicism, and began distilling brandy. As a point of curiosity, Frédéric brought with him a Swedish wife named Karin Cecilia. No one knows how they met, only that she was young and beautiful, he was handsome, and there was a boat to Denmark involved. From the Brechard branch of the family Frédéric bought land that sat on the edge of the marshes beneath Pont-Bocage and called the farm Chez Marais, where he planted an orchard of apple trees and established a herd of dairy cows. Frédéric ingratiated himself among the local citizenry and by the time Isabelle was born fifty years later, the insular villagers were cautiously contemplating the possibility of perhaps thinking of maybe recognizing the …Read more →
Story guru Lisa Cron recently wrote an excellent article for Writer Unboxed, Don’t Accidentally Give Your Characters a Time Out, where she asked the question: Where do your characters go when they aren’t in the scene you’re writing? Although the answer seems obvious (“Well, they’re doing stuff”), I realized I hadn’t fully considered the question and that I was probably as guilty as anyone about ignoring my little babies one they exited the stage. The good news: they say that half the battle is knowing, so once I knew I was guilty of character-neglect, I took action. I decided to work out what had happened to my novel’s citizens thus far and see what trajectories they were on – and what actions they’ll take as a result – while offstage, and then see how that exercise impacted the overall narrative of the story.
I started with Isabelle’s godfather, Vincent Auvray. (Isabelle is the protagonist of The Gospel of Isabelle Dequenne.)
I‘ve recently started meditating in the mornings. I find that it calms my ADHD-powered rocket-brain and helps me get an even-keeled start on the day. It’s just simple mindfulness meditation—nothing too exotic or sexy – although I will admit to burning incense and turning on the red and black lights in the Rock and Roll Room to create a space different from The Everyday World. I’ve found that sometimes while I’m meditating—usually about twenty minutes in, if it happens at all—I get some rather odd, but peaceful, sensations floating around inside my head.
So this morning I was doing my thing, perched cross-legged on two stacked pillows, wrists resting on my knees, a black light dazzling the Jimi Hendrix poster hung on the wall behind me (no, I’m not joking), when I sort of felt my brain start to hum. Just thrumming away in its little bone-lined Continue Reading →
Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
I went to the Lez Zeppelin show at the State Theatre a few nights ago expecting to hear some tasty Zeppelin (as I always do when Lez Zep plays) and what I came away with was the revelation that rock and roll is the.single.greatest.thing every invented by humankind.
No, I’m not joking about that. It’s fine if you disagree. You’re still wrong.
Yes, potable water is keen, and indoor plumbing is groovy, and smartphones and the Intarwebs are pretty awesome, but what expresses everything it is to be human with more passion, energy, and honesty than rock and roll? I’ll tell you: nothing.
Rock and roll – real rock and roll created and performed by artists, not schlock created in a masturbatory paint-by-numbers effort to make money (those bands know who they are) – real rock music comes from that place just south of your stomach and a little north of your fun bits and expresses everything about what it is to be human, which I maintain is the highest Continue Reading →
I wasn’t a huge Bowie fan. I mean, I liked his music, but I wasn’t a rhapsodic fan like my friend Tom Finberry. But I admired his daring, his sense of style, his guts, and his not-give-a-shittery. End of story, the man was an artist. And that’s what I appreciated about David Bowie – and what separates him and other artists from inconsequential dreck like the Nickelbacks of the world. (One can never whip Nickelback enough.) Because no matter what your opinion of Bowie’s music – whether or not you loved it, were indifferent to it, or hated it was immaterial – there was no denying the man was an artist with kaleidoscopic visions who was hell-bent on expressing every one of them. There was passion and emotion and energy and humanity exploding out of every pore of the guy. It takes guts and talent and hard work to do what Bowie did. (“Oh, really?” you say. Well, would you walk around in public shirtless with an electrified orange mullet and a giant lightning bolt drawn across your face? Exactly. We are cowards all.) Now compare Bowie to the aforementioned dreck, which simply figured out a formula of sounds that will make money. (I have no idea why people go batshit for that stuff, but they do. “Here, take my Continue Reading →
Today I am a writer. A writer with a day job, but a writer nonetheless.
I’m not one to define a person by their work or their occupation. Never have been. I believe that people are far more complex and multi-faceted…too nuanced and with too many sedimentary layers piled up on the seabed of their soul…to define them by the work they do to pay the rent and put new Nikes on the kids. I certainly never want to be defined by my day job. I’m not a Business Continuity Manager or a Change Management Manager or a network engineer any more than I was a fisherman when I worked on salmon boats in Alaska. Whether or not I was masquerading as a fisherman (or a Business Continuity Manager or a Change Management Manager or a network engineer) is debatable, but commercial fishing was never who I was. It was something I did in order to pull together the money to support the person I did define myself as at that time: a traveler.