The Man Behind the Curtain

I care about the origins of everything!

That is one of the many truths I want to discover. That’s what I want to write about because that is what matters to me.

How did it all begin?

Where did it all come from?

When was the universe born?

Are we alone in the cosmos, from a spiritual standpoint?

Who is God? What is God? Where is God?

Does the universe exist because of God? Does God exist because we exist within this universe?

How is it that within the infinite possibilities of how we could have evolved from single-celled organisms, we came to be as we are?

More-to-the-point, of the many ways my mind could have grown, how did I come to be a writer, a poet, an artist, a sculptor, a thinker, a romantic… a dreamer?

I have always been a dreamer, I always will be.

As a child, I seldom focused on my studies. Instead I often wandered into a daydream, losing myself in the realm of infinite possibilities where anything could happen and usually, something incredible did.

Hardly any effort was required when I journeyed into that space between sleep and awake. Now, however, now that my mind is flooded with sensibilities, now that I have a greater understanding of the laws of physics, now that I choose my words carefully and draw upon my internal thesaurus for a clever play on words… now is when I struggle!

I struggle with translating my visions into a story on paper (or screen).

I attempt to wiggle my way back into a creative trance to find that imaginative memory, but I fail miserably sometimes and I think that may be because I think too much about the process.

I worry when I’m not writing. I worry that I’m not writing because I know that I should be writing every day! I should be tapping into my whimsical well for a few buckets of inspired musings on a daily basis. I should be swirling -within those literary liquids- the colors of creativity, and painting pictures on the canvas that is a blank sheet of paper (or screen) creating my universe and its unique history!

Oh, but how I struggle. How I struggle sometimes to find my rhythm. How I struggle to feel the words flow freely from within the walls of my mind.

I don’t force it. I never force it, because I find that can be counter-productive.

Instead, I read.

I read through the numerous books of mythologies I have that reveal the tales of many cultures. I read through my dictionaries of ancient deities, angels, and fallen angels. I travel back in time to read about the lost civilizations, forgotten folklore and primitive religions. I do this because this is how I wander into a meditative state where my mind opens up, my soul unravels, and my imagination is unleashed. This is how I find myself in the athlete’s equivalent of being “in a zone.”

Trouble is, it isn’t always as easy as it seems (or as easy as one would like it to be) and the frustration begins to set in. Hours turn into days and days turn into weeks before I realize that months have passed since I last wrote anything I’m satisfied with reading.

Whereas I wrote practically every day for most of a summer when I penned Dear Love: Diary of a Man’s Desire, and The Romantic a few years later. The eloquence of my prose is proof that the habit of writing on a daily basis improves one’s imaginative production. I made a HUGE mistake by failing to continue writing once I published and released both of those books!

At the time, I decided to focus on promoting Dear Love, and querying agents for The Romantic that I felt as though I had fallen out of my whimsical wormhole, mid-journey, and struggled to get back on track.

Not good.

In writing, creative writing, to be more precise, it’s a general rule of thumb that a writer MUST write -without exception- EVERY DAY! There’s no two-ways-about-it, because finding your way into your own personal Room of Requirement is difficult enough as it is, that to leave that realm and try to find your way back is akin to finding a contact lens on a wet, black surface while it’s still drizzling…at night!

Hence, My current dilemma…

After completing a mystery thriller, and then a MG fantasy, and then making my way through half of a third manuscript (a cozy mystery) I’ve struggled with writing while maximizing visitations with my children, working long hours, and dealing with the news of impending layoffs in the next six months.

I’ve written a little… as evidenced by my few-blog posts and the 40,000 words of my latest WIP, but that’s not nearly enough because I have an epic within me that I must share with the world. I’m certain that I could gamble with my life and still live because I’m destined to write this story.

Truly.

I can’t -NOT- think about my characters or their “lives,” and their journey, because every aspect of their existence is an extension of me. It’s as though I have tiny ideas that continue to circulate around the galaxy of my inner being, like comets that return along the region of my night sky and inspire my imagination.

I can’t avoid it so that’s a good sign.

Yet, the challenge, the frustration is in squeezing in the time to write. Technically, I’m not allowed to make any excuses because a writer should write, no mater what, but life encroaches on that personal space where I need enough elbowroom to settle into a comfortable position and dream. Though in the meantime, I find myself beyond my comfort zone.

It’s no fun to endure this because I like to dream… I NEED to dream. Then I want to translate those dreams for the world to see with their own imagination!

