William Rainbolt

From one of my heroes, George Orwell, in "Politics and the English Language" (1946): "(Language) becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts." I will try to avoid contributing to the debasement of language and thought that abounds today.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ok, so it's been two years since I posted. I've been . . . you know, busy . . .

. . . aging but growing . . . changing but staying rooted . . . laughing but crying sometimes too . . . smiling but not frowning nearly as much as I used to except for one particular thing (hint: I want to retire as soon as it is financially feasible . . . let's see, it's 9:19 p.m. right now, and I would retire at 9:20 p.m. if I could, but I can't) . . . understanding more (I think) but also accepting that I understand so little! . . . seeking but finding that more seeking is needed (and fun, too) . . . trying to adhere to the thought expressed on a scroll outside the room where I take yoga sessions: it says something like, "In the end, all that really matters is: (1) how well you learned to live, (2) how well you learned to love, and (3) how well you learned to let go" . . . would anyone agree with me that of these three, LETTING GO is the hardest thing for a person to learn? . . . basically, I've been trying to learn and live true mindfulness, and especially, acceptance.

Oh, I also got three tattoos: right forearm -- Chinese characters for "Father/Daughter;" inside left forearm, Chinese characters for "Acceptance" (see, I told you I was serious about it); and left forearm, Navy anchor. I put the "Acceptance" one on my inside left forearm because it's easy to glance it as a handy reminder. Especially, when I'm with certain people. No more tattoos forthcoming, I think . . . but Boz the great tattoo artist near me always says, "Oh, you'll be back."

l'll end with a quote from St. Francis that always leaves people a bit puzzled until they think about it (which is the point, after all): "What we are looking for is who is looking."

Got it?

Be back sooner than two years.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Moby Dick Is Not All About Whaling, After All

Even in Chapter 32, “Cetology,” we are reminded of a valuable if sometimes frustrating lesson for writers: a piece of writing is never really finished, it is just submitted, or thrown against the wall only to be retrieved and considered again, or rewritten ad infinitum, or whittled at and whittled at and whittled at until the real thing emerges . . . as cliché as it is, yes, more often than not it is all about the journey, not the arrival. From Melville:

“But now I leave my cetological System standing thus unfinished, even as the great Cathedral of Cologne was left, with the crane still standing upon the top of the uncompleted tower. For small erections may be finished by their first architects; grand ones, true ones, ever leave the copestone to posterity. God keep me from ever completing anything. This whole book is but a draught – nay, but the draught of a draught. Oh, Time, Strength, Cash and Patience!”

And for writers, the greatest of these – Time, Strength, Cash, Patience – is . . . ?

Friday, June 30, 2006

One of my short-short stories is now at . . .

. . . www.mystorylives.blogspot.com . . . the story is, “It’s Never Too Late to Apologize.” And it really isn’t (too late, I mean).

The editor is the wonderful author and ardent supporter of other writers, Claudia Ricci, and she’s looking for contributions to the MyStoryLives blog, for Star Root Press. Want to be a writer? Then write.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

No. 4,124,251 . . . and counting!
I cannot get a good estimate on the number of books printed since Gutenberg’s days, but for my own ego I am going to assume it is somewhere in the many millions . . . which makes it quite okay that my historical novel, Moses Rose (1996), ranks at 4,124,251 on Amazon.com (wait a sec – it probably just went to 4,124,252 as I type).

But authors (wannabe or obscure), do not be discouraged. Ten years after my novel appeared from Dan River Press, I still get about 10 or so messages a year from people who have come across a reference or heard about it in some way, and want it. Literature – or at least in my case, sustained typing – does live on. Yes, I am at no. 4-million-and-something, and proud of it.

And yes, I admit, too, this is partly a shameless bit of hawking for dear ol’ Moses Rose. It is still available (not “in print,” but there are copies available) from Dan River Press. This novel is, as the book jacket explains, “a fiction based on a legend,” about a 50-year-old veteran of Napoleon’s army who – according to the Texas legend – was the only Alamo defender to leave the night before the final assault . . . a deserter to some, a survivor to others. My novel does not purport to tell the “real” story, since no one really knows what it is.

For a copy, contact Bob Olmstead at cal@americanletters.org. Costs: $15.95 plus $3.95 shipping/handling, total of $19.90. Enjoy. And remember: it is just a story I made up. (Oscar Wilde: "Lying, the telling of beautiful untrue things, is the proper aim of art.")

(If you are interested in more discussion on that last point, check out the other essayists and materials for a “virtual conference” on historical fiction I participated in a few years ago at the University at Albany. It is at: www.albany.edu/history, then click on History and Media and scroll down to find Writing History, Writing Fiction.)

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Just Trying for a Right Thought, 1

Two relatively recent, powerful works of art make me think about our need to confront what we might dread, but what we know intuitively will illuminate our souls, will help us touch again – or find for the first time – that indefinable truth that makes us realize we are human and alive and part of a mysterious condition, and we are glad for it. The works: Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, and the Paul Greenglass film, United 93. Do not be afraid of them. Take a cleansing and empowering breath (take several of them, in fact), read or view with an open heart, which means a heart open to pain and sorrow as well as the good, and grow.