FOR AS LONG AS IT TAKES: "We are saving ourselves through the words," says Eleanor, the leading lady of a novel-in-progress. This exploration into the creative process -- which includes plenty of distractions/tangents /thoughts & rants by Eleanor, her Biographer, and selected guest artists -- will continue until Eleanor is certain her story is "right." (But we dare not jump ahead of ourselves.)
There will be the occasional typo (as Eleanor points out), and much of this is intended to be "original draft" -- what comes out of our mouths (heads) first, and then set down in that order. Not all of it will be included in the novel, but all of it is happening in real time.
Friday, June 20, 2008
"It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation." -- Herman Melville
ELEANOR says: "Please turn the page. Keep reading."
For more of Eleanor and her Biographer -- as well as the work of our many guest artists -- check out the older postings. "Everything is part of the process, and the process is the journey," Eleanor says.
"The Little Room," Olive Thomas In Background
Search "This Side of Paradise:"
from "Tiare Tahiti," by Rupert Brooke
Dive and double and follow after, Snare in flowers, and kiss, and call, With lips that fade, and human laughter And faces individual, Well this side of Paradise! . . . There's little comfort in the wise.
During the past several years, Geoff Schutt has lived in Chicago, Asheville, North Carolina, Tiffin, Ohio, Pittsburgh and Atlanta. Currently, he is in the Washington, D.C. area. Originally from Toledo, his short fiction has been published in various journals since 1990, including Gordon Lish's The Quarterly (Random House/Vintage Books), The Laurel Review, The Best of Writers at Work, The Wastelands Review, among others, and internationally at In Other Words: Merida. His short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has been awarded grants for fiction-as-performance art, featuring interactive storytelling. Geoff Schutt's novel-length work is represented by James McGinniss of McGinniss Associates Literary Agency, NYC.
Blog? No -- not quite, at least, so let us explain. This "thog* " is dedicated to the creative process. Because "process" includes a bit of everything, you'll indeed see a bit of everything -- a recipe of this and that, sometimes more of this than that ... or more that than this.
* Thog -- a "blog for thinkers." See below.
* "Thog." Noun. 1. A Blog for Thinkers. Origin -- From the New Order English, Busking Derivative, utilized most often upon sleep deprivation as a result of the act or process of artistic creation. Developed for proper English usage by Maestro Jason Archer in February 2008.
Jason Archer also serves as our Archivist and Busker-in-Chief.
Please Note: Geoff Schutt content is copyright 2008-2013, and may be reprinted in reasonable length with attribution and a link to this site. Material by other guest writers/artists on this site retains the authors' original copyrights, and may not be used without their expressed permission.
This Side of Paradise wants to hear from you. Send comments, suggestions, and/or join our e-mailing list at: email@example.com. Let us know where you're from, and as little or as much about yourself as you're willing to share. This web thog is about "process," and you are an integral part of this creative process.
Eleanor's Birthplace, Through The Top Window
111 Clay Street, Tiffin, Ohio
... when asked:
"Most stories have a beginning, a middle and an end, but my story begins on Page 43. I am not sequential. You will have your own Page 43, and that’s fine. Everybody’s page number is different." -- Mr. Barrymore
Shakespeare & Longfellow
Loss and Gain Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
When I compare What I have lost with what I have gained, What I have missed with what attained, Little room do I find for pride. I am aware How many days have been idly spent; How like an arrow the good intent Has fallen short or been turned aside. But who shall dare To measure loss and gain in this wise? Defeat may be victory in disguise; The lowest ebb is the turn of the tide.
Sonnet #109 William Shakespeare
O, never say that I was false of heart, Though absence seem'd my flame to qualify. As easy might I from myself depart As from my soul, which in thy breast doth lie: That is my home of love: if I have ranged, Like him that travels I return again, Just to the time, not with the time exchanged, So that myself bring water for my stain. Never believe, though in my nature reign'd All frailties that besiege all kinds of blood, That it could so preposterously be stain'd, To leave for nothing all thy sum of good; For nothing this wide universe I call, Save thou, my rose; in it thou art my all.
"Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.
Trouble no one about his religion.
Respect others in their views and demand that they respect yours.
Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.
Seek to make your life long and of service to your people.
Prepare a noble death song for the day when you go over the great divide.
Always give a word or sign of salute when meeting or passing a friend,
or even a stranger, if in a lonely place.
Show respect to all people, but grovel to none.
When you rise in the morning, give thanks for the light,
for your life, for your strength.
Give thanks for your food and for the joy of living.
If you see no reason to give thanks, the fault lies in yourself.
