It’s the 13th again.

The recent Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs was a wakeup call for me. My conference notebook is filled with ideas and inspiration. Every presentation and panel I attended gave me at least a couple of A-ha! moments.

The most powerful of these moments was when Bob Mayer, during his presentation on the writing process, gave us this advice:

Profile yourself for twenty-four hours, and ask yourself, “Is this the kind of person who will succeed as a writer?”

The floor dropped from under me. I knew the answer to this question without having to profile myself. It was the wrong answer.

I’ve been lazy. Depressed. Discouraged. I’m hearing the same from writers on all fronts, and from non-writers, too. The state of our world frightens us. It’s difficult to focus or motivate ourselves.

Yet, I don’t want to quit. Some small part of me knows we need fiction now more than ever, to escape into sometimes, yes. But also to showcase what’s wrong with our world, and what’s right. To fuel imagination, because without imagination, we are lost. We can’t make a better future if we can’t imagine it.

Stories are our links to one another. A world without stories would be worse than a world without color. Without stories, we are flesh robots. Without stories, our existence is a bleak science fiction, a world that needs saving from itself.

So it’s important, what I do—telling stories. I want to succeed at it, again and again. All these emotions and habits that keep me from it are my enemies, as long as I allow them to separate me from my writing.

If I chose a random 24-hour period over the past few months, even years, to profile myself and ask Bob Mayer’s question, the answer would likely be no. This is not the kind of person who will succeed as a writer. My time focused on my stories has been far outweighed by my time turning my back on them.

No more.

Maybe blogs are a thing of the past. I haven’t seen many posts lately. They’re probably all going to my junk mail due to my lack of response to them. But blog posts are tools to keep writing, to lead into stories, to sharpen my senses and my prose. To hone my instincts.

To share.

Beginning on January 13th, 2014 (Was it really that long ago?) and ending on January 13th, 2015, I posted 13 blogs, one on the 13th of each month.

It’s the 13th again.

I am back.

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DAVID BOWIE: AN ACTOR RETROSPECTIVE

BROTHER COBWEB: A VISUAL SNEAK PEEK

Another great post from my favorite blog.

ALFRED EAKER

Todd M. Coe's art for Brother Cobweb ©2015 Todd M Coe & Alfred Eaker

Todd M. Coe’s art for my upcoming novel: “Brother Cobweb.”

Brother Cobweb is a character I created at the age of seven, in a comic book, which I titled “The Brother Cobweb Chronicles.” Brother Cobweb was a response/revolt/private protest to what I considered my own personal horror of being forced to attend a Pentecostal church, along with growing up in a dumbed down and oppressive fundamentalist environment. I created that comic from volumes of sketchbooks I produced during endless church services (for eighteen years,  I literally taught myself how to draw during those charismatic anti-ritual rituals).It’s interesting then to see him become an actual horror exhibit in a huanted house attraction. As I used to say (spewing sarcasm) “Amen Brother Cobweb.”

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PRE-CODE JAMES WHALE HORROR: THE OLD DARK HOUSE (1932) AND THE INVISIBLE MAN (1933)

Ahhh. The Old Dark House is one one my favorites. Well-documented here.

ALFRED EAKER

The Old Dark House (1932 James Whale)

Jmaes Whale‘s The Old Dark House (1932) might be seen as a companion piece to his Bride Of Frankenstein (1935). Both represent Whale at his most personal within the grand-guignol genre. While Bride Of Frankenstein is post-Production Code, so that it’s thinly disguised gay spirituality had to be delivered indirectly via myth, the pre-Code Old Dark House is awash with eccentric characters mocking dogmatic, false religious morality. Tackling hypocrisy within religion was a frequent theme with this director. Like Luis Bunuel, Whale applied the critique through cutting humor. However, as a Surrealist, Buñuel naturally didn’t give a damn about the intended audience; Whale deliberately sought accessibility. As his character states in the biopic Gods And Monsters: “The trick is, not to spoil it for those who aren’t in on the joke.”

