Musical Influence No. 2: “Madness”

        Sometimes ideas have strange beginnings.  The idea for this blog was indeed strange.  Of all things, it began as the result of a soccer competition with the band Muse.  I was chosen to be the goalie for the competition, which involved Chris Wolstenholme and other members of the Muse entourage versus some lucky fans, myself included.  Needless to say, I had a great time.  So did my wife, who was my guest, and she wasn’t even a Muse fan before that night.  Here’s a link to a video of the competition.

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        I had finished my poetry collection a few weeks before the Muse event, and was in the process of researching avenues to publish my poetry.  It didn’t take me long to figure out that 99% of literary agents do not accept poetry.  That weekend I celebrated the Muse event, and the upcoming culmination of the American version of football, with some rum.  When I woke up, “The Past, Present, and Future” as a blog had been born….  When describing his writing process, Hunter S. Thompson once said he was a “binge writer.”  You’ve got to love dual meanings.  I suppose I’m a bit of a binge blogger. Definitely a strange beginning.

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        When it comes to the music of Muse, two of my favorite songs are “Uprising” and “Madness.”  I selected “Madness” as this week’s influence for two reasons.  Since writing and publishing this collection of poetry, I have definitely felt as though “some kind of madness has started to evolve.”  Additionally, I have come to the conclusion that the past is the past, the future in unknown, the present is all that we get, and love is what we all need.  In the end, I suppose that is what the whole collection is about.  Anyway, thank you to everyone who has read this blog.  Without you, I would have closed it down long ago….  Until next week, enjoy the “Madness” video below:

Musical Influence No. 3: “Trojans”

        Every story has a beginning, and an end.  The same can be said for my collection of poetry.  Last December, I found myself searching for a way to end the collection.  My writing philosophy centers around the idea of letting ideas develop themselves.  It can be frustrating at times, but every time I try to push an idea forward it doesn’t feel right.  This process has led me to develop the mantra: It’s not about you; it never was.  I like to think of myself as an idea generator.  Once I’ve generated an idea, I try to separate myself from it as much as possible.  From that moment on, the idea becomes its own entity.  I then go back to the familiar role of reporting.  In that way, I try to stay as true to the idea as my ego will allow.  Of course, sometimes its easier said than done and at times can bring the writing process to an abrupt halt.  That is exactly where I found myself last December.

        As it turned out, I found the cure at an Atlas Genius concert in Portland’s Crystal Ballroom.  I don’t know if it was the music, the beer, the “floating” dance floor, or something else entirely, but I do know that I found what I was looking for.  That dark December night, I found the inspiration for the poem “The Convergence.”  Not long afterward, I wrapped up the entire collection with the last two poems.  Little did I know at the time, the idea was merely a seed that would continue to sprout in my subconsciousness.  Eventually, that seed grew into the climactic scene of “A New Beginning…”  Truth be told, the idea and theme behind “The Convergence” is what the entire collection of poetry and “A New Beginning…” are about.

        I would explain further, but I can’t give everything away….  For now enjoy the music video for “Trojans,” which was the song performed by Atlas Genius when I first became aware of the presence of the seed in my consciousness.  If you like, you may also contemplate how it was that I stood alone in a sea of people as “The Convergence” overtook me.

Musical Influence No. 4: “Satisfaction”

        Mick Jagger and Keith Richards may not have been thinking about the writing process when they wrote “Satisfaction,” but in many ways they summed up what the writing process has been for me lately.  As I continue writing my book, I can’t help but think of The Rolling Stones singing:

“I can’t get no satisfaction
I can’t get no satisfaction
‘Cause I try and I try and I try and I try
I can’t get no, I can’t get no”

        They, of course, were referring to a different kind of frustration, but the parallels to the agony of the writing process are all I can think about currently.  Indeed, I can “get no satisfaction” when it comes to writing my book.  The problem that I have is that my brain never stops polishing the story.  One day I’ll write what I think are perfectly good pages.  Then, inevitably, the next day a new idea will pop into my head.  As a result, I’ll have to go back and change my outline and the story.  Every once in awhile, I have to throw out perfectly good pieces of writing because they no longer fit into the grand scheme.  I suppose that is what the writing process is all about: polishing everything until “you get what you need.”  OK, I couldn’t help but add in another Rolling Stones reference.  In the long run, I know that all of the agony is for the best.  Sometimes, though, I wish my brain would take a break and stop trying to fix things that I didn’t even realize were problems.  Of course, if my brain did that I probably wouldn’t be a writer.  I’ll just have to live with the nervous breakdowns for now (I had to add in another reference for good measure)….  Enjoy the “Satisfaction” video below:

Musical Influence No. 5: “Radioactive”

        I’ve always been interested in apocalyptic themes, which is probably why such themes show up in my writings.  This interest may also explain my fascination with the new song from Imagine Dragons titled “Radioactive.”  According to the song, “this is it, the apocalypse.”  Just last year, many people believed that the apocalypse was in fact upon us.  Aside from generating a few hokey movies, the Mayan apocalypse that was supposed to materialize was a bust.  Fortunately, for writes such as myself, apocalyptic projects still seem to be very much in vogue.  This year alone, films such as Oblivion, World War Z, and This Is the End have or will hit theaters.  There’s also a chance that Jaden Smith’s performance in the post-apocalyptic film After Earth will actually cause the apocalypse.

        My best apocalyptic work has come in the form of “Population Zero,” and “The Empire Falls.”  I also have a few apocalyptic story ideas floating around in my brainstorming notes.  A New Beginning…, though, doesn’t focus on apocalyptic themes.  Similar to my collection of poetry, they exist but only on an ancillary level.  Like the poetry collection, A New Beginning… is a coming-of-age story about a boy and his dog.  OK, I couldn’t help but crack a joke since I didn’t get to do that much in my poetry.  A New Beginning… is an existential journey about awakening the humanity within us all, of course, with a little bit of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll mixed in for good measure.  Speaking of which, I have some writing to do….  For now, enjoy the Imagine Dragons video for “Radioactive” below:

Poetry Influence No. 1: “Traveling Through The Dark”

        Undoubtedly one of Oregon’s most famous poets, William Stafford is one of my favorite poets and I have selected his poem “Traveling Through the Dark” as my number one poetic influence.  Stafford has a style similar to Robert Frost in that it has been described as deceptively simple.  Similar to Frost, Stafford’s poems reveal a distinctive and complex vision upon closer examination.

        I’ve tried to follow the example of Stafford and Frost as much as possible with my poetry.  I believe my best examples of this style are my poems “The Cool Morning Air” and “Fly Away.”  Stafford’s poem “Traveling Through the Dark” deals with nature, death, sadness, and making tough decisions.  My favorite lines come at the end of the poem:

“I thought hard for us all—my only swerving—,
then pushed her over the edge into the river.”

        Two wonderfully simple, yet complex lines of poetry.  I couldn’t have written them better myself.  Just like the entire poem, these lines tell a story in and of themselves.  Below, I have included a YouTube video that is an excellent rendition of “Traveling Through the Dark.”