Poetry

The last dream(er)

Starry Eye 2

RIP Bill Rundle/Paul Valliere, you will be missed.

The last dream(er)
By: Star Spider

I picture you:
eyes closed,
facing the long night,
with your head held high.

The sigh of your breath a whisper,
speaking the cosmic truth
only a mind such as yours
would dare to consider.
Behind those paper thin lids,
scribbling on the walls;
a mad poet, the last dreamer,
dreaming the very last dream.

maybe:

a field of yellow lilies,
pungent with a fragrance that recalls your childhood,
a sky so blue your heart bleeds,
at the thought of all that missing red spectrum.

maybe:

a future so green your appendix is rediscovered,
and the verdant taste of chlorophyll
traces a winding garden path
through the dark corners of your mind.

maybe:

a sky unfurling like an infinite backdrop,
swirling primordial gasses, the spilled guts of stars,
a billion black holes with a trillion celestial bodies,
all dancing, singing, calling you home.

Light,
waterfalls,
pulsars,
smiles,
poetry,
love,
biology,
grace,
heaven,
puns,
laughter,
pens,
pencils,
paper,
peace.

I would give you every one as your last.

“I feel safer knowing you’re out there,”
you once told me,
and I said I felt the same about you.
I mean it still.

So now I picture you:
eyes closed,
facing the eternal day,
with your head held high.

A mad poet, the last dreamer,
dreaming the very last dream.

Events

Upcoming Reading: The EW Reading Series

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On Tuesday the 8th of September I will be sharing the stage with some fabulous writers at the Emerging Writers Reading Series in Toronto.

The reading is in a pub on Bloor St. West so you can get some food and drink. I will be hitting the stage last at 9:30pm but there are three other readers before me, so come at 8pm to get in on all the literary action!

I hope to see you there.

Date: Tuesday September 8, 2015
Time: 8pm
Location: Duffy’s Tavern – 1238 Bloor St. W. Toronto
Facebook Event

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Writing an outline

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I’ve decided to write an outline for my next book.


It’s a weird feeling. Usually i just dive headfirst into a novel, emotions in front, ready to do battle. That approach has served me well. I’ve gotten three books out of it, books I like, books I’m proud of. 



So why the outline?


Because I’m tackling something new: science fiction.

I wrote a short story based on a concept I learned about in an astronomy class I was auditing at U of T and I loved the idea so much I knew I had to make it into something bigger. But the thing about science fiction is that it requires…science. And to make my science fiction even remotely scientific, I need to do some research. Also, because my story will be set in a time that is beyond ours it requires a little world building. I’m working from the outside with this concept because it’s an idea about the universe itself, not about a single character, which is my usual approach.

I have to say I’m a little bit intimidated by the idea of the outline. It makes writing a book seem more like work. I write outlines for corporate clients, web videos and projects. I know when I finally sit down with it I’ll get into it and things will be fine, but right now it just seems liked a daunting proposition.

So why do I feel as though writing should be a purely emotional pursuit? It seems like a foolishly romantic notion: this idea that I should be some poet in a coffee shop spilling my guts in a moleskin notebook. It’s also unrealistic; I like structure, order and a good understanding of my direction in life—so why shouldn’t I like it in my writing?

Maybe I think an outline will restrict me. But it would be an imaginary restriction, because if I make it, I can destroy it. Maybe I think it will be too formal, that I will get bored of it if I have my whole path charted for me. Maybe I think writing is more exciting when it’s a mystery. But if that were true then I wouldn’t need to know the ending before I start a story…and I always know the ending before I start.

So where is the resistance coming from?


Writing a new genre is daunting, I’ve only written two or three pure science fiction stories before. Writing in a new format is daunting too. An outline is a new skill that I have yet to master.

But ultimately I think it will be good for me. The fear of trying new things has never stopped me before.

So watch your back outline…I’m coming for you.


P.S. Any tips or hints on good ways to outline a novel would be appreciated. If you have any just drop them in the comments section!

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Writing is writing

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Things have been crazy because I just started school again and when I meet up with other writers they ask me if I’ve been writing lately.


And I say yes.

But I hesitate. Why do I hesitate? Because I’ve been writing loads, just not fiction. I’ve been blogging a lot about my experiences at school over at my Cosmorphosis blog and it’s been extremely rewarding and fascinating, but there’s some tiny part of me that believes writing = writing fiction.


This is clearly a flawed thought and I have no idea where it comes from. Non-fiction is obviously a valid and important form of writing, from news to memoirs, sharing stories of the real world and our own lives is extremely valuable.

But it’s not fiction.

