The short stuff is a dead end

It occurs to me, in a moment of reflection, that the many times I submitted to various publications over the last few years–the faith-based ones and the literary/fiction ones—came up fruitless.

Except a few publications would see my work, but I don’t have the resources for it. Nobody came to my aid this time.

Frankly I’m tired of trying. That means I won’t need to write about my movements in regards to writing anymore. This means this post is my last. But it does mean there are several other blogs I have started last month, where I will be writing.

So long but hello again. I am joining a monastery that has access to the internet and a laptop. There I will be a writer/blogster-writer and chant away.

The short stuff

I don’t like promoting my own work. That’s the way I am. I like doing the writing and would leave the marketing to others. So, I’ve been published in magazines, websites and newspapers that don’t require me to promote my work.

Back in the day when I was doing writing jobs, someone said to me that I should write a book. I was friendly towards such suggestions because in my mind that was what I was going to do. So I explored my fiction writing first before seeking out publishers and found out my ability at that stage.

When I got a grasp of the big picture of what is entailed in publishing I realized that I don’t like doing self-promotion. As I said, that’s how I am. If I was a professional sports player in another life, I would play the game, not promote myself.

This leaves me where a blog of mine a few years back started off. That blog was following my movements on writing short stuff, the articles, the items, the one paragraph devotions, and the short stories. In this pursuit, I may aim in vein, but writing the short stuff is who I am as a writer.

Choices

What one needs to remember, and that includes myself, is that film producers usually require “spec scripts” or scripts written with the intent of soliciting work.

That may come as a shock.

I’d sooner have my original story made for the big screen, but it does not work that way I come to find out.

What this means for the independent-minded writer is that he or she has to work for a producer if their spec script is approved of.

This means a writer writes what the producer needs as the producer has certain products they will produce. Not everyone does horror and science fiction. Not everyone is your thing, but some may be more up your ally.

This may leave any writer asking the same question: should one go ahead and write film and television scripts for that producer? These are choices one has to make.

 

Observational

Observation for me can be a discipline to concentrate on the world around me and write from that.

Observation is useful in writing, though.

I may relate my observations to my writing foundations and build a story out of it, that’s part me, part other.

At the extreme is complete detachment on behalf of the writer and it is interesting where this may lead. Does one see it from someone else’s perspective completely?

Observing someone or something else or observing some other “world” invariably requires research to understand that someone or something other.

 

Imagination

In terms of my writing projects, like fiction, I love writing from my imagination the most. It may a purely imaginative work without anything observational (apart from the basic structure perhaps), experiential, or from one’s home truths. It’s purely from the mind. Maybe I would look to see how I could include my home truths as well, if it fits.

Interesting exercise

I couldn’t have imagined how many words in Dante’s Inferno could be misunderstood, those mildly or moderately complex and very complicated words that requires a dictionary. I came up with about 300 difficult words which I randomly scribbled on a card to look up later. It became a very interesting exercise.

12 Years a Slave

I expected 12 Years a Slave  to be handsomely mounted and richly literate, reminiscent of films in the 1980’s. But now that I’ve seen it I realize it’s already  a classic.

As well as being strikingly produced, it shows the painful plight of African American slaves in white-owned plantations in the South before the American Civil War and the success of the abolition movement.

The film starts by telling us this is a true story.

The buying and selling slaves is then shown as business-as-usual.

Paul Giamatti has a small but prominent role as a seller, costumed finely like many other Southern men in the 1840s.

The dubious economics of the endeavor are revealed as the story unfolds, while the class system is starkly depicted along with the slave owners’ depravity.

All the cruelty occurs in the context of Solomon Northup’s (Chiwetel Ejiofor) descent from a comfortable life in New York state where he lived as a free black man.

Sold into slavery and passing from master to master, he at first wants revenge. This turns to helplessness, then  the urge to survive even when facing indignities and institutional savagery.

Powerful scenes will sober and stir any viewer.

