Since I haven’t a real clue as to how to market my manuscript for “Swamis,” I have decided to…
…let me rethink this.
Um, yeah; I’m doing some… adapting. Episodes.
Episode One starts with surfing, ends with Joey’s father sideslipping off the highway to his death.
So, yeah; there’s some drama. Visual stuff. Critical to this is the bubblegum lights on top of old police vehicles, now replaced by light bars, lights around the radiator, all kinds of lights. But, back in 1969… Here’s an example:
So, imagine the light (the bubblegum nickname is in reference to long-gone machines from which one could extract a ball of bubblegum) spinning… imagine whatever you know of late 60s psychedelic light shows; this is part of what Joey sees when he goes into a state of “Absensce,” a medical term, from the French, referring to those periods of time when someone who suffers from, say, epilepsy, seems to be ‘out of it,’ not there, possibly with the ‘thousand yard stare.’
“Swamis,” Episode One- “Ten seconds.”
Working on it.
Oh, and there are two encounters with Virginia Cole, setting up for… more.
In Episode Two…
Yeah, teasers; building the hype… from the laptop I share with Trish, from my living room, when I have time. And now I don’t. If you’re out looking for waves, good luck.
It is, too often, unclear to me if I actually wrote about some particular subject event, or just thought about the subject or event and talked about it enough, with enough different people (embellishing and polishing the story further with each retelling), that I have come to believe I wrote and then posted a written version to, yeah, this place, realsurfers.
The site is so basic, one page, really, and it’s kind of a struggle to scroll down. My fault. I could say I’m working on it. No, not yet.
I have written (more correctly, have a first draft, in Microsoft Word, of) a piece on surfers getting poetic about their attitude towards and the atmosphere around surfing. Surfers edit our memories, highlight and preserve the rare moments, discarding or ignoring the hold-downs and the awkward falls and the difficulties in the impact zone.
Unless the struggle is what you hold on to.
Let me think. Uh. Um. Yeah, I can remember my injuries, my near-panics. I don’t need to cough out something more foam than air after being slammed and rolled and bounced off a reef to recall the experience. So, yes, a little of that… along with the idealizing. Sure.
Okay, I scrolled down until it just got too overwhelming, so I will assume I haven’t written about this.
Reggie was talking to me about another surfer. I shouldn’t name him, but, since I am only telling the truth; Daniel. “Daniel.” “Daniel; the guy with the hat… claimed I yelled at him.” “Yeah.” “With the hat… on, in the water.” “That’s him.” “I told him no extra points for wearing the hat.” “You did.” “He claimed he wasn’t in my way; he was just ‘observing,’ from the shoulder.” “He did, he said that.” “I didn’t yell, Reggie.” “Your regular voice is like yelling.” “Sure. So, what about this… Daniel.”
“Daniel; he’s a poet.” “Oh?” “Yeah, he writes little poems, gives them to women… surfers, women surfers; says, ‘I wrote this for you.'” “Oh. So, um, how do they, women surfers, how do they… take this… poetry?” “I’m not sure; but he also stacks rocks and says, ‘I stacked these… for you.'”
“There’s a name for that.” “Yeah, it’s called hitting on chicks.” “No, the rocks. It’s, uh, damn, it’s the same name as… Australian surfer, back in the sixties, part of the Australian… when they went to the North Shore. Damn.” “I just call it a pile of rocks, but Daniel, he…” “I’m calling Keith. He’s a librarian; he’ll know.”
“Cairns. Yeah; Ian Cairns. Okay. Thanks, Keith. No, we’re working. I don’t know; buoys don’t look… okay.” “What’d he say?” “He said he had to go.” “No; about the rocks.” “Cairns. The rock stacks. Reggie; you write any… poetry?”
“I wrote one. ‘Here’s my story, you might think it’s funny…'” There’s another line. It’s kind of, um, bawdy; not that there’s anything, given the history of poetry, un-poetic about that. I can’t swear I have even the first line of Reggie’s poem right. It may not be an exact quote. As with the above dialogue, I may have taken a certain amount of… license. I wouldn’t say ‘poetic license,’ that would sound kind of pretentious.
If you want the second line of Reggie’s poem, ask him.
Still, here’s part of a song (song sounds less pretentious or fake high brow than poem) I wrote:
Don’t tell me you’re a poet, I saw you at the laundry; your costume in the dryer and your quarters keeping time…
There’s more; like six verses worth, stacked up, like rocks on a rocky beach, like… Hey, next time, Part II.
“SWAMIS” news: I’m somewhat adrift, waiting for Dru to finish re-formatting the manuscript, scheming on how to actually sell the thing. Yes, I have a couple of dream scenarios. It’s rather like the classic surfer thing: Mind-surfing the waves, timing the lulls, looking for a channel. Best to you.
At this point, the last words of my novel, “Swamis,” are, “So green.”
That might change, but not by much. “Yea!” and “yeah!” and “yes!” and, “Holy Shit, the book is done; now what?”
