Free Form

Need to feed the blog beast, need to feed the blog beast… Need to feed…the…

I’ve had a lot of good ideas for blog posts lately, stuff about Cervantes, aikido, Poe… But I’m not motivated to write any of them today. Feeling bleh and blah. And the rain outside, in about its 40th day, isn’t helping. Free Form

So…What to write? What to say? Nothing much. So, no theme or topic comes to mind. Might I just free-form? Ron Burgundy style? No. Instead, I will tell you where my writing is at. How about that? Here it is, broken down piece-by-piece.

Sludge Ship Chronicles
Got this beast done. Plays…What a strange medium! Take the strict plotting from short stories, the length and scope of a novella and the oral elements of poetry—Mash them all together and there you have it: a play. I have to say my wonder at this medium has only grown after writing one.

Anyhow, starting to submit this to local playhouses and looking for festivals or other venues to submit too as well. This is a very chancy, risky business, but I’ll let you know where it all nets out. Wish me luck.

Pacha-Mama
Still submitting this piece. Still believe in it. Still think it’s good. Lots of bites, but no editor has really chomped down on it yet, so that I can reel them in. Time to cast again.

Breakpoint
This science-fiction story is still with consideration with a magazine, still waiting to hear.

So You Found Me
Decided on a market for this flash piece, will be submitting it soon.

…For My Next Trick
Have a good grip on a new short story, even did some good pre-writing on it. I’m fired up to write it, but have to take vacation first. Hope to get to this in the middle of June and bang it out. Its bones are good, now I just have to put some flesh on it.


That’s it. Another quick, dirty blog post. Putting the writing and submitting first. Which is important to me. I hope to be back in a couple of weeks with another post.

See you then,

Darius

Write On

Hey Guys, taking a break from the blog this week, so that I can just edit, edit and edit some more. I have a big project (the play) I want to wrap up and that HAS GOT TO BE THE TOP PRIORITY.

I will be back in a couple of weeks with a more substantive post.

Until Then,

Darius


[UPDATE MAY 7]:

Just to give a little update: I used my writing time wisely yesterday. I wrapped up the third draft of my play. I consider it essentially done (for now).  And I will get it proofread by someone else and then start marketing it.

So, time well spent not-blogging and actually writing some real fiction. A worthy cause.

See you again soon….Darius

Writing Update—An Acceptance

Well…Well…Well… Prince_SelfTitled

Here we are two weeks later and I feel like I could be blogging again about the passing of another music legend. Sigh. Big Sigh. Losing Prince sucks. Just as much as losing Merle Haggard or David Bowie…But I don’t want to make this blog too much of a downer. And there are others who are bigger fans and far better placed to do a proper homage to the Purple One. And also, these guys wrote songs about “this thing called life.” And we, the living, have to continue, must continue…To live, to love and to write—great music or great stories as suits our personalities. 

So, reflecting on that, and more importantly, acting on it…Here’s a little good news: one of my stories was accepted by a magazine. That’s right, “Barabanchik” has found a home. I don’t want to get into the details, but suffice to say, the editors wrote back and are excited about including it in their next issue. I will share more as things solidify, but I wanted  to get this good news out there. Barabanchik means “drummer” or “little drummer” in Russian and it’s perfect name for the character in the story. I’m glad he’ll finally walk out of Kazansky Station and onto the pages of a magazine. Can’t wait to see him there.

And while we’re at it, here’s an update on other stuff I’m working on:

Pacha-Mama
This long short story/novelette came darn, darn close to being published by a magazine. It made it into the final round of consideration, but in the end it didn’t make the cut. This weekend, I’m going to proof it one more time and send it off to magazines again. I love the Pacha-Mama character as much as I love Barabanchik. 

The Sludge Ship Chronicles
This play…Man, it’s so close to being done. I have to sit down with a hard copy of it again this weekend, mark it up. Then, input the changes and it should be essentially done. All that will remain is a good proofreading and marketing the piece.

In fact, I have decided upon what I’ll call the “apex market” for the piece: the most selective market out there that I still think it’s got a shot at. It’s a local theater known for putting on eclectic, modern plays. And they accept submissions from local playwrights, which is rare. But it won’t be easy. I have a feeling they are very, very selective. A perfect apex market to start with and see what happens.

