1. the muse, the rum, and the motorcycle

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1. the muse, the rum, and the motorcycle

Hi. 

I’ve been away from writing for a while.

The return is awkward, like two estranged family members reconvening after far too long. 

Thank god for alcohol to ease such reunions. 

Speaking of which, I’d like to propose a toast. 

In a past and creatively fruitful chapter of my life, rum was my drink of choice.  

In the spirit of opening the next phase of fortuitous creation, 

My cup is filled with that old familiar spirit, mixed into a classic cola cocktail- 

To creation, to new adventures, to channeling the sacred and the profane into simple words that all can understand: 

Cheers! 

Tonight’s elixir is made with a fine spiced rum bearing the image of Admiral So-and-So, who closely resembles a well known national brand of pirate captain themed rum – It seems to be his dorky younger brother. 

One thing is for sure: they both love big ships, and rum. 

Brothers, sisters, and everyone in between- 

I have a tale to tell, and I’ve committed myself to the sharing of it. 

Of all the story worthy adventures I’ve had, this is by far the most important one, because it’s about the core of who I am and the humans that raised me, and where I’m going. 

This story is about the essence of my family culture — but don’t worry. I know you really don’t care about an exhaustive family history, so I’m going to keep that shit very brief — barely enough to set the stage. 

How’s your drink doing, anyway? I’m pouring another. 

This generic coke really has a way of opening up the vanilla notes in this Admiral… who? Admiral Dumbass Spiced Rum. 

And those caramel notes, are they from the cane molasses that I wish this was distilled from, or the added caramel flavoring that was unceremoniously squirted into this sugar mash hooch one step before bottling? 

I have my suspicions, and for now, I’d like to leave them at that. 

Cheers!

This story matters so much to me, that I’ve been intimidated to begin the telling of it. I’ve learned that when fear really takes hold of me, it secretes a venom that anesthetizes me and makes it feel more like indifference. I’m starting to learn that indifference is often my passion numbed out for some misguided notion of safety. 

I’ve put this storytelling off for long enough. 

Speaking of spirits, (how’s your glass, by the way)? Thank God for the muse. 

Muses come in many forms. 

I’ve recently found myself with an interesting pen pal on the other side of the country. For whatever reason, we haven’t exchanged numbers. We aren’t connected on Facebook. Our small talk simply outgrew the tiny window of Instagram messenger and expanded into email. She’s an adept wordsmith herself, which awakened my penchant for serving up the word.  A few emails later, and here we are. 

I’m all inspired to write. 

Let’s top of our glasses, shall we?

This Admiral Dumbass Spiced Rum and cola makes not only a fine aperitif (that’s a medium sized dumb word that just means, “I’m getting shit faced for desert, eat your ice cream, kids”). This spirit makes a fine muse, too.  Admiral, I think we’ll be sailing the seas of synonyms all summer long. 

I’m ready for some word play, story living and truth telling. 

What proceeds from here is a tale about transmuting fear into love. 

It’s a story about noisy Harleys and fear and God…

And radio

And being a kid

And destiny

I’ve embarked on a personal rite of passage that has taught me a new way to dance with the devil. She can be a magnificent partner.

Pro tip: 

If that samba with Satan is going to go smoothly,  

You must take the lead. 

More on that later. 

Cheers to Admiral Dumbass and his grog, 

Cheers to pen pals, 

Cheers to motorcycles, 

Cheers to the road,  and cheers to the muse!

*****

Next up: Black Holes and Hatred

*****

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The Power of Words

It’s happening!
Your biggest dreams.
Your worst nightmares.
America is getting better.
America is getting worse.
You are about to meet the love of your life.
You are unlovable.
Whatever you are CONVINCED is happening, is happening.
Words have power – they are that transition stage between the embryo of idea, and the finished physical reality. All tragedies and all masterpieces go through this same process.
Idea –> Word –> Reality
Ideas don’t turn themselves into reality;
Humans have to put energy into the ideas to manufacture them into the world of 3 dimensions.
First it’s emotional energy, and then that leads to physical energy.
WORDS are like a coloring book – we humans then show up and fill in the black and white lines with the colors of our emotional and then, physical energy.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
We are creators. Miniature Gods of our own small realms of influence.
Words are the way our creations – be they evil or good – are first manifest into the world.
Mastering the power of the WORD is an essential step toward becoming more powerful creators… of becoming more like the most skilled creator of all.
Say what you mean. Mean what you say.
I’ve found this principle to be secret of my successes and the fuel for all of my failures.
Vote for Gary Johnson.
much love –
Paul Duane