Of course, we are not meant to enjoy such brutality, but it has a way of highlighting the unfairness of slavery.

The rape of a slave is not about sex. It’s more about control, power and hate.

And if it weren’t for Brad Pitt’s small but important role, the story would be bleak and incomplete.

Central to a string of powerful performances is Michael Fassbender – a Bible mis-quoting, proud, senseless, shameless, and ruthless master of Northup.

And when his cotton crops fail, he blames his slaves for bringing God’s punishment.

We expect something better to happen, but we don’t know how when the odds are heavily stacked against it.

Perhaps the central question of 12 Years a Slave  is how do we maintain our dignity in the face of cruelty and injustice?

Northup plays games, fights back, and faces getting killed.

Slavery has almost broken his will to live, and yet he remains human.

This is a powerful film, a must-see, but it is grim and not for every taste

12 Years a Slave, Director: Steve McQueen, Genre: Drama, Year: 2013, Rating: 10/10

Purpose

Justin Bieber is not an artist I have followed so I can’t categorize Bieber as one of the artists I follow. I must have ignored his seven other albums at my peril going by the screaming throngs of teenage girls at his concerts.

But I did like the sound of his single What Do You Mean and so picked the album with another 12 Bieber tracks on it.

What Do You Mean is electronic sounding pop that sounds clean and polished; it is smooth groove and makes one listen. It’s got moderately complex lyrics. I wanted more.

Bieber’s Purpose is a soft pop album that is ambient and fresh. There are thirteen tracks with the odd one out being “Children”. On the surface, “Children” is a departure from the album’s theme of a difficult relationship.

Although Bieber is singing about the love and break up of a relationship, the album isn’t overall bitter or nasty. The one unkind word is “Love Yourself”, which was a sour note.

Purpose doesn’t bore. From a quietly effective rap to ambient infused chords, but there are quibbles: it may be too long and the album comes around to themes that are off-putting.

Although Purpose was a pick of mine, it didn’t entirely shine on the day. I thought about how the lovers in the songs dealt with love and consequences.

Purpose is edgy in the sense that a parent wouldn’t want their daughter, who may listen to Purpose, to experience a love meltdown, but to somehow do a relationship a better way.

Album: Purpose, Artist: Justin Bieber, Genre: Soft pop, Year: 2015, Rating: 5/10

 

Within Reach

While I am not enthusiastic about Rick Cua as a career artist, his albums are middling if not mediocre with a few flourishes, I am keen on Midnight Sun and Within Reach which were better, released around the turn of the 1980’s and 1990’s.

Within Reach is Rick Cua’s best album. The Christian pop rocker released about half-a-dozen albums during the 1980’s and 1990’s and one in 2007.

Within Reach instantly hooks you in to the album that doesn’t let you down after a good start. It’s consistently engaging and sometimes is thought provoking.

Opening track Message of Love grabs you by the ears and the mind with an image: “I’m going climb up on a mountain, climb up on the top, declare the Lord’s mercy and pray the pain will stop.” Throughout the album, the words tend to be simple, but vivid.

Fatherly

Within Reach is aimed at young people mainly. The album could have been preachy and turn off listeners because Cua is offering a way to life, but it all works and is not off-putting. Cua is fatherly in a brother to brother manner. His voice is without a hint preachy.

The fatherly instincts of a pastor (Cua’s other career) are evident on tracks like Fifteen, a song about growing up while keeping the faith.

On Somewhere Tonight he seems to be adviser, a thought provoking number about thinking about the poor in our midst and offering a helping hand.

On Stand Your Ground, Cua is upfront and encourages ones to be unafraid of standing up for their Christian beliefs and faith and Cua rocks it through the roof saying it loud and proud.

For seasoned rockers, Within Reach may be too soft and straight forward. But for others, it’s got it where it counts: sound and words merge in a cogent pop rock harmony of faith and life. Get ready to rock!

Album: Within Reach, Artist: Rick Cua, Genre: Christian Pop Rock, Year: 1991, Rating: 8/10