Abuse no one and no thing, for abuse turns the wise ones to fools
and robs the spirit of its vision.
When your time comes to die,
be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death,
so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time
to live their lives over again in a different way.
Sing your death song,
and die like a hero going home."
-- Tecumseh (1768-1813) Shawnee Chief
Path To Creativity, Anywhere
Poetry by Cher Bibler
"Rain in September"
Like rain in September it washes the world, pours down from the sky, catches on the wind drives into cracks and seeps through. This little hope rages, envelops us, holds us in her embrace. The world is clean, new washed, fresh, because of it. Doubts cloud like mosquitos, but dissipate in the sun. Like rain in September hope washes over us; we cling to our dreams and it feeds us.
Death was casual, like a door opening, and you going in. Too casual, I guess, I still wait for your return. I have things stored up to say to you, I have things to show you. New music, books. My children are grown up - I have grandchildren now. You wouldn't even recognize me - you would think I was my mother (who is thankfully dead). You have missed so many years and I still can't grasp the finality. I wait for your footstep outside my door, here in a house you've never seen, in a city where you've never been. You'll jump out from behind a tree and say, "fooled you!" and we'll all laugh.
Postcard From Havana
David Shevin Poetry
"Student Killed in Car Crash"
Said her friends, we will never forget her. How she loved the show and wanted to be America’s Next Top Model. How she laughed at Spongebob Squarepants. They sang Happy Birthday. They held candles. They sent blue balloons aloft, flocking round birds with drippy tails.
That one day I passed the load of iron ore which had just been that small blue car going too fast near the flooded, frozen ice fields of Providence.
What did she think in that place under the big and unblinking blind eye of dawn sun and fickle traffic? What did she think, that child out of time who never wrestled the coming of those years, those years that make America’s top model shabby, mean and wrinkled.
She thought of the other side. She thought of the tall steeple at the corner church, pointing straight to the what’s-up-there. She thought of the clouds on the horizon, a string of twenty three opening parentheses. She thought of the scrub fir all huddled like soldiers in foreign weather. She thought of the frost on emerald grass. She thought of the golden maize stalks and the high bonneted heads of the sunflowers.
It’s a funny thing. Inside the small blue car you just couldn’t tell what a mess it was.
Far from the gates of the town birds go wheeling and monkeys wail. Stands there a school past the terrace. Under umbrellas the problem makers and problem solvers scribble their notes in rivers of rain and blue ink. Doctor Proctor, by no means a fool, has no special skill, but great wit. Like most things, he makes noise when not at ease. At times his groans and songs are mistaken for wisdom.
Today his charges unravel their scrolls poring over ballades and double sonnets. Smart Porplern is listless. Muffy and Bruno pass notes and long glances. Then half a day tardy, Sparky bursts into the room and sprawls on a bench. He flings off his tall hat as Proctor asks him to name the current hour. Sparky is gasping for breath. Like the East sky at dawn, that is how his eyes burn. Have you seen the stream of bats emerge from beneath the bridge on Mad River at dusk when the insects abound? Just so the words fly from Sparky’s mouth:
“Man, Doc Proctor, I had to get to your class. I mean, I needed to be here, but you won’t believe what happened to me. I was kidnapped by Black Panthers, man. No kidding.
“I was walking in front of the student center, and these Black Panthers, they shoved me in a van. One of them was wearing a ski mask, and we were halfway to the next town before I could get out.” Muffy had eyes round as marbles. Bruno held his sides. Sparky turned on him. “You can’t tell any one. This doesn’t go beyond this room. I swear.” Porplern said it did not sound like Panther behavior. “These are NEW Panthers,” insisted Sparky. “They do things like this.”
A species will adapt, to negotiate jagged crags and thick-growing brambles, thought Proctor, hardly realizing he was thinking out loud. A crane was flying East, toward the river. High on the mountain crazy winds fought epic battles and birds were losing their homes. The teacher shook his locks, frosted by hardships. “I am grateful, young man. You have been delivered this time.
“There is an impossible road. Behind its boulders new panthers will always lie in wait.”
Reprinted with permission by the author from the Fall 2007 issue of Heartlands, published by Bottom Dog Press.
And We Saw The Moon
and we saw the moon in a slow fade out, white to night, 4:13 a.m., framed by branches of low trees.
and us, our feet wet from standing in freshly cut grass.
by Geoff Schutt, for rk
"To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make."
"Cada Cabeza Es Un Mundo."
