WWW. LPSTRIBLING.COM – Switching to the Dark Side…and a bit on writing


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I’ve been writing on my own blog since somewhere around 2008, though WordPress has been the carrier of that writing since somewhere around 2010, I guess. In that time I’ve been able to get a couple of poems and a short story out there, but more importantly I’ve been fortunate enough to have all of you out there reading at least something that I’ve written. This is extraordinarily meaningful to me.

Writing is a very scary activity; many of us either don’t understand this, or we forget. I’m speaking of course from the standpoint of someone who stands by choice in front of many people, metaphorically, of course. I guess what I mean is it’s always easier to be part of the crowd than apart from it. It’s easier to be a student in the classroom than the teacher. It’s easier to point the finger than to have the fingers pointed at you… it’s easy to be a critic.

When one writes, especially on a public platform, one is choosing to enter into a world of judgment – a very lonely world of judgment. Whether good or bad, the judgment is real. One is choosing to take on work for which there is no real support. There are no cheerleaders here. There are no badges, no leveling up, no trophies. There’s no tax break, no insurance benefits, no discounts, no free t-shirts, no extra credit. There are no deadlines except those you set for yourself, and there usually aren’t any raises. In fact, when you look around, you can spot all the reasons in the world NOT to write, and you have to make the daily drive through all of the countless reasons your mind comes up with to distract you from the task.

dog-humping-legYou may even have a dog, but odds are it’s already gotten used to what you do there, and none of that includes petting it, giving treats, taking it for walks or agreeing to let it hump your lower leg into oblivion.

When you tell people that you write, most tend to quietly snort, scoff, or give that look of dismissal, or if you’re brazen enough to call yourself a writer in conversation, they may even want to test it out.

“Really?” they ask. “What do you write?”

“Science fiction and fantasy,” you may say.

“Ahh,” they say, or “Mm hmm.”

Writing, in all honesty, is most probably the loneliest task I’ve chosen. One which only a fellow writer can understand.

…well, wait. Let me back up. ‘Lonely’ carries too negative a meaning. It’s too woe-is-me. Fuck that. Autonomous is better.

DO OVER!

Writing is the most autonomous task I’ve ever taken on. And let’s put it into perspective – no, most of the time people aren’t cheering you on, but it’s not their fault. People are used to cheering on athletes, football players, or track stars, or golfers (which I cannot believe. C’mon, you’re cheering for people wear Polo shirts and walk casually across finely mowed lawns). Most people have no concept of how grueling the writerly life is, how much of a grind, how much of a push it really is.

And the dog? Well, can you blame him? It’s a dog. If you’re not petting it, giving it food, or providing a means of furry foreplay, what good are you?

Writers, if they know anything at all, are aware of all the judgmental potential that awaits them. We’re going to write stuff, and some of you may agree, some of you may not. Most of you won’t care. Some of you will enjoy my words, some of you will not. Most of you won’t care. The average reader out there will say, “They’re just words. What can you possibly say that can piss people off?”

Others know better. The sounds of our words provide the audible impressions of ourselves to others. Wars are started over words. People lose jobs over words. People are killed, arson is committed, shots are fired, and nations are bombed over words. By that same token wounds are mended, hearts are healed, and rejuvenation is possible…because of words.

But if you’re still with me, willing to wade through the palimpsest and the drivel I sneeze out there into the digital ether, then please know that I am grateful for it; I am glad. And if you’ve read this far, you’ve honored me and I thank you.

I’ve moved digital spaces; I’ve gained a new parking space, so to speak – one which seems to suit me better. I’m still customizing, of course, so we’ll have to be patient. As Billy Shakespeare said, “How poor are they that have not patience? What wound did ever heal but by degrees?” (Othello: Act II. Scene III).

Here – the address of my new space: www.lpstribling.com

Come one, come all. Subscribe. Read. Post. Ask questions. Bring the dog.

Again, for all your support and your continued friendship, my heartfelt thanks.

-LP

Miss my family in HK


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It’s been too long. The last time Kerrie and I were in HK was in July of 2014. Yeah, a year ago, but still, it seems like yesterday. The trouble with being so close with people all over the world is that they’re all over the world. I wonder how big of a house I’d have to have to throw a house party with every single friend and family member I had.

Hmm.

Albuquerque


Albuquerque

July 2nd, 2015: It’s been two to three years at least, and now that I’m back, it’s just not the same. It’s more like one of my childhood’s favorite toys that sits in the corner of the back yard, now mossy, lifeless, and whose batteries were long handed over to some other distraction of finer merit.

July 7th, 2015: Albuquerque is nearly two thousand miles away from me now and I’m writing this from my dining room table at the far end of Long Island. 

    It was a short trip, ten days, but one which allowed me to revisit my childhood home. I moved to Albuquerque from Iowa somewhere between 3 and 4. My memories of that time are only vague now and come to me in flashes when called forth. I grew up with my two cousins at my grandmother’s house down in an area of town called the north valley. We played and played, and before I knew it, I was eighteen and I had graduated high school. 