So You Found Me
Was waiting in the airport one day and this idea just hit me. Or should I say an idea that had hit me a long time ago finally and suddenly coalesced, popping out of my subconscious into my conscious. So, I wrote it out right there on my officially-licensed work computer. Smuggled the piece out later and have been polishing it since. It’s a short-short piece, a piece of flash fiction at under 1,000 words. Never written anything that short before.

Will be editing this further and see what I want to do with it.


A Little on Prince
Didn’t think I was going to completely short change you, did you? This is a speech Prince gave upon being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He talks about two of the most important things for artists: freedom and friendship. I especially love these lines:

Without real spiritual mentoring, too much freedom can lead to the soul’s decay. And a word to the young artists … a real friend or mentor is not on your table. A real friend and mentor cares for your soul as much as they do the other one.

But really, you should check out his music. As much of it as you can.

Until Next Time,

Darius

One More City–with Merle Haggard

So, you probably don’t know this about me, but I’m a huge country music fan. Huge. Not the new stuff, but the classic country. From around the 30s to mid-70s (from about Jimmie Rodgers to Waylon Jennings). The modern stuff doesn’t really do it for me. BigCityMerleHaggard

As such, I was truly bummed this week to learn Merle Haggard had passed away. Many of you, especially those  of you outside the U.S., might not have heard of him. Well, let me cure you of that with a look at three songs from one of America’s greatest singer-songwriters. All written and performed by Haggard.

I’m including just the lyrics because they’re lyric-driven songs and I love the simple stories they tell.


1. Big City

Always loved this one. It’s a simple story really, about a guy who has had enough.

I’m tired of this dirty old city
And tired of too much work
And never enough play
And I’m tired of these dirty old sidewalks
Think I’ll walk off my steady job today.

So, he takes off running way out into the middle of nothing.

Turn me loose, set me free
Somewhere in the middle of Montana
And give me all I’ve got coming to me.

And Merle, being Merle, couldn’t help but pack a little political edge into the song.

And keep your retirement and your
So called Social Security
Big city turn me loose and set me free.

I love that “so-called Social Security.” I always feel the guy who ran was better for it, happier and just plain freer. And for the record, I have blasted this song while driving my truck through the middle of Montana. Near a place called Grass Range. Literally.

2. Here in Frisco

Haggard famously dissed the City by the Bay in one of his most famous songs, “The Okie from Muskogee.” Fair enough. But what a lot of people don’t know is that he wrote one of the most beautiful songs ever written about the city. It’s kind of a love song for the city and whenever I’m there, I can hear wisps and catches of it playing in my mind.

It’s four a.m. in New York City three a.m. in Dallas
The night is still early here in Frisco.

One a.m. is pretty early for San Fran. I’ve seen it “swinging” at 3 a.m. and even after that (especially, on St. Patrick’s Day).

They say it’s raining in Chicago and it’s cold and clear in Denver
Been windy all night long here in Frisco
Trolley cars are clinging, the big Bay Town’s swinging
And I’m still all alone here in Frisco.

That nails it for me. I just feel myself transported back there walking through the streets, hearing the trolleys clanging, the wind blowing. It’s a great little tribute to the city.

This is a deep track on his Keep Movin’ On album, but very worth tracking down.

3. Silver Wings

Another favorite. It starts out well enough.

Silver wings,
Shining in the sunlight,
Roaring engines,
Headed somewhere in flight.

But this is a country song, so things head south fast.

They’re taking you away
Leaving me lonely
Silver wings
Slowly fading out of sight.

You can tell where this is headed: Nowhere good.

Don’t leave me I cried
Don’t take that airplane ride
But you locked me out of your mind
Left me standing here behind.

All that’s left is that sad, sad refrain.

Silver wings
Slowly fading out of sight.
Slowly fading out of sight.

This is another deep track from the A Portrait of Merle Haggard album.


So what does this all mean? First, sad to see him go. Second, I learned from him that you can tell a great story using a few, simple words. It doesn’t require complexity or big words. You can convey a whole mood and idea very, very simply. And tersely.

But perhaps the biggest thing I admire about him is how he brought country music into the modern era. All those things he sang about above are modern things: big cities, San Francisco, jet airplanes. Before him, country music singers sang about honky tonks, white lightning and trains. He wrote about those things too, but he also brought in new things, keeping the old sounds and phrasing. Every great art form contains within it tradition and innovation. If tradition become the dominating feature, that art form stagnates and dies. If only innovation dominates, the good things about that tradition can be forgotten and the whole art form can be lost. The key seems to be finding a balance between tradition and innovation to create something new within an existing tradition. That’s when really great artistic moments can happen.

