The Writing Life: reflections by a working writer. The Writing Life

Reflections of a working writer, a university screenwriting professor, and the editor of Oregon Literary Review.

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Charles Deemer

Oregon Literary Review

MFA, Playwriting, University of Oregon

Writing faculty, Portland State University (part-time)

Retired playwright and screenwriter.
Active novelist, librettist and teacher.

Email: cdeemer(at)yahoo(dot)com

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"Can We Talk About Me For A Change?"
Playwright Debra Neff Nathans

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Ron Silliman, contemporary poetry and poetics

Maud Newton
literary links, amusements, politics, rants

Darren Barefoot
Technical and creative writing, theatre, Dublin

Rob's Writing Pains
Journey of a struggling writer.

Mad, Mad World
Cara Swann, fiction writer, journalist, "reflections on humanity, random news & my life."

Random musings on a writer's life and times.

Barbara Flaska's compilation of the best online articles about music and culture.

Write Of Way
Samantha Blackmon's written musings on writing (composition and rhetoric).

Alexander b. Craghead: blog
Writing, photography, and watercolors.

Rodney's Painted Pen
Rodney Bohen's daily commentary "on the wondrous two legged beast we fondly refer to as mankind." His pen runneth over.

Frustrated Writer
This one named Nicole.

scribble, scribble, scribble
Journalist Dale Keiger teaches nonfiction scribbling to undergraduate and graduate students at Johns Hopkins University.

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The official blog of science fiction / horror author Terence West.

William Gibson Blog
Famed author of Neuromancer and Johnny Mnemonic: The Screenplay.

The Word Foundry
Joe Clifford Faust's "blog of a working writer: tracking writing projects, musings on the creative process, occasional side trips into music, media, politics, religion, etc."

A Writer's Diary
By Cynthia Harrison, who has the good sense to quote Virginia Woolf: "The truth is that writing is the profound pleasure and being read the superficial."

Bow. James Bow.
The journal of James Bow and his writing.

Michael Montoure's weblog about writing, primarily horror and speculative fiction.

By David Henry, "a poet's weblog from Aberdeen, Scotland."

Modem Noise
By Adrian Bedford, a "fledgling Pro SF Writer, living in Perth, Australia."

"A wry writerly blog named in honour of a minor character in a minor Shirley Temple film."

Real Writers Bounce
Holly Lisle's blog, "a novelist's roadmap through the art and ordeal of finding the damned words."

2020 Hindsight
By Susan.

downWrite creative
Phil Houtz's notes on the writing life.

Vivid: pieces from a writer's notebook
Blog of Canadian poet Erin Noteboom.

The Literary Saloon
The literary weblog at the complete review.

Rabbit Blog
The rabbit writes on popular culture.

This Girl's Calendar
Momoka writes short stories.

Twists & Turns
Musings by writer Michael Gates.

Plays and Musicals -- A Writer's Introspective
A blog by John D. Nugent - Composer, Playwright, and Artistic Director of the Johnson City Independent Theatre Company

The American Sentimentalist
"Never has any people endured its own tragedy with so little sense of the tragic." Essays by Mark W. Anderson.

Screenwriting By Blog
David C. Daniel writes a screenplay online. "I've decided to publish the process as a way to push myself through it. From concept to completion, it'll be here."
Official site of occult fiction author Sean-Alonzo, exploring symbolism, alternative history, philosophy, secret societies and other areas of the esoteric tradition.

Crafty Screenwriting
Maunderings of Alex Epstein, tv scribe, about life, politics, and the tv show I'm co-creating.

Letters From The Home Front
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Venal Scene
The blog of bite-sized plays inspired by the news (by Dan Trujillo).

'Plaint of the Playwright
Rob Matsushita, a playwright from Wisconsin, "whines a lot."

I Pity Da Fool!
Glenn's adventures in screenwriting.

Time In Tel-Aviv
Hebrew modern literature at its best, by Corinna Hasofferett.

Big Window
Robin Reagler's poetry blog.

John Baker's Blog
Author of the Sam Turner and Stone Lewis novels.

The Writing Life With Dorothy Thompson
What goes on during a writer's busy day?

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Not just a housewife!

Barry's Personal Blog
A running commentary on writing and the writing life.

Bonnie Blog
Maintained by Bonnie Burton of

Writer's Blog.
By easywriter. "From the walls of caves to cyberspace."

Flogging the Quill
Pursuing the art and craft of compelling storytelling, by an editor, Ray Rhamey.

Man Bytes Hollywood
Sharing tools, strategies and resources for the screenwriter's journey.

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A writing journal.

