Taos ~ WildWriting

Taos ~ WildWriting

marty kleva

August 27, 2006


After July’s cross-country marathon through American politics and the GFA’s Celebrating Freedom Series, I knew it was time to regroup.

Although it was one of those endeavors that I felt necessary to write, nevertheless, it left me exhausted — so much energy caught up in the vortex of deception that drains rather than produces more — somewhat like fossil fuels vs. solar energy. You may have also noticed this point.

I have been taking the time in August to re-prioritize my efforts, looking at what is possible from here — what do I wish to continue, and what to curtail.

GemFireAir remains in my original vision. — Still serving my need for expression as a writer, artist, and lover of innate beauty. The main reason I opened this website was to have my work seen, read, and heard by those with whom it may strike a chord, although not necessarily be in agreement with what I have to say. I also love a good lively debate and discussion, and hope that my presentations here provide that for readers as well.

Those of you who have read Soul Dancing, know about my efforts to recover from a closed head injury sustained in an auto accident. One important thing in my recovery that I have had to factor into my life since, is knowing my personal limits of acceptable anxiety levels and physical endurance.

Adding to the creative process of writing and photography, running a website is a major overstretch of my capabilities, and I have had to learn how to work with that; all of which, by the way, are still far less than what I used to be able to handle. Now being on the other side of the equation, I question the value and expense of living a hyped-up life.

Regardless, I can no longer do that, and it forces me to see life differently, and to live by my standards — not by someone else’s. This happens to include the standards of the publishing industry. Certainly this is not new to many writers and authors, both those who have chosen to enter into that system, and those who have chosen to navigate it differently.

When I began to take some writing courses a few years back, invariably the topic of publishing came up. Everyone’s eyes seemed to grow enormous, and our faces lit up at the possibility of being published — you’d have thought the Oscars for writing were being awarded by a neighborhood raffle, where all entries have a one-in-twenty-five chance to win!

What we heard is how hard it is to break into the publishing world — a possibility being reduced to zip without an agent who has good connections. We also heard and witnessed personal horror stories of first-time authors’ works being rudely dismissed by such esteemed agents who make themselves available at well-known writing conferences. Many, if not most of the would-be authors have walked out disappointed or humiliated by the arrogant dismissals of these industry giants, who it seems are here to find the latest Dan Browns from whom they might make a quick buck.

To say the least, it was disheartening as I watched and listened. It seemed there was a gold ring everyone wanted to grab and they would do anything just to get into the line for a try at it.

Given my own competitive nature, I might have gladly joined them with enthusiasm. But also given the circumstances of my injury, I had already learned to be cautious about deciding where to place my energy. Standing on the fifty-yard line, I’ve had to learn how to go for the five yards and not the goal posts, and to take one step at a time. This is how I came to the conclusion that I could not do the triathlon of the publishing world. So, if not that, then what?

As I considered possible alternatives, I continued writing, because by now I knew I was hooked, and committed to honoring my own sense of purpose to write a book on trauma recovery from both the viewpoint of my personal account and from a professional perspective.

This is where I was when the day came last fall, and I opened my computer window to PlanetWaves.com and saw the possibility for myself to be ‘published’ without having to jump through all the hoops in the publishing world.

The tricky part came, and still comes sometimes when people say to me, “But you don’t get paid for it. You write and publish it online, but who pays to read your work?” — beginning an entire train of thought about worth and success.

Am I really a writer if I don’t get paid for it? Am I a success if I do not solicit my work to a publishing house for publishing?

My answer to that came recently as I looked at the amount of work I have had the privilege to publish on GemFireAir. I have no delusions that any of it would appeal to any publisher — for many reasons. But the crux of what I have also seen is how the industry drives the writing. Certain people in the industry decide what the public wants to read, and by that they also determine what the public gets to read, thereby determining not only the writer's work, but also the readership.

Like the television media have whittled our attention span down to thirty second sound bites, publishers are weaning the public to accept watered-down novels of old and secret esoteric teachings written to beat a deadline, by authors who have previously created works of a much greater caliber. Who has the chance today to write a novel like Hemmingway, or epics like Michener?

For now, to be a part of that does not fit the criteria which satisfies my plans for recovery, and admittedly, being part of the status quo has never been my forte', as friends, family, and readers of GFA already know, so why start now?

In my mind, it does not exempt the possibility that anyone who wishes to be a writer or artist are not all of that simply because they are not published or shown. That alone is not what makes a writer or an artist. Au contraire.