And Merle Haggard will always be a fine example of that.

Rest in Peace, Merle. And Thanks,

Darius.


If you want to learn more, Wikipedia has a great article on Merle and you can pick up one of his greatest hit albums to start with and then dip into his actual albums if you’re hungry for more. I hope you will be.

See you next time,

DJ

Diego and the Peaches

So, done a lot of thinking lately. And I think that I may have been doing this blog “wrong.”

Not that anyone can blog the “wrong” way. But I’m a story teller, and stories have been a bit sparse on this blog. And I want to change that. Now, thePeaches-HD-Wallpapers2se won’t be fiction stories (as you probably know: once you publish a story on your blog, it’s considered “published” and most magazines/publishers will no longer consider it). Instead, these will just be plain stories. Nothing less, nothing more. They’ll be scenes from my life, but also illustrate things I’ve been thinking about. So, here’s a short one for today. About Diego and his peaches.

Diego Rivera, the painter, left his native Mexico and headed to Europe to learn from some of the European masters. Despite his deep love for pre-Columbian Mexican art, he had become enthralled by European art and, I think, the tradition of European art. During this phase of his career, he mostly rejected these Mexican influences and turned to cubism, the European artistic rage of the day. Picasso had marked him out as one of the leading future painters. Money was coming in, his exhibitions were gaining more interest. And then one morning, he ran into a cart of peaches on the street.

Suddenly, my whole being was filled with this commonplace object. I stood there transfixed, my eyes absorbing every detail. With unbelievable force, the texture, the forms, and colors of the peaches seemed to reach out toward me. I rushed back to my studio…

But things didn’t go easy. Not at all.

Nevertheless, the beginning proved painful and tedious. In the process of tearing myself away from cubism, I met with repeated failures. But I did not give up.

What to do, indeed, but forge ahead? And forge ahead stubbornly, he did. In the most difficult times, one theme kept coming back to him.

During the worst hours, I would find comfort in the precept of my old Mexican tutor, [Jose] Posada, to paint what I knew and felt. And I realized that what I knew best and felt most was my own country, Mexico.

That almost knocked me off my chair when I read it: “paint what I knew and felt.” It’s the same thing in writing. You’ve probably heard that old cliché: “Write what you know.” But I think Diego added a nice twist to it as if he’s saying: “Write what you know and love.” That rings so true. It’s not enough to just write what you know, you have to love it too. Bring together the extra-rational enthusiasm of love and the intellectual insight of knowledge. Diego says that this is what gets an artist to the peak of creativity, beyond “mere craftsmanship” and technical expertise. How true.

It’s a good reminder as I wrap up one manuscript and mentally prepare for the next. When it’s time to select the next piece to work on, I’ll keep my mind open so I can pick a work which speaks to my heart and my mind. Something I “know and love.” I suggest you seek out the same things, even if you can devote a limited amount of time to them. It’s sure to put a smile on your face.

Until next time,

Darius

[PS: This is a retelling of an incident from Diego Rivera’s autobiography. Though the book is full of self-mythologizing, I highly recommend it.]

Title Reveal: The Sludge Ship Chronicles

It’s time to come clean, as it were. I’ve been writing and working whenever I can, as you all know. That’s resulted in the first draft of a play, and now it’s time to do the title reveal  as I steadily edit, condense and refine the second draft. Sludge Boat

The play’s working title is “The Sludge Ship Chronicles.” What, you’re asking, is a sludge ship? Well, it’s a ship that carries sludge, obviously. In the bad, old days, empty sludge ships filled their cargo holds with raw human waste from sewers. Then, they went far out to sea where they simply dumped their cargo. They returned to port and loaded up again. Apparently, this is no longer done although sludge ships do still exist (in New York City, for example), but now simply transport sludge between processing centers, without releasing the raw stuff into the environment. Something to think about next time you flush the toilet.

So, why did I decide to write a whole play about a sludge ship? Well, I’m merely using it (it’s true!) as a metaphor for something else. And as a plot device. As to what that “something else” is, I’ll hold off on getting into the details for now.

A few more notes on the play. It’s set in a medieval kingdom with an uncanny resemblance to Britain. So, the sludge ship is not like the one in the photo, but of the old sailing type. If it all sounds a bit hammy, it’s meant to be. It’s a comedy/satire. I could go into the plot, the characters and all that now—but I feel that’s getting a bit ahead of myself. I prefer to save that until after a final draft is done, or maybe even later.

