Trafalgar24 by Driftwood Theatre! A Return to Trafalgar Castle!

It’s that time of the year again to start thinking about the most magical event of the year! The Trafalgar 24 Play Creation Festival is approaching. Billed as “24 HOURS. 6 NEW PLAYS. 1 CASTLE.”, Trafalgar 24 is that and so much more! It’s a virtual whirlwind of creativity, dished out in the extravagant setting of a mid 19th century castle in Whitby, Ontario.

A little about the Castle: Nelson Gilbert Reynolds built Trafalgar Castle as a private residence in 1859. After losing his fortune to gambling, Mr. Reynolds was forced to sell the castle. It soon became the Ontario Ladies’ College, and eventually Trafalgar Castle School. To this day, it is a school for girls…complete with dorm rooms to house students from all over the world. Once a year, during spring-break, the castle is handed over to Jeremy Smith and Driftwood Theatre for their fundraising gala, TRAFALGAR 24.

From the Driftwood Theatre Trafalgar24 Webpage:

Twenty-four artists receive a scant 24-hours to write, rehearse and perform six site-specific plays in Whitby’s beautiful 19th century castle. TRAFALGAR 24 is a theatrical event unlike any other, where the audience is right on top of the action as each of the 10-minute scripts play out around them in locations throughout the castle. At TRAFALGAR 24 audience members play a vital role of their own, helping to select one winning play to receive a commission for further development from Driftwood Theatre.

March 11, 2016 | 6:30pm Silent Auction Starts | 7:30pm Performances Begin | Trafalgar Castle, 401 Reynolds Street, Whitby

Now, here’s a breakdown of what happens from yours truly. I have had the extreme pleasure of being a playwright for this event SIX times! And this March (2016) I may or may not once again be having the honour of being locked into the castle overnight to cobble a 10-minute play for production the following evening. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. THURSDAY EVENING 10:00PM – 6 playwrights converge on the Castle. Jeremy (Driftwood Theatre’s Artistic Director) corals the playwrights and gives them their instructions. Write a 10-minute play in 8 hours. He gives them headshots of the actors who will appear in their plays and he tells them which room in the castle their particular play will take place in. Jeremy then leads the playwrights on a tour of the castle, stopping in each of the 6 chosen rooms to show them where the plays will take place. Typically, this is the room in which the playwright will write their play. They are allowed to use anything in the room chosen for them…but they are not allowed to add props that are not already there. That is that. 10pm arrives and the 6 playwrights retreat into their rooms and the playwriting begins. Jeremy goes home…plays are cobbled.
  2. FRIDAY MORNING 6:00am – 6 very tired disheveled playwrights are allowed to leave the castle. After, of course, they hand in their plays. 6 new plays. 6 worried, electrified, tired, sleepless, chaotic, changed playwrights. Never the twain shall meet— the playwrights escape and only then do the directors and actors converge on the castle. They all arrive at 6am. They are given their plays to read-rehearse-tweak-enrich-bring to life. I can’t tell you what happens in the next eight hours. I can only imagine that it is a more chaotic and boisterous eight hours than the eight hours before it! The creation really happens in this eight hours. I will always and forever be in awe of the product that comes from these eight hours. Actors and directors are wondrous creatures who should be revered.
  3. The tireless volunteers and organizers then prepare for the onslaught of the audience. This includes setting up the cheese and hors d’oeuvres tables, setting up the wine tables, and setting up the tremendous silent auction tables. REMEMBER–this is a fundraiser. The silent auction helps Driftwood Theatre’s fundraising efforts. They are, after all, a traveling theatre that gives Ontario Shakespeare in the Park all summer long. They need to fund this incredible Bard’s Bus summer tour. Trafalgar24 is the cornerstone of their fundraising efforts.
  4. THE AUDIENCE ARRIVES! I believe the audience is typically 300 people. These 300 are split into 6 smaller groups that will stay together the entire evening (apart from the breaks for hors d’oeuvres and wine, silent auctioning, speeches, and dessert). The 6 groups will wander throughout the castle, visiting each of the 6 rooms in which the plays will be performed and seeing each one in turn. So each play will be performed SIX times. Between performances, everything mentioned above takes place. Basically, it’s a magical night filled with theatre, wining, excellent food, shopping the auction items, and schmoozing. It’s a must see event that sadly only happens once a year.

