Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I Think I Can, I Think I Can

I've been feeling just like that little overachieving train engine as of late. Except for the most part I've felt more like it did at the beginning of the book when the engine was full of doubt and pessimism. One freight car after another has been piling on until me caboose was lagging so far behind I couldn't even see it.

I've been repeating the mantra ... I think I can, I think I can, I think I can, but only today have I finally began to believe it.

Of course nothing makes a writer happier than to see a piece of their work find a home. I recently had a humorous memoir-esque story accepted by Opium Magazine. Today that story, titled The Hard Way is up for public consumption on their website. Here is the direct link to my story. You can even leave a comment so good or bad let me know what you think.

In other news on the writing front I gave my first ever talk about the craft of writing last Friday. My audience was a group of fifth-graders at the school where my wife teaches. I was a bit nervous that I would be met with eye rolls and sighs of boredom, but from the very get go the kids were enthusiastic and full of questions. A few of them might have been thinking who the hell is this big hairy fat guy and what gives him the right to teach us about writing, but mercifully they disguised those sentiments of they were there. Actually they were all great and I wish I could have talked longer. They eagerness was contagious and afterwards I was pumped up to sit down at the computer and get to work. One of these days I'd love to be in a position to talk at writers conferences and what not. But then again I'm the kind of guy who loves to talk whether it be from behind a podium or from a bar stool. Ask Robin, I cornered her at last year's Frontiers In Writing Conference and she hasn't quite escaped hearing from me yet.

Along with the novel about the woman whose life is being ruined by sex (better known to most of you as my bull semen story) I am now working on a new creative non-fiction project. A sort of a memoir based on my old feedstore chronicle stories (the link is to Chronicle #1, but the tag at the bottom of it will take you to the others) which I posted on here a year and half or so ago. Actually, I will be taking those posts down very soon so if you haven't read them this might be your last chance for a while.

Plundered Booty is out on submission and has had a few nibbles, but I really need to get my act together and get more queries out.

And even though I've rambled quite a bit already I am going to share one of the weirdest dreams I've ever had with you. I dream vividly most nights and I usually remember these crazy nocturnal illusions but this one really seems strange. I'd love to hear what a psychologist or dream analyzer would say about this one ...

I reached up to scratch my ear and the entire thing came off in my hand. In a panic I called the doctor and after hours of trying finally got through. He told me to met him at his office so he could sew my ear back on, but by the time I got there it had dried up and taken on the texture and brittleness of a pork rind. Sure enough, I accidentally broke a big chunk of the middle portion and when i reached for the piece it crumbled like dust in my hand. But my doc said not to worry he had a way to fix it. He sewed the now funky looking ear back onto my head and then reached for a small blown glass Woody Woodpecker figurine. Somehow he glued the glass Woody Woodpecker into the hole of my ear and it fit perfectly. I was happy as a clam to leave his office whit my Woodpecker adorned new ear.

Come on guys, give me your input what the heck was that all about. And before you ask, No I had not been smoking or ingesting any narcotics, I had not had a single drop of alcohol and I had Canadian Bacon pizza for supper.

So give me you best analysis, and don't forge to go read my story in Opium.

37 comments:

Vodka Mom said...

First- I will so go read your storing. I can't wait. You know I'm a reading whore. Second, I always dream, and dream vividly as well. (are we related?) Third, and most importantly, I am sending my kid's book out this week. I have piles on my table, and am ready to roll. However, I'm thinking of perhaps submitting it to some mag's as well. Cross your fingers.

GOOD LUCK with all of it. As far as the dream? It means you're not listening to your wife like you SHOULD. :-)

Bubblewench said...

It was the CANADIAN bacon... now I go read your story!

YEAH! Congrats.

Jason said...

Good job man. It was a good read too. Very cool. I do remember your brother torturing you constantly.

Skiingred said...

I think writer's have the coolest dreams... they are so strange, but yet they can work on paper. Mine are usually goofy and I try to write them down when I wake.

Not sure about woody woodpecker... his laugh kinda scared me.

I'm checking out your story now!

Charles Gramlich said...

I'll check out your story. Congrats!

AS for the dream, typically the only folks who can interpret their dreams are the people who have them. You're the only one knows what was going on in your life.

Also, in general, I don't believe dreams mean much of anything. Usually they are driven by recent or current items that we're thinking about or dealing with.

alex keto said...

Obviously the dream is about someone talking your ear off. Or maybe, it was an empathetic dream and occurred after you spoke to the fifth graders.

As for Woody Woodpecker, well, I mean God, who knows what the hell that means.

Angie Ledbetter said...

First, my caboose sags too...oh, wait, you said "lags." Oh well.

Second, on the dream...maybe it was bent down while you were sleeping and it was hurting, so that pain incorporated itself into the dream? Either that, or the universe is trying to tell you you're a pecker head??!