I have this incessant need to tell my stories, to let future generations know I was here… or perhaps these stories aren’t even mine to begin with. After all, my epic historical fantasy is merely a retelling of human and mythological history that weaves together every aspect of our existence into one giant quilt.

What if this story truly belongs to the universe? What if it has been swimming through the sea of our subconscious for centuries, trying desperately to emerge from the shadows of the storyteller’s soul, but continues to be misinterpreted, or only partially revealed?

One day, several years ago, I was struck with this idea to connect the proverbial dots and explain how all of our legends came to be because I felt that it was my way of “explaining” the mysteries of the unknown to myself.

Now, I can’t help but wonder if this story that stirs within me is a secret that feels the need to emerge and I am merely the conduit through which it will resurface from the whispers of my subconscious.

It certainly seems plausible from a creative writer’s perspective because it’s not the first time in history that such a revelation has come to pass. However, let me make it clear that I, in no way, mean to pass myself off as some sort of prophet!

On the contrary, what if storytellers of the past were provided with clues to the creative secrets of the universe and instead of simply sharing the stories to entertain us and revealing the history hidden behind the veil of time, took it upon themselves to glorify their place in the world by proclaiming themselves to be more than what they were, spiritual scribes?

I feel fortunate to live in a time where the network of knowledge is a web of wisdom that makes information readily available for everyone. Having said that, I feel compelled to gather that information, sift through it and piece together the puzzle that will paint the bigger picture for all of us to see, and to enjoy.

Many of us have asked, wondered and prayed to a Supreme Being for answers, for understanding, for an explanation of how the beginning came to pass and how it may all end. We do this because we possess an innate curiosity that forces us to look out into the night sky, and in to the depths of our soul for something more than we already know.

Which begs the question: Why do we only look to the sky for answers at night?

Is it because we know the secrets are hidden in the darkness?

I daresay this is why we read stories.

Perhaps the world we live in -the universe in which we exist- as fascinating as it is sometimes isn’t enough. So, we prefer to lose ourselves for a few hours at a time in a fantastical story that pulls us away from the immediate dangers and responsibilities of our realm.

Taking us to a place where things will turn out right, where the boy gets the girl, where the good guy defeats the villain, and where karma catches up to the wrong-doers of the world.

I like to escape from time-to-time but not just as a reader. I also enjoy creating the stories because in some strange sense, I get to be the first one to make that journey, to confront that villain, to know that secret, and to make it out alive!

I get to know how the story begins; I am able to dictate where the history comes from and how it will all end. Through my dreams, and my creative translations, I am able to figure out why we exist as we do, who God is, and where God is. I’m allowed to write my own version of the truth for the sake of fiction because it simply has to be believable enough to keep your interest and adventurous enough to draw you in.

I’ll read and read and read in order to fall into my creative trance, float through the realm of fantasy and allow the story to flow through me.

I like to think these stories come to me from some unknown sea of dreams and found the stream of thought that is my imagination. Inspiring me to ask more questions in my quest to better understand the origins of everything and what it all means.

This is how I get to journey down the proverbial “yellow brick road” of my creativity, make new friends along the way (the characters I create) and eventually find my way back home.

I’ll seek out the Wizard of wizards who is believed to have all the answers, and ask Him why things are the way they are, and how I came to be the man I am today.

Do I exist because of the words I write, or will the words I write exist because of me? If He won’t reveal that Truth to me, then I’ll pay no attention to the Man Behind the Curtain; I’ll simply write my own version of how things happened, I’ll weave this comforter of mythologies and lost civilizations that will rest on the bed of my imagination and I’ll lie there alone to dream under that blanket about what should have been, what might have been, and what may have yet to be!

I’ll do this for my kiddies. I’ll do this for myself. I’ll even do it for you.

Above all else, I’ll do it because I’m curious about everything and I’m passionate about writing.

“The fish trap exists because of the fish. Once you’ve gotten the fish you can forget the trap. The rabbit snare exists because of the rabbit. Once you’ve gotten the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words exist because of meaning. Once you’ve gotten the meaning, you can forget the words. Where can I find a man who has forgotten words so I can talk with him?” ~Chuang Tzu

The Inner Voice

I know I’m not crazy!

When I first wrote my epic Sci-Fi novel people often asked me what inspired me to write it.

At the heart of the equation, the answer still lies within the question.

I was inspired!

One summer day, eleven-years ago, I was driving to work when the concept of the story first came to me. I cruised along on the freeway and glanced up at the heavens. The sky was a perfect hue of blue accompanied by gleaming white clouds.