This isn’t the first time I have made it to “The End” of the manuscript. The first completion produced the “Unexpurgated Version.” At around the same length as the current novel (125,000 plus words, 300 plus pages at 12 point, Microsoft word, with each of the forty-six chapters starting at the top of a page), that work became part of the learning process.
What I learned is what I was told by a professional writer, forty years ago, in a phone conversation, me in one of a line of booths at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, on my lunch break, he in a home office (with assistant/intern) in Port Ludlow (and he wasn’t even, like, a famous writer- he was part of a group that wrote some briefly-noted book with ‘naked’ in the title). Because I couldn’t remember the name of the agent who wanted a complete version of the novel I was working on at the time (and I didn’t realize how rare having any positive response from an agent is), and because I chuckled (or giggled), mostly from embarrassment/intimidation, he said, “Look, son; you seem pretty flippant. You’ll never be a successful writer with that attitude.”
“Oh, (giggle), what if I do become a successful writer; can I be flippant then?”
“You’ll be too tired.”
If he meant because the art is in the concept, the storylines weaving and crashing; the work is in the re-working and polishing and the deleting and the making sure the logic line is solid.
It is work; and I love it.
My loving my work doesn’t, unfortunately, mean it’s great. Here is an example: The paragraph, above, the one with all the little breaks in parentheses… yeah, I would probably have to simplify that (periods and such). Ha! Flippancy.
More than a first draft, a copy of the unexpurgated “Swamis” is in a box, each page printed on one side. It is also, along with various other versions, on my laptop. I also have, at over fifty thousand words, a file titled “Sideslipping.” I have shared some of those outtakes on this site. Stories. It’s all I have wanted to do, tell stories; make every fictional character seem as real to the reader as they become to me; real people with real lives. Having known almost seventy years worth of real people does help in this effort; a little of that person, a bit of that one.
I did get feedback, positive and negative, on that version; advice that I took to heart.
Currently, my daughter, Drucilla, is tasked with re-formatting the manuscript, taking out several places where sentences got underlined and her father couldn’t figure out how to get rid of the lines; possibly changing the font. Essentially, making it prettier, more professional. Hurry up, Dru! Oh, and thanks.
Anyway, I am not tired. Then again, I’m not there yet. I have never been particularly good at selling… anything. Never did a yard sale, never won a bargaining session.
So, I need an agent. If you know one or are one, I can be contacted at email@example.com
The dream was going along as dreams do, dreamily; but I decided to edit it.
Actually, that dream did not include the dude pictured above, cosmically connecting with the pillow guy, trying to get a connection with Don, Don Junior, Carlson or any other Tucker, Tucker’s mother, any Karen willing to take his call. Little Don already, obviously, has a connection, others are… shit, I don’t know… he is on my don’t call, stay the fuck out of my dreams list.
But another dream did, ending, after some editing, after Trish and I (both of us obviously younger), following (more like chasing) her (late) father through some sort of town setting. We go into a bar (maybe), he orders a plain cup of coffee. “Fifty cents,” the guy behind the bar says, “Fifty-five with tax.” I, at Trisha’s urging, shove my father-in-law (gently) down the way. The bartender says, “Five dollars,” then says, “Ten dollars; eleven with the tax.” “Oh,” I say, placing fifteen bucks (a ten and a five) on the bar, “If I can also get the…” looking the other way (away from Trisha’s dad) “The paper.” “Sure thing,” the bartender says. Just then Rudy Guliani (sp? like I care), in a nice brown suit, grabs the paper. “Wait,” I say, “That paper’s paid for.” Rudy just smiles, folds the paper, sticks it under his arm, says, “Yeah; someone paid for it.”
Okay, that was just unacceptable. So, staying asleep, or partially, I went back, deleted Rudy, replaced him with Arnold Schwartzisnamer (sp? again, don’t care), who still kept the paper, but was nicer about it. AND THEN, just to add some drama…
SO, HERE’S WHERE I AM ON “SWAMIS:” I am fourteen pages from the last ending, BUT, because I’ve made so many changes in the manuscript, the exciting conclusion, despite my deletions and additions, keeps staying just that tantalizingly close to completion.
STRAIT SURF UPDATE: NO surf, but Rippin’ Reggie Roy (Reggie’s preferred nickname) reported seeing two guys with soft tops (I’m sure he meant surfboards) and a guy in a white Roxy wetsuit splashing about in waves so small he said “Even you wouldn’t try to surf them.” FORECAST: More of the same, with occasional rumors.
…actually mature. I’m not writing about what it means to be mature, or even old; I don’t have time to write about anything, really; and it’s frustrating as hell. Fifteen pages or so to go on my latest edit of “SWAMIS,” with a new twist to the ending that requires me to go back and make some changes in the first two hundred and eighty-six pages to make it all make sense; and I don’t have time to do that. It’s suddenly high painting season, and, hey, wait a minute… If you look carefully at the image, below, that I spent way too much time searching through bing images to find, you can see, in the background, a ladder and a guy on the second floor, quite possibly painting, while the guy with the Chevy, Butch Vanartsdalen-looking dude, is off to ride some waves.