So, that’s Trafalgar24.

Please visit the TRAFALGAR24 EVENT PAGE ON DRIFTWOOD THEATRE’S WEBSITE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND TO PURCHASE TICKETS ONLINE.

If you are a member of the WRITERS’ COMMUNITY OF DURHAM REGION, you will have a special discounted price for tickets. If you are a member of the WCDR, you can book your discounted tickets WCDR tickets by calling 416-605-5132 or 844-601-8057.

I would like to thank Driftwood Theatre, and Jeremy Smith, for giving me my many opportunities to be a small part of this amazing event. Trafalgar24 is the crowning event of my writing year. Creating a play in 8 hours that will be witnessed ‘on stage’ by 6 audiences one short night later is an exhilarating, frenetic, terrifying, appalling, energetic, insane, impossible. All those things and more. I don’t think it matters what your role in the event is–playwright, director, actor, organizer, volunteer, audience, etc–if you attend, you will be amazed! YOU WILL NOT WANT TO MISS IT!

See you at the castle!

The Reasons Now Available at Amazon for Kindle!

The Reasons is now available as a Kindle book at all Amazon locations.

If you have already read this book, please consider reviewing it at Amazon. If not, you can now pick it up with 1-Click for your Kindle or Kindle App.

AMAZON USA

AMAZON CANADA

AMAZON UK

The+Reasons

With a mostly absent father, a deceased older sister, a younger sister on the verge of invisibility, and a certifiably insane mother, Tobias Reason is forced to grow up quickly. Though he tries to be a surrogate parent to his sister, their broken mother, Maggie, takes up a lot of his time. Annabel falls to the wayside and becomes a ghost in their chaotic existence.

When Maggie flippantly hands her mother’s house over to Tobias, he sees an opportunity to learn how and why his family became so shattered. Be careful what you wish for. When his world begins to collapse from the weight of un-buried secrets, he focuses on a stranger from his parents’ past. Only by eliminating the past, he believes, can he make his family whole again.

The Reasons won the Muskoka Novel Marathon’s 2008 BEST ADULT NOVEL AWARD.

Note: This title is NOT young adult.

Get it now with 1-Click!

Sebastian’s Poet Now Available at AMAZON for KINDLE!

As of today, SEBASTIAN’S POET is NOW available on Amazon for Kindle!

If you have already read Sebastian’s Poet, and would like to share a review on Amazon, that would be wonderful. Otherwise, you can purchase it now for Kindle.

Read reviews at GOODREADS.

Please visit the appropriate country site listed below, to purchase:

AMAZON USA

AMAZON CANADA

AMAZON UK

Sebastian's Poet

Get it now with 1-Click on Amazon!

Sebastian Nelson is a boy in search of a family. Abandoned by his mother, Sebastian is left with a broken father who doesn’t even seem present when he does show up. Forced to be the main caregiver of his younger brother, Renee, and lost in a sea of indifference, Sebastian only wants to experience the love a real, stable family could afford him.

One morning he discovers the famous folksinger, Teal Landen, asleep on the sofa. Teal’s nurturing nature brings an immediate sense of security into Sebastian’s tumultuous life. But a dark secret looms between Teal and Sebastian’s father of a hidden past. Sebastian is driven to discover their secret, but also he’s aware of how tenuous their hold on Teal really is. He doesn’t want to lose the feeling of home Teal’s presence has brought him.