You know, the ones that if you stare at them long enough you might actually see faces, or images, or whatever your imagination conjures.

In my case I saw floating cities and towering mountains in the sky. Those hovering skylands were inhabited by people who watched us from above, but not in the celestial heaven sort of way. Rather the clouds were cloaks for something a bit more sinister, or fantastic.

I still recall the precise moment when I gazed at the clouds and asked myself the all-important “what if” question.

“What if aliens had indeed come to Earth during ancient times? What if they’ve been returning periodically to check-in on our evolutionary progress?”

But then, the “what if” of all what ifs bubbled to the surface of my creative stew. The one that pretty much sealed the deal & spurned me on the journey that changed me as a writer. The decisive first step that contributed to my own evolution & spiritual growth.

I asked, “what if there was an element of truth in all of the worlds religions/mythologies. What if there was a way to piece together their most important moments, in chronological order to reveal the truth behind not only our forgotten past, but our place in the universe?”

When the ingredients of these “what ifs” began to blend into each other I realized that perhaps I could recount history with a twist. Here was my one chance to fuse together two of the subjects that stirred my curious nature in ways nothing else did: religion & science, Creation & Evolution, the beginning & everything that followed.

I’ve always believed in God (at least as far back as I can recall) however I’ve always felt there was more to our existence than what I learned in Sunday school. What I’m trying to say is that I always knew there was more to the story!

Believe it or not, but based on the teachings from certain churches my mother had us attend when we were kids I was under the impression that EVERYONE who did not believe in Christ as their Lord & Savior was doomed to an “eternity in hell!”

Yes, you read that correctly.

I vividly recall being at the grocery story with my mother when I was thirteen and I suddenly thought about my baby brother (only a few weeks old at the time) & I said to my mother that we needed to get him baptized as soon as possible, that he needed to be “saved” to ensure that regardless of what happened to him, he’d be guaranteed a spot in heaven.

I was genuinely afraid that he remained “unprotected” by the grace of God.

I believed that because that was the “truth” that had lain at my feet.

As I matured, I wondered about the numerous generations of humans that lived before the time of Christ and the many more who have lived since the first millennium in other parts of the world where the gospel had not reached them and I wondered whether they too were doomed to eternal damnation as believers of other faiths.

I thought, Wow! That sure is an awful way for an ever-loving and merciful God to treat His children when he only sent His messengers to specific parts of the world during a small window in the vastness of time.

I began to ask questions. My inner nature emerged and my curiosity got the best of me. On warm summer nights I often sat on my front lawn and stared at the heavens. I connected the “dots” of the constellations and wondered, “What else is out there?” “Are there other planets capable of sustaining life?” “Could there in fact be life on those other planets?” “How close or distant are they?”

Concurrently, other questions rose to the surface of my consciousness. Questions that revolved around telepathy, telekinesis, ghosts, angels, demons, science fiction vs science fact, the spirit/soul that lied within us… heaven, hell, wizards/witches and how all of these things have unknowingly weaved together our vast history and our collective existence as a species.

When I decided to piece together this jigsaw puzzle that is the human experience, I realized I had to do some research (a lot of it) and that’s when the fun truly began.

My thirst for spiritual knowledge and history allowed me to immerse myself in the oceans of our past. I swam through the pages of history, through volumes of ancient cultures and drowned myself in the depths of world mythologies/religions in a way I had no idea was humanly possible.

The deeper I delved the further back in time I traveled.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to learn!

Suddenly a story that was supposed to begin with the mythological themes of ancient Greece and Rome was reaching beyond the times of Egypt into the eras and lands of India and Mesopotamia; where essentially it all began…sorta’.

I certainly could have fed my curiosity sooner and with greater satisfaction had I taken an interest in reading when I was younger, but instead I lost myself on the numerous documentaries that aired on the Discovery and History channels.

Suffice it to say that when time permits I continue to thoroughly enjoy the informative programs that fuel the speculation of what gnaws at our need-to-know while carefully pulling back the veil of our secrets just enough to keep us guessing, but at least now I am able to differentiate between the speculative fiction and the informative fact.

Still, my creative juices continue stir and be inspired and seasoned with tiny bits of information I didn’t know while I’m reminded of things that I already learned but have merely forgotten. And that is one of the things that has fueled my drive, the hope that readers will read my stories and say to themselves, “Wow, I did not know that,” or “I remember hearing something about that but in the context of this story, it makes more sense.”

