Tag Archives: Writing

Sock It to ME?!

There’s no good way to schedule time for writing when you work two jobs and can’t anticipate when you’ll be calm enough to compose. However, I was able to make a transition chapter work yesterday without knowing what to do beforehand. It’s easy to get anxious about not knowing where to take the story from a specific point. That’s what happened with My City By the Bay. That book should have been published in 2013. It was not and that’s the way it is, Cronkite. I still have it on my hard drive somewhere, but I’d like to at least finish this current piece before I die.

I could find myself blaming my two jobs for my inability to sit down and write, or the fact I could go from functioning one day to exhausted the next, or that my equipment is severely second-hand (i.e. keys are starting to break, AC adapter and battery failure, etc.), or my house is ill-suited for writing. While problematic, no one could argue otherwise, I have been dealt the cards of this situation and really have no other option but to play them. Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser. Right, Rogers?

Being the glutton for punishment that I am, I plan on typing the pages I’ve written tonight and it’s probably a decent idea to revise the previous chapters to include things I’ve left out, such as the name for the currency and the like. With that indifference, I say “sock it to me.”

More from my book:

Pooling rain makes small rivers down the path on the way back, sometimes large enough to slow down the wagon with the slurping and sucking of mud. Boards ramp up the wheels in the more difficult areas for us to move forward. At times, Molvin provides counterweight around the trees as a last ditch effort to save the load. Our relief finds its way through a round grate off the path, set in the webbing of a massive root system. Pounding three times, a voice shrieks from behind the iron.

“What is low, strong and moves all night long?” the banshee demanded.

“Your mother, Analeese, now let us in!” I stop mid-belch to clear the sour mash from my throat while wincing. The cowl of my cloak caves in and pours water all over my face. I grimace.

Analeese comes sliding outside like her ass is on fire. “Damn the gods, Jeshkin, quit being an asshole!” She rolls the lids right. Passing her, I wink with my right eye and show fillings in a wide smile. She hisses. There are times she claims her mother was raped by an anaconda and embodies the strength of the constrictor. I think she does it to intimidate people. She places the circle into its original position and pulls the arm back down onto the brackets.

Copyright © 2016 Corvidae in the Fields

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Does This Depression Make Me Look Fat?

I think it has been a bittersweet couple of weeks. There needs to be more activity here, and so I should provide it. The bitter part is staring down the barrel of Winter. However, the sweet part was seeing my high school friend and his wife in Madison, WI a weekend ago. Grass always seems greener when you walk off your property, which is usually used (I’ve noticed) to discourage you from doing something new. I think it’s better used as fair warning, to really make sure you’re making a calculated risk. Anyone travel anywhere recently?

The other sweet part is I have written some more. The sentences aren’t strung as cleverly as I enjoy, but I’m trying to keep Kurt Vonnegut’s advice in my head:

Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.

And a chunk of what I’ve been writing:

We stop near a large portcullis and even larger pegged wheel, and I stare at Molvin until he wiggles out of his nest in the back. Grabbing the moist boards of the wheel, he cranks and grunts for the better part of a minute. The barely-lit sewer painted a lively picture which entertained me as I listened to his incessant bitching. Water reflected movement all around me, and slid across the walls of the sewer from the manmade river underground. The long pools wave in strange formations.

Inside and out, the moving wall mosaic had a pleasant rhythm, exciting and returning for encore. The grunting mule behind me was too busy to observe anything. Balancing himself horizontal to the ground by his stomach, he crunches his stomach a few times in a fruitless wiggle. The best that comes of it is a clinks of the chains wrapped around the wheel.

Two tunnels down, the lights stop. It shimmers momentarily and stops again. Staring made the made the light return. Returning my attention to Molvin, I whip my head back to the same spot. Black. “Move,” I mutter, “move, move, move, please move.”

“Ye git dan h’re an’ help den, Jesh!” Molvin’s ruddy face cranes from its parallel position to shout profanity at me and I jump out of the driver seat.

“Damn the gods, Molvin, do I have to do everything myself?” Maybe that was my anxiety getting the better of me but there’s no retraction after that.