During the first half of August, I have been re-treating myself and re-visiting my reasons for doing things the way that I have — re-evaluating how it is that GFA arrived on the scene early in February with the help of my friends Suzi and Terry Turner at HMS Crown, and the benevolence of Eric Francis at PlanetWaves.

In the six months online, GFA has achieved rankings that others would die for and for which I truly have never ascertained the reasons. Even as the ratings fluctuate up and down, the readership has steadily increased. It is amazing how so many people come to visit GFA. I began with a mailing list of a few friends and family and links to two wonderful sites — hmscrown.com and PlanetWaves.net.

Then along came Jennifer Esperanza who introduced me to Flickr, and the opportunity to place my photography as well as my writing online. One thing led to another — one friend, two friends — and now a readership of thousands within a month. It has me wondering even as I am so pleased and grateful.

Then came the re-awakening of my competitive spirit and I began to contemplate writing to both create better rankings and keep the rank we had. I wanted to post what I thought readers might want to read. Thankfully, I have never figured it out, credit my personal alter-ego deva for that! Besides what is the difference between that and what I have already accused the publishing industry of doing? As I treat myself to this time away from the drive to produce, I can see this is simply another form of the ‘publishing’ world.

Some of you may have noticed that there is nothing for sale on this site — no ads, no buster specials, no neon blinking lights and signs, or side-columns offering my great professional services. This is a place to find authentic information and my drive to create with writing remains intact.

Many of you have written me to say how restful the photography is on GFA. Others have commented about how varied the presentations are, running the gamut of family memoirs, provoking political commentary and investigative writings, to a thesis on how to relieve the stress I have instigated. You can find it all here — like a smorgasbord of daily life. And as I have been commenting on, there are also many of life’s distractions. We have to stay alert and always ready to see things for what they are.

I have been renewed in my intent and commitment to GFA and have determined that as much as I would like to promise a post twice a week, I cannot do that. I will not write just to post something, or to meet a self-imposed goal and deadline. What I can commit to is to continue to write about what calls out for me. I am thinking that the political and investigative aspects will be shifted — I may comment, but truly my friends, if I were honest about it all, this political crap game for control has been an item since the Niburians came to this planet and created the first test-tube babies to be their slaves. [google Zecharia Sitchin's work]

Me expending a lot of time and energy telling you about it will not change much of anything unless a lot more people begin to think differently from their positions now held. Humanity cannot continue knocking on the same door that has no one behind it to answer the summons.

That brings me to offer more in the way that supports others to re-gather the pieces that have been scattered; whether it has happened by means of a personal injury, or loss, or as a part of the process America has to go through collectively to recover its shattered field due to the collective trauma imposed through the war on terrorization, and the invasion of personal privacy rights by politicians who are bent on gaining control of the very souls they profess to comfort and protect.

I will continue to alert the public to what I see in a different format. What I will include more of will take the form of information and support coming from my professional background and personal experience to deal with the trauma in a post-9/11 world that threatens to consume us.

We have little capacity to handle the idea of betrayal by our own kind, much less investigate it. We need to help each other deal with the intolerable stress imposed upon us every day. Even denial has an immense amount of stress attached. It’s a pay me now AND pay me later world, and waking up to that fact can be overwhelming.

I do not intend to bury my head in the sand and try to ignore what is going on at this crucial moment in our country’s opportunity for rebirth. I do intend to stay awake to witness and report what I see and bring events to your attention.

The trick is to stay in motion and to not become static. The secret is to mimic the breath coming and going all the time, non-stop. GFA will offer the in-breath and the out-breath, reporting and investigating the world of political illusion, and then offering a respite with the acknowledged world of illusion out of the fiction of my creative imagination.

I also hope to invite other writers to contribute pieces that are exemplary of their work, and eventually add an audio portion.

One of the events I scheduled into my August calendar is a writing workshop with authors and writers Sean Murphy and Tania Casselle. Sean and Tania know how to deliver an opportunity for writers to breakthrough to places never before traveled, and I have looked forward to the three-day intensive with them. Sean, also an associate of Natalie Goldberg, promotes the basis of Natalie’s writing practice to keep the pen moving in a scenario beyond what I call the thinking mind and thus moving into the body mind, the place past the ego and the golpher-holed landscape of the shoulds and cannots.