The one big concern I have for the play is marketing it. I’ve tried to not worry about this and I don’t overly worry about marketing my stuff anymore. But every writer wants to see their stuff get out there. And I simply don’t have any experience marketing a play. So my plan is to find a local playhouses or festival that is willing to accept plays from new playwrights. I’ve just begun this process. M—, my friend, has put me in touch with his brother who has some experience in such things and I’m hoping to get some tips from him. But I know it will be very different from submitting short stories and novellas like I’ve done in the past. People simply have to invest more in a play (making sets, hiring actors, selling tickets), so the barrier to entry is higher. I have a lurking suspicion that the writing of the play will be the easiest part of it. If anyone out there has any experience with or tips about marketing plays, I’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

Alright, that’s all for now. I will let you know when I arrive at a manuscript I feel is ready to submit. All for now. I’ll see you next time.

Until then,

Darius

Thoughts on Writing My First Play

So, I’ve done something strange or weird or wonderful or just plain crazy—I’ve written a play. And it’s a comedy. As for the name and all that, I want to get to a second draft before I do a title reveal or anything like that. But that will come in time…2barton-fink

Right now, I just want to capture some basic—very basic—thoughts I had about the experience of writing a play. You see, I’ve only written straight-up prose before: short stories, novellas, novels. But plays…Plays, man…They’re something different. Those playwrights, they’re all a little bit…off. Not as off as the poets, but hey—Who is? [Please know I rib and lovingly poke fun, my dear poets!]

And there’s that whole spoken-word aspect of it. This brings it closer to poetry. It has GOT to sound good, as well as make sense and be compelling. And it has to be written with a live audience—a crowd—kept in mind. Basically, you have to keep a group of humans involved and entertained for an hour or so. That’s intimidating for a straight-up prose writer.

So, here are some random thoughts I had upon writing my first play. In no particular order:

1. It went better than I thought.
I wouldn’t say that writing my first play was easy, but it wasn’t bad. Why do I feel that way? Well, experience counts for something. A play is different from a novel, it’s true. But it has a good deal of similarities as well. A play has character, setting and plot, just like a novel. The characters change over time just like in a novel. And conversely, a novel has dialogue, so if you’re a novel writer you have some experience writing dialogue. In fact, some novels have a very script-like form. The most famous example I can think of is Manuel Puig’s Kiss of the Spider Woman which, to me, is just a movie script in book form. (And a damn good one, at that.)

So, I brought all that short story and novel writing experience to writing this play. I just simply decided, in mirror image to Puig, to write a book in play form.

2. It felt similar to writing a short story.
I looked at other long plays before I started writing this. I figured hitting between 15,000 to 20,000 words would get me a long play based on words counts of some of Chekhov’s plays (copied from online sources, pasted into Word and then analyzed with the word count tool). So, I figured, let me write a novella with about five major parts to it. The first “chapter” will set the scene. The last “chapter” will provide the denoument or wrap-up. And the chapters between will have the rising action.

I did my typical CSP+K prewrite with characters, setting, plot and knowledge needed to write this. And then I was off. I set up the scene and the characters in the first few scenes and called it Act 1. I upped the action and conflict in the next scenes and grouped them into Acts 2, 3 and 4. Then, I let the conflict peak and resolved the story lines in the last few scenes and labeled it  Act 5. Done.

3. I have to up the character quotient.
I’m pleased with the play. It’s not bad for a first draft. But I do think I would do one thing differently if I had to start over: I would make sure it had a compelling central character. I’ve come to see character as inseparable from plot. Good characters follow the plot (arch) of a story. Great characters create and drive a plot all by themselves. Think about it. Brutus drives Julius Caesar in the same way Ahab drives Moby Dick or Arjuna drives the Bhagavad Gita. Once they are on the stage, their stellar qualities (or flaws) can’t help but drive the action. That’s what you want in your plays, too. Someone on the stage who drives the plot to its conclusion through their merits or faults.

I will make sure that type of character is in any future play I write.

4. Why can’t these people do anything without talking?
Damn characters in plays, man. They can’t do or think anything without expressing it. Let’s say you’re a novelist…Bing! And you want your characters to go somewhere, well, they just go. They head out over the hill and come to…a valley. Your characters in a play? They ain’t going to do that. The only way they go somewhere is when the scene ends and…Poof! They’re somewhere else. And if they think something? Well, you can’t just have good, old internal dialogue like in a novel, nope. That character is going to have stand there and blather aloud some reflections for everyone to hear. And if you want to describe a scene, you had better do it BRIEFLY, in the introduction to that scene, not in the dialogue itself.