In that time I had swum in the Rio Grande on multiple occasions, learned the rudimentary linguistic set of Spanish (after having reconsidered from French my first day of 6th Grade – thanks for the reasoning, Dad), and I ate enough green chile to need a tongue transplant. The stuff is good. 

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I only recognized a few streets. The names of the streets were very familiar, and I recognized them right away. But when it came to getting there and working my way around town, it just wasn’t working. That’s okay. But it is weird. It’s weird because this place occupied a mammoth chapter in my life. It was the stage of my formative years. I knew the streets, I had a girlfriend, friends, school, soccer, weekends, a personal schedule…I had a life, a rhythm. And then I left. 

And now when I look back, the time hits me. That was 20 years ago. 

As an adolescent growing up in New Mexico, I wasn’t too fond of the place. Perhaps like many teenagers, I wanted my name in lights. I wanted to exist somewhere famous, where there was stuff to do. No, no, not stuff like hiking or desert; that doesn’t count as stuff. I wanted to live in a town where there was a famous basketball team, like the Yankees, or the Dodgers (*yes – these are baseball teams. A friend pointed this out. Oops.), or something like that. I wanted to live in a place where famous people lived, where popular music was being written and played, where people went to race, or eat famous food. I wanted to live in a place that was…not where I was. Don’t get me wrong; this wasn’t some desire that consumed me. It was just me being a teenager, I suppose. I used to think it was weird that I wore the athletic hats of certain sports teams when I wasn’t from those places. How could I really call myself a Minnesota Twins fan when I was neither from Minnesota nor a twin?

I don’t know. That was what the 18-year old me thought, or at least the 16-year old me. 

But again, that was twenty years ago. It’s amazing the lessons life teaches you in that amount of time. It seems like a long time, doesn’t it, twenty years? But it’s not. That’s the smoke and mirrors Father Time plays on us. 

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Looking back, New Mexico was a beautiful place with its own spirit and color to it. Still is. It’s not the New Mexico I grew up with, but then again, why would it be? No one ever steps in the same river twice. 

Some of the same people are there – my family’s still there (most of them, at least), and just as in the first paragraph of every one of Jordan‘s Wheel of Time books, “The Wheel of Time turns…leaving memories that become legend.” Well, it’s not that dramatic. It’s Albuquerque, not Tar Valon. It’s still there, very alive, and very real. It’s still the heart of the Southwest, full of cowboy legends and Navajo whispers. It’s still where you go for terrific green chile, and the Rio Grande is still a rio, though sadly, it seems to have lost a bit too much of its ‘Grande.’ It’s all these things, It’s just not my Albuquerque anymore. 

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Yet, it’s still a very warm place, and a place for which I am grateful. The energy of that town has shaped me, added, enhanced, and shaded my life, all in a beautiful mysterious way which, all the while I was there, was hidden from me. 

In so many words, I’ve appreciated my visit to the Southwest home of my younger self. I felt again its embrace of my return and its perennial contentment of my fondness for it. 

That’s a Whole ‘Nother’ Issue


I hate it when people say that.

Here’s the deal. There is no such word called ‘nother.’ There has never existed any such word. It’s not real. Doesn’t exist and likely (the gods help me) won’t. Yet, it’s omnipresent in colloquial speech, isn’t it? We hear it all the time in some sort of string of words like the above (title). They’ll say things like, “That’s a whole nother thing,” or “That’s a whole nother situation.”

Or, if you’re Snoop Dogg, you say “If it ain’t one thing, it’s a muthaf*ckin’ notha.*

My wife and I attended a soirée last evening with some friends, and at some point, a discussion related to English grammar emerged. Here’s the question: is there any English situation in which you can use the words ‘an’ and ‘other’ separately and it’s correct? A separate side question would be ‘if I use these two words separately in an essay or within a piece of formal writing, is it incorrect?

At the time, I didn’t have the magic of Google to help me in my linguistic side quest; that had to wait until later. But I was still intrigued by the question.

Historically, the word ‘another’ came from, you guessed it, ‘an other’ at some point in the 16th Century. I haven’t done the research, but I don’t think there’s a huge mystery as to why this happened. It’s the same reason why most literal amalgams occur, and that’s for easy of pronunciation. Even if you look at it separately (an other), you want to read it with a space or a lull in your words. No need, right?

I have since looked this question up and, though most voices out there are adamant in proclaiming the existence of a grammatically acceptable allowance for the separation of words, there are a couple voices out there which say otherwise. One entry said that if you were describing “a different one,” you could use ‘an other’, but if you were describing one more of the same, you would use ‘another.’

Much of what I landed upon was a football field of fora dedicated to the topic. Many who were voicing their opinions on whether or not it was correct, and if the separated term existed or not.

I simply find it interesting, and I’m willing to leave it at that.

But, please, whichever side you choose, I beg you to stop using the ‘a whole nother’ nonsensical phrase. It’s not something we need our progeny growing up with. Now, what we do give our progeny with regard to language education is a whole other matter..

LP

 

Gorra (5-minute story)


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I remember very clearly the day I found the hat in my grandfather’s attic. It was circular and it didn’t have a rim. It was blue and white and red.