Today, I am on my way there. It is one of those notorious New Mexican afternoons, of brilliant blue sky and building thunderheads, as I make my way from Santa Fe to Taos driving north on what locals call the Canyon Road, referring to the Rio Grande that runs alongside.

Driving north through the steep rock walls of redness, and giant-sized boulders the color of forged iron, the river is swollen with runoff from the unusual amount of rain we have had, and today’s darkening sky toward the north gives evidence of our extended monsoon season.

It is just another beautiful day in the Land of Enchantment where the light defies description and is responsible for drawing artists the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe and writers such as D.H. Lawrence.

It has been a while since I was in an intended writing class, and I plan to let this three-day writing intensive with Sean and Tania move me out of the political grip my writing has taken due to necessity, especially during the past month of July.

It seems inconceivable to realize as I drive, that there are others who are simultaneously having their homes and families ripped away from them by bombs made by my country, who find themselves in a civil war not of their choosing, and who live with their homeland strewn with depleted uranium dust introduced by munitions also made and delivered by my country. All in the name of freedom?

It takes a lot for me to work through the guilt of having the freedom to make choices, such as I do today. And then I remember that this freedom is an illusion that bears all defiance, and while others are suffering visibly, I had better make the best of my time to record and relate the story of US, and what is happening in this beautiful land, being invisibly shackled beneath our very noses.

But I have had enough of that for a while, and now need to renew myself and re-commit to learning the craft of writing. So onward up the canyon I climb to Taos, past orchards and vineyards and the turn-off to Dixon, past the rickety wooden suspension bridge across the Rio and finally around the turn that opens onto the mesa and Taos, sprawled out beneath the beloved Sangres. The sight of the Canyon Rim that now here, at this place, has the river running swiftly far below it, is in front of me. Out of the earth it carves a snakelike shape toward Colorado, its parameters noted by the sun, a breathtaking view as I enter the southern part of town called Ranchos de Taos.

This is a very historic town. Many call it the land of manana, a trait that frustrates many Anglos, as Caucasians are referred to here. There is a main pueblo of Northern New Mexican Native Americans towards the northern end of town. Carl Jung visited the elders of this pueblo nation. His conversations with them left major personal impressions on him and colored his renowned work.

We will be going to several notable places to write: the D.H. Lawrence Ranch, the Mabel Dodge Luhan House, and The Lama Foundation. Each site is notable in its own regard and raises the ghosts of history if one may take the time to tune in. Fortunately for our group, Sean and Tania have set up the time, and the places hold the setting.

We write in sprints as Tania calls it, mostly for only ten minutes at a time, forcing the pen to keep moving even when we think there is nothing to say. My first WildWrite (as I term it) is from the following morning.


WildWrite: Taos 8-18-06

The morning hawk circles in my mind’s eye, first riding, then hovering against the thermals of the clear blue sky — in my brain — looking, always looking at the ground of my being. Seeing — feeling my feet touching the floor in my sandals, the heat against my soles.

Breath expands my body, forcing it out in pants, small short ones, and then into the opening and freedom of a long exhale. I can hear my breathing, and those around me who breathe deeper, louder, and also aware of the silent yet notable breathing by the earth here.

There is the deep hum of the building’s air-conditioning unit, outside — someone talking, back inside — the air vent squeaking, Sean’s deep voice of instructions moving, always moving, and the noisy vacuum cleaner out in the hall.

Opening to an expanse of vellum-colored tablecloth and writing pages — of my glasses, blue pen, glass case, water bottle, all cylindrical-shaped objects against the more exact rectangle of the central table around which we sit and write.

I didn’t hear the squawk of the hawk flying high above me, its sharp eyes always open, the air moving against the smooth shape of its outstretched wings — both opaque and transparent beauty against the sky, feathers displaying delicateness beyond their strength for flight, and the deep brown earth now covered with a brilliant lush green of the high desert so infrequent during this season. Sunflowers now dot the landscape below in great patches of brilliant yellow discs.

The rim of the canyon is beyond the western border of this land with the river deep below the canyon walls, its thunderous waters roaring through the gorge and the swiftness of it carrying downstream, who knows where, delivering messages collected north from Colorado — Alamosa, the San Luis Valley and beyond that northward into the San Juans from whence it all congrued and began as just a tiny trickle of water.

Until next time, when the group writes from the D.H. Lawrence Ranch with samples of Haiku.

con amore,

~ mek