The Barrels of Your Skull

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We never have a problem coming up with ideas for our stories. As Taylor correctly points out in another post, sometimes we have too many ideas for our own good. Nevertheless, there’s never a shortage of imagination and inspiration. Writer’s block is non-existent around here. The main reason for this is we’re inspired by true masters of the pen. I’m not talking about Stephen King or Shakespeare, although I take nothing away from either.

We are always inspired by true lyrical masters. I’m talking about the artists, poets and writers of another medium.

Try this on for size: “He knows just where to touch you, honey, and how you like to be kissed. He’ll put both his arms around you; you can feel the tender touch of the beast.” These lines were written by Bob Dylan, one of the preeminent poets of the 20th century. The words are lyrics to the song, Man Of Peace from Dylan’s 1983 album, Infidels.

These words inspire the visual artist and the writer alike. People try to decipher a deeper meaning behind the lyrics of Dylan, but I say, why? Enjoy the picture he’s painted with his words and use the words to inspire and motivate yourself. Consider these:

“But all the while I was alone. The past was close behind.” Hmm, “The past was close behind.” Simple, but powerful lyrics from the song, Tangled Up In Blue on Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks album.

“…Shakespeare, he’s in the alley with his pointed shoes and his bells, speaking to some French girl, who says she knows me well.” Picture that. These lyrics come from a song with a provocative title, Stuck Inside Of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again, from Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde.

Some will suggest there are better examples of Dylan I could use. On this point, that doesn’t matter. Two people could argue Dylan for days. After all, it’s inspiration, nothing more complicated that that. Get your inspiration from wherever you want. Bob Dylan’s lyrics are sometimes deep, sometimes fun, but they still motivate and inspire.

So, what about more contemporary artists, you ask? They write good stuff, too, you say. First, I agree. I can (and probably will later) give you many examples of contemporary artists that inspire us. Second, you read this far because you’re learning stuff you didn’t know.

One last point, from Dylan’s Man of Peace: “Well, he can be fascinating, he can be dull; he can ride down Niagara Falls in the barrels of your skull.”

That’s badass.

Long Distance Loneliness

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“There’s a long-distance loneliness rolling out over the desert floor.” Credit prolific songwriter Jackson Browne in his song, The Fuse, from his album, The Pretender. With this painting of emotion, the pen becomes the brush, the mind is the canvas. With but one line, an emotion, a feeling is painted.

“A long-distance loneliness.” It’s beautiful, it’s immense, and it’s depressing all at once.

It’s a challenge when one attempts to resolve the dilemma of the greater of two artists – the one whose canvas is transformed with the brush, and the other, who uses words to stir the senses.

Pictures bring feelings. Sadness, romance, and elation. That magnificent painting of the waterfall with the calm pool beneath, takes you away. Put yourself into the picture, drenching yourself in the icy water, hiding behind the massive liquid sheet, falling asleep in the sunlit afternoon on the bank of the sandy shore by that waterfall.

Question to myself: Where can the visual artist take me that the writer cannot? Is it enough to paint the cave in the shadows? Does the visual artist take me into the cave, or does my own imagination? In the scene of the cabin in the woods, surrounded by a winter wonderland, do I feel the warmth of the fire because of the light I see in the window and the smoke emanating from the chimney? Does my mind take me there and supply the warmth?

Does the painting on the canvas move my psyche? Is it true that I need to have experienced warmth to imagine it? Do I need to know snow to feel the cold? Is it the viewer who brings the canvas to life, or the artist?

So to the visual artist, and I am one myself, I challenge you to paint the cold without showing me the snow. Paint the warmth of the cozy fire in the cabin without showing me the fire. Paint the wet of the waterfall and the depth of the valley and the height of the mountain. Yes, the visual artist can do these things and more.

This all begs the question: How does the visual artist paint the “long-distance loneliness rolling out over the desert floor?”

How indeed?

Stacks of Notes

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notes to posts

“Write that down.”
“It sucks.”
“Write it down anyway. We might use it.”
“I had this really bizarre dream last night.”
“Did you write it down?”
“Of course. I didn’t want to suffer the wrath.”
“What, like I’m a slave driver?”
“Did you write down that dream you told us about last month?”
“I pieced it together.”
“They say you should write down your dreams as soon as you wake from them. Even if it’s the middle of the night.”
“Why? I remembered it.”
“Because it’s fresher in your mind. You’d be more likely to get all the details.”
“Well, I filled in with some stuff I made up. It was still good.”
“I was thinking about the book today. I was thinking instead of having that scene at the school, maybe we should make it at a player’s house.”
“Or with the punks.”
“Punks with a capital ‘P’.”
“Of course, that’s what I meant.”
“I’m thinking the school thing should be out anyway.”
“Maybe, but the players, at least most of them, are school age.”
“It could be summer vacation. It doesn’t have to be during school.”
“Sure. That would free them up to do more stuff. We wouldn’t have to keep saying, ‘…after school the next day…’ or wait till the weekend for something to happen, or for someone to do something.”
“Write that down.”
“I’m way ahead of you.”

Who said what? It doesn’t matter.

We had a stack of notes. The notes were an archive of blood, sweat and cheers. We wrote so much down on paper – sticky note paper, spiral-bound notebooks, printer paper, colored construction paper. We never used napkins, they rip too easily. We tapped so many notes into our phones, our tablets, our laptops. We installed and uninstalled so many different note-taking apps, we lost count.

There were no tears shed over this book. We laughed, talked, argued and got pissed at each other. In the end, we have been our own best cheerleaders.

Now, the notes become posts. An archive of the badass adventure we took together – writing a story. An awesome story. Writing a book. It’s an adventure we’re still on. We choose to remain adventurers. If this book never goes anywhere, never gets published, we will always say it was fun. It IS fun. We’re still on the train, and there’s no reason to jump off now.