I think the moment I really committed to writing fiction was the same moment I officially committed to being a writer. Even though I had been writing non-fiction and travel memoirs for years, for some reason I only decided to take the moniker of writer when fiction was my focus.

It’s not a good, healthy thought. Writing is writing and all of it is great.

Whether it’s tweeting, blogging, writing a book, a poem, a single line or even a lab report (which I did for the first time ever this week), writing is important and meaningful because it’s all just various forms of expression. I can find the joy in any one of those forms, as evidenced by the fact that I loved writing the lab report.



I don’t want to limit myself to the form of fiction for my expression and I don’t think anyone should. As a writer, a creator of art, my focus will change throughout my life and as someone who considers herself open-minded and well suited for change I want to embrace that and proudly proclaim my love of self expression, no matter what form it comes in.

Cosmorphosis

Cosmorphosis

Butterfly emerges from stellar demise in planetary nebula NGC 63

It started with a book.

I had an idea for a story I wanted to write but I needed a little information on astrophysics to really get into the theme I wanted to explore—the cosmos and its absurd, fabulous majesty.  So Ben and I decided to audit Astronomy 201 at U of T (taught by the fantastic Dr. Michael Reid).  If you’ve never audited a class before I highly recommend it.  It’s a great way to learn about a subject without all the pressure that comes with attending university and it’s also an amazing way to decide if a subject is something you want to pursue.

In my case it turned out I wanted to do more than audit the astronomy class, I wanted to join it.

After each class I would bounce off the walls, thrilled with everything we were learning about the universe.  I wanted the class to go on forever and I was so sad that it was only an hour long.  So one day Ben looked at me and said: ‘If you like it so much why don’t you just be an astrophysicist?’

And so Cosmorphosis was born.

In a few short weeks I’ve signed up for high school (back to grade 8 math and grade 9 science for me!), created a blog, planned out a vlog/documentary with Ben and booted up a brand new twitter account with the goal of sharing my love of science and the universe with the world.

I still plan to keep writing of course and I’ve decided on a study plan that includes translating scientific principals into poetry and fiction and I plan to write my new book, the one that started it all, during the summer break.

So I hope to see you all over at Cosmorphosis and I will of course continue to post here as well about all things writing!

(The image for this post was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and shows the Butterfly Nebula-a dying star ejecting massive amounts of insanely hot gas into space. How amazing is that?)

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Inspiration Series – Jim Murray

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I have been a writer since the age of 17. I was first inspired to write when I left my original home in Fort Erie to go and live with my dad and his wife Diana in Ottawa. I wrote my first poem in a letter to my then girlfriend Sandy Sparks who lived in Tonawanda, which Is a suburb of Buffalo. We eventually realized that living almost 500 miles apart really sucked, and so we drifted away from each other. But during that period I became a dedicated poet and man of letters of sorts.

All through college and my early working days, living downtown in Toronto with my Ottawa pal, John Wild, I wrote. I wrote poetry. I wrote essays, I wrote short stories. Many of them were influenced by the writers and songwriters I worshiped with like John Updike, Phillip Roth and Saul Bellow, Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs, Leonard Cohen and Tim Hardin to name but a few.

I continued to write after I married and eventually got into writing advertising as a profession. During the 7th year of my marriage, we were living in Rosedale in Gordon Lightfoot’s coach house, and I had a chance to present some of the lyrics I was writing to Gord’s guitar player and a great songwriter, Terry Clemens. I thought I was pretty hot shit at the time, but Terry and his wife Roz sat me down and told me the truth. They said that my lyrics very good but were highly derivative and that I was emulating all of my influences. This was a big shock to my system, mainly because it was true. I went into a bit of a tailspin and it had huge ramifications in all parts of my life.

But the one thing I remembered, in all the emotional chaos which ensued, was Terry and Roz telling me that I had all the talent necessary to do anything I wanted, and I even had a lot of the discipline required to pull it off….but what I needed to do was find my own voice.

I have to admit that I had never really looked at the work I was doing in that way. A lot of us don’t. It never occurs to us to do that, as we are generally too busy creating to think about the philosophy of what we are doing. We automatically assume our point of view is our own and well, unique.

This revelation, as it sunk into my head, caused me to go through what most people would call a breakdown. I felt my spirit shattering into a million pieces. I was weak and helpless, both physically and mentally for several months. It took its toll on my wife, my work and a lot of other stuff too.

But the spirit is a lot like mercury and eventually the shattered droplets of my spirit met up with each other and reformed. One day I woke up and for the first time in what seemed like forever, I felt inspired. Not by anything I had read or heard or seen, but by something deep in my brain that was trying like hell to get out. My voice. Or at least I hoped it was.

This moment of inspiration led directly to the writing of this lyric, which even 35 years later still feels genuine to me and very much indicative of a pure moment of inspiration stated in what I feel to be my own voice.

