Mashups–Did them before; let’s do them again.
(Mashups–a bit of this and that; often includes snippets from Waiting for Westmoreland [tenth edition] along with other memoir material, AND thoughts or perspectives on writing, thematic observations, etc.)
Snippets cut from cold cloth. Allusions and associations. So Cold in China, a Leo Kottke song title. Cold Shot, Stevie Ray Vaughan song title. Can’t include lyrics without permissions. But here’s the thing, if you read them, you’ll understand. Lyrics—time-bound or generational—can limit popularity. Universality works better; most songs get that. The same goes for written works. Idioms can limit an audience—unless you’re writing historical fiction or nonfiction. Obscure allusions can be trouble too—although critics of literary works absolutely love them.
Densely packed allusions fill Gravity’s Rainbow. It’s the doorstop fruitcake cliché in print. Kill the metaphor. Her rum-soaked fruitcake is soft and moist, and rich in its varied flavors. Fruitcakes are not all doorstops—nor are all award-winning books, I imagine. I tried reading Gravity’s Rainbow three times. If it takes hours of research, no thanks. To be great is to be misunderstood; to be misunderstood doesn’t make something great. That’s a faulty syllogism. Critics and savants unite!
It’s icy cold in Slaughterhouse Five for Billy Pilgrim. Ordinary folks can comprehend being unstuck in time. No National Book Award, still a classic in the top 100 novels. “So it goes,” a simple motif for death. Someday, maybe I’ll use Dean Koontz character names as villains—payback on behalf of Vonnegut for Koontz making Kurt’s hero names villains in his own books. Kurt wrote circles around Dean.
Self-publish. Thankfully, I don’t need to make money writing. So why spend it on agents et al. OK, I did pop for a nice cover from a 99 Designs participant–see the Tenth Edition of Waiting for Westmoreland. Some editing too. Can’t do it all. I’d like to throw in some allusions—not as many as Pynchon. Motifs free of clichés. Some symbols, metaphors and similes. I don’t need more help beyond what college and work have taught me—along with some adult ed, resource books, websites from others, etc. Plus some critique groups with other writers—what works or needs a new direction.
Cold? It’s not cold here in Silver. Nordic blood runs through my veins. I played hockey outdoors in Minneapolis, with temps in the 20s. Moving back and forth in the crease, as a goalie, for hours. Shoveling snow in Virginia, progressively removing a hat and coat and more. Finally, leaving just a tee-shirt. I don’t find fires delightful—stinky, with ash to clean up.
I want to be a writer that plies the Golden Mean. Like Goldilocks: not too big and not too small; not too hot and not too cold. Avoiding time and generation-bound slang in favor of more diverse and lasting idiom, metaphor and simile broadening an audience. Sci-fi was my childhood goal. After Vietnam, the memoir had to come first. Short stories and novels. Sci-fi, mystery/suspense/thrillers. Let’s throw in a nonfiction travel or a financial planning book, too. Nine more books by 2030, including a sequel (sort of) to Waiting for Westmoreland in 2027. The time travel story comes when it’s ready—maybe sooner than I thought. I need more writing chops and research for that one—or so I used to believe.
Humility? OK, maybe a little lacking. Kottke has it—self deprecating about his voice. I met him decades ago at a Minneapolis booking agency. Herbie Hancock has it too—along with earnest sincerity. I did morning Gongyo at 7 AM at L’Enfant Plaza for a week with Herbie, Tina Turner, Patrick Duffy. A Buddhist event on October 9th, 1982 in DC, on the mall. I was a driver—for Herbie and his wife Gigi, among other tasks. Missed the show, featuring them all. I believe Tina made the cause for her successful comeback 18 months later with What’s Love Got to Do With It. Buster Williams, the guy who introduced Herbie to Buddhism, is a little pushy. Talked to him at Blues Alley, a DC jazz club. He chided me for not staying with my legal practice. He backed off after I explained it to him.
There was that January in Minneapolis, where it only got above zero one day. I was cold, then. Especially when I had to change a tire, one next to the curb. It was eight degrees. A fire might have been welcome then. She still says I wanted to retire to Minnesota. Not true. I like seasons, but the one here is fine. Better than Northern Virginia—not so hot or humid and less snow.
There’s a series among those nine books. Struggled with the genre and the characters. Then I came up with Buddhist fiction. There’s Christian fiction. Why not Buddhist? Encourage those who are practitioners or bring along the newbies. So yes, I could do the Buddhist fiction—avoiding name-dropping or mentioning being Herbie’s driver back when.
I just have to come in from the cold, when it drops in.