Thinking about writing, talking about writing, and writing

I learned there was an artist in our neighborhood who wrote gothic fantasy stories and illustrated them and his name was Brom. It gave me hope there were other freaks in the suburbs like me. His house seemed normal enough from the outside, though the red on the door was blood-red, which made sense after you met him.

I saw Brom out working in his yard one day and made small talk. Sure, everyone’s a bit awkward talking to strangers but Brom seemed a bit more so. I liked that and hoped we’d be friends, writer-friends. I thought maybe this was my chance as a writer to break out or figure it out, through Brom.

Other people we knew said they’d been to Brom’s house and met his wife. He had kids, was a real writer…even made money from it, did conferences and talks and stuff.

I sent him an email to try to arrange time. He said he’d be open to talking. I wanted to talk about writing. I wanted to talk about the story idea I had, I thought it was pretty good.

There was an evil spirit named Mr. Bingley who got into people by talking to them through snails or birds and then made them do bad things, was loosely correlated to mental illness, though I hadn’t determined how. I wanted to play with the idea of good and evil and madness, that was the theme. The nature of evil, for example. Killing. I think it was hard for me to accept the suburbs and brought me anger, all these temporary fences going up, the tearing out of trees…it made me fantasize about poisoning people’s water sources and climbing high fences trying to escape, to go somewhere I shouldn’t. I thought Brom could relate.

Because Brom wrote and illustrated, he explained they were different parts of his brain he needed to access, when he sat down to create. He said one was his writer’s head and the other, the illustrator head. He was pale in the sun with black, receding hair and walked with force when he talked, fluttered his hands. His hands were like birds trying to get out of their sleeves, I thought.

Brom never got back to me and I stopped trying. They moved away and the family who moved in did work on the front yard, repaved, put in potted plants.

Brom’s kids were grown up and gone off and so did Brom and his wife. In the local used bookstore there’s a section for rare, collectible books and they had one by Brom. It just had his name on the spine and I pulled it off the shelf, then slid it back. They wanted like seventy-five dollars for it.

The difference between me and Brom is he took the time to write while I was outside walking and thinking about it.

Later with Dawn, the late afternoon eased on and I played every Led Zeppelin song I could, going on about Jimmy Page and why his guitar playing’s so good, that he bought Aleister Crowley’s castle and all the drugged-out parties they must have had, the rumors he sold his soul to the devil and that’s why he played so well.

Or maybe he just practiced a lot, she said.

Categories: writing

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24 replies

  1. Ha, great closing line. A story about a drugged up rockstar living in satan’s castle sounds interesting too, and you told that and so much more here. Practice makes perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m voting for just practicing a lot. Talent helps. For like, the first five percent, maybe. The rest is doing. And the talent only gets better with the doing. This is a horrible lesson to have to learn. Life seemed rosier when I believed I could just try something and be immediately brilliant at it. But then, I was very young at the time, so everything looked rosy, for reasons that don’t always make sense to me anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really liked it when my wife Dawn said that. I laughed out loud. I never thought of that, with Jimmy Page. That he would have to sully himself to ‘practice.’ I figured him alien. I like the idea of him struggling, and practicing, and then putting on those bell bottoms and being like FUCK YOU. And there you go.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Scene, our protagonist lets call him Francis sits on a hot park bench frazzled and numb with terror. A squirrel was just convincing him to poison a batch of middle school mash potatoes. He knows he’s lost it, and with the last remnants of his sanity believes the only solution is suicide. An old woman comes shuffling by, in an ancient looking bronze winter coat. He can’t believe she had it on in this heat. She pulls a bread bag full of heels from the inside of her coat and begins to feed a troop of ducks that begin greeting her with raucous squaks. “Good ducky duckies,” she says ripping them in half and distributing them. “Don’t know how you knew it guys,” she says, “that tiny bit of powder and Mr. H went purple. Good ducky duckies.”….

    Salutations good Sir! Can you tell my writing muscle is getting antsy? Great story idea.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh and all this talk of he Zep made me have my wife nap a bunch from the library. And it wasn’t just the devil he sold his soul too, but also the British intelligence services. Pretty sure a bunch of those redcoats greats got trained up at a government sponsored music school. I know when I go out at night at the country cross roads, I get offered all sort of things. I’m just bidding my time for the big one tho. Never sell yourself short, right?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Two things always come to mind when I think about why certain artists are so effing good. One is that George Harrison claimed that he practiced so much when he was young that his fingers bled. And two comes from John Irving in The Hotel New Hampshire, when a character says, “You have to get obsessed and stay obsessed.”

    At least nothing bleeds when you obsessively practice your writing …

    Liked by 2 people

    • I like that Kevin. And of the records I played when I was trying to calm down today, one was the first side of All Things Must Pass. And I lay there smug thinking, this is perfect. Listen to those drippy guitars. “I’d have you any time.”


      • I think that’s one of the most perfect openings to a record ever. It’s like easing into a gently rolling hot tub.

        I do wish he hadn’t used Phil Spector though. A lot of those tunes are just too cacophonic …


      • There is some chaff on the record but gosh it’s sweet , and good comparison to sliding into a warm pool, indeed.


  6. Like your novel idea – I’d read it!
    And you’re right. We must separate talking about writing and the act of planting our bums on our chairs and writing. All very well having the potential and the ideas, but if we can’t get down to doing the job …
    And I’d go further actually. Not only do we need to write, we need to FINISH what we start and not get bored, waylaid by life and other projects or biscuits.
    We must write and finish what we write or we’ll always be watching the Broms of this world with envy.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ah, the magic of practice –

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I forgot who said it but a good piece of advice for writers is to protect your time. Learn to say no. Maybe that’s all he was doing.

    Where are those pics from? What town would erect such violent figures?


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