Tag Archives: writing

Mickey Notes

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This is the purple-furred Mickey Icon done Don Martin-style.

If you are one of those readers who has taken to regularly reading Mickey posts on Catch a Falling Star ( a habit that is probably bad for you, but certainly not fatal), there are some things and random recent developments that you should probably be made aware of.

  • Mickey recently finished a rough-draft novel.  After giving birth to a massive 12-month-long-gestating thought artifact like that, there is bound to be some necessary recovery time involved.  He may be difficult to understand for a while as he puts the pieces of his psyche back together again.  Using mental duct tape for such things takes time and patience.
  • The novel is called Recipes for Gingerbread Children.  If that arouses curiosity in you (a condition that I also hope is not fatal… You are not a cat, are you?), there are instances of rants and delusional spoutings about this story to be found in recent posts on this blog.  Unfortunately, it will not be published immediately.  You will have to wait to actually read it until I or my heirs eventually get it published… by whatever means necessary (though I have my doubts about the plan involving kidnapped alien slaves and mimeograph machines.)
  • The novel I do have nearing publication is Magical Miss Morgan.  I recently submitted approval for final edits to my project manager for Page Publishing.  Since I am investing my own money in this publication project, I am expecting that it will get published before 2017 is done.  I will continue to relentlessly plug the thing here.
  • Page Publishing is a less expensive and less professional publisher than I-Universe that did Catch a Falling Star for me.  If you are reading this for ideas about pursuing publication yourself, I would recommend the more expensive publisher first, due to the quality of their professional editors, though I intend to continue publishing my books with less expensive self-publishing options like Amazon from here on.  As I finish the publishing process I am now involved in, I promise to complain about publishers and throw Mark-Twain-like insult fits in future blog posts.  No one should have to repeat the egregious mistakes that Mickey has made.
  • Catch a Falling Star, the blog, will continue to be a blog about my artwork, my story-telling, my teacher memories, and my generally confusing and bombastic opinions about life, the universe, and everything… including pies.  Mmm!  Pies are good.  You might even want to look at my essay on Gooseberry Pie.

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In case you were not aware of it, this purple mouse-man is Mickey, and Mickey is the writer-spirit within me.  Mickey is not actually me.  You know how Mark Twain is not really a real person?  The real person was Samuel Langhorn Clemens.  Mickey is not a really real person either.  Michael Beyer, cartoonist, writer, and former middle school teacher is the real person… if any former middle school teacher can ever be considered a real person.

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Filed under feeling sorry for myself, humor, Mickey, novel, novel plans, NOVEL WRITING, Paffooney, publishing, strange and wonderful ideas about life, work in progress, writing, writing humor

The Lyrical Imperative

Creativity

I am always amazed by the fact that things which are inherently silent in nature make music in your mind.  Writing is like that for me.  Drawing is like that.  And so is photography.  That is an actual musical score from Chopin in the background.  My son recognized it from a book of piano pieces I bought for him because he reads music and can turn those squiggle-bugs on the fence into the right plinkety-plunks on a keyboard.  But there is more music in that picture besides.  The nude young girl at the keyboard softly rendered in velvety colored pencil tones is also musical in nature, for more than just the fact of fingers on a silent colored pencil keyboard.  The lyrical loops of black and yellow in the wings of the tiger swallowtail butterfly also make music in my head, sprightly piano music like Chopin’s, or possibly Vivaldi’s violins.

Did you listen to the music?  I don’t mean Vivaldi’s, although if you haven’t heard it, you certainly should.  I mean the music in the words.  The music has to be there for me for the writing to be good.  That’s why I consider Ray Bradbury and Walt Whitman to be masters and Stephenie Meyer and E. L. James to be unreadable hacks.  The beat and the flow of the words need to be patterned and patient and wily.   Do you not hear it in that last sentence? The alliteration of the first two adjectives set off by the counterpoint of the stressed-unstressed beats of the third?  How can I explain this?

Iambic pentameter is the true genius of Shakespeare’s plays.  What the heck is iambic pentameter, you ask?  Well, I realize you have probably never needed to teach poetry to seventh graders, a truly impossible but infinitely rewarding task.  So let me tell you.  Units of stress called iambs consist of an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.  So naturally, if iambs are put into pentameter, then there must be five of them in a line of iambic pentameter poetry.  It is a simple, rhythmic way to say something profound and interesting.  The classic example is the first line of Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18;

Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?