The Evolution of a Playwright – Writer Labels

Labels! They’re so difficult to own. I reluctantly called myself a writer because I was one who put words down on paper. Then, when my first novel was published, I reluctantly called myself an author. In between, I was a poet and a columnist and a freelance writer. These things that define me, if only momentarily, are also the things that seem too monumental for me to be. Even now, it seems impossible. Each one of these labels.

I’m thinking the greatest of my unfathomable writerly accomplishments is, however, none of the above. The whole time I wrote these other things, I imagined a day when I would only write plays. I mean, dialogue is king, right?! Why would I want to do anything else besides put words into the mouths of characters? What’s cooler than seeing your characters come to life on the boards? I can’t think of anything.

Ever since I first read Tennessee Williams, Shakespeare, Molière, and, finally, W. Somerset Maugham, back in high school, I’ve been a bit obsessed with the idea of becoming a playwright. A Streetcar Named Desire blew me away. Entirely. The raw savagery of Stanley Kowalski, mixed with the tragic delusional broken princess of Blanche Dubois was flawless. Even though Tartuffe was written in 1664 it still stands in a league of its own as a comedy. Not to mention Maugham’s The Bread Winner and The Constant Wife…but comedies that have lasted. I don’t even know where to begin with Shakespeare. I just love his plays. I had an English teacher in high school who was a bit of an eccentric–okay, a lot of an eccentric–he used to get us to push the desks to the walls and perform Shakespeare moments together in the centre of the classroom. These were divine moments.

I’ve had many pivotal moments as a writer when I experienced epiphanies about LABELS, as they pertain to writers. One of the biggest was when I realized Matthew Quick wrote both YA Lit and Adult Lit. This gave me permission to do the same. I know it shouldn’t be out-of-the-box thinking that one could cross-pollinate genres, markets, styles, and types of writing. One should just write what calls out to them the loudest to be written. But sometimes it takes seeing other people do things before you can give yourself permission to do them.

The second such epiphany I had was that I could be a novelist and a playwright. Maugham was right there in front of me, all that time. I even had his memoir about skating the duo existence of novelist/playwright to refer to. The Summing Up is one of my favourite books on writing. Why? Because it speaks to me. Maugham was honest about how he discovered his love of writing plays over novels. This quote sums it up nicely:

“Thank God, I can look at a sunset now without having to think how to describe it.” ~ W. Somerset Maugham

Writing plays removes the need for descriptive prose. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, so the saying goes. But when you don’t have the prose between the lines of dialogue, you are faced with only your characters. You are left with conversation. This is, for me, my favourite part of novel writing. It’s nice to slip out of the need to piece together an entire world of description in order to tell a story. When I wrote my first short play, I knew I had found something I would always love. When I saw that play performed, I was hooked forever. Those were my words coming out of the characters’ mouths. It was a thing of magic!

I once wrote on this blog about how to write a 10-minute play. I wrote that post after having had 7 plays performed. I think the advice still stands today. I’m only one 10-minute play shy from having had 10 of them produced now. You can read that post here: HOW TO WRITE A 10-MINUTE PLAY

I will probably always write novels. As freeing as it is to have the director and the actors create the world surrounding the story, it is also rewarding to create that world yourself through prose. BUT…I don’t think I will ever feel as alive as a writer as I feel when I’m writing plays. I love writing the dialogue. I love walking around the house by myself reading the lines aloud to hear if they sound ‘right’. I love working and re-working each line until it does sound right. And I love sitting in my seat in front of the stage seeing real live people perform the words that came from my pen. I feel most evolved as a writer when I can sit back and watch my words take flight. There’s nothing like it. It’s a kind of happiness that begets desire. To watch one’s own play must be a high akin to the high an actor gets at the sound of the applause.

