Words in other people’s mouths

I’m not an actor. I cannot act. Actually, that’s not exactly true.

I am an extreme introvert who has learned to live (and thrive) within an extremely extroverted world, so I can technically act aka hide my true identity behind a false façade.

But what I mean by acting is the theatrical form. Give me lines to memorize and my brain fries in mere seconds. I can say the line, I can emote or I can move my body across the stage…ask me to do any two of those at the same time, however, and we have issues.

I can do improvisation. I love improvisation.

The thrill of trying not to anticipate what your stage partners are going to do but instead simply react to what they have done and add to the reality of the situation is an adrenaline high of which I cannot get enough.

And the typical improv audience is a forgiving lot because they know you’re making this up before their very eyes. In fact, they will actually ask you how you prepare for an improv show and sit amazed when you tell them that you arrive at the venue slightly earlier than they did.

But even improv has its self-imposed pressures, because at the end of the day, you have to respond to your colleagues and say or do something. A couple of years ago, however, I found a work-around for that.

A friend of mine introduced me to puppetry improv. In this case, we put Henson-style puppets onto our hands and created amazing scenes with characters that didn’t exist until mere seconds ago.

It was magical.


The minor act of picking up a puppet and letting it do the talking gave me enough distance that I was free to think and do anything I wanted without fear of recrimination. People stopped watching me and immediately followed the puppet. Whatever the puppet said was funny or poignant or shocking. Even saying nothing spoke volumes.

And if I thought improv audiences were generous, oh my God! Puppets can get away with murder! There are no taboos.

Which brings me to writing.

As it was with the puppet, so it is with writing characters for screenplays, stage plays or novels. I have the freedom to write anything, to say anything, because ultimately the words are the responsibility of the characters I create.

Maybe this is a sign of a need for medication, but when I write a character, I hear his, her or its voice in my head. Change the character and the voice changes.

By moving the focus off of me—my skills or lack thereof, my insecurities, my knowledge—I free myself up to pursue something bigger.

Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. It seems to be working for me.

A great writers’ blog (by a great writer)

For those interested in reading some interesting perspectives on the creative process, I highly recommend a blog by one of my friends, actor and writer Marsha Mason (not the one from The Goodbye Girl).

Briefly known as WTF (which does not stand for what it may ask frequently), the Why The Face blog tackles a lot of the insecurities that most writers face; in Marsha’s case, from the perspective of screenwriting, but writing’s writing. But she also provides insights and answers gleaned both from her own experiences and those of others whom she has met.

Check it out.

My muse is a bastard

Okay, that’s not really fair, but it is fair to say that my muse and I have not always had a great relationship.

I have abandonment issues. I won’t deny it. I am working through them. But my muse has not been a lot of help in this department. For decades, I have sought inspiration in my writing and my muse has let me down. He was more “mute” than “muse”.


For years, my pen has hovered over my notebooks, tantalizing close to writing, but ink doesn’t transfer. My fingers have hovered over computer keys, ever so close to making physical and spiritual contact, but the flashing black line in my Word document taps its virtual foot in anticipation of ideas yet to flow.

And even more frustrating, my muse can be a right royal inspiration tease—giving me glimpses of ideas that simply turn into moments of premature  ideation, leaving me feeling used as I clean my laptop.

What I realized recently, however, as that my muse isn’t my muse. He is, in fact, a muse—the irony of that phrasing is not lost on me.


Inspiration isn’t something that comes to me. I have to go out and get it. Hunt it down. Leash it and bring it home. And in keeping with good psycho-eco-social practices, release it back into the wild when I am done.

Here I thought I had become so bloody advanced because I had an opposable thumb and personality that worked in clever union to produce written works of a certain majesty (more often than not, Ethelred the Unready, but majesty nonetheless).

Instead, I find I am still the hunter-gatherer of history. Leaving the comforts of home to find sustenance in the wilds of the universe or less melodramatically, a park bench watching people, the zoo watching animals watch people, a coffee shop watching the level of coffee in my cup recede.

Slowly, I am becoming a better hunter-gatherer. The threshold does not seem so high. I can generally snatch a muse without doing too much damage to it or myself.

Oh, it still doesn’t want to get caught, but what that means is I have to change my position slightly. ALL muses are bastards.



(Photos taken at Minter Gardens outside of Chilliwack, BC. An amazing place to hunt muses!)

Who is this guy?

Without putting too fine a point on it, I have been trying to discover the answer to this question for almost 50 years and I don’t feel that I’m any closer to an answer.Image

I’m a writer. I’m a photographer. I’m a creator. I’m a distiller.

I write comedy. I write tragedy. I write technical. I write lyrical.

I photograph nature. I photograph society. I photograph the concrete. I photograph the abstract.

I think. I feel. I fulfill. I surprise.

And tomorrow, I will do it all over again.

When I am gone

When I am gone to join the dead,

I only hope it will be said

That I was quick if but with tongue

And from each word I too much wrung

A meaning lost or malaprop

If by the speaker a hint did drop

About something that was not said

But close enough to turn them red.

With words did play and contradiction

To turn your fact into my fiction,

And from one end of what you spoke

Would I reword to make the joke.

But whether you bethought it funny

Or at most insipid pun, I

Cared not truly if you laughed

Nor bothered if you thought me daft

But smiling delved at my own leisure

For another verbal treasure

But when I’m gone, and games have ended,

Please check with those I have offended,

For as it seems to be my lot,

I was much more than likely shot.Image

New beginnings


I had dinner with my good friend Victoria tonight, who challenged me to put my blogging intention into action…well, here is the result: My first blog post.

I don’t know how often I will post, yet, or even on what subjects, but as anyone who knows me can tell you, there will be no shortage of opinions or insights from this noble scribe (who likes to reference himself in the third person).

By the way, the photo above was taken last August in Tofino, BC. I loved the way the majesty of the landscape and drama of the weather worked with the solitude of the beachcomber. You’ll see a lot of these with my posts.