writing

A Song, An Original Typed Story, and Picking Yourself

During a recent sojourn through the fjords of the internet, I ran into a remarkable artist going by the twitter handle @RovingTypist. His real name is C.D. Hermelin, and he types original one-page stories, on an honest-to-god typewriter in the parks of NYC, all while you wait, and for a donation amount of your choosing.

How cool is that?!

Having seen it, and that he also takes requests for stories via his website, I had to order one. But what about? The coolest aspect of this little service of Christopher’s is that you can provide him with as much or as little (read: none) information to craft your story.

Recently, I’d become obsessed with this song by a fledgling band called The Front Bottoms, and more specifically their song “Twin Size Mattress” which had been on repeat at my desk for a week.

So, I decided to ask the Roving Typist to listen to it and write whatever came to mind. It didn’t have to be about the song at all, could just have been a thought that formed while listening to it. The final product was amazing in how well it fit together and created this little possible backstory for the song.

My Story from @RovingTypist

My Story from @RovingTyp

I tweeted the author to convey my thanks and was hit back with this:

tweetRovingTypist

All of this then ties in with another of my favorite authors, Seth Godin. One of his big sticking points is that in a world of people that get picked, we should pick ourselves. Sure, a publisher could do it, or a record company, or art dealer – but that’s not really necessary or ideal at this point. Pick yourself. Put your art into the world. Make connections. This is your time, and if you do something remarkable, why not let people know it?

C.D. Hemelin is most certainly doing that, and succeeding on a grand scale of connecting with people and making a difference in their lives.

This entire trip has been an amazing experience. I’ve realized fully, the value of being your most authentic self. Reaching out to another person I’d never meet and then to get a piece of art (and this is most definitely art!) that I’ll always tie to a time and place. Plus, I get another great story – or, two, actually.

If this remotely appeals to you, I suggest you contact the Roving Typist and let him share his art with you. Even at the $25 I chose to spend, it’s a pittance, and something you’ll enjoy sharing with others.

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We All Have Zombies…

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I don’t usually watch things with zombies. They’ve never been a draw for me, but this past week I decided to try out The Walking Dead on Netflix. God Damn it.

Zombies, on their own, are quite simply, crap. I Couldn’t care less about walking corpses or anything with gore. Not that I scare easily, but I tend to find the whole exercise boring. After all, i’m surrounded by figurative zombies every day: though with an admittedly lower penchant for wearing my viscera like so much KISS makeup. 

After all, i’m surrounded by figurative zombies every day: though those have an admittedly lower penchant for wearing my viscera like so much KISS makeup. 

No, the real endgame here for me has been the relentless feeling of near hopelessness which plagues (puns!) the lot outside Atlanta. Particularly, the lead of “Rick Grimes” who is charged with taking care of not just his family (son and wife) but also the entire group of survivors as their leader.  

I feel you Rick, I really do.

I’ve got a family and a team of people – in fact, two of them. While we’re not overrun with the un-dead, it can often feel that way. How the hell do we get out of this? How do I find enough time for all the responsibilities? How do you seek, not just to survive, but to thrive and grow in the midst of so much uncertainty? 

Maybe that’s why I can’t stop watching it lately, or why I started in the first place. I want to know that someone else is going through something similar, and I want to put my feet up and watch this guy do it for a while and see how he fares. Or maybe it’s that zombies are the “insert pain in the ass/existential threat” we all fear? 

Life, when you want to do something, can have a funny habit of piling on. Want to get out of your comfort zone and do something for the benefit of your group? Zombies will show up. Want to take a rest for a moment and count your blessings? Zombies. Love someone more than anything? Zombies probably are heading that way, however slowly. And they always move slowly – just enough for one to internally debate the consequences of their arrival. 

I’m sure they’ve always been there, each generation with their own zombies, and many of them the same as the ones we fear now. I’d like to think we don’t necessarily suffer from more of them, but rather we give them more windows to break through. Instead of barricading our homes, we’re letting them through the open window of our phones. 

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I’m not hopeless – not even close. And by all accounts, that’s the most scared a person can get. When you have nothing, you fear nothing – have it all and you have all to lose. Tell me that doesn’t describe our America today.

And by stuff, I really mean people. I have the most loving and amazing family and friends. I have a team of people I get to work with which is just phenomenal top to bottom. The thought of losing any of them is just… exhausting. But each day I wake up and want to do it again, because that’s what love makes us do. 

I don’t know, forget the moaning and wearing of intestines as french braids, I’m more concerned with the relevant allegory of the whole thing. The notion that I’m Rick, doing his best to protect his family and his team, against such overwhelming odds with such small arms is just too familiar to be left alone.

What are your zombies? What do you quietly fret over and wish to god you could protect once and for all? Or do you really just like watching the dyed corn syrup pour out of punctured zombie skull? Because that’s cool too. 

Appreciate: The Most Beautiful Thing You’ll Hear…

Around my senior year of high school I wanted to impress this girl (BTW, how much of our history has been caused by someone uttering those last six words?) and somehow I got this great idea to take her out on this moonlit stroll where, at a point I’d read her this amazing poem to show her how into her I was. Yeah, really original and not at all cheesy.

Well, my biggest obstacle was I didn’t know anything about poetry- how to write it, what was good, did it have to rhyme? So I started by reading every conceivable book of poetry I could get my hands on at Barnes-&-Noble. I did this for weeks in preparation for my big moment and I have to admit, it totally killed. She loved it and boom, we we’re dating.

Smooth, right? It was, but it didn’t last long – probably had something to do with my cancelling on her for prom three days beforehand. To take out my ex-girlfriend.

Yes. That happened.

But my main point here is that I never stopped reading poetry. I kept writing, for years and haven’t ever really stopped for a tremendous length of time. All kinds too; the classics, spoken-word, slam, Charles Bukowski, Billy Collins, Sharon Olds, you name it. That being said, this song (see the video) is not only the most hauntingly beautiful song I’ve ever heard, it’s also a remarkable work of poetry all its own.

Original writing is insanely hard. To capture the nebulous feelings you experience when you look at someone that truly matters to you, and to do it without sounding hackneyed, or trite, or derivative of a master – it’s like verbal alchemy. Damn near as impossible, too.

I think it’s easy for people to take for granted the unbelievable forces spinning inside them; love, jealousy, yearning, ambition, fear, grief, longing – and how hard it is to get someone else to know exactly what those feelings are like – using only the written word. How they make you tingle, or shudder, or how they change your breathing while sitting perfectly still. To get someone else to feel them all over again, just from reading them.

It’s a gift, and this young lady has it. Stunningly beautiful imagery,  intense feeling, uncommon honesty, all adding up to one hell of a song.