Anyway, the piece below that is one I was forced to write for the Quilcene Community Center monthly newsletter; and is what I call ‘kind of generic humor.’ Not that it’s not amusing. Check it out; I was two hours late when I woke up. As that was, shit, shit, two hours ago.
A Few Opening Lines On, Uh, Um, Wait a Minute… Aging
ONE: There is, evidently, a significant difference between one asking, “Where was I” and “Where am I?”
TWO: I had, over a few days a few weeks ago, several, in fact, way too many reminders, and not that I needed any of them, that I am now, how should I phrase this, too old to die young.
I was hired, as I often am, to finish a painting project someone else started, which is to say, to paint the ‘high stuff.’ The homeowner on a new home construction project was planning on doing the painting on the two-story structure; but was convinced by the carpenters (young whippersnappers in their forties) he was a bit too old (no, they would have said something more like “not quite nimble enough,” he was writing the checks) to do the high ladder work.
Okay. Fine. But, somewhere in conversation with the fogey it was discovered he and I are almost exactly the same age. Class of ‘69. Yea! 69! Okay, end of celebration.
The next day (or so, not sure exactly) someone (can’t remember who, exactly) said, in the course of a conversation not centered on my advanced years, “You’re, like, seventy, right?” “No! Not yet!” Not quite yet… anyway. August, end of August. Still a (don’t read too much into this) sexagenarian.
So much for my believing I look ‘good for my age’ or have, or ever even did have, kind of a baby face.
Not that I look in mirrors any more often than necessary, or that I wear glasses if I must subject myself to my reflected countenance. Blurry is sometimes better. And I cannot say that I am not shocked when I do catch the occasional and accidental glimpse of my face and/or physique; and I should confess to the immediate reaction of shuddering and shaking before realizing it is not an attack by the Klingons.
Not that there’s anything wrong with shuddering and shaking; it’s almost like dancing- close enough.
THREE: I am known to, occasionally, burst into song. I, at least, do have various tunes enter my head, sort of, possibly, related to what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. When, in the course of a working day, I start feeling tired, the words and music to the theme song for “Petticoat Junction” might just enter the closed captioning in my brain (and, incidentally, I recommend and am totally dependent on it for TV and movie viewing- not just because of reduced neighbor complaints). If you are too young to know this, “Petticoat Junction” was a spin-off of “Green Acres,” which might have been a spin-off of… doesn’t matter; if you remember watching either of these shows when they originally ran… well… you know, it was ages ago. Ages.
If you don’t remember ancient TV, some GEN X-er or younger will no doubt look at you with wonder and amazement, and, without the constraints members older generations labored under, might actually ask something like, “Wait, and it wasn’t even in… color?” Or worse.
“Petticoat Junction” might have actually been in ‘living’ color. Anyway, the line is, “And there’s Uncle Joe, he’s a movin’ kinda slow… at the junction…” But wait, another line just popped into my head: “Lot’s of curves, you ew ew bet, even mo-ore, when you get… to the junction…” Yes, I am trying to help you with the phrasing should you feel inclined to start singing, randomly.
An action isn’t crazy or some signal of dementia if you can explain why you’re doing what you’re doing. Example: “Really, Officer? I know seat belts are legally required, pants, that’s kind of a gray area, isn’t it?”
FOUR: No one says a young person is spry. If this word is used on you as some sort of attempt at a compliment, you are, in my mind, justified in being somewhat insulted. “Spry? Me? Oh, thank you, kind young-en, let me see how far your fingers bend… backwards.
FIVE: We Jefferson County folks used to make fun of how old people are in Sequim. “If you want to avoid crowds at Costco,” someone might tell you, “It is open until 8:30 on weeknights, but the folks are all asleep by, like, seven-thirty, eight if they stay up to watch ‘Jeopardy.’” Well, sorry, but, like, demographically, our county is now, statistically, older. Somewhere in the mid-to-high 60s. Ouch.
SIX: Do you need a nap? Can you name even one rap star? Can you recite any lyrics to a Mylie Cyrus song? Did I spell Mylie correctly? Do I care if I didn’t? Do you even know what ‘woke’ is supposed to mean? Does Robert Redford still seem like a hunk to you? Do actors who try to come back in their old roles just look tired? Do you need a nap? Did I already ask that?
SEVEN: I looked up (yes, Googled) filial piety and dotage for this piece, so, durn it, I am going to include them. So… there.
There’s not much to recommend being… older, except, here’ one thing: I’ve been surfing almost my whole life. I was never considered as cool because of this as I considered myself. But now, and it’s, admittedly, mostly due to attrition (more from quitting than from dying); if I don’t get what might pass for respect that I’m still getting out there in the water… no, I shouldn’t brag about my perceived coolness, it’s not cool.
No, I don’t have an ending for this piece. I am not finished, and neither are you.