Third, congrats on the publishing success. Going to read now. :)

alex keto said...

Also congrats on your short story. I will read it shortly

Melissa Marsh said...

Holy cow. Congratulations on your story being accepted! Awesome.

I dream vividly every night, as well, and they are often WW2-related. I know I've repeatedly fended off Nazis at the family farm. Ha!

Clare2e said...

Congrats on the story, Travis! I dream vividly and remember them, too. Some analysts say that everything in the dream represents you, but I've recognized myself serving up big bowls of miscellaneous stew, so I tend to agree (more) with the folks who say it's a way to churn through old business as your memory and other mental processes hum during sleep. Dreams are often like the office shred can, a confused compendium of a day's mental scraps strung together into a necessarily strange narrative.

What I always enjoy is how sensible and right the wackiest stuff seems in dreams. I've written down brilliant dreamed notions, and after the first cup of coffee, I can see it's all padded room stuff. "Oh, yes, doctor, the Horkenheimer woodpecker therapy. I'll patent it! It's Perfect!"

March to the Sea said...

ummm perhaps you heard some nickleback music and wanted to tear your ear off???!

Kristen Painter said...

Congrats on your short being accepted!! That's great news!

Bina said...

I'm betting those 5th graders were to open to you because you look like an actual, REAL person, and not some stuffy principal/professer looking dude.

Wow. Okay, I think your dream means you are afraid or worried that your book won't get published and then everything you've done to get it out will just seem to crumble.

But, it gets fixed, which means keep on working on it and eventually, it will be out there.

That's what I think anyway. Or something along those lines.

Josephine Damian said...

TE: In your dream you could have been scratching something else and have it fall off! :-O Uh.... nightmare?

Nice memoir-like piece. How ever many ways you can get credits, get your name out there - you build up the platform.

Luv that you talked up the writing life to the 5th graders. Good practice for when you're on a panel at a conference.

Aaron said...

Damn Canadians and their psychotropic pork!

Loved the story, I'm gunning for the best comment. :P

Janet said...

Pizza. It was the pizza. And why the heck do you Americans call it Canadian bacon? It's hard to find up here and we call it back bacon.

"Needless to say I slept poorly as a child." That was a hoot-out-loud line. Please tell me it isn't true...

Patti said...

nice short. read it...loved it.

Travis Erwin said...

Thanks to all of you who have read the story and commented both here and at the opium site.

And I eat Canadian bacon all the time without weird dreams. Canadian bacon and regular bacon are not the same thing.

And sadly Janet there is a great bit of truth to the sleeping poorly line.

Georgie B said...

Nice short story there big guy.

Packsaddle said...

Way to go, Travis.

Just remember us little people when you make it big.

About the dream thingy....it's just the subconscious manifestation of your guilt from sending that white powder to all of those banks recently.

You're probably thinking "What does that have to do with Woody Woodpecker?"

Well, silly, Woody Woodpecker was first televised in 1957, which is the EXACT SAME YEAR the Bank of Ghana and the Agricultural Bank of Libya were established.

It all makes perfect sense after three glasses of wine.

Merry Monteleone said...

Yay you, Travis!!! The story was outstanding!!! And I love your bio, too!

The dream... let's see, body parts falling away means axiety or fear of loss... the ear would have to do with communication... woody woodpecker is a symbol of childhood freedom and whimsy...

put it altogether, and I'd say it's the Canadian bacon on pizza - seriously, come up to Chicago, I'll get you a stuffed pizza with Italian Beef and Giardinari - you'll love it...

As for the dream analysis stuff... I don't really know, I make that stuff up as I go.

Cloudia said...

Travis: Your dream means you have a glass, Woody Woodpecker ear!
But seriously, thanks for corageously sharing your wierd dream. Perhaps I'll tell the one about . . . LOL!
CONGRATS on your story acceptance. Well done! Aloha from Waikiki-

PastelGuy said...

Damn! I think your dream means that you've finally attained Van Gogh-like status by having your story published (congrats!), but that you feel guilty for not listening well enough to that annoying little voice in your ear...

Seriously, though, we teachers appreciate having the 'real deal' come in to the classroom. Trust me when I say that you say you were anything, and the kids would eat it up! I've noticed with my art that people are anamored of artsy skills, and immediately consider you an expert, even though the thought makes you want to laugh out loud!

the walking man said...

See...real Americans stick to real American bacon and have no dreams.

I like the idea of being in front of a bunch of fifth graders, real talent to hold their attention T.

Clare2e said...

I'm back now that I've read the story- fun stuff! Growing up in Dallas, I was a Von Erich family fan. Kerry was supposed to be the cute one, but I liked Chris better.

I just looked them up on Wiki and Yikes! I hadn't followed them later, but Fritz had seven sons. One was electrocuted young, and after Sr.s death, one died mysteriously and three of the others committed suicide within a 6-yr period.

