I’ll miss Terry. As astute a man as I have ever known and one who, I’m sure, if there is an afterlife, is already planning some heavenly prank or is busily becoming a pain in the devil’s ass.
H.D. Thoreau, Thoreau On Man & Nature
While hanging out by the heavy doors he also enjoyed the delicious odour of Murphy’s Sea Food which drifted around the corner and into Maritime’s nose.
Three young lads approached on their bicycles. The oldest boy might have been twelve while the other two were younger. Maritime only heard part of the conversation and he didn’t hear the names of these characters, nor that of the character they were talking about, but what he did hear made his loitering worthwhile.
I’m going to make up the names, all for the sake of security and quality, so you can enjoy the conversation.
“Tod kissed Rebecca,” one boy said.
“I’m going to kiss her,” said the second little boy.
“You already kissed her. It’s my turn to get one,” responded the third little fella.
Then the three cycling smooch bandits rolled on down the concrete plaza sidewalk and out of Maritime’s life. Leaving Maritime Mac chuckling and with a wee story he knew he’d just have to tell to some Cape Bretoner when he got back to the mountains.
Thought you’d like to know.
I’ve mentioned this profanity issue in another blog, but because it has been brought up again and because I try to respond to comments from folks who read my blog, I’m discussing it here, once again.
I think profanity can make the dialogue in a story more authentic and not too sugary sweet, when used appropriately. However, the longer I continue to write, the more careful I am about when and when not to use these big-bad-wolf words.
The strange thing is, I don’t, for the most part, swear. However, when I’m writing, and I have the dialogue bouncing around in my mind, the words are there and I simply type them out. Later on I may edit out some of the little buggers.
My hope is that folks who don’t swear, can read through, over or under the words and still enjoy the stories.
Like the fella who read my book and then congratulated me on capturing the insanity in this world. I appreciated his kind words. He’d apparently found this theme in my stories and as in many stories in many books, the messages aren’t always so easy to discover.
“The voice of fable has in it somewhat divine. It comes from thought above the will of the writer. That is the best part of each writer which has nothing private in it: that which he does not know; that which flowed out of his constitution and not from his too active invention; that which is the study of a single artist you might not easily find, but in the study of many you would abstract as the spirit of them all.”
Emerson, Selected Essays
HOWEVER, BEWARE! Our creative muses, like wind or spirit, once tamed or fully understood, lose their power. Sort of like when Delilah cut off Samson’s long hair. He couldn’t pull down a pillar, a post or a two-by-four and maybe that’s why, in the original Hebrew, the word God was written without vowels. Impossible to utter and therefore out of our taming and diminishment-of-awe reach.
Not too long after ‘White Eyes’ was published, I was walking along the lake shore in Baddeck. It was only a few days until Christmas and the snow hadn’t yet come to Baddeck with any vengeance. While hiking along the shoreline I came upon a friend who was sitting in his vehicle, looking out over the lake, teary-eyed. Not because of having read my book, but because the memories Christmas brought to him were stirring his heart.
We chatted and, at one point, he told me he’d read one of my stories.
Then he said, “I didn’t like it.”
He apologized for not liking it.
I told him not to apologize, because I took negative criticism better than positive. Maybe I’m more used to it, I don’t know. But funnily enough, he has since become one of my best ‘White Eyes’ promoters. However, I found his negative criticism easier to handle coming from a non-Aboriginal than the accolades coming from non-Aboriginals. At least during the first year.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I genuinely appreciated receiving positive comments from non-Aboriginal folks. However, what I really needed was to hear the Aboriginals respond positively to ‘White Eyes’ and therefore, being congratulated by non-Aboriginals would often cause me to feel, at some level, emotions of guilt and sadness, even though I appreciated their kind, supportive words.
I think it was because I knew that the stories only existed because I’d had the chance to spend time with the Aboriginals. Therefore, I needed to know what the Aboriginals thought about my book. Because, if I didn’t hear positives from them, then I knew I’d feel like just another exploiter, as so many White people were before me.
‘White Eyes’ wouldn’t have existed had I not been able to live in their community, taste their food, drink their drinks, experience their customs, share in their joy, feel their pain, be sad when they were sad, laugh at their humour and a whole lot more that I will probably never be able to properly represent. That’s why, on the first page of ‘White Eyes’, you can find an appropriate verse which is taken from the Bible. “I was a stranger and you took me in.” Matthew 25:35
It was after midnight. The Aboriginal fella’s daughter, about twelve years of age or so, picked up a copy of my book from the coffee table. She opened it, quietly read a little bit, looked up and then told me she liked the book, specially when it talked about eagles and she told me all her friends were passing the book around and enjoying it.
That was the best critique I could hear. And then as time went on and other Aboriginals commented on White Eyes, I came to realize that the Aboriginal folks around here enjoyed the fact these stories were written about them. They found the stories funny and ‘White Eyes’ had also allowed the non-Aboriginal world to take notice.
Also, many of them visualized me as being the main character in most of the stories. One fella talked about when I fell under a truck in the story called, ‘Mountain Iris Spirits’. It wasn’t really me and that specific incident never happened to anybody I knew. It was made up. However, I did get my thumb wrapped up in a rope as a load of logs shifted on the back of a wagon.
Oh, and many of you might be wondering what bits of Busterness Buster is up to. A lot, so stay tuned. I’m sure you’ll hear more about Buster, but for now, please read the first very small section from one of my stories in ‘White Eyes’.
We were up on Owl Mountain. Both of us frustrated up to our yin yangs with Denise’s extended family. We live with them, on the reserve, in the family home. Three bedrooms and fourteen people. Us sleeping on the living room floor. Everybody else sleeping in bedrooms, except for Uncle Charlie who, with his fat tabby cat, slumbers half his day away in a tent on the front porch. Denise’s ex moved in last month and Denise gave him our small basement bedroom. A piss-off but she felt sorry for him. Red alert to our relationship, as we couldn’t sleep or do anything personal until the last member of the family had decided to turn off the television. Phony anger fits and antics were on almost the whole goddamn night, and in the morning we’d awaken, our eyes swollen from lack of sleep, to find the kids dripping their breakfast all over our bed sheets while they watched cartoons, or tiny Tod-alias Batman during the day-soaking us in everything from thirty-five S.P.F. sunscreen lotion to his cereal milk.
According to Denise, this mountain we had retreated to is also the home of spirits. She said they were everywhere, but today it was quiet and peaceful, as a bald eagle circled over the spruce forest. I hadn’t seen many eagles in Ontario but there sure were a lot of them in this part of Cape Breton.
“My stomach’s all jittery. Means there’s spirits hanging around,” Denise said.
“I get that with a hangover.” I laughed. She didn’t.
“Yeah, right. Most of you white people couldn’t see the spirits if they were plastered to your nose.” She swept her long black hair up into the mountain air, looking like an ancient mountain fairy queen.
“Maybe I can. I’m just not around people who talk about them all the time. You’ve been drenched in ghost talk. People always going on about spirits. Everywhere. Cripes, your sister ties her blankets down so the ghost won’t yank them off her bed, and you’re always hearing about somebody finding Mary or Jesus or some saint on a window or somebody’s toilet seat.”
I was sounding skeptical. Denise didn’t care for skepticism.———-
Thanks for reading my blog and you all take care.