But it’s not all that bad. I’ve always loved dialogue and writing a piece with, essentially, only dialogue was fun and the writing seemed to go quickly.

5. I felt the pressure to be entertaining.
With a novel, you can afford to let things simmer. To develop scenes and characters slowly and meticulously. But I felt just the opposite was true in writing a play.

I think it’s because you have the drive to capture the audience’s attention and keep them entertained. There’s no time to let them nod off. You have to relentlessly build up a character or the plot or tell a joke or reveal something that will be significant later on. But you’re always, driving, driving, driving things on toward their conclusion or dangling something in front of them to keep them engaged. Come to think of it, it sounds awfully like a short story, doesn’t it?

5. Sometimes diving in is all you can do.
There’s no way to know beforehand whether what you write will be any good. So, you just have to dive in. And that’s what I did. I thought I had a good idea and some good characters and I went for it. I’m glad I did. If nothing else, writing a comic play was good fun and I was always interested to see what the characters would come up with next.

In fact, I’m still interested and can’t wait to see if they’ll have any new, winning lines for me. This weekend, I hope to re-approach them for some badly needed touching up as part of the second draft.

Until next time.

Keep reading, keep writing,

Darius Jones

How You Can Support the Art of Fiction

People often have more power than they think. The easiest thing to do in the world is throw up your hands and say: “Well, what am I supposed to do about it?” and just move on and forget. The following post is designed to discourage you from doing that. Anthology1-FinalCover-thumbnail

A question I often think about, but am rarely asked is: “How can  I support the art of writing fiction?” Well, here are some ideas. Broken down into three areas, in no particular order:

1. Buy books from writers you enjoy
It doesn’t matter to me what format you digest your books in: an e-reader, a tablet, your smartphone, a physical book,  papyrus or a stone tablet. But what does matter to me is that, at some point, you make a little contribution to the person who created the content you’re enjoying. This contribution can be $20 or $10 or even 99 cents. But it should be something.

A vibrant creative culture does not spontaneously generate, but needs support from the broader society in which it grows. Making sure artists are compensated in some form for their hard work is part of this. Sure, I would still write for free—what real writer (or artist) wouldn’t? But being on the other side, I can tell you that there’s something rewarding and validating in being paid for something you’ve created. I know this is a time of tremendous change in digital goods, but it behooves all of us to contribute something to artists so that the creative culture remains strong. To borrow from the music industry: If you like the music you hear on Spotify/Pandora/YouTube, buy the album.

2. Support the little journals
If you want to support fiction, especially the development of new writers: I suggest seeking out the smaller, harder-to-find journals. There are the big ones of course: Asimov’s, Analog and Clarkesworld to name a few. And then there are semi-pro journals (as judged  by Duotrope, not me) like Apex. But there are also smaller journals. You can find a ton of them on Duotrope or Grinder, if you sign up for a basic account.

In fact, I’ll put in a little shout out here for two I have worked with and who have published my stuff. Fiction Vortex published my first story, “The Hatchlings.” They’ve come back to life after closing a couple of years ago. They recently started a new episodic series thing that’s pretty interesting. Strangelet Journal published by second story to find its way into print, “The Ghul of Yazd.” You can subscribe to that magazine or just straight up contribute to them on their Patreon page. It’s up to you.

Without small journals like these, I doubt I would have got my foot in the door and had my first stories published. These are those self-same “obscure magazines” that new writers have always submitted to and they need your support because they’re the only ones out there taking risks and publishing unheard-of and often un-published writers.

Every issue bought and subscription renewed, helps keeps the art of discovery of new writers alive. And the only ones out there doing this, that I’ve seen, are these small journals. Please consider giving them a little love. This writer certainly would appreciate it.

3. Encourage that writer friend
You know who they are. You hear them talking in the halls at work about their writing project. Or maybe they bring it up at the bar or the kids’ softball game on the weekend. Wherever it may be, go easy on them. And be patient. And if you know it’s important to them, give them a little nudge to keep them going and producing. After all, words lead to word counts which lead to first drafts which lead to second drafts which lead to finished pieces. I should know, that’s exactly how I do it.

I’m a big believer in the power of peer pressure applied in doses when appropriate…And truth be told we writers usually like a little encouragement (pressure?).