Translating that into X’s and O’s where X=stressed and O=unstressed;

O X O X O X O X O X

It’s simple, five oxes, all in a line.  Except that last one about oxes is actually O X O X X O O O O X, a less simple pattern, yet still organized on the beat.  Two iambs, a dactyl and an anapest.  Okay, now I am talking like a poetry geek, and I have to stop it before I hurt someone.

The whole point is, words should be musical, even when they are not the words to a song.  And now I must close on the verge of starting a ten-thousand word thesis.  I shall shut up now.  Here endeth the lesson.

 

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The Silent Sonata

creativity

Being a writer is a life of music that happens only in your head.  You hear voices constantly.  They pulse rhythmically with insights and ideas that have to be written down and remembered.  Otherwise  the music turns clashing-cymbals dark and depressing.  Monday I wrote a deeply personal thank you to the Methodist minister who saved my life when I was a boy.  I posted a YouTube music video by the acapella group Pentatonix with that essay in a vain attempt to give you an idea of the music in my head when I composed that very difficult piece to give myself a measure of peace.

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I realize that I am not writing poetry here.  Poetry can so easily slip into melody and music because of rhythm and meter and rhyme.  And yet, words to me are always about singing, about performing, about doing tricks with metaphor and meaning, rhythm, convoluted sentence structure, and other sneaky things that snake-oil salesman do to get you to think what you are hearing is precisely what you needed to hear.  The Sonata of Silence…  did you notice the alliteration of the silvery letter “S” in that title?  The beat of the syllables?  Da-daah-da a da-da?  The way a mere suggestion of music can bring symphonic sounds to your ear of imagination as you read?  The way a simple metaphor, writing is music, can be wrapped into an essay like a single refrain in a symphonic piece?

psoriasis

A sonata is a musical exercise in three or four movements that is basically instrumental in nature.  You may have noticed that the movements are loosely defined here by the accompanying pictures, of which there are three.  And it is silent only in the way that the instruments I am using themselves make no noise in the physical world.  The only sounds as I type these words are the hum of an old air conditioner and the whirr of my electric fan.  Yet my mind is filled with crescendos of violins and cellos, bold brass, and soft woodwinds.  The voice saying these words aloud only in my head is me.  Not the me you hear when I talk or the me I can hear on recordings of my own voice, but rather the me that I always hear from the inside.  And the voice is not so much “saying” as “singing”.

Writing makes music.  The writer can hear it.  The reader can too.  And whether I croon it to make you cry, or trill it to make you laugh, I am playing the instrument.  And so, the final notes of the sonata are these.  Be happy.  Be well.  And listen for the music.

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Amazing Days

rooster riding

One never knows how things are going to turn out.  My car, which was nearly paid off, gets destroyed by a passing motorist as it was parked in front of my house.  I endured two weeks of driving the rented Chibi Clown Car from Enterprise, I endured a financial set-back for an accident that was completely not my fault, but it resulted in being able to buy an updated version of the same make and model from Enterprise, lowering my monthly car payments and now owning a car that is superior to the one I lost.  Of course, I got a letter in the mail yesterday from a bank that is denying me credit for buying a car.  Every wave is followed by a trough and then another wave.  That is just how life works.

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I pitched a no-hitter yesterday in EA Sports Baseball ’04 on my X-box.   Of course this game and game machine are more than 12 years old, so I have had time to practice, a lot!  And the game is still set on rookie level.  But, what the heck, I deserve a little bit of easy victory now and then.

Donner n Silkie

My writing goals took a few shots in the last two months.  My publisher has experienced a financial hardship and slow-down before my novel actually gets into print.  My novel sales for Catch a Falling Star have tanked and I have the publicist from that publisher calling me, asking me to invest lots of money in a new publicity campaign.  Like I want to invest $4,000 in a campaign that may only yield another 16 dollars in a year’s time.  But I found a much cheaper way to get reviewed and promoted by Serious Reading ( http://seriousreading.com/ ).   They promise the same or better results for $3,950 less.  And I also learned from my publisher that they are making a come-back.  So, it is even possible that I can get further novels published through PDMI.