Trust The Process

One of my favorite creative projects lately is a series of short comedy pieces, as The Crossdressing Mormon Anarchist, for a local radio station’s morning show.  I’ve been tasked with writing, recording, producing, and delivering segments on various topics ranging from the weather to current political events to weird rants of my own choosing.

They have asked that the pieces come in at 1 minute 15 seconds in length. That’s not much time, should be easy, right?

HA.  I wish.

Every week I manage to turn this 75 seconds into an existential crisis. Somehow, every time, I emerge from the fog of writer’s block and deliver work that I’m proud of.  I’ve found a very distinct pattern emerging. Whenever there’s a pattern, there’s a mechanism.  I’ve found that when a mechanism exists and I fail to use it very efficiently, I’ve got a major lesson to learn.  Though it’s a little embarrassing how complicated I manage to make this, I know I’m not that unique of a snowflake; there must be a few other people who are having a similar experience. Maybe this can help. At the very least, know that you aren’t alone in your creative struggles.  With that, I give you, the seven days for 75 seconds:

Day 1: come up with an idea / premise for the bit

Day 2: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny.

Day 3: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Stress out a little bit.

Day 4: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny.  Stress out even more.

Day 5: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Write 2 sentences in my notes.

Day 6: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Try not to think about how much time I’ve wasted and the impending doom of the deadline.

Day 7, 9:00 am: Think a lot about the premise and how to make it funny. Write another sentence.

Day 7, 6:00 pm: promise myself that after I eat some dinner, I’ll seriously get to work on this.

Day 7, 7:00 pm: look over my notes and dive into a pit of self loathing at how not funny they are.

Day 7, 8:00 pm: realize that I actually do not want to stay up all night writing and recording.

Day 7, 9:00 pm: “oh shit, I really, truly, wanted to be done recording by now and almost done with editing but I haven’t even got the script written yet, oh fuck oh fuck oh fuck….  Hey, I wonder if there’s any beer in the fridge?”

Day 7, 9:11 pm: “no beer. Let’s see, do I need to check Facebook again? It’s been 6 minutes since I left it. I bet it’s lonely…”

Day 7, 9:13 pm: briefly consider the sense of impending doom from my fast approaching deadline.

Day 7, 9:16 pm: “Ok. I’m sure glad I liked that video of two cats dressed like Hillary and Trump. Facebookland is surely better off now because I’ve bestowed my approval on that video.”

Day 7, 9:17 pm: “but seriously, it’s time to write. As it is, you aren’t going to be before 2 am, and the later you put this off, the more you run the risk of writing really shitty stuff.”

Day 7, 9:19 pm: Start writing stuff even though it’s not that funny. For every 10 sentences there’s one that might have potential.

Day 7, 9:25 pm: Against these 10 to 1 odds, I persevere and write another 10 sentences. Oh hey. Look. Another funny idea.

Day 7, 9:32 pm: Whoah. 30 sentences in and there are 5 funny ideas sitting here.

Day 7, 9:40 pm: I feel like I’ve written “War And Peace”, but there appear to be 8 funny ideas of ore embedded in this page of tailings.

Day 7, 9:46 pm: Like two sworn enemies selecting their dueling weapons, I take a long hard look at the microphone.

Day 7, 9:49 pm: We’ve walked 10 paces. It’s time to turn on the microphone and do this.

Day 7, 9:50 pm: Dude. It doesn’t need to be perfect at first. JUST SAY SOME WORDS.

Day 7, 9:51 pm: ….but let’s go to the bathroom first.

Day 7, 9:53 pm: Turn on mic. Look at words on screen. Say them.

Day 7, 9:55 pm: That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Day 7, 9:56 pm: Lighbulb turns on. Say the words again into the microphone.

Day 7, 9:58 pm: OMG. As I was saying the words I have written, I said some other words that were not on the screen, and they were REALLY GOOD.

