Friday, July 22, 2011

My Fiance, My love


I have been writing (mostly bad) poetry since I was 21.  This is very odd considering I absolutely hate poetry.  Poetry drives me up a wall.  As a form of writing, it tends to be overly impressed with itself.  If someone wishes to say something, it's best just to come out and say it instead of tying it up in uselessly colorful words that confuse the entire situation.

So . . . now that I've gone on a rant about how much I dislike poetry . . . Let's get back to the fact that I write it. *sigh*  The fact of the matter is, poetry is a very useful tool for writers.  It's a way to get concepts, images and ideas onto paper and experiment with words.  It's also awesome for saying lovey-dovey-gushy stuff.

That's what this poem is.  My wife and I have been together for nearly 16 years and we've been married nearly 15.  I wrote this particular poem in 1996, shortly after I asked Tracy to marry me. :)  I found it in my notebook of poetry and decided to tortur . . . share it with you. *evil laughter*

Please understand that this was written before I was writing consistently.  The technical merits of the writing are . . . non-existant.  It could be written much better, but I'm not going to edit it.  I figure she still married me ever after I gave this to her soooooo . . .

The Poem

My Fiancé, My Love

What a joy to love
And a joy to be loved
To feel the warmth of a heart
To give my hear to another

So long have I wandered
Alone with my dreams
Dreams of romance and compassion
Dreams of love

The world was as an old movie
Always black and white
Colors were nonexistent
All was faded and dull

Smiles were half-hearted
Genuine, yet with a tinge of sadness
A smile always wanting more
Needing an unknown strength

Eyes without a twinkle
Mostly guarded and closed
A distant longing
Ever present deep within

So much beauty seen
So many experiences enjoyed
Always half-empty
Known only by me

I looked to my side
Only to see no one there
I jumped at life
Only to find it wanting

Often I have sighed
Dreaming impossible dreams
Often I lay down
To feel my bed empty

I have known happiness
But it has always been lacking
Needing somewhat more
Wanting to be fuller

This is what has gone before
This is how it used to be
This is when I was alone
Before I met you

Now my life is full
Color surrounds me everywhere
My surroundings vivid
Full of life and energy

My smiles are now bright
Whole and complete
My heart wants to sing
Strong and loud to all

My eyes shine with love
Twinkling with laughter
Proud with knowledge of you
Confident with joy

The beauty I see is you
For it is hard to look away
Experiences are shared
Enjoyed to the fullest

I look to my side
To see you always there
Life is now complete
A road to walk with you

Still I sigh often
But with contentment
I lay down
To find your warmth waiting

I now know true happiness
Lacking not; because of you
Needing nothing more
But to share my life with you

Thank you for saying yes
For giving your love to me
For accepting my love to you
Thank you for being

I love you Tracy


Copyright 1996 John H. Carroll

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Self Reflection

Writing is opening up my mind

One of the biggest things that's really starting to happen to me now that I'm writing so much is that I'm beginning to wonder where I'm getting all of these ideas and concepts.  I'm not just talking about the story ideas; but the beliefs, visual concepts, desires and actions that the characters take.

I find myself wondering where I get the idea to have a character turn left instead of right.  Why does the character kill the person in front of them?  Is it possible that I'm fascinated by death somehow?  I see suffering in the imaginary worlds that is more easily confronted than the suffering in our own.

There is light, happiness and love in my imagination as well.  Nobility exists where individuals give of themselves with honor and compassion, yet much of that is lacking in the day to day machinations of people I pass on the street.

I find myself contemplating all these things with each chapter I write, especially when I get into my weird stories like the Demented Children series.

Who am I really?

I now begin to wonder who I am that I have these thoughts in my head.  I'm not a hero or villain.  Where does my understanding of the concepts of villainy and heroism stem from?  Where do I stand in this philosophy?  Am I the simple villager who watches everyone else take bold actions for good or evil?