That’s it. Short and sweet today. Next time, I’ll be back with an update on my writing. I guess you could say, I’ve been keeping busy. And productive. So, I will have quite a bit to  say.

See you then,

Darius

Writing and Running

Hey everybody, I’m taking the opportunity today to keep this blog super short (as discussed in my Jan. 1, 2016 post). I have a longer piece I’m working on today and the top priority is getting that done…TOP PRIORITY.Fastest Writer

I will be back on the regular blog schedule next time (2 weeks from now, Feb. 12) with news about this latest  piece and any new developments in my writing.

Stay tuned, things are sure to get interesting.

,Darius


Until then, enjoy the linked article which features one Mohammed Khurshid Hussain, who holds the world record for fastest writer in the world when using only your nose. Quite an achievement. Apparently, he practices this six hours a day. And you thought you had a serious writing schedule!

See you next time!

Rothko, ‘Nothing to Lose and a Vision to Gain’

A man once said, “You must constantly fight against the illusion that you have something to lose” or something very similar. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. And I’ve been wondering if that man didn’t lift or modify that quote from an earlier artist (who also was speaking at a commencement ceremony).

What am I talking about? Last month, I was down in Texas. Houston to be exact. We decided to hit the Museum of Fine Arts Houston (a museum not to be missed, if you’re in the area). They had an retrospective on Mark Rothko. I have to say I have a very hard time appreciating modern art. And the more abstract it is, the harder time I have hooking into it. Rothko’s stuff is abstract in the extreme: There are no figures and few shapes. It’s just a few rough lines and color. But there was something about these works. And it came down to a tag on one of the paintings that explained his work and opened it up for me. The tag said that painting should be not about a representation of a scene or a person. It should be an experience. An experience in and of itself. And that was it. I understood. Instead of judging it by the standards of pictorial representation I could judge the bare image on the wall by its immediate presence, by what it made me feel and think in all immediacy without a critical mind weighing it and ruining it.

Untitled 1951 Rothko, National Gallery of Art 

This is interesting because it’s not unlike the concept of “pure experience” in Buddhism and other Eastern religions. I’m sure Rothko must have been aware of this connection. It seems too close for him to have overlooked. But I’m not sure.

But I digress. The thing that really struck me was a second placard at the exhibition. It had a quote from a speech Rothko gave a year before he died at Yale’s commencement ceremony. As an older, successful artist he looked back on his career.

“When I was a younger man, art was a lonely thing; no galleries, no collectors, no critics, no money. Yet it was a golden time, for then we had nothing to lose and a vision to gain. Today it is not quite the same. It is a time of tons of verbiage, activity, and consumption. Which condition is better for the world at large I will not venture to discuss. But I do know that many who are driven to this life are desperately searching for those pockets of silence where they can root and grow. We must all hope that they find them.”

And I thought: that first stage is fiction writing today, a “lonely thing” where—except for a few Rockstars of fiction—there are “no galleries, no collectors…no money.” Only the galleries are shuttered bookstores, the collectors are missing patrons, “no money” is a constant worry. 

But for all that—and there is a lot on that side—might there be an upside? Might it even be a “golden time”? I hear some of you laughing already. Fair enough. First, I’m all for writers being compensated fairly, excessively even. And I am concerned when I read headlines about writers making wages well below the poverty level ($8,000, come on!). But there’s an upside to having nothing to lose. It can give a you a chance to start over, to find your own vision free from the constraints and demands of commercialization, self-importance and inflated ego.  

That Rothko quote also got me thinking about myself. Wasn’t I in the same position as the younger Rothko? What did I have to lose? What if I just kept going like I have been for the last few years: Going to my 9-to-5 job, clocking in, clocking out. Writing stories on the weekend at the café, one of those “pockets of silence” where I can “root and grow.” What if I just write and write and write and never sell another one of those stories ever again? So what? No really, so what? I still have my 9-to-5 job. I still pay the rent, feed and clothe myself. What difference does it make? How would I be different from any other working stiff? But if I succeed, even modestly, mind you, what then? If I sell a few stories, maybe a novel someday, or a play? Even if they go nowhere—haven’t I gained something? A vision and more? The satisfaction that I did it, that I stayed the course? And didn’t fold? To me that has more worth than a thousand publishing contracts, a huge marketing budget and a bus for a book tour?

All times, golden or otherwise, are what you make of them. What will you make of yours?

Until next time,

Darius


That Rothko retrospective in Houston ends Jan. 24. So, you’ll have to hurry up if you want to catch it.