I believe that will happen because as I read and researched the earliest accounts of human history that were inscribed on Tablets as-old-as-dirt, I realized that most of what I learned in Sunday school was a burrowed past.

The story of Noah and the Great Flood predates the Bible itself and is documented by cultures the world over. The story of Moses placed in a basket along a great river of the ancient world (the Nile) to be discovered near a palace and raised by the royal family was a legend that had already been around for generations as the story of Sargon the Great. (An infant placed in a reed basket on a great river of the ancient world—the Euphrates—and found by a gardener of the royal palace only to be raised within the palace walls). Coincidentally, they were both of Semitic descent and both altered the history of their peoples.

During my journey into the past, by way of history books and encyclopedias, I learned that religions had existed before the dawn of Judaism and Christianity and after the latter’s emergence as a prominent faith, the others had already had a much greater understanding of our universe than we could have ever imagined.

When I approached cleric after cleric about the origin of God I never received an answer that satisfied my curiosity. The idea that “God has always been” would not suffice, even at the tender age of ten. So imagine my enthusiasm when I began to piece together the jigsaw puzzle of human thought by way of gathered knowledge and teachings that dated back several centuries, millennia, even!

Some contradicted or mirrored others, most completely went against the grain of what I had been taught in church, but there was a recurring theme that resonated among them all, besides the poetic descriptions of The Beginning.

You name it from the mythologies of Sumer, Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, Meso-America, the Celts, Native America, Polynesia, Hinduism, Buddhism, the Abrahamic religions: Judaism/Christianity/Islam by extension there in-fact was a beginning that inspired great storytelling!

A union of powerful and important entities: gods and goddesses, male and female, light and dark, water and wind, space and time…all of these wonderful legends (with the exception being the obvious) there was the understanding that everything was cyclical. The universe, and everything within it, was born and reborn based on a timeline much greater than the concept of time we currently comprehend. Instead of seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years, etc these other traditions viewed the universe in terms of eons!

What I have found to be even more fascinating, thanks in part to my interest in physics, is how science has helped us unravel some of these hidden secrets, much in the same way that: Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, Giordano Bruno, Georges Lemaitre and Einstein have done in centuries past.

(Side note: It is my understanding that Catholic Church has yet to offer an official apology to Giordano Bruno after burning him at the stake for his “crimes,” of which included: the support of the Copernican theory that the Earth, nor the Sun, were at the center of the universe as had once been thought. Adding to his claims that the stars we see at night are similar to our own sun, the plurality of worlds, and the idea of an infinite universe. Couple this with his “approach to mathematics and his application of the spatial paradigms of geometry to language.”

And yes, while his free-thinking did lead him to question the validity of Jesus as God, it is a shame that now in an era where such a view is no longer considered “heresy” in the way it once was, it’s a shame that he remains condemned by a Church that claims forgiveness of all souls shall be decided upon by God.

Note the contradiction?

Yet Galileo, who also supported Copernicus’ view of celestial objects and was also tried by the Inquisition, did receive—after 350 years—an official apology from the Vatican. Not before he was forced to recant and remain on house arrest for the rest of his days in lieu of being burned at the stake.

Kinda makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

Regardless of the inner conflict that continues within me, I remain passionate about learning as much as I can, about achieving a greater understanding of the universe (or multiverse) in which we live, and about my place in the sea of space and time.

This passion fills my soul with an enthusiasm to share what I have learned and the excitement spills over onto my keyboard and subsequently onto the pages of my stories.

I write because I am inspired: inspired to be more than I am, more than some would say I am destined to be. I am inspired because the memories of our ancestors have inspired us all to contemplate our place and our purpose.

I write because my soul wants to do nothing else (save for being a good father and man) and while sometimes I find myself in the swamp of writers block, I tend to stumble upon a word, a sentence, or an important piece of information that reignites the flame of passion that burns in the hearth of my heart.

This is how I came to write my mystery-thriller The Secret of Heaven.

Am I taking a chance here in trying to merge science fiction with science fact, aliens with gods, demons with angels, wizards with wormholes, the physical with the metaphysical?

You bet your sweet- @$$ I am, but it’s a chance I feel with every fiber of my being that I must take because even when I felt the overwhelming burden of bottle-neck of information that once caused me to consider giving up, because perhaps I was taking on a project that was “too ambitious” I quickly realized I could not give up!