The Old Dark House (1932 James Whale) news promo

Both films are replete with Whale’s idiosyncratic humor. However, Whale’s British sensibilities are more pronounced in The…

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Nightmares Unhinged

Don't Need A Diagram

cover_nightmaresThe late Wes Craven, who died last week, said this about horror movies:

“It’s like boot camp for the psyche. In real life, human beings are packaged in the flimsiest of packages, threatened by real and sometimes horrifying dangers … But the narrative form puts these fears into a manageable series of events. It gives us a way of thinking rationally about our fears.”

Fear, as editor Josh Viola points out in the anthology Nightmares Unhinged, is human. “Evolution made us this way. Our brains are primed for it. It’s in our bones. Nightmares tap into our most basic emotions and force us to face them.”

It is time, as Viola writes, to get scared again.

Well—sort of. “Horror” is not exactly my thing so it’s very possible I don’t know what I’m talking about.

These are some grisly bits here but to my way of thinking Nightmares Unhinged,

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A BELA LUGOSI RETROSPECTIVE

Absolutely love this.

ALFRED EAKER

13TH CHAIR (Tod Browning 1930) lobby card. Bela Lugosi

According to Bela Lugosi‘s official bio, before coming to America he had been a star on the Hungarian stage, appearing in major Shakespeare productions.  Several biographers, however, have disputed Lugosi’s “star” ranking during that period.  It seems most of his roles had actually been small ones.  Regardless, Lugosi enlisted in the Hungarian army during the First World War, was wounded several times, and later had to flee Hungary during a tumultuous political climate which was unfriendly to his leftist leanings.  After a stay in Germany, Lugosi arrived penniless in the States.  Eventually, he made his way to the New York stage and began appearing in plays and silent films.  In 1927, Lugosi was cast in the role of Dracula in Hamilton Dean’s famous stage play.  With that, Lugosi became a major star of the stage, and stardom brought him numerous female fans, including Clara Bow, with whom he had a brief affair.

13TH CHAIR (Tod Browning 1930) lobby card. Bela Lugosi
In…

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Thirteen Things I’m Grateful for as a Writer

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On the occasion of my thirteenth blog post, it is time for a list. The following thirteen things are dear to me as a writer. If you took any one away, who knows where I’d be?

 

  1. Computers/word processors. It’s a simple thing, but being able to move chunks of writing around on a manuscript is priceless. If I had to type on a typewriter, I’d probably still write, but I do love computers.

 

  1. Eyes that work. This might sound trite, but I mean it. I know sight-impaired people who do write, but I’m soooo grateful for my eyesight.

 

  1. A day job that pays the bills and still allows for writing time. I’ve been lucky.

 

  1. Parents and relatives who brought so many books into my life from pretty much day one. Special shout out to my Aunt Glenna, wherever she may be, who gave me a Dr. Seuss book for Christmas and my birthday for years. Also to Dan, who gave me my first Vonnegut book.

 

  1. Teachers and others who taught me. Not just about writing but about life and what it means to be a good human being. Some taught by example and others by patient instruction. Thank you for not giving up on me.

 

  1. My early friends. The ones who wanted me to tell them stories and were my first audience. Thank you for laughing, getting scared, and asking for more.

 

  1. Writer friends at all levels. I learn from and commiserate with you all. Only other writers truly get it.

 

  1. Non-writer friends who encourage me and keep asking me how the writing is going. Even when I seem bored talking about it, I do appreciate your asking.

 

  1. A life partner who cooks and does chores while I’m writing, who reminds me to eat and doesn’t grumble (much) when I jaunt off to retreats and conferences…constantly. Thanks, B.

 

  1. Critique partners who genuinely want me to succeed. I love you guys. A lot.

 

  1. Retreat friends. Ahhhh. The retreats. Possibly my favorite part of being a writer—writing from shortly after dawn until long after dark, eating and talking with other writers, total immersion. A big thank you to the retreat friends who took me in and the B&B folk who make it possible.

 

  1. Cats who know the #1 writer’s cat rule: No feets on keyboard. Good kitties.

 

  1. Writers organizations. Groups like Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers, Pikes Peak Writers, and Northern Colorado Writers have played the largest part in my becoming a writer, finding writing friends and critique partners, learning about the craft and the business of writing, introducing me to agents and editors, and boosting my confidence and motivation. Everyone involved in these groups rocks.

 

2014 was a wonderful writing year. Thank you to everyone who was a part of mine. Love and hugs!