“I s’pose ye do, now help!” Quitting the acrobat routine Molvin crouches at the rotten straw near the mechanism.

“Fine, if it gets us closer to the bath house.” Sliding down the seat my approach to the wheel is quicker than I would normally perform. Waiting for Molvin to stop his intermittent bitching, I dig my feet hard into the rocks. The portcullis moves in screams as we strain to roll the wheel in motion. A feeling of nausea tingles in my nose as I close my eyes softly and whimper but we continue until a pawl prevents it from falling at the top. The halls return to the quiet display it once was. Swallowing hard, little prompts me to press on through the gate.

Copyright © 2016 Corvidae in the Fields

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The Foaming Action Means He’s Working

It never fails, or cease to surprise me that I make a few posts to get back into the swing of things and the universe decides to pull me apart. That’s not an excuse, but an explanation nonetheless. I had the most ambitious of personal lists on the three-day time span: outside lighting to install, a yard to clean, clothes to launder, and books to write. I gained such momentum I crashed completely into a brick wall producing a solid paragraph of new material. [Insert Expletive Here]

The relative peace brought by the Labor Day weekend rallied a fierce week of deadlines and customer service challenges making my calves hurt more than getting stood up on your Prom night for Gary, the more well-to-do son of a chiropractor. That’s where I keep most of my stress, and I need to sit down after a while of brooding over people and their obstacles. Side Note: Kelly, I’m glad you showed me your true colors quickly.

So, as I said, I only made a paragraph’s progress on Sunday. That’s pitiful. In lieu of providing anything new to me, how about something new (mostly) to you? Here’s an excerpt from when I was writing back in March.

“Every lump on your face will match that of your gravy!” The sous-chef slapped his saucier enough to make eyes water. His stubs wrenched the pot and heaved it towards an open window. “Make it again, and quick. We’re already an hour behind.” A cuisinier snuck a peek over the stove to catch a ladle in the face. “If this night doesn’t go well, it doesn’t take me to tell you we’ll all be dead by morning.” This made for a typical event night with Gerard Grossecul shading a boundary between fact and melodrama as he explosively smacked the tile on his way to the dining room.

Screams rattled the pins on the sewing desk and down the hall straight out through the wood and iron latticed doors of the estate’s couture house. Mostly bare, a handmaiden scrambled for the chamber door only to be clocked by a half-clothed mannequin. Gathering herself, and the rest of her garments, off the floor she hid behind the wardrobe. The Seamstress Premier Naedlbán took up her shears and pointed it at the wimping wench. “If you can’t sew these seems properly I’ll rip you apart and show you!” Spoiling her tin of threaded spools, she charged at the young lady and buried her scissors in the knotted woodwork. Slowly creeping to the fresh face she whispered, “…and if that doesn’t work, I’ll cut those wretched fingers off. They aren’t doing you any good.”

I’m sure I’ll need to re-read the whole thing once it’s completed in draft format, but it seems to fit together enough that I don’t feel like scrapping the whole thing.

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Grits and Canadian Bacon

Rushing in at the last minute, the cold wind makes my bangs flutter before the window shuts tight. Red-rimmed and burning eyes blink at the clock glaring 11:45 from a dark box. “11 hours…” my inner voice narrates, “11 hours since we left the house.” Past the torrential downpour in Detroit, past the irritable border guards, past the wrong turn leading to Leamington is this: darkness on the King’s Highway.

She shifts restlessly in the car and grabs a clove. I see a glimpse of her green eyes and red hair for a split second as the lighter fades into a dull orange, spicy-smelling dot. Maybe I should have the kept the window down? We’ve smoked the Hell out of that pack, but then again, nothing parties like a rental.

“We can find a place to stop, if you want to stretch your legs.” Yeah, those legs used to walk over a lot of people. Those legs I’d still kill for. I could use the stop though, maybe shakedown a vending machine for coffee. That is… if they take American.

“No…” a listless yawn precedes,”we’re almost there anyway.”

Peering out into the darkness, I only saw more darkness. 