“Grandpa?” I asked. “Where is this from?” My grandfather rushed over from the old linen chest he had been grumbling over and stood next to me looking down at what I had just found.

“Ah,” he said in his Castilian accent. “I see you have found my gorra. This is a special hat, you know?”

“Why?”

“Yes, a special hat that will take you to some many fanciful places.” Then he knelt down and spoke to me very softly. “Do you know what it means when I say the word ‘fanciful’?”

I didn’t know that my grandfather knew how to make his voice soft. He always spoke with a strong tone  – a voice of knowing things.

I shook my head.

“Well,” he went on. “It means something that belongs to more of a magical world – something unlike this world.” Then he began to say the names of items and beasts and spirits that I had only heard in my youth in stories that my mother used to read to me. He talked about how he had seen some of these creatures, had touched them.

My grandfather passed away ten or so years ago after I found that hat. He let me keep it. And just recently, at night, I swear that I have heard his soft voice again, whispering the names of fanciful beasts.

Jars


Jars
(a five-minute story by L.P. Stribling)

original

He collected them in a dark room, but they weren’t for sale. It’s not that there wasn’t a market. And it’s not that he couldn’t make a lot of money. There was, and he could. It was just that, in this particular realm of his life, he considered himself selfish.

“There we go,” he said. “One more friend in your circle.”

He spoke to them openly. He never heard their responses, but he knew that they spoke back to him.

When the police came to his house in early August, they did more than come with a warrant. They came with a team, each with ten persons or so. He was detained immediately. That was the easy part. They had to actually go through the house, with all of the rumors and stories weighing on their shoulders.

They found the doorway down into the dark after several hours of searching. They hesitated at first. They took deep breaths and full-charged flashlights, and they went down.

Their lights didn’t help from the horrors they found. Dead things hanging, rotten smells floating. Diseases, aches, and pains. Sicknesses of the word that were probably best kept from it.

And then, at some early hour of the morning, they found the jars.

Getting the Words Down


Writers write for different reasons, different purposes, and like fingerprints, no two of them are the same. I read an article today by Dan Wells, modern-day author of a horror series called the ‘John Cleaver Series’, who talked about how he doesn’t write for any other reason than to tell a story that must come out.

That’s one way to do it.

Others write to get paid; let’s face it, there are those of us out there who follow the often overly used adage of ‘do what you love.’ Even others because they know they’re good at it and that’s what they want to do. There are multiple reasons to write. It can be anything you want it to be. You don’t have to be a writer of goblins and zombies. You can just as easily be a freelance writer who takes on any job if it pays well enough. You can write about sports, engineering, how to install hardwood floors, or how Keeping Up with the Kardashians is an essential element of American education (fact). If you want to be a writer, you have to write. You can read all you want to (encouraged), and talk about writing to whomever for as long as you want to, but none of that will put your fingers on the keys.

At the end of the day, it’s about being committed, seeing it through. It also depends on your goals. It can be whatever you’d like it to be, whatever you dream it to be. But in order to realize the big dreams, you have to have the big heart and the determination to do the hard work. It’s just like anything; you have to put in the time. You just have to put in that time over and over and over, and before you know it, you’ve improved. It helps to harken back to one of those antiquated quotation of relevance similar to the one spoken by Shakespeare’s Iago in Othello regarding patience.

There are people in this life we idolize, places we use as the backdrops of our dreams, and conversations, which, regardless of our defiance of the fact, render themselves immortal. Bidden or not, they visit us regardless, as much during the waking day as they do when we sleep. These are unlike the countless other merciful gypsies of the world of the incorporeal world, those who understand that form and formless alike are separate beings, each with its own desire, destination, and hunger. What I speak of here are those who reject that separation, reject the laws of independence of life travel. I speak here of those dream aggressors who use their own formlessness to pester, invade, and eventually command their targets. I’m speaking of those things of dream that begin with harmless intent, by saying something simple, something like, “give me a hand?”

I wrote the above a couple of weeks ago and put it aside. Then, last night in a daze I opened up the document again and reread it.

What in the world was I talking about? I shook my head then as I do now; I haven’t the slightest idea as to what I was going on about. It was important to me, clearly. It was something I had to get down, but I cannot recall where I was going. But looking back, it doesn’t matter. I’m certainly not going to allow myself to become emotionally or professionally unhinged simply because I didn’t know where I was going. It was a free-write, and therein lay a lesson.

The writer writes. It’s the first rule Neil Gaiman lists in his top eight rules for writing. It’s not just him, either. Many others have publicly given the same advice, and it would by my supposition that writers worldwide (even those who have passed) would tell you that without that first rule, there’s nothing “writerly” about your professed position as a ‘writer.’

That’s really all you need. Yes, yes, there is the whole thing about getting it edited, copy-edited, finding an agent, getting it published, marketing it, and so on and so forth. But you don’t need to worry about any of that right now. Worry about that when you get there.

That’s it. Right now all you have to worry about is putting the words down on the page. If you’ve ever seen the wonderful writing-inspired movie, Finding Forester, you know that there should be very little thinking up front. All that complex work comes later.

Right now, just the words.