“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” ~ Walt Whitman

Try new things. If you’re a poet, don’t be only a poet. If you’re a novelist, don’t be only a novelist. If you’re a sci-fi writer, don’t be only a sci-fi writer. Labels for writers are interchangeable. Unless you wish only to have one, you can have as many as you desire. Writers have great opportunities to allow themselves to constantly evolve. It’s scary to step out of your comfort zone…but only until that next zone you find yourself in fits as nicely as the last one did. Find your happiness as a writer in this hour. If there is something you want to try, don’t let fear stop you from doing so. Let your fear be the fuel you use to tackle it.

molly

 

 

You Can’t Please Everyone…Writer Beware

Without shining a light on the issues that gave me the idea for this post, I learned early on that my writing is not going to be right for everyone. I also know that some people will love some things I write and hate other things I write. It’s just the way it is.

Once I write something, and have it vetted by beta readers, agents, acquisitions editors and editors…it’s out of my hands. Nothing I can say or do will make a reader like it. Nothing I can say or do will make a reader not like it. Whatever they feel about my work is up to them. What I do is present my best effort, made better by those who helped the piece make its way to the marketplace. After that, it becomes something that is entirely and emphatically out of my hands.

I read reviews. I know that some authors say they don’t read reviews…and that others should do the same and avoid them at all costs. But I do read them. Every single one I come across. I listen to what the reviewer has to say. Sometimes–in the majority of cases, I suppose…which makes me eternally grateful–the comments are extremely lovely. A lot of readers like the end product that I have put out there into the world. Sometimes–in enough cases that I feel the need to improve upon my work at all times–the comments are hard to read and most decidedly uncomplimentary.

I can’t write something that everyone will like. That’s impossible. That will always be impossible…for every writer.

I take the good reviews as a notion that I am doing something right…I am touching readers with my words. I take the bad reviews as a notion that I can do better. Much better. I appreciate the harsh reviews as much as I appreciate the glowing ones. I attempt to take away from them insights that will make me a better writer. I hope that they are never written with malice or as personal vendettas against me as a person. And even if they are, that is entirely the reviewer’s option. They have a right to write whatever they wish about my works. I’m only grateful that my words are being read.

I will always read my reviews. I will consider deeply whatever the reviewer is attempting to say…good or bad. And sometimes, their words will hurt me deeply. And sometimes I will get a review that will make my day, my week, my month, my year.

Ultimately, I’m responsible for my words. I own everything I ever wrote and allowed into the marketplace. And the reviewers? They’re responsible for their words. Their words are not supposed to have anything to do with me. They are free to comment on my works as they see fit to do so.

My job is to take the ideas and notions in my head, gestate them to term and give birth to them. My job, after that, is to not get offended or take it personally if someone thinks one of my babies is ugly. Someone else will eventually come along who thinks it’s a pretty baby. And someone else, again, will come along and think it’s an okay baby with some ugly defects. This is how it goes.

You take the good, you take the bad,
you take them both and there you have
The facts of life
No pictures today. I welcome you to visit either AMAZON, KOBOBOOKS, BARNES & NOBLE, or CHAPTERS INDIGO to check out my books. Reviews can be found (or posted) on GOODREADS. If you take (took) the time to write a review of one of my 5 books (Summer on Fire, Sebastian’s Poet, The Reasons, Burn Baby Burn Baby, Half Dead & Fully Broken), I thank you. Whether you loved my work or hated it, liked it or were indifferent to it, I thank you. One of the greatest gifts I have is my love of writing. The added gift I have is in knowing that my words are not going out into the void without having ever touched another living soul. Any review I receive is validation that I have put myself out there. Yes, it’s a vulnerable position to put yourself in. But it’s a position I chose with both eyes open. I can’t do so without expecting a little rain sometime. When you go from writer to author, you give the world carte blanche to judge you. You say to them, “BRING IT!” And then you merely hope for the best…

Sebastian’s Poet Now Available on KOBO! (With Reader Praise and Link to Chapter One)

 

Sebastian's Poet

Sebastian’s Poet is now available on KOBO!

Here’s what readers have said about the novel:

Sebastian’s Poet is a wonderful feel-good story that you must read!

