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Musings of a Mad Writer in LalaLand

Writer Michelle Cushing's inane ramblings and shameless self-promotion

Coincidence or fate?

coincidence-photo

“Well, look who I ran into,” crowed Coincidence.

“Please,” flirted Fate, “this was meant to be.”

 

Photo from “The Tiny Book of Tiny Stories,” Joseph Gordon-Levitt, http://www.hitrecord.org

Remembering Houdini

Houdini’s grave, attended by his wife Bess and brother Theo

On Halloween, October 31, 1926, magician Harry Houdini died from appendicitis.  On his death bed, Houdini promised to send a message from the grave to his wife Bess.  My novel pays tribute to his relationship with his beloved wife and this very special secret code.

Learn more about my book, Rosabelle, believe

 Or, buy it at Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

The cover of the novel “Rosabelle, believe” by Michelle Cushing

 

Unending Love

“Unending Love”

By Rabindranath Tagore

I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, it’s age old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star, piercing the darkness of time.
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers,
Shared in the same shy sweetness of meeting,
the distressful tears of farewell,
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.

If you are a hopeful romantic like myself, and you enjoyed the poem above, perhaps you might like my novels?  Yes, yes, shameless self-promotion, but starving artists must do what they can.  🙂

All of my books can be purchased at either of these fab places:

BN.com

Amazon.com

Or, learn more about ’em right here on this blog:

Rosabelle, believe

Faith Orion’s Field

From a Vine

Romantic and not “hopeless”

I’ve never liked the phrase “hopeless romantic.”  That means romance is a hopeless task.  Shouldn’t it be “hopeful romantic” instead?  Why is love, and the desire for it, considered hopeless?  As Richard Bach once said, “Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.”  Why is that hopeless?  Shouldn’t we all be hopeful about love?

The Last Great Romantic by Vettriano

Please Don’t Change Someone Else’s Art

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night is one of the most famous and amazing paintings of all time. What if, however, some company today decided to market that painting by adding a Manhattan city skyline to make it more modern? Maybe even add a guy talking on a cell phone? Haven’t you always wondered what it would look like that way? No? Really? Well, how about modernizing the Mona Lisa by giving her sunglasses and a modern hairstyle? And adding Leonardo da Vinci himself into the painting performing a lewd sex act? No? Tacky, you say? That’s art! Don’t mess with it!

Now imagine, taking Wuthering Heights and adding in a racy bondage sex scene. Yikes! Another terrible idea, but this one, folks, is real. E-book publisher, Clandestine Classics, is releasing beloved classic literature, such as Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, with new scenes, namely hot sex scenes. I have no problem with sex. This rant isn’t about that. This is about changing someone’s work.

You see, over time, a piece of art eventually becomes part of the public domain, meaning no one owns the copyright. Once it’s in the public domain, anyone can use it as they see fit, making greeting cards out of famous artwork, selling books, etc. They can even change the work, if they so desire.

While it may be legal, it is unethical. Being in the public domain, does not give someone the right to mess with another’s work. If they want to resell that work, fine. We live in a world of commerce, I get that, much to my chagrin, but changing it is a whole other thing. Art is genuine expression. The creator felt the need to express something, whether that be an emotion or point of view, through music, words, painting, sculpting, etc. It shouldn’t be changed. Otherwise, it becomes a lie. Those new passages in Wuthering Heights are not Emily Bronte’s words, not her thoughts, not her feelings. That book is what she wanted to express. If she lived today, maybe she would have written a different story, but she does not, and her books are her books, period. Take ‘em or leave ‘em but don’t change ‘em. The words of some modern hack should not be inserted to make a profit.

Let me tell you, as a novelist, I put a lot of work into my writing. I feel every blasted word I write. Most real artists do. If someone took my book once it was in the public domain and added stupid scenes to make it more “modern,” I would come back and haunt the heck out of them.

What type of world do we live in that classic literature has to be sexed up and dumbed down for people to buy it? Why must everything be a gimmick?

Seriously, this publisher should win an award for Worst Idea of All Time, and the people who buy these books should be labeled as idiots.

I’ve included below the source article for this story:

http://news.yahoo.com/publisher-releases-sexed-editions-classics-172328870.html

Want to Experience a Luxury Liner Like the Titanic? Check Out the Queen Mary!

With the one-hundred-year anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, and the re-release of the movie, Titanic, in 3D, I decided to experience a similar luxury liner, the Queen Mary, which is docked in Long Beach, CA!  Above are some of my photos from the trip, but if you’d like to read more, my experience was documented in an article for Yahoo News (please click the Yahoo link to read).  Yes, being aboard will make you feel like “King of the World,” and you’ll be hard pressed not to yell “Jack, I’m flying!” with your arms spread wide, or “Iceberg!  Right ahead!”  Unfortunately, you won’t find James Cameron, Kate Winslet, or Leonardo DiCaprio anywhere on board, but it’s fun to pretend!

Why doesn’t Hollywood preserve its history?

The historic Pickford Building, built in 1927, is set to be destroyed.  Once a film studio lot, everyone from Charlie Chaplin to Marilyn Monroe shot movies there.  Now owned by a real estate investment firm, the lot is to be turned into a 6-story “fancy” building.  Read more below: 

http://laist.com/2012/03/26/historic_west_hollywood_movie_lot_studio_lot_to_be_demolished.php

It’s always sad to read about a piece of history being destroyed.

The World Needs Art!

 

Found this on a friend’s Facebook page today, and I think this sums it up pretty well.  🙂

How I Started Writing

It is the middle of a carefree night as I write this, after one o’clock and the world sleeps. My dogs are softly snoring, and I hear no cars roaring by outside my window, but I cannot sleep, even in this external, blissful silence, because noise is rustling through my mind, running like wild paragraphs. There are words in my head, words that are forming into something. So here I am, at the computer, putting words on the screen. I’m not sure why I decided to write this essay, as if anyone would care about how I “became” a writer. Perhaps it is vanity? Maybe someone will read it? Maybe no one will. It doesn’t matter. I’m writing it because I want to.