“We need some music.” Instantly perky, she begins to flip through the CD folder. Anything’s better than silence, I suppose. “Oh, hey… yeah,” she pauses to to scrape the CD up by her fingernail. “You’ll like this,” sliding the disc into the thin, vertical slit of the dash console. Vinyl record effects pop through the car’s woofers, as if there were a needle to be found somewhere. We might as well be driving a haystack.

“I live on a chain and you share the same last name. As a joke, I sent a bottle of whiskey.

As you choked, I knew it made you feel dirty,”*

Pete Yorn’s disembodied, breathy voice entered the car. I felt the indie pretentiousness immediately, like I needed a hipster in here. Without much provocation, sound erupts through the level 22 settings.

“And I was waiting over here for life to begin. I was looking for the new thing, and you were the sunshine heading my front-line, I was alone, you were just around the corner from me.”

Light slides up the dashboard, and I wince to keep the Chevy Malibu on the road. It is the forte of the trip, a very ill-advised and sketchy dive into the Great White North. I see a city alive. She gets her vindication. Damn her.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

* – Yorn, Pete. “Life on a Chain.” Musicforthemorningafter. Columbia, 2001.

 

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Sunday, May 25th, 2014 – Why Do You Write?

It would seem bad form not to tell you the results of my letter writing campaign to the Ohio House of Representatives. Out of 99 representatives contacted, only 4 had replied with an actual response. There were 5 others who had the auto-response system set up, but that’s not really acceptable. Of those 4 representatives who took the time to respond, only one was longer than two sentences. Even though he wasn’t my district representative, I enjoyed our conversation. Funny how ten sentences can brighten one’s day.

Now, on with the blog hop as requested by Laura Lynn from  Cancer: My Journey Back to Health-Kicking & Screaming the Whole Damn Way. Yeah, it’s a chain post and I’m not huge on them, but it’s Laura Lynn. She has been nice to me for as long as I’ve known her.

What am I working on?

In the short-term nothing. I’ve picked up a new organization (BNI) in April, which has some elements of Kiwanis/Rotary International without the community outreach element. I think of it as a business dating service where the “dates” are referred business. You get to know and trust the people in your group and refer clients in need of member services to them. Most members are local merchants anyway. So, you’re helping out people in your community get more business to stay in business. This has taken much of my time in the past five weeks, and I don’t regret it.

In the long-term, I’ve always got My City by the Bay, which I haven’t finished. It’ll need a new title (sorry, Steve Perry). I stopped when I hit a logic gap in a pursuit scene. The back of my mind has been telling me that no seasoned detective would let the suspect drive off after he visited his girlfriend’s apartment. They could question the girlfriend later, if they lose him but they need to follow the suspect further. Personally, with all of the writing improvements I’ve learned in the past year, I’d like to rework the entire story including a VERY edgy part that dealt with bigotry and racism in the non-lofty, street-level, day-to-day sense.

Too many Americans want to take this topic and make it all lofty, when the application is so flawed we [Americans] can’t even see straight. I like the overall premise of the chapter and the ending, but there’s an even harder uppercut I need to swing. I felt like I was gingerly dancing around the point, even though I jumped straight into the lake.

Aside from that, there’s the flash fiction that I’ve become somewhat adept at writing. While I have practiced at it for a few months, it seems the most natural of all types of fiction to write. I do want to be a novelist. I love developing stories and characters and starting fresh in a new book. I don’t like sequels. I think that’s the author’s way of being lazy. If my work ever goes public, the powers-that-be would have to be very convincing for me to write a sequel to any of my non-existent books.

Although I’ve never mentioned it here, there is another novel idea I’ve shelved months ago. I’ve desperately tried to keep it away from the Young Adult genre, but in a late-night cabal of wannabe writers another has said “yeah, that has YA written all over it.” Damn it!

How Does My Writing Differ?

At this point in time, does any current writer have much difference? We’re all variations on a theme. Millennia of authors pouring out pages upon pages of stories have covered so much, it’s difficult not to be seen as a writer who came before. Is there really much anymore to differ? I suppose I could say I have a better knack for coming up with people’s names than I’ve seen with others writers, but that’s not much. I’d leave the identification of difference to the reader. I suppose that’s why they’d read my material? They’d know better than I would.

