Friday, June 9, 2017

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS BLEED, Part 1 of 3 -- by Joe Bonadonna

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
 -- Ernest Hemingway.

That's it, in a nutshell. Papa Hemingway was right. No matter what the genre, no matter if it's fiction or non-fiction, writing is hard work. It often takes some soul searching, as well as some deep thought and careful planning. But the results are always the same: you pour your heart and soul into your writing. If you're not, then you're doing something wrong. If you're writing only for the brain, while ignoring the heart, you're doing something wrong, as far as I'm concerned. It's not about the writing and how well something is written — it's about the stories and the characters. I want to feel a story. I want to experience it emotionally as well as mentally. I like to have my feelings manipulated. If an author can make me laugh and cry, make me shudder in fear, then they have succeeded. If they've made me think, made me pause to consider another point of view or something I've never thought of before . . . that's cool. But first, make me feel what the characters are feeling: show me what they are going through, don't tell me.

When you live alone, as I do, you have plenty of time to think. But thinking too much isn't always a good thing. You can get caught up and lost in regrets and memories. Some memories are happy, some sad and painful, some are so poignant you rip your heart to shreds. Then you start feeling, and sometimes feeling isn't always a good thing, because you start feeling things too deeply, and then you fall into pits of sadness and depression, and then often enough, grief takes over and controls your life. For at least seven years, certainly much longer, grief controlled my life. I had to find a way to channel that grief and sadness, to bring good out of it. But how? I didn't know. I was lost.

I am an only child, and although I grew up surrounded by a wealth of cousins and friends, in a lovely middle-class neighborhood, still . . . I always felt there was something missing in my life. Oh, I am blessed, have no doubt about that. Still, when just about all your cousins and friends have siblings, when it's time for you to go home, there is a certain shadow of loneliness that follows you. So I've always been something of a loner, and of a reclusive nature. I guess I was born that way. As a kid I spent a lot of time alone, especially in winter . . . building models, drawing, playing with toy soldiers, watching movies, reading comic books, children's books, paperbacks, and even trying my hand at a bit of writing.

For two decades music and writing stories competed for my attention. Thus, I really didn't have much success with either of them. In 1980 I came close to signing a contract with Bantam Books, but the deal fell through and I lost heart. Still, I continued to dabble with “pen and paper,” as it were. Then, in 1984 I sold two short stories to what we used to call a "fanzine" — amateur magazines that are sort of the ancestors of indie publishing and small press publishers. So I hung up my guitar for good and concentrated on my writing. I even wrote my first screenplay, a musical-comedy based on the place where I was working and the people I worked with: Working Class Heroes, I called it, thanks to John Lennon's wonderful song by the same name. But it went nowhere, and nothing else happened with my writing after that, although I devoted all my spare time to it, sacrificing a lot of social life and even romantic relationships in my pursuit of what I called The Elusive Dream. Still, I continued to write, sweating it out, cursing, and screaming at the gods. All for naught.

But stay tuned. There's more to come next Friday!