Psychosis, the paranoia of intense scrutiny

Every man a spy, every place a trap

Adding locks to a door of the mind, only to hear

The knob turning and fear

Flooding forth and bringing with it

Cold sweats and labored breathing once again.

An impregnable maze assembled

Frantically

One night, stretching into timeless void

Great ideas that would stand the test of time

A week later, returned to cryptic signs

Incomprehensible. Was this me?

Conjured as a shade, a joker, a

Mummers farce with bells and painted faces?

The paranoid have enemies, this is true

But do they fade

Dissolve

Turn into a river of sand pouring from

Our clenched fist?

Our existential threats rise and fall

And one day we will confront them

But shadows are not soldiers,

And they leave no mark for others to see

owls among me

In the darkness of the room; I am surrounded by owls

sighing with their blue-white eyes as they sit on tables, shelves, and ceilings

they gaze;

but yet they do not see.

No fault of mine for I know not where

in what factory, in what nation they took their sight; yet

I wonder, in the obsidian winter beyond these walls,

who are you, owl of mine?

Can you think, or are these numbers upon you a tattoo

left by an elder long since past away;

can you smile, or is this happy expression merely a mind contemplating

for a few minutes too long;

And can you feel, or do your memories hold no tulips, no zinnias, no tours around

a field, coyly gazing at an owl sweetly returning your gaze

Bedside owl, I do not know what sorrow you hold, what joy.

But I love you, if it means anything.

Going the distance on writing- NaNoWriMo

Well, it’s about seven weeks before the 1st of November, and the beginning of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). During the month of November, a bunch of people will attempt to write a full novel- the only requirement being that it has to be at least 50,000 words long. And by ‘a bunch’, I mean that in 2011, over a quarter million people attempted the challenge. It is the largest event in the history of creative writing, despite that it dates from 1999, when there were 21 writers.

That’s quite a lot of copy- 5 1/2 pages a day roughly. It tests limits of endurance, time management, and dealing with the frustration associated with novel writing- condensed into a very limited time-frame.

I tried my hand at NaNoWriMo last year- attempting to create a fictionalized version of my experiences at Occupy. What I quickly realized as that my biggest problem, even bigger than the organizing and consistency, was that I have no clue how to write fiction. I’ve never been able to write more than ten pages without getting angry at my lack of structure, and lack of exciting passages. There are key problems with dialogue, with showing rather than telling, with creating a compelling setting.

A long-term solution is to educate myself through creative writing curriculum, find people with similar problems and form a group, embark on a writing project over many months. This, however, doesn’t fit into two months very easily. Fiction, therefore, is an unlikely path at present.

So it looks like I will cross the void and join a ragged group, the NaNoWriMo Rebels. Given their own discussion form in a far-flung place, they are attempting to reach 50,000 words by other means. Epic poetry, biographies, essay compilations. The organization that manages the event and verifies completion has recently come out and stated it plainly- it is not cheating to write something outside of the scope. Fiction is not necessary, neither is a cohesive and related 50,000 words.

It is there that prospects are brighter. Most of what I’ve written for pleasure since my senior year of high school have been essays- often in the form of blog posts. Much of this is unrefined, but two things drive me to an essay compilation:

1. I can generate quite a lot of copy in a single day from essays. In a couple hours I can produce a thousand word blog piece- less if I write about something that doesn’t need citations. Two thousand words is the daily minimum if I have any hope.

2. Unrefined is fine. The whole point of the exercise is to write a lot, and write everyday. It’s the important step to other good habits in writing- you cannot work on your editing if you have no copy to work on.

Only about one in seven participants actually completes the task. It is a monumental undertaking and stretches the limits of a great many people- even seasoned writers, let alone people who haven’t done intensive writing in years, if at all. I do not know if I am capable of doing this.

But that’s something you don’t know until you try.

A prompt to encourage reflection

What was the rarest thing in nature- animal, plant or inanimate phenomenon- that you have seen in its natural place? How did it feel to see it for the first time?

In short, I think the courtship ritual of the waved (or Galapagos) albatross, a fairly large bird of flight that migrates thousands of miles, but only nests on one of the Galapagos, far to the south of the rest. Their courtship is pretty hilarious to watch- it involves the clacking together of their beaks, putting their long necks under their own wings, then staring straight into the sky while making a strange “woo-hoo” sound.

Though I saw rarer species in the wild in the Galapagos- I saw a young wild tortoise that wouldn’t come out of its shell; also I saw a flock of Lava Gull, which only has 800 adult members and is endemic to the Islands. But the dance is so spontaneous, so bizarre, so downright fun to watch and to laugh at, it’s just amazing. We have some video that I probably would have to berate my father to find, so I’ll just post up a YouTube video. Most videos have hysterical laughing in them- it’s really infectious and you’ll find yourself at some point imitating the albatross.

Writing group at UUCPA

I participated in the writing group facilitated by Rev. Dan Harper, head of the religious education at UUCPA. It was nice to hear memoir content from people decades my elder, including one who served in World War II. In response to the prompt about a ‘road trip’, I wrote a short reflection called ‘Handa’ about my trip to my ancestral town in Highland Scotland.

I’ll upload it when I’ve had time to type it out. It’s not presently very legible.

Dan also had the idea of collecting the group’s work into some sort of booklet. I am definitely interested, though this was my first time participating in the group and I know much less about the concept.

 

Personal project

Recently, I decided to compile and format all my nonfiction writing (mostly blog posts, as well as a personal statement I used for an application, and some more formal essays) and create what ultimately will be a little booklet. It’s 20 pages presently, in small font with some pages not being filled. It represents everything I think it worth sharing that I’ve written since mid-2009. I’ll probably throw in some (mostly pre-2009) poetry and other creative work.

Overall I’m excited. I’ve tried and failed many times to write fiction I’m satisfied with. Though it needs to be edited, this booklet-in-training is something I’m already quite proud of.

Oscar Grant (formerly Frank Ogawa) Plaza; March 30th, 2012

Oscar Grant (formerly Frank Ogawa) Plaza; March 30th, 2012

A mural in the former Frank Ogawa Plaza, renamed after the man shot by BART police on New Year’s Day, 2009. It depicts the now-famous silhouette cast by protesters on top of trucks in the Port of Oakland. On November 2nd, 2011 during a general strike (the first since 1946 in the United States), well over 10,000 people brought the Port to a standstill for twelve hours.

Oscar Grant (formerly Frank Ogawa) Plaza; March 30th, 2012

A mural in the former Frank Ogawa Plaza, renamed after the man shot by BART police on New Year’s Day, 2009. It depicts the now-famous silhouette cast by protesters on top of trucks in the Port of Oakland. On November 2nd, 2011 during a general strike (the first since 1946 in the United States), well over 10,000 people brought the Port to a standstill for twelve hours.