Friday, November 14, 2014

The Blank Screen - Pedazos y Pedacitos

The Blank Screen

So I said to myself one day earlier this year – “Self, why not write another book? After all, you’re retired, the assumption is that you now have all the time you could possibly want for writing, and your life has been too quiet lately. What else you gotta do?”


Now I find myself 24000 words into the story and, right on schedule, the Great Doubt sets in.

Great Doubt is an old acquaintance. He made his first appearance back in high school when my father moved us from the small town (Florence – pop. 3000) in which I had grown up to the big city (Colorado Springs – not so big after all, as it turned out.) All of my life (I was 14 when we moved) my small town friends and I had been looking forward to when we would be the cool guys, the older guys, the guys having all the fun. Driving cars. Trips to Pueblo, the land of smooth Chicano soul music and soulful Chicanas who seemed to know more about the important things in life than any young lady in Florence. Making out. The Wiggle-Wobble. Hanging out with musicians, star athletes, and friends home from basic. Fake I.D.s to get in the clubs that had live music.

Instead, I ended up in a school where I didn’t see many “cool” guys – just a lot of white boys who had been together since kindergarten and who were not exactly welcoming to the new Mexican kid. That is, until I made the varsity wrestling team and started winning matches and the squad earned the right to be called a genuine challenger for the league championship. Then Great Doubt would show up before every match and I would have to force myself not to throw up on the mat until I had the first takedown. We won the championship but I flubbed my second district match and messed up my chance to go to the state tournament, even though I was a #2 seed. Great Doubt laughed so hard he fell down and rolled around the mat with his legs wiggling in the heavy gymnasium air like a dying chicken.

I went through stages of college and law school antics – political, social, and artistic. Each stage had its own share of frustration and success, but always good ole G.D. was right there. So on and so forth through marriages, children, trying to establish a law practice. Eventually, I returned to writing.

I repeat: Now I find myself 24000 words into the story and the Great Doubt sets in.

Where the hell is this going? Who would want to read this stuff? What if I can’t finish it? What if I do finish it and no one wants to publish it? What if I get it published and no one wants to read it? What if people do read it and don’t like it? What if they not only don’t like it, they hate it? What if they hate me because the book is so terrible?


Calm down. Chill. It helps to remember that I’ve been down this road before. I have always made it to the end. If I don’t, what’s the worst that can happen? I tell myself that no one has a gun to my head. I can always do something else. I hear collecting stamps is an interesting and educational hobby. And one can’t get too much exercise, can one? How about homemade wine? Origami?

Maybe I don’t have enough suspense in the plot? Plot? More dead bodies? More anti-hero angst? Who the hell came up with the idea of Chicano noir?

The questions continue until eventually I realize that the only way to answer them, and, thus, stop them, is to write.

Write. What a concept.

Where’s the inspiration when I need it?

Just saw a t-shirt with the phrase “You are dangerously close to being killed off in my novel.” There’s a thought. Revenge writing. Who deserves it? Better yet, who's entitled to it? Oh, that one guy, the s.o.b., yeah. But ... what if he recognizes himself and wants an apology? What if my apology isn’t enough? What if …


Pedazos y Pedacitos - News

Denver writer Antonio Garcia passed on the good news that his book, The Portal of Light, has been selected as winner of the 2014 USA Best Books Award for the category Non-Fiction: Multicultural.

The Portal of Light was also a finalist for the category Religion: Eastern Religion.

Here's part of the press release about the awards.

LOS ANGELES –, the premier online magazine featuring mainstream and independent publishing houses, announced the winners and finalists of The 2014 USA Best Books Awards on November 12, 2014. Over 400 winners and finalists were announced in over 100 categories. Awards were presented for titles published in 2012-2014.

Jeffrey Keen, President and CEO of USA Book News, said this year’s contest yielded over 2,000 entries from mainstream and independent publishers, which were then narrowed down to over 400 winners and finalists.

Congratulations to Antonio.


Alicia Gaspar de Alba and Alma Lopez Gaspar de Alba, esteemed author and artist, as well as educators and activists, are featured in this month's cover story of the Mexican magazine LeSVOZ. Congrats to Alicia and Alma.


Holiday Mercados from Denver to Chicago, etc.


UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center
Event Announcement

Writers and photographers present
Lowriting and ¡Ban This!   

Tuesday, November 18, 2014
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
CSRC Library - 144 Haines Hall
Free, no reservation required

The CSRC welcomes nine artists whose work appears in Lowriting: Shots, Rides, and Stories from the Chicano Soul, featuring the photography by Art Meza (Broken Sword Publications, 2014), and ¡Ban This! The BSP Anthology of Xican@ Literature (Broken Sword Publications, 2012), both edited by Santiago J. Rivera. These writers and photographers will talk about their contributions to the anthologies and share stories about the cars, music, and events that have shaped Chicana/o history in Los Angeles and beyond. Both books will be available for purchase.


I'm participating in this event - will read and have books for sale. 
December 11th
Mystery and Mistletoe

Writer's Showcase and Book Sale
Emcee: Helen Thorpe
Where: The Historic Denver Press Club,
1330 Glenarm Pl., Denver CO

Thursday Night, December 11th.
Time: 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. hors d'oeuvres, readings and a cash bar
Tickets are $10. Please order your tickets in advance! Click the Buy Now button below to make your payment. Questions can be directed to our Caterer Director, Donnell Bell at Donnell Bell or by calling 719 540 8632. The deadline for reservations is Monday, December 8th, 2014. 




Mario Acevedo said...

Great post. Enjoyed your essay on doubt. Remember what Mark Twain said, To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence.

Manuel Ramos said...

Thanks, Mario. I got plenty of one of Mr. Twain's essentials.

Anonymous said...

Author, I hate to propose the obvious source of inspiration contained in your essay, but [drumroll], since Great Doubt seems to chronically appear on your shit list, you should make him/it/her/them your whipping boy. As self-immolating anti-hero, as tragically torn antagonist--hell--as a theme, to crack open the dams of prose. Nomás diciendo... RudyG

Unknown said...

So, I said to myself one day earlier this year-"self why not write another book? This phrase made me laugh.