SO MUCH TO DO

So much to do…so little time
So many mountains I’ve yet to climb
So many ups…so many downs
So many people …so little common ground

So many words pass through my pen
So much starting all over again
In a world where nothing ever seems real
It’s hard to touch what you truly feel

So many children
See how they grow
So much to tell them
Before they know
How to believe in a
World gone wrong
How to sing out
When they feel their own song
How to hold onto hope
When all the love seems dead and gone

So many people I’ve yet to know
So many heartaches yet to lay me low
So much confusion to suffer through
So many broken dreams before one comes true

So much to do in a single life
Too little harmony and too much strife
All we can do is fight the good fight
And hold onto each other tonight

So many lovers
How they come and go
You think you’re close to them
But do you ever know
Just what secrets
They have to hide
Just how much love
They have been denied
Just what they might
Really be feeling inside

So much to do…so little time
So many mountains I’ve yet to climb
So much to do…so much to say
I’ve got the fever and it won’t go away

This lyric was the linchpin for a number of things. Among them, one rather overwritten novel, a dozen screenplays, an editorial column called The Couch Potato Chronicles, which I wrote for 10 years and a lyric book that houses about 350 finished pieces. I don’t really care too much what happens to these pieces because I wrote them on the 40 year adrenaline rush that finally finding my own voice has provided for me. I write solely for the joy of it and I am lucky that way. If something comes of all this, great. If not….well there’s always my commercial writing, which I am very good at.

The piece below is the last piece I wrote, just a few weeks ago. And this is what I wrote about it.

Today I had an inspiration while I was riding back from Loblaws. (proof that these things can happen anywhere). It was just a line that popped into my head. “There’s a fire burning hot in the night”. I have been thinking a lot lately about the resilience of the human spirit, in the face of sociopathic corporations, soulless governments, compassionless bureaucracies and bullshit institutions that all work to break us down and make us fearful and subservient. And about how life has become about rising above all that crap to be your own dog, so to speak.

So I started thinking on that in more depth and this is the result. Still a bit rough around the edges, but the thought is expressed…a combination of inspiration leading to perspiration, powered by dedication.

THERE’S A FIRE

There’s a fire burning hot in the night
There’s a fire burning wild and bright
Everything that wants to live takes flight
From the fire burning hot in the night

There’s a fear burning deep in your soul
Always makes you feel out of control
Keeps you half a man, never whole
There’s a fear burning deep in your soul

There’s fire burning hot as the sun
There is nowhere anybody can run
Time to face the demons as they come
From the fire burning hot as the sun

CHORUS
Cause there’s a fire that burns the world clean
And that fire will destroy the machine
That devours everybody’s dreams
There’s a fire that burns the world clean

There’s hope you carry in your heart
And it causes all your fear to depart
It makes every new day a brand new start
It’s your own flame that sets you apart

There’s a fire that never burns out
Six billion voices, hear them shout
We’re comin’ for you so you’d better watch out
Because our fire will never burn out…

As you can see, there’s not a whole lot of difference between the first original lyric I wrote and the last one. There are a lot of intellectual highways I drove down in between then and now, but hopefully the tales of those journeys have been expressed in my own voice.

Jim Murray is a writer, art director, communication strategist and producer. He is also a screenwriter, lyricist and editorial columnist. He has spent pretty much all of his adult life in the marketing and communications business and writing all kinds of other stuff. He is basically an all round creative person. He is the father of Star Spider who is also a writer and Dan Murray who is a professional baker and bakery manager. He is extremely proud of both his kids. He has been married to his wife Heather since the time of Jesus. He loves to read spy thrillers. He loves good TV, pro sports and cycling. He is a very tightly wired individual, who always lets his opinions be known. His company is called Onwords & Upwords and the company name is his personal philosophy.

Contact Info & Links

Direct Line: 416 463-3475
Email: jim@onandup.ca or onandup3@gmail.com
Web Site: http://www.onandup.ca
Editorial/Promotional Blog: http://onwordsandupwords.wordpress.com
SME Presentation: http://tinyurl.com/lnrp3fg
LinkedIn Profile: http://tinyurl.com/pxlsvbe
Download my EBook, Small Business Communications For The Real World:
http://tinyurl.com/nqlgtu3

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Poety Publication – Lantern Magazine

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I am so happy to announce the inclusion of my poem ‘Now’ in the wonderful, creative and beautiful Lantern Magazine.

My poem is a part of Issue 10 and was inspired by the breaking of winter and the long awaited emergence of spring.

If you would like to buy a copy of Issue 10 or any other issues on offer, please head to the Lantern Magazine website to order!