Broken people, abandonment, longing, aching. This book drew me in with its beauty, and I shed a few tears. It was so well crafted –- a really well-written book — and I was so glad to read it. I loved this book.

Sebastian’s Poet is a wonderful contemporary work that deserves much more notoriety than it has received. More people need to know about this author. Please, please, trust me when I say that you will love every page of this fantastic story.

Oh Sebastian, your story made me smile, made me angry and made me cry. It’s not that often that a book rings this true to real life for me.
I found I couldn’t put it down.

This novel for me is a 5/5 for sure! I would suggest this for anyone who loves a novel that is going to make you feel (even if it is uncomfortable at times), and makes you think about what other people have gone through and why they may be the way that they are.

Sebastian’s Poet is a story full of heart and humanity. The characters are strong and believable and I rooted for them during their struggles, particularly the children: Sebastian and Renee. Their suffering and confusion is touchingly, achingly real. When I finished this story, on the bus on the way to work (of course) I had to struggle not to audibly sob in public.

Craig adeptly maneuvers the reader through the story that is one part a happy trip down memory lane interwoven with a heartbreaking tale of a family fractured, broken, and quite possibly beyond repair.

Beautifully written! I couldn’t put it down! Kevin is a wonderful writer – he gets you from the moment you turn the first page!

Months after reading SEBASTIAN’S POET, I’m still haunted by images of Sebby and his poet, Teal; I still smell the ashes in the ashtray; I still feel the awkwardness at the corner store.

Why don’t more people know about this author? About this book? Because they should. It’s a hidden gem.

I could not put this book down! I started it this morning and am already done reading it.

This is an excellent book about family, secrets, music, and the different kinds of love that we experience in our lives.

Kevin Craig does an excellent job of writing this beautiful, yet tragic tale through the eyes of a child caught in an unfortunate situation. The thoughts and feelings come through so well with Craig’s lyrical prose that you will instantly be drawn in and feel yourself experiencing the same emotions as the characters.

You can pick up your copy for your KOBO device or KOBO app today! For $3.75

VISIT SEBASTIAN’S POET AT KOBO.

You can read CHAPTER ONE of SEBASTIAN’S POET in its entirety at this link to an older blog post where I shared it here.

 

Sebastian’s Poet – Redo (Bringing Back the 70s)

The long journey to my second novel, Sebastian’s Poet, began in the 1970s. And it ended in a 48-hour maelstrom of a writing marathon. Sebastian has always been there. It wasn’t until I sat in front of my laptop at the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon that his story bled from me. And boy did it bleed. In those 48 hours I was transported back to the 70s childhood I endured. And having always imagined Sebastian, the child of a down and out no-good and his hit-the-road wife, it was all I could do to keep up with the story as it came out during that marathon weekend.

I love a good story of loss and despair and, in the tiniest of ways, hope. Every good downtrodden story should offer the reader a glimmer of hope, even if it’s an infinitesimal glimmer.

And, having come to age inside a record store in the early 70s, I had to include the perennial bad-boy musician who kind of floats through the world in a cloud of smoke and philosophical optimism. Teal Landon is my favourite character…out of all the characters I have ever written. He is the kind of father figure all lost boys dream of having.

Sebastian’s Poet was originally published in 2012 by Musa Publishing in the United States. Sadly, Musa closed its doors a few months back. This made SP revert to a non-published novel. My favourite novel written by me and it disappeared. It’s very special to me…in that it came to life in a frenzy of emotion and drive and creativity. It’s not easy to write a novel in 48hrs. Until I tackled SP, I would have said it was impossible. But then I did it.

And at the time I desperately wanted to write CANADIANA. I wanted to capture Toronto, and the Canadian music scene, and what it was like to grow up Canadian in the 70s. I think I did that, though I can’t really be objective about it. What I do know is that Sebastian’s Poet won BEST ADULT NOVEL in the 2007 Muskoka Novel Marathon. And I also know that it transformed me. I went away from that weekend with a feeling of euphoria. I knew I had found MY WRITING METHOD. Writing a novel in one sitting was the way for me, a flighty easily distracted person, to write a novel.