Day 7, 9:59 pm:  Write the new words down. Cut. Paste. Cut. Cut. Paste.

Day 7, 10:01 pm: Turn on mic. Say the words again. I feel like I’m driving through fog, but I’m definitely driving forward.

Day 7, 10:05 pm Turn on mic again. Say more words. New words appear out of nowhere. Write them down.  Cut. Cut. Paste.

Day 7, 10:08 pm: Turn on mic. Say the words. The fog is clearing fast! OMG. The final destination appears on the horizon. I see what the finished product is going to look like.

Day 7, 10:11 pm: Mic on. Say the words.  It’s definitely flowing. Its GOOD. It’s too long.

Day 7, 10:12 pm: Review my notes. Decide which of my children I’m going to leave on the Titanic as I put my favorites on the life boat. Cut. Paste. Cut. Paste. Goodbye, my loves…..    I’m not even sure who your real mother was anyway… 

Day 7, 10:16 pm: Turn on mic. Say the remaining words. This is good. Really good. Still too long.

Day 7, 10:19 pm: I never though I’d have to throw you out of the life boat, but you’ve gotta go. Goodbye, witty and rather funny sentence.  I’m going to miss you. We’ll think about you when this finally airs.

Day 7, 10:20 pm: Turn on mic. Say the words. Wow, getting rid of that sentence was hard, but now we are making serious progress. We never really needed him anyway.  The other sentences get the job done just fine.

Day 7, 10:23 pm: Still 20 seconds overtime. Force each of the remaining sentences to go on a diet. Cut all fat.

Day 7, 10: 29 pm: Amazed at how much superfluous language I spit out. So THAT’s what an efficient sentence looks like.

Day 7, 10:32 pm: Turn on mic. Record the words. 10 seconds overboard. Do more soul searching, eliminate one last sentence. God, that was hard. I loved that sentence. *sniff*.

Day 7, 10:36pm: Turn on mic. Record the words… VOILA! IT FITS.  My delivery wasn’t awesome, and a dog was barking in the background.

Day 7, 10:38 pm: Take two: Pretty good! Somehow I got tongue tied over the word “supposedly”. Twice.

Day 7, 10:40 pm: Take Three was pretty decent. Take four had potential.

Day 7, 10:50 pm: Take Five was *money*. That’s it! That’s my keeper.

Day 7, 10:58 pm: Edit out pauses and weird little sounds. Add music and sound effects (this part is lots of fun)

Day 7, 11:17 pm: Listen to finished product. Bask in self imposed glory. Realize that this piece moves fast and most people will miss 69% of the jokes. Reassure myself that I’d rather write comedy that is nuanced and layered that gets better with every listen, than tell simple minded jokes you only want to hear once.  

Day 7, 11:23 pm: Send the finished piece to the radio station and a very small circle of friends that I share my process with.

Day 7, 11:29 pm: realize that I really only spent 2 hours and 4 minutes to produce my latest masterpiece, but somehow I turned it into an agonizing WEEK LONG process.

Day 7, 11:35 pm: realize that every time I successfully create work of this kind, I end up following the exact same process.  Promise myself that next week, I won’t spend 6 days stressing about it. With my renewed confidence in my creative ability, I promise myself that next week, I’ll simply block out a few hours on a Tues morning and just write words and say them into the mic. Over, and over, and over. That is my process. It works. Every. Single. Time.

As I walk away from my desk, I realize how many other parts of my life are this way. When I look back at other successes, I see patterns. There are steps that I always end up doing, but only after I’ve given up the fight in my head about what things “ought” to look like, and just LET THEM BE.  When I give up the fight and just give in to the process, something kind of crazy happens….

The result bears a striking resemblance to what I originally had hoped for – except that it’s just a little bit better.  I hear the Universe / God / Circumstance / Whatever telling me:

DUDE. BRO. 

Trust.

The.

Process.

The process has made itself very clear to you.

It works. Every. Damn. Time.

We live in a mechanical universe, and this is one of it’s gears.

Let go.

Just be.

You are not just “good enough” for the job –

You are better than you know.

Trust yourself.

Let go of “trying”.

Just BE.

 

For those who are curious, here is a collection of these radio bits: