About Writers

I Am The Walrus (1)


The time has come, the Walrus (2) said,

To talk of many things:

Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —

Of cabbages — and kings.

The big reason I write is, I have a story in me, but only a very loose idea of what it might consist of. I have to tell it to myself, to find out. It wants to go ever-so-many ways. Which path do I take? The answer is: just about all of them, sooner or later.

And, I love to play with words. I get to talk about all kinds of things in Sly, and make sense, that’s the wonderful thing. Make sense in the context of the world I’ve created. When you’re dealing with a talking cat, there are no rules. You’re already down the rabbit hole, why not dig a little deeper? I run wild because I can. And the most fun for me is to run off the rails stylistically. It just fits, seems to me.

My story is silly-putty. I slap on a layer of silly and smoosh it in until it adheres. If it doesn’t grab in one place, I migrate it to somewhere else. I don’t compose. I collage a story together.

Things that have no reasonable relation to the story, I slip into footnotes.

That reminds me and by the way (3) work pretty damn well under any circumstance.

Anything I can connect, even in the flimsiest way, to – as Michael Hagen puts it – to that damn cat, in it goes. I pound square pegs into round holes, as I do in every area of my life.

(Carl’s reasons three and, especially, four: I am never more myself than when I write.)

Back to Lewis Carroll:

I talk of shoes in my thing. (Sly’s boots, diamonds hidden in a pirate’s boot heel.)

Ships. (My pirate adventure.) Sealing wax. (Also the pirates.)

Cabbages? Not that, but I do a whole lot around cheese, ewe’s milk cheese, to be precise.

Kings? Most definitely. I have my King of Haute-Navarre. I have Queen Elizabeth. I have touched upon science, and art. I have written verse. (Sly is an enthusiastic versifier.) I have given his, therefore our, opinions on many things.

He is me and I am he. (So much for Carl’s reason two: to save my sanity. I’ll take a pass on that one.)

I write in a literary vein, I try to make art. Pretty spooky, when your hero is a big-mouth cat.

Do I write for recognition? I hope for it, certainly. Do I write for money? I don’t expect money that would make a difference in my life. Do I write to connect with others? I worked on Sly for twenty years without showing it to anyone. It was only when I joined Book Country that I began to share it.

Oh, I showed it to my sister, and to a boyfriend. Barb’s reaction to anything I send her is invariably, great! She’s not much of a reader, and I guess I intimidate her. I know I intimidate her.

Vic belittled it, and me, but not because he didn’t like it. According to him, far from done, working at my usual glacial pace, no payoff in sight, I was wasting my time. He told me many times, until you make money off it, it doesn’t count for shit, I don’t want to hear about it. Discouraged (deeply, for several reasons), I dropped it for years at a time. I finally pulled my life together and got free of him. I now have a husband who couldn’t be more supportive.

My goal with Sly is to be as silly as I can figure out how to be, on my terms. An editor says I need to be more flexible, my difficult choices insult potential readers, who may not be as beguiled by them as I am. You all know how I’ve taken that advice to heart. (4)

Writing is hard, but the hardest part is deciding where to compromise. Being confident enough to stand your ground is a satisfaction in itself.


(1) (Goo goo g’joob) John Lennon wrote that lyric, he explained, to goof on the people who were trying to analyze his songs. I just read a few days ago that Dylan would cut and paste phrases from newspaper articles and string them together in ways that delighted him, he actually wrote some songs that way. I string nonsense together in ways that delight me. Then I call it a plot. As much plot as you’re going to get out of me.

(2) Lennon, Lewis Carroll, I take my inspiration where I find it.

(3) Uh, by the way, the pdf of the full Come To The Manger is now available in our communal email.

(4) George Michael said “I don’t need the approval of people who don’t approve of me.” I feel the same way.


9 thoughts on “I Am The Walrus (1)

  1. mimispeike says:

    No one is finding this, probably because I deleted it and then put it back, so it landed in an odd spot. Okay, I’ll comment myself.

    I will try to make my next piece more substantial. I have been watching Netflix’s Jonathan Strange. It is gorgeous, but I realize that what I love about Strange is the prose style, which doesn’t transfer to the screenplay. The incredible production values don’t make up for the lack of the author’s seductive voice. I am going to start watching Lemony Snicket this weekend, and I have the first three volumes in the mail, so I can compare that translation to the screen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. GD Deckard says:

    “I get to talk about all kinds of things in Sly, and make sense, that’s the wonderful thing.” There. You nailed it, Mimi. That’s what writers do. Writers make sense.
    Sometimes I write for that reason alone.

    M and I are watching Netflix’s Jonathan Strange. I enjoy the scenes in the houses -M assures me they are not movie sets, but real houses from the period. The characters come & go but those old houses remain marvelous stories in themselves.

    I like Sly, from what little I’ve seen (hint.) Once you’ve kicked him out into the world (hint) you’ll find many others also enjoy what you write. Probably because he has been created with imagination, love and energy. But really, until he has birthed (hint,) all we can do is pat your belly and make happy sounds.


  3. Ah, this is what you were talking about! I thoroughly enjoyed this piece, Mimi; glad I didn’t miss it.

    This part especially resonated with me: “You’re already down the rabbit hole, why not dig a little deeper? I run wild because I can. And the most fun for me is to run off the rails stylistically. It just fits, seems to me.”

    Indeed! There are a handful of stories I’ve written where I couldn’t resist pushing language to the breaking point–and beyond–because, as you say: “It just fits.” Stylistically, as you noted; and, I suspect (for you as well?) thematically.

    I wonder if you recognize a kindred spirit in textual passages such as this? [Shameless interjection from an author (1) desirous of making a point, (2) expressing solidarity with the subject-, tone- and milieu-appropriate aesthetic choices of another writer, and (3) desperate not to have his words consigned to oblivion w/o someone appreciating the work and skill that went into composing them. For all the aforementioned reasons I beg your indulgence.)

    The ship’s computer spoke for itself: “The ship is not from our universe.”

    “Not from our . . .” Vr’beikl blinked. “Dimensional rift?”

    “Opening up behind the ship, Lord Commander. 14,000 farlongs away,” said Theta-7. It swore in gutter droid. “And coming through the rift, ah . . . I’m reading hundreds of thousands—scratch that, millions—wrong again; stand by—trillions of ships of all classes: battleships, cruisers, star destroyers, troop transports, tankers. Ah, light pleasure craft.”

    “Invasion fleet,” said Gelli. “From another part of the multiverse.”

    “That’s n-never happened before,” Vr’beikl said, his childhood stammer returned. “Sure, it’s theoretically possible, b-but—”

    “Get us out of here!” Rusaquii shouted. “Maximum warp!”

    “Maximum warp, aye-aye, Commissar,” acknowledged Bishnu. “Heading?”

    “Away from that fleet!” Rusaquii said. “Navigator’s choice, for god’s sakes!”

    Bishnu’s voice was icy with injured feeling: “Understood. New course vector: one-alpha-alpha. Orthogonal coordinates: five ticks on the X-axis bisecting projected integer lines delimiting holo-quadrants R3 and R4. Emergency warp.”

    “Correct for hypersphere distortion and point shift in Euclidean space,” advised Theta-7. “Overlay non-Euclidean polytopes and adjust for temporal phasing.”

    “Correcting now. Switching from convex polyhedron to nonconvex Kepler-Poinsot polyhedra. Maximum boost kicking in; complex modulus running in phaser-fission form,” called Bishnu. Faintly, the chirrups, clicks and soft beeping of the bridge’s many audible alarms and status updates sounded from Vr’beikl’s communicator. Then—“Dreadnought still closing.”

    “Maybe they’re friendly?” suggested Hrangar.

    “M-m-maximum reserve power to shields. L-l-lower life support l-l-lev . . .” ordered Vr’beikl, throwing Hrangar a withering look.

    Hrangar stared back unwithered.

    The lights dimmed as life support levels were trimmed back to absolute minimums.

    “Automatic defensive systems targeting,” announced the ship’s computer.

    “There,” said Ver’beikl, “and n-not a moment too soon.”

    “Tracking—firing,” said the ship’s computer.

    The death sphere lurched.

    “Enemy ship unaffected,” said the ship’s computer.

    “No,” whispered Vr’beikl.

    The death sphere lurched again.

    “Enemy ship unaffected,” said the ship’s computer.

    “Oh my,” said Yon-dactyl, removing his monocle, exhaling on the lens and wiping it against his tunic. “Not good.”

    –excerpt from “A Matter of Displacement“, Carl E. Reed

    Liked by 2 people

    • mimispeike says:

      Carl, I have always, from the first, felt a deep kinship with you. I understand and appreciate what you do, though at times I feel you take it a bit too far. But I expect you think the same about me. We need to talk more about this.

      I will dig into it when I comment on your latest offering. Reviews are difficult for me. Explaining my knee-jerk reactions clearly always takes time. Pinning down my muddled thinking is never easy for me.

      I do very much admire your skill and your impulse with language. Tendencies that may drive some readers away attract me like the armies of ants to our kitchen counter when Eberhard leaves out an open can of cat food.

      Liked by 1 person

      • @Mimi: 😉

        As for reviewing: the ‘ole tripartite feedback format of “I liked”, “I didn’t care for” and “I was confused by” never fails. You don’t have to be prescriptive if you’re simply communicating your opinion re: those three areas of constructive criticism. Don’t over-think it; just blast away. Heh! I can take it. (You’ve reviewed me many times, remember? And when all else fails: keep it short. Or long. Whatever is easiest to write.)

        Also: Who says you have to review everything? Anything? That I post or that someone else puts up? Not to go all Yoda on you here, but–review or don’t review; there is no wrong choice to be made in that binary . . . err . . . choice. Truly! No need to agonize or over-explain; simply: do; or do not.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. mimispeike says:

    This has been a very bad week. First, the messy re-fi. Next, the messy politics at work. Next, the men building a greenhouse addition onto our shed, and I am not happy with their work.

    Next, I had to help my husband hang a huge 44×61 new-framed vintage poster (I’ve had it for twenty years rolled up, the framing was my Christmas present) and had to deal with – please honey, can it be an inch lower and an inch to the right? Snarl. Growl – I’m a wreck. I need a day or two to pull myself together. Then I’ll work on a comment for Carl.


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