I took a quick glimpse of what I last wrote on this unintentionally neglected blog. One of the last posts was a reflection of the loss of my mother.
This is fitting, as this week (on Saturday) will be another year thrown to the wind and blown away by life itself. Of course, I miss her and think about her, as I do everyday.
I’ve found myself more reflective the past few days, allowing myself to be creative and wonder what all this means…and what’s next.
A rather morbid topic, considering I’m writing from a little nook off of 42nd street in between high rises, inside a cafe called Oslo. It’s cozy. It’s peaceful. It’s serene. And today hasn’t been very bad at all. It’s been a productive “weekend”, actually.
Before we get back to the storytellings and reflections, I wanted to write a post explaining where I’ve been the past few months.
Alas, the truth is I’ve been right here. Maybe a bit too “right here”. In my head.
A couple months of this put me back into the hands of a very trusted therapist, and through that, it has helped me reset, rebalance, readjust, and realign my priorities and my passions.
I originally started this blog to make my own spark within myself for bigger projects that I have floating around in that mysterious ocean of my mind. And now that I’ve readjusted how I look at both my own timeline and what stories I would like to tell, I think it is the right time to fire up the old digital and mental burners, and continue what I started.
While I have been working on other things, I have also been actively consuming media for inspiration.
There are two big sirens at play as of late.
The first, which is an active list I am trying to read my way through, is the works of Shakespeare. I am on my third play right now, Henry VI Part I. I have gotten through The Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Taming of the Shrew so far on this quest. I am planning on reading every single one over this year. I have given myself this challenge to, well, challenge myself with a more advanced form of language that predates me by far. So far, I have become a better and more focused reader as I read his plays and switch over to read more modern works (I switch after every play I read: Shakespeare play, another book, Shakespeare play, another book…). The language itself, though challenging for me, is helping me build vocabulary and rhythm within my own writing. This rhythm in Shakespeare’s writing has opened my eyes with how I flow everything from character development and, one that just hit me now but rings very true, character psyche. Though I have only completely read two of the plays so far, despite being likable at the beginning, I observed that most of the central male characters go through journeys that make me not like them by the end. One could shrug this off as a personal matter, I suppose, but from what I’ve read so far, the acts they perform could be categorized to the modern reader as despicable, the worst being the controversial ending of The Two Gentlemen of Verona (speaking of which, not sure when it will be done, but I have started a short story modern adaptation of the play for the short story collection which will be my next project! So expect to see that…eventually.).
Alas, the dark part of the human psyche is something that is explored quite frequently in my writing, so the plays have been eye opening for me. This is the first historic Shakespeare play I’m reading, so it will be interesting to see where it goes. I am excited to meet Joan of Arc.
Structure also plays a bit of inspiration for me in these plays. The Induction in The Taming of the Shrew, in particular, has sparked some interest in me. The form to us today could almost sound like an unwanted cliche. A “story within a story” or a “movie within a movie” and so on and so forth. But, when used right and done well, it can possibly lead to an interesting aspect of the story. Maybe even tie things together. (Wink, wink)
And where will Henry VI Part I take me? We shall see soon enough.
The other inspiration that has been a little more recent, though not really since this type of storytelling has actively been one of my favorites my whole life, is “noir”. Film noir, neo-nior, etc…
The darkness and grittiness of the “genre” has always fascinated me and, to be honest, has always been in the back of my head with everything I have ever written. I believe this particular style gives you the freedom to explore the dark, mysterious, and uncomfortable. In my own writing, I believe that this is a necessity, in order to find the lighter, heartier side of life. Call it melancholy, but I believe it’s important in our external and internal everyday lives to explore both the light and the darkness within. After all, life is really the balancing act of these two parts, and they are both just as important. Without one, we would not know the other. That would be true melancholy. I’d rather feel something than feel nothing.
In noir, the darkness is often more present and, a lot of times, exaggerated. This could be through situations, violence, moral compromises. Though I find violence pretty much pointless in the real world, the expression of it in the fictional world interests me, as it usually is either the cause or the metaphor into something deeper inside us; something we may even be too afraid to explore in our real lives because it’s teeth are sharp, and they grip without mercy.
This is just one example of topics that are explored in noir. Love, loss, and loneliness are some other examples that, if shone under the light (or lack thereof) of noir, we tend to be thrown into whatever void has been made of it. In storytelling, this downward spiral is not only interesting, but essential. It is what you may call in other genres the “hero’s journey”. Noir, as a style. likes this journey steeped in a dark reality of sorts, which is another scary thing to think about. It’s connection to the real world is always there, lurking in the shadows, waiting to suck the reader/watcher/listener in.
All this and more is what I find I like to explore on the page, and I believe this has been true for a long while now. I was always afraid that I didn’t write anything overtly “happy” enough, but I’ve now come to find this fear silly. Whatever sparks us to be true, as writers, is what we should always be writing and learning and expanding on when we are creating the world within our work.
I’m going to stop myself right here before this becomes an over-preachy novella.
But this is where I’ve been. This is the stuff that has inspired me as of late, and it’s also the path I’m pretty much leaning to follow right now and wherever that will take me is anybody’s guess.
And, as I said before, I have a balance. Gogol Bordello is still my favorite band, though I am currently on an ABBA kick. I still adventure around New York City and beyond. I still watch loads of standup and recently have been on an Arrested Development binge with some friends (along with my own Christopher Nolan binge). I have a trip to Panama coming in a little over a month, and I’ve been immersing myself in Spanish (Duolingo and as much salsa as I can find). See? Balance. The “lighter” side.
Life has been alright as of late.
I’m going to be continuing writing my short stories from the prompt book I originally started here, and I intend on seeing it through to the end. You will also probably continue to see meditations on different media I read/watch/listen to…whatever it may be. I don’t want to use the term review because I try not to go into it with a judgemental eye, but rather hone in on what I feel is powerful, emotional or useful to me. Every piece of art we consume, I believe, is a window into someone else; an idea and a philosophy, a lesson.
I will also probably take a few short (definitely shorter than months) breaks wherever I see fit as I continue to create the short story collection I intend to keep writing and, hopefully, publish.
And who really knows, my friend. The life within us and the life around us are constantly changing, all at different paces, and that tightrope can make finding our balance difficult. So who knows where the stories will lead, and who knows where my own life will take me. So forgive me and my disappearances. After all, I am just like you.