I remain a pessimist.  I will never be disappointed by unrealistic expectations.  I anticipate nothing but disaster and misfortune.  But as long as the house is still standing and Armaggedon is not happening as fast as the Jehovah’s Witnesses anticipate, there are still good things to be found and to have happen.  And since I wasn’t expecting any good things, they are all pleasant surprises.

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Filed under autobiography, battling depression, fairies, humor, Paffooney, pessimism

The Survivor

Elf on Patrol

I am trying to bounce back.  Yesterday I survived the possible end of the world.  No heart attack.  No asteroid hitting the Earth.  But also no writing contest win.  A huge delay in the publication of my novel.  My writing world is in danger of expiring because my life is winding down to its finale, and I’m running out of time.  I can still do it, though.  I have come back from down and out before.

In 1983 I had a mole removed from my face.  It wasn’t a vanity-type thing.  Removing it wasn’t going to cure ugliness or anything.  But it had gotten larger and had a strange color change.  So, my ancient and doddering Czechoslovakian  doctor removed it just to be sure.  As with any such removal, the excised tissue was sent to the lab for analysis.  Malignant melanoma in the very first stages.  At the time, the survival rate for such a cancer in Texas was less than fifty per cent.  But most cases were not discovered so early in the crisis.  I went back in for more surgery.  They ended up cutting a hole through my right cheek and stitching it back together again.  The new tissue underwent very close scrutiny and it was determined that all the dangerous cells had been removed during the very first surgery.  No evidence anywhere of creeping metastasizing cancer death.  It was decided that chemo-therapy would only do harm and would not help anything.  So I got to keep my hair.  It did eventually mean the removal of two more moles and three lumps, but they were all benign.  Cancer was fought off and beaten 33 years ago this month.  I am a cancer survivor.

I often marvel at the fact that I am still alive and still able to write.  I have had innumerable near misses.  Car accidents that didn’t happen by a matter of inches.  The skidding truck on the icy street in Iowa City missed the front tire of my bicycle by about three inches.  Facing down irrationally angry youths with weapons intending to strike out in anger, and somehow having the right words to calm them and prevent the tragedy.  One of them told me it was because he looked me in the eye and saw no fear there that he couldn’t do it, couldn’t strike me down.  By rights, I should be dead.  It is a supreme irony of life that an almost-atheist like me believes in guardian angels.

I don’t know what the ultimate goal is.  I don’t expect to be a wealthy published novelist like Stephen King.  I don’t know if it is even important that I break through the bookstore barriers and get my work on the shelves for a few paltry dollars.  It is really only important that I write.  This blog has become important to me because I have developed a small readership that actually reads and provides feedback.  I do occasionally reach the heart of people I don’t actually even know.  And I have made friends and relatives a little bit misty.  I have written 849 posts, posting every single day of 2015, and every single day of fifteen months in a row.  I have written six complete novels and gotten two actually into print with an ISBN number and everything.  My writing, like me myself, exists, and it will survive.  I am a survivor.

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Filed under autobiography, healing, health, humor, novel plans, writing

Soliloquy

In college I took classes in oral reading and acting because I was nutty about drama and play-writing, even though I was much too terrified of being put on a public stage to ever try out for a part.  But in Oral Reading 101 I was given the gift of a professor who actually was the head of the ISU Drama Department.  One of the things he made us do was a soliloquy from a Shakespeare play.  I was assigned the opening soliloquy from Richard the Third.

Good God!  Is that man ever a villain and a monster!  He’s more sinister and evil than Snidely Whiplash or Dick Dastardly… and certainly no less cartoonish.  Here is the best I can still do to recreate my old college performance of “The Winter of Our Discontent” soliloquy.