That might have been your protag's fate had he not gotten straightened out on the wrestling thing. Whew!

Cicily said...

I think you may have unresolved feelings about neglecting veggies, continuous phone calls to unsuspecting souls and remorse for killing numerous animals all so you can have a good time.

As for the woodpecker, well, that's obvious. I just don't think it's appropriate to say it on here. Come on now, who do you think I am?

Congrats on your Opium Story. ;)

xoxoxo

Cicily said...

Oh and thanks for the comments in my interview...

Lana Gramlich said...

Congrats on the story & I'm glad your talk at the school went so well. I would've had the same fears you mentioned, but I have little faith in kids. Now, as for the dream...of course the only one who can figure this out is you, but the rest of us can maybe offer you things you hadn't considered, so I'll just throw some stuff out there...

The ear is the primary organ for sound detection. It can represent the listening side of communication, hearing incoming information/input. The ear is also the main organ involved in balance, as well.
A doctor/medical professional is usually about physical health & healing, of course. Sometimes they can also represent a position of power, wealth & responsibility. Interesting that you're having a problem with your ear (hearing,) & that your calls to the doctor go unanswered (unheard, in a sense,) for quite some time. Both of these seem to point to interrupted communication, perhaps a sense of not being heard.
The only thing that the pork rind brings to mind is poor diet. Has someone been nagging you to lose weight & you don't want to hear it?
You're panicking about your problems (from the ear falling off to it disintegrating,) & your Dr., although difficult to get a hold of initially, sounds calm & keeps assuring you that he can fix whatever the problem is. Y'all seem like opposite ends of a spectrum, y'know?
Blown glass is a mode of creative expression, a decorative piece, typically a hand-made. Glass speaks (sometimes,) to the sense of sight, one's ability to see clearly &/or "outlook." Glass also reminds me of crystals--very tiny crystals inside the human ear are also key to maintaining one's balance. When something's "blown," however, it can be rendered ineffective, a failure (i.e.; my cover's blown.) The glass woodpecker is a bit of a dichotomy, though. Of all of the birds, woodpeckers are among the only ones who actively smash their faces into a hard surface (wood,) in search of food. Many birds seem so fragile (glass-like,) but woodpeckers seem a sturdier bunch. In a similar vein, a woodpecker's noise is often referred to as "drumming," which is another connection to the whole hearing/sound theme. When's the last time you've had your hearing checked?
However, Woody Woodpecker may point to something from your childhood, of course.

Just some thoughts...Now I've got to get ready for work.

Rick said...

As a long time paranormal investigator and dream interpreter, I can tell you exactly what your dream means. It means you should take Nyquil before going to bed, downed by a shot of Jack Daniels. Place cucumber slices over your eyes, balance a small windmill on your stomach so that the up and down motion of your peristaltic action will provide a source of unlimited wind power, which when attached by two wires to your Halloween lights will amuse the neighbor children but eventually cause your neighbors to have you locked up. Even when you have been sequestered in an isolated cell with only rats for friends, we, your loyal readers, will wait patiently for your bestselling novels.

I hope that helped.

Congrats on your story acceptance!!!

Marla said...

Awesome! I am so happy for you. You work so hard and this is such great news. It is awesome you are teaching as well.

Crystal Phares said...

Congrats Travis! I'm thrilled for you. Thanks for the encouragement last time we talked. I am writing fast and furious now and it seems to be going pretty well.

The whole Woody Woodpecker thing... wow. Maybe the problem isn't what you ingested, but what you didn't ingest. I'm sure someone somewhere makes a medicine for that!

Frank Baron said...

Good story. Those lessons that are accompanied by pain are the most memorable eh?

writtenwyrdd said...

Ditto all the congrats and ditto what Charles said. What's the first thing YOU think of when you think of that woodpecker-repared ear, Travis? That's probably what the bird means.

Nearly all my dreams have water in them in one form or another. And some of them are in such vivid technicolor it seems to overwhelm the nature of the dream itself. Like your thoughts in bold.

getintouch said...

Loved your story at Opium, Travis. In my family, my brother was the head drooler (see "pin down and dribble slowly) and I, in turn, passed the love down to my sister. Some things never change.

Congratulations on the following you have here...

Jennifer said...

Woo hoo, Travis! Congrats on the story. I loved it. Reminded me of when my two sons were growing up. Good job. You had me laughing, as always.

Barbara Martin said...

The story was great and brought back alot of memories of my older brothers tormenting me. I suspect I was somewhat of a pest.

Mary said...

What a dream! I think the bacon pizza must have inspired it. As for Woody Woodpecker -- didn’t he peck at a knot on the side of a tree? The knot sort of resembled an ear.

I'm now heading off to read your story. Congrats!