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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Finalist, Oregon Book Award

Practical Screenwriting

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Blogs by (mostly) creative writers:

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

Debbie Ridpath Ohi, a weblog for writers (resources)

Silliman's Blog
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.

The Unofficial Dave Barry Blog
The very one.

The Hive
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
The life of a writer, 21, home schooled, rural living.

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?

The Rebel Housewife
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.

Mad for the smell of paper
A writing journal.

The Writing Life
A blog by Katey Schultz.

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.

Suggest a writer's blog

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)

Saturday, May 24, 2003  
Travels with Ruby
[from a memoir in progress, which began on 4/13/03]
We were bright, talented, functional alcoholics, and I at least remained more secure and happy than I thought possible in a relationship. Our summer trip had no formal or even informal itinerary. We had only one place we had to be, in Virden, Manitoba near the end of the summer so I could be the best man at the wedding of my university office mate, Jack. Without an itinerary, we drove east one day at a time, often taking side trips on the spur of the moment. One of the more interesting diversions was to the Ichthyosaur National Monument in Nevada, where we found a bar and whore house next to a small landing field onto which business men flew to party with prostitutes. The place was run by a tough, no-nonsense bartender and madam named Stella, which became the name of my bartender in Christmas at the Juniper Tavern.

The summer days were hot, so we often sipped cold beer as we drove. This was an era in which alcohol consumption was more widespread and acceptable than it is now. In the Midwest we even found a drive-in bar off the highway, where we ordered two double gin-and-tonics each, received a tray filled with plastic glasses, and were off on our way, driving and drinking.

In New Jersey, we visited relatives on my father’s side of the family, good blue-collar working folks who raised large families and helped one another out in lean times. I wore a long beard then, and Carol wore her signature single pigtail and no makeup. One afternoon a little boy approached me and asked if I were a hippy. My relatives must have thought so.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, we visited Brad, my bro from the Army. We were welcomed like family. Later I learned a remarkable thing: when talking about me to friends, Brad never had mentioned my race. His friends were shocked to learn that I was white.
We made the wedding in Manitoba just in time, though Jack was so nervous that he’d arranged for a substitute best man in case I didn’t show up. I got drunk with the father of the bride at the Canadian Legion and later lay stretched out on my back in the middle of a road, staring up in wonder at the blazing dance of the Northern Lights.

Visiting Carol’s parents was always a trip. She came from Utah pioneer stock, with a waterfall named after an early relative, and the family still owned land in the Wasatch mountains, part of which they ended up selling to Robert Redford for his Sundance development.

I found many things remarkable about Carol’s extended family. The clan was formally led by a patriarch, her father, and social gatherings had the air of a family business meeting. I’ll never forget how younger members of the large clan sat in a circle in the family A-frame and reported to Carol’s father one by one about their accomplishments over the past year.

This was a family with an inherited charge to be professionally successful. Many of Carol’s female relatives had earned law degrees – and then married, without practicing a day of law. A professional degree was expected of them. Carol, of course, was right on track toward professional success, a folklore scholar being as valuable a profession as any. Only Carol’s younger sister seemed to rebel against this tradition. She ended up running off to Ireland and marrying a farmer.

When Carol’s father learned I was studying to be a playwright, he gave me the same smile Dee used to give me, as if to say, That’s nice, but what are you going to do for a living?

Later I learned that Carol’s father was gay. I learned this before the night he made a move on me, and I was able to withdraw without causing discomfort or scandal. I liked him. He was a lawyer prone to taking up losing social causes, a “Jack Mormon” who’d been excommunicated from the church. He also was an alcoholic, which meant we spent a lot of time drinking together.

At the end of our coast-to-coast trip I wrote an article that became a cover story for Northwest Magazine, called “Travels with Ruby.” It was one of the best things I ever wrote for the magazine, a travelogue of discovery and social commentary, along the lines of Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley, from which I stole my title.

I got my M.F.A. and continued teaching part-time while Carol finished up the work for her Ph.D. Getting my Master of Fine Arts was empowering. I kept reminding myself that M.F.A. stood for … Mother Fucking Artist!

But I still had no clue that Carol was changing until the day she cut her hair short.

I loved her hair. It was long, fine, delicate, silky blonde hair, and I loved to watch her unbraid her signature pigtail so I could rub her soft hair over her breasts. I didn’t understand how she could destroy something so important to my erotic life, presumably to our erotic life, without consulting me.

It seemed as if Carol were making a statement. Over a year would pass before I began to understand what my wife, my soul mate, was trying to say.

5/24/2003 07:52:00 AM | 0 comments

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