Why Do I Write What I Do?

Mostly because I don’t want my life to be a “series of beige incidents” as coined by Patton Oswalt. I want something to be here when I leave. I don’t want to wake up 85 and have nothing to show for myself, except an oxygen tank and tears. Hell, even if it’s mediocre prose that’s something. It’ll make Vonnegut happy.

Do you hear that Bukowski?! I am trying!

How Does My Writing Process Work?

I wouldn’t call it a “process.” Most people won’t understand how ironic that statement is, until they realize I’m a classically-trained accountant. I’ve dealt with creating processes for the better part of fifteen years, and I can’t even control a pet project of mine. How funny is that?

Some of the time, it starts with a trip to a bar or a later trip to a hash house. Waffle House is the best place to write at 3:00 in the morning. Why? It’s open, and the people aren’t intellectuals. Non-intellectuals make for great people watching, because they act out more often. It’s a funnier story when the drunk guy is singing to his penis in encouragement to urinate.

I keep a mole skin journal and a mechanical pencil in my car, Falcor. No, it’s not a sports car or anything flashy. It’s a Honda Accord. I can name my car whatever I damn well please. Over a glass of cheap red wine or “luxurious” cup of Arabica coffee, I scribble sentences. More often than not, they turn into stories. I’ve yet to figure out how that happens, but it does. So, I don’t argue with it much.  After I have a “starter,” as I like to call it, I take it home to be written in a WordPress post.

Recently, I’ve also been posting them in the writer’s prompt section of Reddit, but have found it less rewarding. The people on Reddit are of low caliber, and aren’t really as mature as they need to be to discuss writing. Often times, it seems like wasted effort.

——

This is where I would pass the writing duties of the blog hop to two other bloggers. Guess what? I’m not going to do that. I don’t believe in chain posting. Good night, Seattle. We love you!

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Blushing

You would not believe how hard it is to squeeze writing in through all of this scheduling madness. ~ Nate

——

Tiny drops wet the pavement near Jessica’s white satin heels. The circles turn a light sandstone into muddied brown and she sees her reflection for the first time since this morning. While not crystal clear, black shone prominently on her cheeks. The dress wrinkling and smoothing under her hands made restless rustles against the sounds of rain.

Soon the booth housing her dress freckles with moisture and transitions into tiny streaks of precipitation down the side. Stabbing her freshly-painted nail, “Bouquet,” at the lacquered sign, she checks the next pick up time. It would be a while before she would use her phone again or catch a ride. Loved ones are the plague. People dripping with pity and sympathy. Running out the church felt like the only relief available.

The hulking, metallic slug of a transport finally saw fit to grace Jessica with its presence. Childlike splashes came from the filled potholes in the road, as it began to sway left and right. Sliding its cheap, silver doors open an old man in a blue uniform gave her the once-over and looked back out on the road. With exact change, she was permitted to take a seat, possibly without vomit stains on the cushions.

The cracked floor and dirty space of the bus made for a fine chariot. Maybe they’d tie some whiskey bottle to the bumper, too? A survey of the carriage revealed that the only two open seats were beside a bag lady who must have been eating an onion sandwich prior to her journey. She would keep the bird of a feather company. Bunching up her dress, she sat down and knew any attempts to return her gown would be a laughable failure.

“You smell lovely, deary.” A crackle of phlegm punctuates the decrepit one’s sentiments.

“Thanks,” Jessica’s grimace was somewhat hidden by the paint.

Gifts greet her as the apartment lights illuminate the kitchen table. Still sealed, never to be opened. By way of magic, or the work of her parents, the well-wishing invades her space centered around a large, smooth, white cake. Its perfection can be seen from all angles, and would match her perfectly if she wasn’t part of an experiment in public transit.

With a hearty thud, a bottle of vodka hits the cheap tabletop and a generous sweep of the hand launches a cake decoration off into the kitchen. The black-suited, plastic figurine comes to rest smiling stupidly at the ceiling. Jessica’s cat, Miss Havisham, slinks by to investigate the foreign object but walks away in quick disinterest. It will lay they for quite some time.