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It Beats Working 9-5
A screenwriting blog by a young Canadian screenwriter.

Stealing Heaven From The Lips Of God
Writer & Artist, Dee Rimbaud reflects upon politics, religion, art, poetry, the meaning of life, the nature of God and why toast always lands butter side down on carpets.

Robert Peake
Heart and Mind, Fully Engage ... a poet's website.

Sidestepping Real
By Ren Powell, poet, children’s writer, essayist and editor.

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plagiarism blog

The Writing Life...
"An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's."
J.D. Salinger

"All my best friends are writers and are dead."
A friend over beer, Berkeley, winter, 1959

"And it came to pass that all the stars in the firmament had ceased to shine. But how was anyone to know?"
The Half-Life Conspiracy

After October 31, 2006,
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The Writing Life II

(Posts archived here are from 01/10/03 - 10/31/06)

Tuesday, April 15, 2003  
[from a memoir in progress]
We don’t smoke! We don’t drink! Nor-fuck! Nor-fuck!

According to family legend, these were among the first words to cross my lips. Since my father (everyone called him Chick) was a great storyteller, and like all storytellers did not hesitate to embellish facts in the interest of drama, I doubt if I said this before I said Ga-ga and Da-da and other childhood gibberish. My mother (everyone called her Flo), in fact, had a somewhat different take on this story.

In her version, I came into the kitchen one afternoon and blurted out the infamous local chant without preface. Since we left Norfolk when I was about six or seven, this is very possible. Apparently some older boys had taught me the words, and I was eager to share them with my mother, no doubt thinking I was telling a joke. I don’t recall if she was amused.

In fact, I don’t recall much of anything about Norfolk, Virginia, where I was born on October 26, 1939, either just before or just after midnight, I forget which. Another family story has it that at the moment of my birth, Dad was in a nearby tavern where “The Beer Barrel Polka” was playing. No one telling this story suggested that I was fated to become a drunk, however. I managed to make this later connection quite on my own.

One reason I don’t remember much about Norfolk is that my six or seven years there happened in what I think of as my family’s pre-home-movie era. Some time in the late 1940s, my father purchased an 8mm Kodak movie camera, and my childhood memories from that moment on are stamped in film images, so that I have no idea today whether I remember anything at all apart from countless viewings of our large collection of home movies. But at least I have memories, at least I have a childhood documented on film and in my mind. And this childhood was almost deliriously happy.

I was born in the Naval Hospital in Norfolk. My father had committed to a career in the Navy in order to escape the fate of young men who grew up in his part of New Jersey along the Delaware River, which was to work in a paper mill. Dad joined the Navy to see the world, and he succeeded in this quest. He was in China in the 1930s, being so moved by the poverty he saw there that later, after the successful communist revolution, Dad told me that if he were Chinese, he’d be a communist, too, since this certainly couldn’t be worse than what he had witnessed. This is an extraordinary statement to come from a career military man. From China and other distant seaports, Dad would send fine china, ivory carvings, and other gifts to relatives in New Jersey, a gesture that made him something of a local hero, the man who escaped the fate of being born in a small paper mill community. Many years later, visiting his home town of Milford, Dad and I passed an old man on the street. When he had passed by, Dad told me that when he was thirteen, he had worked at an adjacent machine in the paper mill with this fellow, who had worked all of his life there. “That’s why I joined the Navy,” Dad told me.

There are a few family photographs that present the only hints of my childhood in Norfolk. In one, I am on the beach, brown as toast with long, curly platinum blond hair. My hair became something of a family issue because my mother, who was a hair dresser by trade, liked it long, which is how she kept it when Dad was away at sea, which was often. As soon as Dad came home, he took me to the barber to get a more manly crewcut. At any rate, I was a pretty cute kid. My Uncle Bert, the story goes, used to volunteer to walk me in the park because I attracted women like a magnet, and apparently my uncle got more than one date from the tactic.

In the other photograph, I am wearing a white sailor suit and standing stiffly at attention while saluting the camera. A sailor’s son to the core. This photograph was taken in front of the house we rented in Norfolk. In the late 1990s, I was visiting my wife’s relatives in Virginia Beach and took a side visit to Norfolk. In an old telephone directory in the library, I found the address of my parents during the time we lived there. My heart was racing as I drove to my old neighborhood, so strong is the magic of roots no matter how far from them we roam.

It was a black neighborhood now. At the address where our house had been was a corner mini-mall but the neighboring homes were still intact, looking much like they did in the photographs I remember, with their characteristic front screened porches. So this is where it all started for me. There would be consequences from being born here, which I would encounter soon enough.

4/15/2003 06:20:00 AM | 0 comments

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