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Saturday, April 8, 2017

Pardon our mess

We, here at Life Explained, have decided to remodel, in a way. I am taking several classes on writing over the next few weeks. Recently, the kind people at The Wild Word have agreed to let me write a column, and then they were nice enough to place it on the Huffington Post. Needless to say I was thrilled, I sent a link to my boss, who is one of the nicest people I have ever met, and certainly the most agreeable boss I have ever had. And I have had a lot of bosses. She shared it with the whole company. Needless to say, I was thrilled and thought, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

But, she also sent me this link from the Thurber House with several courses on being a better writer. Needless to say I was thrilled. Of course, she might be thinking “You need all the help you can get.” And, she may be right. It is ok, the first step in forming a solution is admitting you have a problem, that’s right, I’m addicted to typing, no, not really. I just want to be a better writer.

Anyway, my first class is “Developing Your Character From Inside Out.” A particularly exciting class. My writing has always been more situational, more anecdotal. When I add people they are silhouettes, more prop than participant. Ultimately all of the characters in anything I have ever written, are at some level me. I am admittedly fragmented, a little bit of everybody I ever met, or read about. Maybe this will make me a more complete person. But, we shouldn’t get carried away, I am really fond of all the people in me, they make me who I am.

The second class is “Self Editing.” This will be a boon. I have two editors inside. One can’t stop adding things. He loves everything so much he can’t help himself. He screams with delight, “that is
so good, we need to add a paragraph here, and elaborate a bit here, and add, and insert, and explain.” The other one is ashamed. He can never believe we write so much tripe. he always wants to delete everything, slash, burn, rebuild. “This stinks, on ice. Beyond repair, beneath defense, below average.” He fumes, and fusses, he is kind of a jerk, but he has our self esteem at heart, so you have to admire his motives. With a little guidance we might be able to get them together and have a slash and repair style, somewhere in the middle.

Last, and most interesting is “Getting Ready to Write History.” I spend too much time in the past. It is a hobby, and an obsession. If you view today as one step in a journey, and the world as a place for everybody, and the human race as the family of man then history is the chronicle of our growth, a record of our achievements and a litany of our failures. There are no secrets, it is all there, over and over again. The rise and fall of empires, and the anger and hate and violence. It strikes me, this is why I wanted to start a blog in the first place.  To make the simple point, history leads to one conclusion (I got a little sidetracked, which is normal, maybe learning to edit is a good idea). The clouds are gathering on the horizon, and the past tells us what they bring. And we don’t care.

We have gone from Greek and Macedonian Phalanxes, to clouds of whistling Mongol arrows, French infantry swarming and swallowing nations to the doomsday machine we have constructed and continue to perfect today. We can’t figure out a way to forgive, to accept but we have become experts at the lethal art of nationalism. Or, “religious freedom” or “securing national interests” but we have been working on it for thousands of years. Just read, it is right there.

And soon, with a little training, it will be right here. And we can ignore it together.