I have stepped forward to help those in need, but not always.  I have felt shame at not having done more here and there.  It's never been anything momentous, but what would I do if it was?  What would I do if I saw the chance to save someone's life at the cost of my own?

What am I going to do with my life?  I am raising children and doing a fair job of it.  I'm a good husband and a good worker.  At the moment I'm trying to become a successful writer, but what will be my fate in the long run?  What in the world am I doing?

Where do all these thoughts come from?

I've never killed anyone (at least not in this lifetime) yet I can graphically describe death from all angles.  I don't know what true pain or hunger feel like, yet the descriptions in my stories describe them explicitly.  How did these dark things find my mind?  What has happened in my past lives and existence that I can relate to concepts so foreign to me in this life?

Actions make a person and I know that my actions have been that of a decent man.  But what if the standards and laws of society were torn in a new, devastating world war?  What if our lives changed so drastically that hunting and fighting for my next meal became more important that agonizing over my daughter's melodramatic facebook postings about some guy?

What kind of person would I become in a raw, terrible world?

I used to want to save the world.

When I was younger, I daydreamed about how I would become a powerful man who took humanity into space while reducing world hunger and ending all wars.  As I grew older, I realized it was an unrealistic dream; an effort that would require all the people in the world to honestly work towards in unison.  In time, I became resigned to that fact and decided to quietly live my life while doing tiny bits of good here and there.

Now that I'm writing these stories where people are in danger, wars ravage kingdoms and suffering exists everywhere; I'm also sending out my characters to change the imaginary world and make it a better place.  Doing so has brought up my original purpose of helping humanity to overcome its darkness and despair again.

In many ways, the noble, foolish young man was a better version of me than I am now.  I am more practical, but less noble in my actions.  It is hard to reconcile these feelings.

How do I know the things I know?  Am I just guessing?

I personally believe in past lives, though I ask no one to accept my opinion on this, nor do I begrudge anyone else their beliefs.  That said; perhaps I knew these things in those lives.  Then again, perhaps my imagination is really just a wonderful thing capable of defining these concepts.

All of this writing is drawing out emotions in me that I can't explain.  I physically hurt when I write about homeless people looking at the main character with despair in their eyes.  Why can made up stories and scenes draw these reactions out of me?

Self Reflection

I don't like self reflection   I'm not thrilled with anything resembling emotions. *grin*  But the fact of the matter is that the more I write, the deeper I go into these thoughts.  There are more levels beyond that can be explored as well and quite honestly, I'm afraid of them.

The writing is going to continue.  I don't think I can help it at this point.  It's as though I've opened a dam and let a flood of ideas through.  They all fascinate me and I can't seem to write fast enough.  I just wish I could write and not get distracted by wondering how I really feel about everything.

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm not a writer, I'm a daydreamer

When do writers know they're writers?

I keep reading about people who have always been writers since they could actually read and write.  When they were teenagers, they wrote poetry, short stories, angsty autobiographies, and even full length novels.  They knew that they were writers at a young age at are following their dreams.

Not me.  I had no clue when I was a kid or a teen.  I didn't decide to even try writing until I was twenty one.  I was reading an article on writing and thought to myself: Hey, I wonder if I could do that? 

I decided to start small with poetry.  It wasn't the proper sort of poetry of course.  I don't care about iambic pentameter or . . . any of that other poetic structury type stuff. ;)  I just took images in my mind and put them down in four line phrases.

Was it any good?  Nope.  A couple of them didn't suck, but for the most part they were pretty lame.  I was impressed with them at the time and thought I had talent.  However, it's quite a step going from a poem to a novel and I didn't succeed at finishing one of those until I was forty.

When did I decide I was a writer?

Well . . . I am a writer.  I mean I've written books and short stories and I absolutely love it.  But when did I know?  I still don't know for sure.

You see, I'm a dreamer.  I've spent my entire life daydreaming.  I was raised in the desert and every memory I had was either wandering through the desert lost in thought, or at the library reading book after book.