The gifted Chicago-based artist, and my very good friend, Roberto Ruiz taught me this, as it applies to our creativity and thinking. And I have in turn passed the mantra on to other kindred spirits. In our interpretation -- this is a compliment for minds that are unto themselves, each their own little world ... at times, a little eccentric, but that's okay. -- Geoff
"Lady Of The Arch"
Detail -- oil on etching, by Roberto Ruiz
"The Reader's Soul"
Stendhal: "A novel is like a bow, and the violin that produces the sound is the reader's soul."
Words From The Heart:
"Las 'palabras' son 'medicina' para el corazón sólo si se pronuncian/escriben 'de corazón'...."
A good friend of This Side of Paradise sends us these words from her home in Spain. Estela -- you will always have a "Mango Hug" awaiting you on this page. Thank you for your wisdom and insight -- the truth that only the heart can embrace.
"Breathe," by Robyn Tipton
"Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working." -- Pablo Picasso. Robyn Tipton is an Oregon-based artist and writer, & friend to "This Side of Paradise." Just click on the image for more of Robyn's art, and her words. And as a reminder via the painting above, please don't forget to "breathe." Robyn has a wonderful mix of life and creativity on her site that makes the creative process accessible to anyone willing to follow Picasso's advice. Check it out!
for Jason Archer
The siren song may lull you close, but madame muse will save you She'll beat you up inside your head until you're black and blue
And in the end you'll hate her and thank her for being there, it's cool to have your secrets told like somebody wrote a book about your life and all those girls you loved and what you took from them, but also what they gave in return.
It's a bargain you make when you let your heart speak like it's the end of the world and you've just been waiting, marking your time, walking the streets of this town making eye contact with anyone who ignores your eyes and looking down when the brave ones walk by, their feet striking the pavement like your chest, beating heart -- heartbeat.
And sometimes you want to let it all go and shout to just let you be but it doesn't happen when you've got that siren song singing in your ears, so sweet the sound it almost makes the rest go away until madame muse tells you that everything is going to be fine -- okay? if only you stay true to what your eyes tell you, it's cool.
It's cool, she says, to be so open to all that you see and to be so wide awake you're listening to those feet, the footsteps of strangers who could care less.
But wouldn't it be better if you met those eyes, you know, the ones who ignore you, and forget about the brave ones, because it all comes down to this: madame muse and the siren song are one and the same and they're both in your head; you have only yourself to blame
For all those girls you loved and what you took from them and when they ask you, when it's all said and done, when you begin to forget who's so scared and who's really REALLY so brave and all you want to do is go back, to the one girl you could save from herself and from you and from everything, then.
You've always be a thinker, they've all said, thinking about this, and such, and such and such, you think too much, and that's your problem isn't it? that you think too much, so forward is backwards, and old is new and new is old, and the stories in the book of your life are no secret anyway,
'Cause they've already been told by a thinker, who in bed at night gets the shivers, gets cold, and has nothing left to say but think about it anyway.
It's cool, madame muse tells you, it's so cool that you can even GO that far back in your life to the one girl, that one girl who asked you, when you were just sixteen, if she could be your wife and you shrugged her off like any boy might do but yes, it's so cool you can keep her in the front of your head like the siren song that lures you, that lulls you, and causes you to make good on a promise that it won't happen again.
It's been a long while after all and these years have been good but some not so good but you've still made it through them somehow to now you've made it through them, each waking night, each night you dream, and each word the siren song sings for madame muse, in total control of what you'll do next to make good on a promise that it won't happen again.
It's so cool, madame muse says, when you bring her to tea, an afternoon picnic, all prim and proper like anyone would beat a time like this, in a place that you are so ready to go forward you think you're finally free from all that happened once, in that long ago place
It's so cool, madame muse says, that you can even remember the girl's face.
The siren song may lull you close, but madame muse will save you She'll beat you up inside your head until you're black and blue And in the end you'll hate her and thank her for being there, it's cool
To have your secrets told like somebody wrote a book about your life and all those girls you loved and what you took from them, but also what they gave in return, for what you gave, gave up, for the one, the one girl, the one girl, the one girl you could not save.
It's cool, that's right. 'Cause the siren song may lull you close, but hey -- somebody will save you, she -- they -- they always do, it's so cool.
10-9-2007 9:04 a.m. Geoff Schutt
Inspiration Beneath The Green Light
Strength & Resolve
Busking Tour #1, September 2007
Geoff Schutt, on the Cape May Ferry. Photo Credit: Busker-in-Chief Jason Archer
The Greatest Muse
Saving Our Souls Through Words
"If a poet writes to save his soul, he may save the souls of others." -- Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Eberhart