Sometimes I read a few of the blogs I find on wordpress. Most of which I am not overly impressed. Some even seem to be downright stupid, but be that as it may, what’s the harm? Some individuals find it hard to relate their feelings through talk. I have always been one of those people. It’s not because I can’t think rapidly enough, hell, I can think most people into the ground. But there has always been that detachment between mind and mouth, if you will. Others find writing very difficult, the blank page terrifies them. I often think of Nathan Bedford Forrest who once remarked that it didn’t see a line of writing but it reminded him of a snake. Yet his military orders and dispatches were the soul of brevity and succinctness. One rarely encounters a man with such a gift who had little formal schooling as a child. But there are a few like him who fortune favors during extremely adverse times.
If formal or even informal speech was a problem for me early on in my childhood, writing was sheer terror. When I was told to write a letter to my grandmother I could not think of what to say to her. Writing takes practice. I suppose we might find that exercise easier if we were given real letters to copy out, a plan as it were, to how to say what we might feel. Very often we find that there is a difference between relating a bit of news and telling a story with emotion. Of course this problem and ones like it reveal the human condition. Self expression is a learned art form in many senses of the word. Most individuals tend to bumble their way through that minefield of emotion, hoping to leave the path unscathed. Those who can’t, who stumble upon too many mines end up pulling the pins on their own personal grenade.
Some individuals are able to write very good poetry as they play with words to give new meanings to voice. Poetry is a voice of the speaker, that piece of soul inside that yearns for expression in uncommon forms. I was forty eight when I stared writing poetry. Oh, it was simple, full of pain, and horrible. I’ve read a lot of amatur poets, many who seem to think that if one possesses a Throusus one can rewrite Shakespeare with impunity. Most would be poets are very sensitive and self conscious about the work. They crave approval and hate criticism, their skins are much too thin to exist here on this earthly orb. Yet the truth is, most of us, and I include myself among the numbered, are mediocre to terrible. If one can come to terms with that truth one can accept almost any criticism. Then there are the would be fiction writers. You meet these people in writers clubs and groups. Most of the write by committee, that is, they write a few pages and then invite others to make comments. Unfortunately one cannot make comments that indicate failure of their efforts. All comments must be positive and suggestions taken seriously. And all their work is god awful. When you let others take over your work it no longer is yours. Oh, these people get published if one can call it that. The writes move in circles that pick up more writers and people tend to buy each other’s books and then one day you look around and find that you might have sold a thousand copies and are also the proud owner of a thousand badly written amature novels. But you get to put author of fiction on your tombstone and after a while it will be forgotten and the worms will eat that trash into fertilizer for other aspiring authors. Good literature will out, great literature will endure.
Then there is that class of writing that has little specific purpose such as wining a pulitzer or push cart prize, and written more for the joy of writing. I stumbled onto Don Gomez’s blog by accident. it is a strange sort of blog or writing but it has its interests to pick over. My war was Vietnam and for most of us it wasn’t terribly complicated. Bloody yes, deadly, all too real. I lost a good friend over there. Everyone did. These experiences change you and not always for the better. I remember working with too many guys who had their year in hell and left a part of their soul there. They came back alcoholics and drug addicts. Several I knew never did sober up. Most hit that low point where it’s either life or death and they chose life. They weren’t whole but they weren’t dead. For most of them, they traveled with their past at arms length, dragging it along, afraid to leave it behind because it was leaving a part of themselves behind, a part that had died on the plains or the rice paddies and they felt they had to bring that body home.
So I occasionally read one or two posts by Mr. Gomez or Captain, I assume he has not been promoted recently. The words are strange, the conversation filled with acronyms I don’t recognize. We never really spoke like that in our war. I find it foreign, strange, a different type of twilight. I don’t really understand. And yet I do. I have begun to see the commonality between us, among us. It is the threat of death that hangs over his world in the middle east. It’s the same shadow I once felt many times. That shadow no longer owns me. Even when my heart tried to kill me in 2002 I had no fear of that shadow. One can only be frightened of death so many times before it loses its hold and you learn how to live once again, like a child running in a field, a kite whipping on a string trying to fly and overcome the earth. There is a sky and clouds are only passing shadows.