Learning how to drive was a wonderful freedom for me.  I've spent thousands of hours driving around, all the while daydreaming.  I'd go to places where I'd look at the scenery and daydream some more.  If I wasn't driving, I was walking.  I had a walkman and a black trenchcoat and I'd spend hours and hours walking, listening to music and daydreaming.

Even in my choice of jobs, I took work where I could be alone and daydream, usually physical labor.  I would learn my job well enough and do it on autopilot.  Then I would daydream as I performed the tasks.

I'm a daydreamer first; writer second.

Eventually I figured out how to channel those daydreams.  It's not at all easy and I have to focus to write.  I have to stop myself from daydreaming in different directions than the scene in front of me and it's very difficult at times.  When my imagination drifts, I have to drag it back to the task at hand.

One of the biggest problems I had to resolve was the fact that my daydreams always included me in some form or another.  I liked going to fantasy worlds with magic and dragons, or going to sci-fi worlds with aliens and light speed ships.  They always included me though.  In writing novels, I have to take myself out of the story.

So I spent some time trying to decide who I would write about.  I created characters that interested me and could be my friends if I had been in the story.  As I continued to create, the characters began taking on their own lives.  Once I was able to visualize a character, I could write the story from their viewpoint.  As I've been writing, I visualize and make up the details of the world they live in.  Little by little, I add more characters and create adventures for them.

Writing is so fun that I find myself panicking that I could lose my hands or be put in a position where I had to work two jobs with no time to write.  The downside of having an imagination is that I can see all the terrible possibilities that could ruin my career.  The worst of all would be losing the ability to use my mind.  I think I would scream internally without stop if I became trapped in a shell of a body somehow; morbid, I know.

What it all boils down to is that I'm still a daydreamer.  I can channel it into something productive now, but they're still daydreams just written on paper.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The Colorado Rockies

A lot of my readers are from different parts of the world and many have never seen Colorado, so I figured I'd write a little bit about where I live.

Of course I'm not going to give everyone directions to my front door but I will tell you that I live in the Pikes Peak backcountry.  It's a beautiful land with panoramic vistas, forest covered mountains and (mostly) friendly people.

I was raised in the desert near mountains.  I would always look at them longingly, wishing I could live in snowy forests.  Now I live 9500 feet (just a little under 3 km) above sea level.  It's a bit extreme and gets very cold in the winters.  However, the sky is brilliantly blue and the clouds get close enough to play tag. :)

Most people have heard of Pikes Peak.  It stands out from the surrounding plains like a sentinel that draws people to it.  Sometimes, when the the afternoon thunderstorms come along, thunder rolls down the mountains to the ground below, creating an awesome sound. 

I lived in Colorado Springs for a few years and met my wife there.  Eventually we moved up into the mountains behind the peak.  Everywhere you turn is a new vision.  There are elk, deer, bears and bighorn sheep that roam the valleys.  Even though I live in town, we still see foxes, raccoons and skunks running up and down the street in front of our house.  The skunks usually leave us alone as long as we do the same.  The biggest pests are the raccoons, which get into trash and tore a hole in my roof that I had to patch this last weekend. :(

The back side of Pikes Peak isn't as recognizable as the front side, but it's the land surrounding it that really makes the viewer gasp.  The primary types of trees are aspens and evergreens. 

The view in October when the leaves turn vibrant colors is absolutely stunning.  People come from all over to take pictures and line the windy road to the town where I live.

Snow falls in the winter, laying a blanket over the town.  Every once in a while, things become hushed and you can hear the snow softly falling.  In January and February it usually comes with howling winds that pile snow up the side of the house though.

At sunset, when there's leftover clouds in the sky from afternoon thunderstorms, they light up from below like fire in the sky.  Vibrant pinks, oranges and purples linger in patterns only nature could make.  Patches of dark blue fill in the sky to the east while metallic light blue creates a canvas for the setting sun in the west.

So that's a small taste of the Colorado Rockies.  I hope you enjoyed it. :)