Editing the Gangly Bits: Writing Process

I had a scene with some real problems. The background information was heavily front-loaded, and it was repetitious and awkward and gangly and sputtering and bad.

And so I hacked it up, rendered it down, patched it to another equally sputtering bad thing, did some cauterizing and cutting again and thought I was on the way to something new.

Silhouetted rocks on Oregon coast

But it had become a bald thing, nothing in it, the description and progression and dialogue trimmed to nothing, the conclusion non-existent. And so I started to write it all over again.

Gaslight Ghosting

Gaslighting is a form of psychological abuse where someone is made to question their perception of reality. (The term is derived from the film Gaslight where the husband lowered the gaslight incrementally and told his wife the light had never been changed.)

Ghosting is a method of terminating a relationship by suddenly withdrawing from all communication without explanation.

Gaslight ghosting, also called Extreme Ghosting, means to make someone question their perception of reality by withdrawing all communication without explanation.

In other words, the practices that most employers inflict on their employees.

Writing Process: Work Habits

Years ago, I worked at a mini storage facility in Vancouver. The job was simple: collect monthly payments and help customers access their lockers.

A new employee, Alex, struggled with these basics, preferring to instead adjust his biking gloves all day. I explained to him what I thought of his work habits. David Smejkal, a co-worker with a sense of humor and artistic talent, gave me this depiction of the event.

Don and Alex discussing work habits

It appears that I have always had a reputation for speaking my mind.

The Golden Era of The Grateful Dead: 1982-87

I recently had the great fortune of driving down the west coast, ten days in the open spaces, with the radio constantly tuned to The Grateful Dead channel on Sirius X. And as wonderful as that truly was, I couldn’t help but notice a programming fixation with all eras but one – 1982-86.

Dave Lemieux’s exclusion of this golden age of the music is well documented in his Dave’s Picks selections. I just had no idea that the influence extended over Sirius X programming. Which obviously leaves me aghast. When will The Grateful Powers That Be realize the error in their ways?

This era offers ultimate and spell-binding versions from the catalogue including the hell-bent insanity of Jack Straw (Seattle ’83), the ecstatic electricity of China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider (NYC ’82), the crackling magic chest of Bertha/Greatest Story Ever Told/West LA Fadeaway (Oklahoma City ‘85), the plaintive epiphanies of Cold Rain and Snow (Augusta ’84) and pure tribal energy of Help on the Way/Slipknot (Hampton ’83).

Are these the best versions? Ah, what do I know of best? But must they be listened to? The answer to that is a most emphatic yes.

If Only Reviewers Could Write Like This

I recently attended a conference in Kenyon College where one writing colleague, although young, was astounding in his engagement with the work.

“It’s…” Sean jabbed a finger out, pulled it back just as quick, snapping his fingers, once, twice, bowing his head, eyes closed. “I’m jiving with this. I totally am. I’m just riding this train until it gives out.” He paused, looking up. “Something is getting fucked, in a bad way.”

Sean would have made a great member of Love Portal, a group who once performed in NYC

“That’s exactly it. Unless you disagree.” He bent forward with kindness, reaching for her understanding. “It’s up for debate. I can’t remember what I said a second ago. Oh, right, yes. City life. Absolutely fascinating. I know nothing about it. I think that’s really very awesome. It all feels so urgent. Ardent. Just caring about—just caring about that. It’s a very cool thought.”