Staring at the cake for the better part of fifteen minutes, Jess admires the craftsmanship. Forgoing any sort of protocol she dips her hand into the dessert stationed in front of her and shoves a handful into her mouth. More cake matter winds up on the floor, as she lets out a stream of profanity. Fondant is the Devil’s practical joke for confectionery.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Sunday, May 11th, 2014

It has been a very productive week. I’ve gotten to know more of my networking group and the landscaping is looking less “squatter-chic” and more like a house is inhabited by someone who’s not a transient. It’s so nice to be able to work on my lawn again. Sure, I was sweaty and dirty but that’s better than being in the two-foot drifts three/four months ago. This is my element.

One thing I am having trouble with is writing the next story. I’ve got the opening scene, but not an acceptable way to introduce the scene or character. It’s a little frustrating.

I suppose it’s going to be a late-night trip to Waffle House for me.

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Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Dear God, I’ve opened a Pandora’s box. That networking group has given me a lot of activities to keep me on my toes. On the down side, it has cut into my writing time. I’ve been here before though and have watched other people under the stress. Remember the metaphor of running a marathon versus sprinting? Yeah, that’s this.

I AM NOT GOING TO CALL MY WRITING A PASSION. That’s trite and it belongs in a job interview, not on my writer’s palette. If  I know only one thing of the writers I love, they don’t make overtures to their personal craft. They use it. They love it, but they don’t massage it. The passion is understood though their output. There’s no need to talk it up.

That last paragraph should read “I’m still writing.” This is the time to clutch on to my creativity like a balloon you don’t want to fly away. That’s especially so after last week’s story. It was a very difficult write, but I’m very proud of the result. It’s more soulful than my other works. It’s more alive. It’s that gritty realism very few people are comfortable acknowledging. My style is why I get suggestions to read Henry Miller, Charles Bukowski, and the like. I’ll get there, people.

May’s got me in a much better mood than three months ago. It’s 17° C out (62° F), and I can walk outside without wanting to erupt into profanity like Lewis Black. I’m getting some landscaping done mid-week and sooner or later I can put the screens back in the windows. I haven’t scored any big victories lately. So, the small ones will have to do.

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Birthday

Tapping steady at the side of my cup, the coffee ripples in time with twitching.  My spectral image housed within a picture frame would be invisible if it were between dawn and dusk. I see myself in my current state: transparent with a few new facial creases. An hour ago, I sped recklessly down the main drag. An hour ago, she and I parted ways. My time is now occupied by looking at the TV screen and wringing an August issue of Entertainment Weekly.

This place runs at an odd angle. Am I facing north? The curvature of the waiting room displays the faintest of skylines with a few aircraft warning lights. Otherwise, one would think this hospital doubles its capacity in the evenings. I rest my head on the pane, and make sure my stomach doesn’t fly out my mouth. We thought we’d cross this bridge when we’d get to it. Well, here it is in front me and my… my… what are we really?

At any rate, I suppose this room becomes a land of imagination. I can see it now, families all stuck helpless like flies on paper. The designers must have had a sense of humor, too. Cheap, mass-produced chairs set neatly side-by-side with laminate end tables and a corner full of rhododendrons. But, wait! There’s a 50″ widescreen TV with the Cubs/Cards game playing “just for the guys.” Absurd. What kind of man would gladly drift off as a spectator sucking down the crude chili dogs from the cafeteria?

Keening burst through the stainless-steel double doors again. A banshee would be jealous. I can see her as I last saw her, pushing me away as the team of physicians roll her beyond the austere threshold of the operating room. I would weave myself in and around medical staff to offer my services of nothing, provided I’d simply move. It would feel like an accomplishment in more than one way. Some accomplishments aren’t rewarded as they should be however.

My solitary confinement gives way to a new presence, the obstetrician. Yanking down her mask, its presence still remains on her cheeks. The doctor’s eyes blink and replenish the moisture on the cornea. Breathing in gives her a contrast both rooms leave on her. I keep quiet and wait for her to speak.

“Mr. Calipretti?” Her unpolished lips formed a black fish bone-like shape.

Clearing my throat, I’m able to stumble over “that’s me,” before I get caught up again.