The pictures above are reflections from the 70s setting of the novel. GORDON LIGHTFOOT is actually a character in Sebastian’s Poet. He appears in the last chapter, as part of the denouement. And, if I’m being completely honest, the main character TEAL LANDON is based upon the incomparable LEONARD COHEN. I didn’t see a way to write a story based in the 70s without somehow including Carol Burnett. I loved making references to the things of my childhood…but make no mistake about it, this novel has nothing of me in it. It is not my Mary-Sue.

I don’t like SP not being out there in the world. It is, after all, my favourite. When I say my favourite, I’m talking feelings. I carry the memories of the experience of writing my novels as a way of judging which are my favourites. And the time I shared with these characters? That time is my Belle Époque as a writer. It was a moment of awakening for me. Or, should I say a 48hr period of awakening. My soul is in this book.

So I am releasing it on KOBO, for those interested in exploring the novel I wrote at my highest point as a writer. I don’t usually worry about how my works will be received. I put them out into the world and I shudder and cringe, knowing they will never be what I intended them to be…that they could have been so much more…that I fell short. I can’t expect the reader to love something I myself feel didn’t quite make the grade. Although this may sound like a bad thing, I do tend to think that it keeps me honest as a writer. If everything COULD be better, then I challenge myself always to attain BETTER.

But Sebastian’s Poet was the one novel I was SURE of…even in its rough finished draft at the end of that 48hr weekend, I knew. And here’s where it sounds like I am bragging, but I assure you I am not. It’s more the essence of the story and the feelings I had while writing it that make me feel like this about it…not the finished product itself.

SP will be available on KOBO in the next day or so. I hope you give it a go. In the meantime, here is the cover blurb:

Sebastian Nelson is a boy in search of a family. Abandoned by his mother, Sebastian is left with a broken father who doesn’t even seem present when he does show up. Forced to be the main caregiver of his younger brother, Renee, and lost in a sea of indifference, Sebastian only wants to experience the love a real, stable family could afford him.

One morning he discovers the famous folksinger, Teal Landen, asleep on the sofa. Teal’s nurturing nature brings an immediate sense of security into Sebastian’s tumultuous life. But a dark secret looms between Teal and Sebastian’s father of a hidden past. Sebastian is driven to discover their secret, but also he’s aware of how tenuous their hold on Teal really is. He doesn’t want to lose the feeling of home Teal’s presence has brought him.

If Sebastian pushes too hard, he could lose Teal forever. He could be destined to raise his younger brother alone, while witnessing the total decline of his emotionally devastated father. If Sebastian is abandoned by the only healthy influence in his otherwise shaky existence, he will also be forever in the dark about the secret that will reveal so much about his fractured family.

And you can also read the reviews at GOODREADS, from its original release life: GOODREADS SEBASTIAN’S POET

 

Here’s the cover of the re-release coming to KOBO soon…

Sebastian's Poet

The epigraph of this novel is “THERE IS A CRACK IN EVERYTHING…THAT’S HOW THE LIGHT GETS IN.” This is a line from Leonard Cohen’s ANTHEM. That song was the soundtrack of my 48hr weekend novel writing marathon. On repeat…it gave me what I needed to write Sebastian’s story…and the story of the folksinger known as The Poet. It was an amazing weekend…one I will never forget. If you want to take the trip, you’ll have to get the novel. (-:

Happy Birthday to the Man Who Tortured Fortunato SO!

tumblr_mdhx11GagA1qbglu3o1_400

I’ll never forget my six or seven year old self digesting all the Edgar Allan Poe stories with a mix of fear and gusto since unrivaled. I was mad to finish every single story. And I did so in the cover of darkness, as all good horrorshow stories should be consumed. The Tell-Tale Heart, Murders in the Rue Morgue, The Masque of the Red Death, and all the rest. Rue Morgue (considered the first modern detective story), I must confess, made me a bit giddy with laughter. I died to know how the murders could be happening…and was so delighted by the outcome, I forgot to be scared.