To pull off this assignment (On which I received an A grade from a professor known for imperious F-giving) I had to do a lot of research on King Richard III to be able to walk around in his skin for three whole minutes.  I had to learn about him from books and articles and drama critiques.  I spent a couple of weeks in the library (There was no internet or Google in 1978).  I learned that he was a complex man involved in the deeply troubled time of the War of the Roses.  He was from the house of York, the House of the White Rose.  His elder brother, Edward, had been  victorious in both battle and royal intrigue, and, with Richard’s help had secured the throne of England that had been wrested from the hands of Richard II to begin the struggle between House Lancaster (the Red Rose) and House York… both of which had blood-relationship claims to the throne.  Once in the hands of Richard’s brother Edward IV, the crown did not really rest peacefully on Yorkish heads.  Edward became ill and died in 1483.  The crown was to then go to twelve-year-old Edward V who was placed under the care of Uncle Richard’s regency.  At the time of his coronation, the legitimacy of Edward IV’s marriage was declared null and void, making the boy no longer eligible to be king.  Richard seized the title.  Young Edward and his younger brother were taken to the Tower of London and they were never seen publicly again.  According to Shakespeare, Richard did, in fact, have them killed.  But, the crown did not stay on Richard’s head for longer than two years.  In 1485 Henry Tudor came back to England from France.  Richard was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth Field and died in battle there.

I do actually understand Richard in ways that are difficult to admit.  I know what it feels like to be convinced you are unworthy by factors beyond your control.  Richard was a hunchback, plagued with severe scoliosis of the spine.  He lived his life in pain and was ridiculed for his deformity in a time where it was believed such things were a punishment from God for sins of the parents, or even sins the child himself was born with.  I can relate.  I was always so far above the other kids in my class at school that I was treated like a Martian, unloved and unlovable because I could not speak a language they really understood.  And on top of that, I was secretly the victim of a sexual assault, a condition that I feared made me a monster.  I could so easily have become a monster.  I could’ve set my mind to it in the same way Richard did, because vengeance for his differences consumed him utterly.  Thankfully, I did not choose a path of evil.  Drawing and telling stories proved to be the pick and shovel I used to dig myself out of my own pit of despair.

richard III DNA

Richard III’s long-forgotten grave was rediscovered in 2013, and a DNA match with relatives proved the skeleton with scoliosis was him in 2014.

The real Richard III may not have been the monster Shakespeare portrayed him as, either.  He was demonized after his defeat and death by the Tudors to strengthen their shaky claim to the throne.  There exists some evidence that he was a progressive king and a friend to his people, but horribly betrayed by some of his own followers, and certainly made the scapegoat by succeeding generations.

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A recreation of what Richard III looked like based on the skull found and portraits from the time period.

There is also some evidence that Shakespeare wrote the play as a political diatribe against the hunchback in the royal court of his day.  Sir Robert Cecil, 1st Earl of Salisbury was also a hunchback with scoliosis.   And by his sometimes sinister-seeming machinations, he rose to power as Secretary of State for both Elizabeth I, and after her, James I.  He had a part to play in making James the King after Elizabeth’s long reign, probably an instrumental part.  He also uncovered the Gunpowder Plot of Guy Fawkes and friends, and rumors persisted that he had more to do with it than merely revealing and foiling it.  Nothing was ever proven against him.  Though Elizabeth called him “my pygmy” and James referred to him as “my little beagle”, he held power throughout his lifetime and foiled the work of his many enemies against him.  In fact, it is the similarities between Shakespeare’s Richard III and Robert Cecil that first made me begin to believe that Shakespeare was actually someone other than the actor who owned the Globe Theater and never spelled his own name the same way twice.  Knowing about Cecil surely needed to be the act of an insider in the royal court.  I balked at first when it was suggested to me that Shakespeare’s plays were actually written by Francis Bacon… and I continued to doubt until I learned more about the Earl of Oxford, Edward deVere.

So what is the point of this soliloquy about the soliloquy of Richard III?  Well, the point is that at one time I had to be him for a short while.  I had to understand who he was (at least the character that Shakespeare created him to be) and think as he thought.  That is what a soliloquy truly is.  Sharing from the character’s mind to my mind… and back again if I am to perform him… or even write him in some future fiction.

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Filed under autobiography, soliloquy, William Shakespeare, writing

Scheakenschifter’s Totally Imaginary Emporium

For a while now I have been learning the hard way that being a writer means selling lies for a living, and you only get paid in imaginary money.  I mean, I-Universe has a payment policy of 10% royalties, but they only send you a check when they reach $25 dollars that they owe you.  So, the $16 dollars they owe me for book sales in 2014 is still in their bank account.  Blogging on the internet (what I am supposedly doing as a professional author here on WordPress with a site set up for me by I-Universe) pays in reader appreciation, likes, and shares.  I get paid diddly-zilch for that.