A voice screamed at me from inside, perhaps it was the universe talking to me, telling me that I am destined to write these novels and complete each series. A feeling tugged at my soul and guided me over to my laptop and the libraries and gave me the energy to swim through the sea of scientific wonder and into the depths of human history despite very little sleep and long hours to make ends meet while trying to balance time with my life & children…I am unable to stop & I LOVE IT!

I feel fortunate to have been chosen by God (or the universe) to be the one inspired to write my stories. I am filled with ideas and hope that further fuel my ambition to be a part of something more, to leave my mark on this world and hopefully leave the world a better place than it was when I arrived.

How many people can actually say that and sincerely mean it?

That doesn’t make me crazy, does it?

I’m not crazy.

Really, I’m not.

Well, maybe just a little. 😉

“Some people hear their own inner voices with great clarity & they live by what they hear. Such people become crazy…or they become legend.”

~Jim Harrison

A Writer Must Wander

The path of the creative is traveled through the experience of imagination.

Finding that path can be difficult sometimes because writers need silence and solitude to cross the threshold from reality to imagination. But life comes at you fast. It throws you curve balls when you least expect it, and impedes your path with dead ends at the most inopportune times.

Before you know it you find yourself out of sync.

When this happens, there is only one thing I recommend.

Wander.

Wander into the realm of your imagination. Lose yourself in the halls of your heart. You may be surprised at what you will find when you drift into a daydream and are whisked away by the winds of your musing.

As writers…as artists…as creatives we need to do this.

If, for no other reason, than to be inspired!

Shatter the dam of logical thought and let the waters of free association run through you wildly.

Chase after that image of an ancient kingdom that towers commandingly over rolling hills and a peaceful landscape. Pursue the passion of a long-lost love that eludes you like a butterfly on a quiet, sunny afternoon. Swim in the embrace of a fantasy. Hear her whisper and feel her breath caress your soul when she confesses to you that she still remembers the trace of your lips.

Do this, because as writers, our collection of colors comes from the well of our souls. We paint pictures with words. These descriptions, while they don’t have to be an exact re-telling of something we experienced, are capable of helping us paint a portrait for our readers that will trigger a memory of their own, or allow them to willingly lose themselves in the worlds we create.

This is how we connect with our readers, by creating relatable characters.

Lose perspective in order to gain perspective.

Does that make sense?

OK, think of it this way.

Life, nature, everything is cyclical.

Galaxies swirl in the vast ocean of eternity and within these island universes: stars are born; comets follow their paths and return to kiss our night skies in their own time as chaos ensues all around.

Yet, this is where the beauty lies, doesn’t it?

Finding order out of chaos.

I recall one night in the winter of 1998 quite vividly. I left the barracks for a walk when I was stationed in upstate New York. In the still of the night the stars had assumed their place in the sky. I felt lonely and homesick. I was still a kid and I remember the hopelessness that circumnavigated my heart and sunk my hope of ever falling “in” love while in the bay of heartbreak. Words swam to the surface that would later become a poem, and splashed my face to conceal my tears.

I took a walk

On a cold night in the fall,

Stars in the sky

For my wish they twinkle and call

I leave my body

To join the stars in space,

From an eternal distance

I see the sadness on my face…

I permitted myself to wander through a creative wormhole and emerged in another dimension. It was like an astral projection where I saw myself walk with the would-be love of my life. She had eyes as soft as raindrops and her hair lured me in with the sweetest scent. We huddled together, as we walked, holding hands, and talking about nothing. The moment was beautiful.

Had I seen her before?

From where did the vision of her beauty come?

That remains a mystery to me.

I’t’s been said that even the people we see in our dreams are not a creation of our minds, but rather they are the faces we’ve seen in a crowd—at some point in our lives—that our brains remember even when our conscious thoughts forget the memory.

In this particular case, I did not allow conscious thought to interfere and it was a good thing, too!

When writing, when painting, when drawing don’t limit yourself to the rules of reality that confine you to adhere to the laws of physics. This is your chance, as is the case when you lose yourself in your imagination, to cross the threshold of time and space to journey beyond the boundaries of your inner galaxy.

Allow your soul to reveal to you the story that you must tell because it may be exactly the story that someone else needs in order to escape the stress of his or her daily life. After all, don’t we all need to step back sometimes and take a moment alone to recompose ourselves before moving forward?

Daydream, damn it!

Wander aimlessly through the corridors of your mind and the valleys of your heart, and remember that even though life must be lived … every now and again, it’s always good to fall into the clouds of our dreams. That is, after all, why God gave us these eternal horizons of thought.

“Dreams are the royal road to the unconscious.” ~Freud