I think it’s impossible to say one can “become” a writer. You either are, or you are not … although it might take some longer than others to realize it. I was one of those people. As I have said before (read “About Me“), I wrote my first “novel” in elementary school, but I never fashioned myself as a writer until much later. In high school, I wrote poetry and short stories for the creative writing magazine, along with articles for the yearbook. By the time college rolled around, I had written a few pieces for music magazines. I also started my first real novel, that which would become “From a Vine,” but I had no inclinations about “being” a writer. For me, writing was something I enjoyed and it came easy to me (but that does not mean it was without great practice and patience).

I also enjoyed acting, and nearly everyone told me that was not a viable career path. So I had two skills – writing and acting, which, of course, meant one thing – I wasn’t good at math. Luckily I was headed down a path that involved very little math skills! After taking the required Composition I class and getting high marks, the journalism department asked if I would consider their major. I did and it worked out nicely; however, I never completely saw myself as a journalist either.

I went far beyond news writing and ended up taking every writing course offered at the university. I learned everything from poetry writing to speech writing. If it needed to be written, I knew how to do it. I could write savvy business proposals, heat up debates with my speeches, and draw laughter or tears from my fiction. Still, because I was bull-headed and dense, I never gave much thought about “being” a writer. At this point, I had my heart set on some grandiose idea of being a publicist. That’s a story for another day, but I can tell you the ending – shy people don’t make outstanding publicists.

Anyway, as my college lessons progressed, and as I learned all about promotion and public relations, I devoured the novels and poetry of great writers, which taught me more than any course book ever could! I read the poetic and meaningful words of Toni Morrison, learned about the Gonzo stylings of Hunter S. Thompson, reveled in the plays of Tennessee Williams, and swooned over John Keats. From these wonderful beings, these fantastic, passionate artists, I learned how words could sing. I have always enjoyed the sound of words, the rhythm and the rhyme. Words resonate, and assimilate, and alliterate. I learned the different styles of many great writers, and slowly, I started to create my own style. It was much like Michael Jackson learning dance from Fred Astaire and James Brown, and turning it all around, upside down, evaluating and contemplating, and then creating his own steps. To be a great artist, one must first learn from the masters who have come before!

People always ask me for writing advice, and I always say the same thing – read good writing. That makes all the difference. If one wants to be a great chef, learn from a great chef. (Never learn cooking from me, unless you like burned brownies.) It is important to know the ingredients to make a cake, then create your own recipes. Learn from those you wish to emulate, then smash it like a glass vase, pick up the pieces, and arrange them in your own way.

All of these ideas were coming to me, but I was never consciously aware that the words of these artists were sticking to my ribs and soaking my brain. They slept within me like a lingering dream. Every time I sat down to write, they whispered to me like ghosts. My novel, it kept coming to me too, in little spurts here and there. As I worked my way through college, I took a gig as a feature writer for an A-list celebrity’s magazine. It helped my writing skills, and I came to a conclusion – I did not want to be part of the celebrity B.S. machine (and this meant no offense to the celebrity in question). As I reached the end of my college career, who I was and who I wanted to “be” emerged more clearly like fog fading from a window. I could see through it now, and I knew what waited outside. I started handing in chapters from my novel to my professors. I let them (and my fellow students) give me feedback and advice. The novel really started to take shape, so much so, that by the time I graduated, I had a completed novel, meaning it had a beginning, middle, and ending.

I had learned a lot about writing, and the original chapters had evolved considerably. It was just dumb luck that I happened to know someone at a major publisher who copyedited the book (typos in a novel are just bad form). The novel went through many revisions over several years. The original, compared to what is in print, is nearly unrecognizable. While that publisher, ultimately, did not take on my book for publication, I finally understood one very important thing – I am a writer, and no publisher, or any other person or entity, can change that. Whenever someone asks, “What do you do?” I say, “I write.” You may not know my name. I do not drive a Ferrari. I do not live in a fancy mansion. I do not care if I ever sell one book (although it would help pay the bills and feed my Krispy Kreme donut addiction). The joy comes from the writing … just as it does right now as I write this essay. It doesn’t matter if no one reads it.

Obviously, I did end up publishing three books (and I hope I’ll be inspired to write more), but I know that I will always “be” a writer. I always have been. Writing, to me, is no different from breathing – until I’m dead, I’ll be doing it! And, in fact, if I look back on my life, I see it as a progression of type on a page. I kept typing, and eventually those random letters and words became a “thing.” Every click of type pushed me onwards. I typed without ever looking up from the computer screen. I saw nothing but type; all other options slowly faded, becoming visible only in my peripheral. I have no doubt that I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing. I’m write (I mean, “right”) where I’m meant to be … clickety clackety moving along down this fantastic blank page and seeing what I can create … and create again … just for the fun of it!

P.S. People have a strange misconception about writers (well, we are strange types). I certainly did not write this entire essay, as it reads now, in the middle of the night. Sure, I got up and wrote something, then I ate Cheetos, then I went to sleep, woke up, read it, edited it, switched things around, added bits, deleted bits, and kept doing this throughout the day until it said exactly what I wanted to say, the way I wanted to say it, to the best of my abilities. Writing is work. Lots of work. Hard work. No one sits down and writes a novel word for word without editing. If someone can do this, this person is God. I have yet to meet a writer who doesn’t suffer through every word, pondering, rewriting, never ever feeling completely satisfied with the final product. That’s writing.

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