So, I have decided to open an online imaginary store.  I found a couple of partners, Junius Scheakenschifter the business entrepreneur, and Sam the Banana Man, a cartoonist like me (but a little more loony).  The thing that makes them difficult to work with is that both of them are completely fictional people, existing only in my imagination.  But that’s okay.  The store is made up of entire lines of imaginary inventory and I only charge a little appreciation and some fantasy money for each item.

Let me make a list for you of the best-selling items in my store.

The patent for this alien technology actually belongs to the ruling council of the Telleron Star Empire.

The patent for this alien technology actually belongs to the ruling council of the Telleron Star Empire.

After the failed alien invasion in my second published novel, Catch a Falling Star, I had a number of these alien ray pistols in my possession.   They are called Skortch Rays by the Tellerons (Who speak Galactic English just like we do as they learned it from watching I Love Lucy episodes from the television signals that have already traveled to the nearest stars).  Testing them out on rats and people who annoy me, I have determined that they are basically molecular disintegration rays that turn solid objects… and rats and annoying people… into loose, free-floating atoms and clouds of gas.  This is particularly useful for those people who annoy you, as no physical evidence is left of the skortching for the local authorities to find and give you disapproving stares over.  Of course, since it really only works on the imaginary people who annoy you, you probably don’t have to worry about the moral aspects of the things anyway.  I believe these items are worth somewhere in the neighborhood of billions and billions of dollars, but I am offering them at the sale price of one imaginary wooden nickel apiece.  Surely you can afford that.  And they work really well on exterminating imaginary rats.

4th Dimensional Hoola Hoops can be hazardous to your health, so I recommend you read the enclosed user's manual from cover to cover.

4th Dimensional Hoola Hoops can be hazardous to your health, so I recommend you read the enclosed user’s manual from cover to cover.

The Fourth-Dimensional Hoola Hoop is really hard to imagine a practical application for, but I think it is obvious that it represents hours and hours of mildly radioactive fun.  I am told that the longer you hula with the hoops, the farther your top part gets from the bottom part.  I am told this by Mr. Scheakenschifter who tested it himself.  But I can’t prove his claims are true because he is still hooping, and the top half of him in the A-ring claims that the bottom half of him in the B-ring is now hooping along the north shores of the Hudson Bay.  I am waiting for the news footage of a wandering pair of legs wearing a hoop to be posted on one of the many conspiracy-theory websites I follow.  (What do you mean that wouldn’t be valid evidence?  I believe them about the crop circles and UFO sightings, don’t I?)  We will happily sell you a 4th-Dimensional Hoola Hoop for the low, low price of one thousand Trans-Orgonian Bleeb-chuckers, the standard transactional currency used on the third planet of the Trans-Orgonia Star System.  The natives there give Bleeb-chuckers away for free, so all you have to do is make a trip there and collect them.  (I also have a special deal available on Earth-to-Trans-Orgonia starships of the imaginary and dream-works variety.)

Moosewinkles are easy to care for and train because they only eat imaginary sauerkraut and speak English particularly well for a moose.

Moosewinkles are easy to care for and train because they only eat imaginary sauerkraut and speak English particularly well for a moose.

The last item I would like to tempt you with today is a Moosewinkle.  These cartoon mooses… er, moosi… er, meese… are the perfect item to use as you discover the strenuous sport of Moose Bowling.  Moose Bowling is good for your heart because a moose weighs in the neighborhood of half a ton.  Throwing one down a lane in a bowling alley takes strength, determination, considerable skill, and… moose muscles.   If you can roll a moose down the lane, you are practically guaranteed a strike on every ball.  The moose tends to knock down all the pins whether you hit the head pin or not.  In fact, it will probably record a strike in the lanes on either side as well.  Wouldn’t it be fun to roll a score of 300 every time you go bowling?  Maybe even 900 if you keep score on both sides of your lane at the same time.  So please buy my Moosewinkle.  In fact, I will send him to you free.  He has already grazed on all the grass and flowers in our yard, and most of the curtains in the house too.  So, where do you live?  I’ll pay the postage and handling myself.

I now stand ready to start raking in the imaginary money.  And I will get rich this way just as quickly as I will by being a novelist with I-Universe publishers.

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