What a Miserable, Mother-Swiving Profession

“What a miserable, mother-swiving profession it is…”

“. . . to be a writer.” Christopher Marlowe

I’d rather be pussy grabbed by Trump than re-publish a book of mine ever again. Flipka, my first book, has had four editors over the stretch of four years.  As a result, I’ve been hornswoggled into a flummoxed higgledy-piggledy, lolly-gagging pusillanimous puke.  It’s not the editors’ fault.  They just didn’t agree with each other which always puts the writer on a ride down the Iron Maiden.

Coincidentally I’ve also been watching the miniseries “Will” which focuses on the so-called “lost years” of William Shakespeare, in this case, the years during which he made a name for himself in London.  Since not much is known about those years, the writers took a few liberties based on events of the day. The first season focused on the dangers he would have faced in London because he was Catholic in a society dominated by blood-thirsty Protestants. This is not something I remember coming up when studying Shakespeare in college but perhaps it did and age has dulled my mind.  I do remember endless discussions about his sexuality which brings me to that other great playwright of the time: Christopher Marlowe.

In this series, Marlowe is the “writer,” agonizing over the meaning of life and the futility of it all, whereas Shakespeare just wants to make a buck to support his family.  He’s the story teller.  I know people who consider it a personal effrontery to be called a story teller. They are “writers.” Their work does not rely on a plot or characters but journeys to the soul of the reader through the divinity of their prose.  Well, that’s cool. But few people can actually do that and I’m not one of them.

Anyway, if I wanted to spend my days intellectualizing over a process no one really understands, I would have made my father a very happy man and gone on to graduate school.  So, my question for you all is, are you a story-teller or a miserable mother-swiving writer?

By the way, I’ve been reposting a lot of “cuttings” from Duke Miller’s soon to be re-released (hopefully) Living and Dying with Dogs, Turbo Edition.  In his over twenty years traveling the world working with refugees he’s seen things most of us only run into in sweaty nightmares of the Apocalypse. It’s a remarkable report from the wreckage of Planet Earth: the Human Edition.  Quite timely.

Dying by a Lake in England

tin hats

THE MARRIED COUPLE came into my office upset.  He was about fifty years old and looked like somebody had switched his head with a skeleton’s skull. She was pretty and younger, but her eyes were two black tunnels drilled into the side of a German mountain. There was probably no way out of the darkness once you drove into them.

The pair was there to complain about cuts in their project funding. Both were psychiatrists working with rape and torture victims. They explained how large their caseloads were and about how much stress they and their patients were under and that the project could not afford to lose support staff or facilities.

The man’s voice rose in harsh judgment as he spoke and the woman shed a few tears. Professionalism fell across my face and I began to emote like a tired bureaucrat. I sympathized with them, but kept saying…

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Half A Breath

tin hats

I MET A YOUNG BOSNIAN WOMAN in Sarajevo who told me there “was nothing like love in Sarajevo during the siege.” All the joy and sadness in the world enriched her eyes. They shone like two tears of blue obsidian.  Over a beer, she showed me a set of song lyrics she had written.  “This comes from my heart,” she said.  “The good ones usually do,” I responded.

She sang low, a cappella, there in the little café.  It was a sad tune and I turned my head away from her at the end and told her I needed another drink.

She had picked up the phone one day in Australia and answered a call from a Bosnian soldier fighting the Serbs. It was a wrong number, but he explained he was calling from Sarajevo. Over the days they talked on the phone and soon they fell in love with…

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