Poe had an interesting style. Most times I felt less scared than intrigued by his ability to come up with his ideas. BUT…The Cask of Amontillado completely unhinged me. I swear to baby Jesus, I imagined Fortunato’s whispers long after he would have been dead in his prison. When I read, ‘I forced the last stone into its position; I plastered it up’ I know a little piece of myself died in that sealed up wall, alongside Fortunato. That was my first full-body freakout gooseflesh moment of supreme horror. It has stayed with me these 40-odd years. Sure, I’ve been scared many times when reading horror…but there’s nothing like the first time, the first time you hold your breath and pray like hell you aren’t inexplicably brought into the world of the story your reading. The first time you realize, after several moments of supreme terror, that you will somehow be okay. The first time you see that last stone being put into place in your mind’s eye and you realize there’s a man on the other side of that wall in that cold dark wet place who’s going to sit there jingling his bells until the moment his last breath is sighed. Jesus! The horror!

SO, yeah. Today is that bastard’s birthday. Thanks for the scares, Mr. Poe. Thanks for the humour, and the poetry, and the rest. Not looking too shabby for a man of 207.

bruckmann-poe-portrait

Do yourself a favour…click on the link below:

Read The Cask of Amontillado in its entirety at Gutenberg Library

 

 

In a World Full of People, Only Some Want to Fly…

Music is most often the rabbit hole that brings me back to writing. It’s something about the calisthenics of words interwoven with musical notes that just seems to put me back into the comfort of that place of creativity. It’s a rabbit hole, though, to be sure. I don’t go gently into my creative space…I fall and tumble and lose myself, much like Alice. But once the stumbling is over and I find myself deeply ensconced in the role of creator, it really is a Wonderland. To awaken in that place is magic itself. You are both smaller and taller and jumbled and strange. It is a peculiar place to be in. But the creative rabbit hole is also a sort of Nirvana. It’s a place where you can leave yourself behind and just be this pseudo-observer. You walk through the madness and your fingers knit a story while your feet keep you grounded.

Today it was Seal’s Crazy that put me into a tailspin. It was one of those songs that spoke to me from the instant I first heard it. It felt like I had always known it…like I will always know it. In a sky full of people, only some want to fly…isn’t that crazy? I can’t help but feel the power of his words. Do only a handful of us strive? I have always lived my life believing we’re never gonna survive unless we get a little crazy. ALWAYS. I think perhaps we find more wonder when we shed convention. Run, don’t walk, as it were.

I am trying to resist slipping into another post about David Bowie, but it’s difficult. From my first hearing of Crazy, it reminded me of Bowie. I thought, ‘Oh yeah…I know of someone who is crazy! And that someone WANTS to fly. That someone IS flying!’ It was, in my mind, as though the song was written for the Bowies and the Jaggers and the Bolans and the Shakespeares and the Byrnes and the Lennons of the world. Our shining examples of those who go after the silver goblet and DRINK! What is it about these people that makes them capable of funneling their creativity and staying on task? How hot the fire that keeps them burning!

As the details of Bowie’s death became clear throughout the day yesterday, I discovered just how hot his fire burned. He masterfully pulled off one last art-show for his adoring fans. It’s really unfathomable. He orchestrated a gift in his last album, his last video, his last song…

At the end of the video LAZARUS, when he backed into the wardrobe and disappeared, it was all I could do to stop myself from screaming and bawling and—yes—applauding. He pulled off the greatest **drops mic** moment in history. He dropped his mic and exited the world. He achieved the most amazing thing. Immortality. How hot the fire that burned in him…that even while he died, he created art.