“The baby is fine and in the nursery. The mother, on the other hand, has been through plenty. She’s resting right now and we’re going to keep an eye on her for a while in the maternity ward. Would you care to see your son?” Expressionless delivery. It’s a living, if nothing else.

She said “son.” I have a son. A thickness runs down mid-foot and curls my toes. Its tightness pulls away from the moment, pulls away from the hospital in flight. I never move. “Thank you, doctor.” Controlling my movements carefully, I follow the woman into forbidden zone. The official blessing felt like genuflecting in my presence.

The maternity ward’s humidity could be nothing less than artificial. Its florescent wash gives a utility where waiting rooms lack. Gurneys stud the hallway in case of pandemic emergency and I narrowly miss several.  I’m as graceless as its residents. Before rounding a corner to the nursery, I perchance catch her half-hidden by a curtain.

Sleeping hard on her shoulder, hair plasters her face as wet string. Femme voilée. Its once-tension-filled space now pays attention to the EKG machine in the corner, pinging away until sunrise where the day shift will do their rounds.

When I am shown the nursery, the doctor leaves without a sound. I’m left staring though a window of new arrivals. It’s loud, but he isn’t. The tiny chin tucks into his shoulder, and his fat cheeks make for a nonplussed frown. It’s a popular sentiment.

“Would you care to hold your child, Mr. Calipretti?” A ghost of a nurse appears to the right in my field of vision. I say “OK” when I very much attempt a “no,” and a mass of swaddling cloth is brought forth before I have a chance to revise my answer.

Such a dour child with the facial contortions of a court judge. This must be the wrong foot of his life. He’s out of step already. I can recall several memories to highlight that point of view.

No matter how many times I want to run, I’m immobile. No matter how many debates I have, I lose. No matter how many times I rehearse, I forget my part. I do not have the will to put him up for adoption, but one man’s cowardice is another man’s credibility.

© 2014 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved

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Friday, April 25th, 2014

It has been a productive couple of days, save for the writing and blogging. In an attempt to bolster foot traffic at the family business, I’ve joined a networking group to get the word out. I’ve not been officially sworn into the chapter, but I’ve already been asked if I’d like an officer’s position. That sounds promising.

In the literary world, I’ve recently started to gnaw on the concept of democratization in art culture. My introduction to the whole idea began by watching Andrew Keen’s interview in PressPausePlay. In it, he describes the proliferation of “art” we are experiencing as “global masturbation.” The digital age has brought about technology (e.g. Instagram, self-publication, Guitar Hero, etc.) that gives a false sense of artistic worth to any individual. It simplifies the craft and vetting process of art to where talent is lost in the hurly-burly of media. People in Keen’s position would tend to consider the fine arts an “elitist business.”

This is what’s known as art’s “meritocracy,” an idea in which individuals should be recognized for their achievements. I’m not going to wax philosophical about meritocracy, because it’s not bulletproof. Sometimes, there’s still an undervalued artist. Such was said about James Purdy, a once-Hooterville resident. On the other hand, how do we know the next Kubrick isn’t languishing somewhere in a sea of piano-playing cat videos? The answer is we don’t.

As I was digging through creative writing articles, I found an old letter to the editor of the New York Times dated 02.08.1981. In it, the writer explains the pitfalls of the NEA focusing on a racial group, rather than individuals. This is the  pre-Internet America version of meritocracy. This isn’t a new problem, just magnified and adapted for more modern times.

So, as I sit here creating my part in the chaos, I am left to wonder about my “work.” What do I have to say about this concern? It seems to me while the fine arts are truly better off an “elitist business,” we all have to start out as amateurs. Natural talent is welcome, but several people can be trained to be an artist if they stay dedicated to the cause. Yes, there are some people who cannot be helped, period, but we as “amateur artists” should not be discouraged so easily. What are our alternatives, really? We either create and claw with the tide, or die against it. There is no happy medium.

This all reminds me of a quote from Anaïs Nin:

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don’t write, because our culture has no use for it.

My question to you is this: Are there any hallmarks of mediocrity? Would one know if they’re cut out as an artist after a certain period of time?

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