I am in awe. But it also makes me feel sad and filled with self-pity. I want to want that. I want that drive. I know I want it, and yet I cannot just take it. I go to write and find myself vegging out or fidgeting or what have you. I want to make magic with words, but the fire and the drive is not there. It never was. I want to take it seriously. I want to feel the urge so badly that there is nothing else I’d rather do but write.

But do I want to fly? That is the question. Because if I did, wouldn’t I be doing it by now? I know about surviving in the crazy. And I thought I wanted to fly. God knows when I heard the song again, I thought, ‘YES! YES! That’s me! I want to fly!’ And then I thought of Bowie, on his deathbed…creating. Sigh. Every time in the past, when he entered into my periphery it was with a lesson. Why should now be any different? Stop wasting time. Get off your ass. DO.

Thank you, Seal. You gave a voice to the immortals among us. You held them up as an example of what humans are capable of…if only they strive to reach their best selves. Men can become giants. If only they don’t forget to be a little crazy. In a world full of people, we should ALL want to fly…that’s not crazy.

 

 

 

 

 

Goodnight to My Leather Messiah. And the Stars Look Very Different Today…

I’m floating in a most peculiar way.

I feel as though I could write my autobiography using only lines from David Bowie’s lyrics. But, come on! Is that even possible? He was only a rockstar, right?

I keep thinking that in my head. ‘But he was only a rockstar!’ The thing is, he was my rockstar. He spoke to me as a child and he continued to speak to me throughout my life.

You know, I had a nickname for him that had absolutely no base in reality. But it was the most fitting nickname I ever gave a body in my life. I called him LEATHER MESSIAH. I think I always will. But I got it wrong when I was about seven years old when I first heard ZIGGY STARDUST and David Bowie changed me forever. The lyric is, “Like a leper messiah, when the kids had killed the man, I had to break up the band”, but I will always hear it as LIKE A LEATHER MESSIAH. He will always be my leather messiah. His words told me it was okay to be me. I will miss that forever.

I think of his lines on this day when we have lost him and they all seem so apropos of something BIGGER. In The Man Who Sold the World, he sang, “I gazed a gazely stare at all the millions here.” And boy did he ever. Because his lyrics were not only a reflection of his own inner workings, but they were even more so a reflection of us…his listeners. He spoke to us all in such a way as to make us believe the song was ours as much as it was his.

“He’d like to come and meet us but he thinks he’d blow our minds…” ~ so much truth in that line from Starman. David Bowie did blow our minds. But it was in such a subtle way that most of us didn’t notice. He helped usher in a world of acceptance. His androgynous gender bending ways snuck into the mainstream like a ghost in the machine. He said to the world, THIS IS ME. And, by and large, the world responded with a nod. He paved the way for an individuality that was fathomless. The one thing I noticed while I watched the thousands and thousands of images float through social media this morning was that they were all so vastly different from one another. The man was constantly reinventing himself. That challenges norms like no other thing…to find a YOU and then to cast it off like a pair of old jeans. David Bowie knew more than anyone else in the world that, just like the universe, every one of us is in a constant state of flux. We are who we are in any given moment. Nothing is fixed. We could all learn from his many faces. I know I have. I shall never forget the voice which first spoke to me of the transience of self, the voice which first spoke to me of the flexibility of norms and of gender. Here was a man who wasn’t afraid to be whatever he woke up as that day. So delightful in a world that balks at change so often.

I will never forget his hand in shaping me. I try to live by his advice…

“But never leave the stream of warm impermanence…”

For me, that line is about accepting who you are in the moment you happen to be. But it’s also about tolerance…accepting who others are in the moment. Impermanence is a most wondrous thing. It’s a gift, really. In showing us his ability to be a chameleon, I think David Bowie helped us to see we should not fear change.

Wherever he is now, I hope he is rested…and I hope he knows the power his words have carried and will continue to carry. I can’t help but feel he was here to educate the world. To teach us how to love without bias. He may not be the Messiah, but he is my Leather Messiah.

 

Goodnight, David Bowie.  Thank you and Godspeed.

Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do…