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The Elephant Talks to GOD About a Violent Storm

From: The Elephant Talks To God

The elephant surveyed the remnants of shattered trees, the gouged earth, and the still turbulent waves.

“You know,” he said, looking up at the storm cloud hovering overhead, “A herd of us on the rampage have got nothing on you, when the mood strikes. You trying to tear down in one night what it took seven days to create?”

“Six days,” noted the cloud. “On the seventh … “

” … day you rested,” finished the elephant. “You gotta be patient with us lumbering beasts; after all, you didn’t give us fingers so we could count.”

“But I did give you memories.” said the cloud.

“I know,” said the elephant. “I haven’t forgotten.”

“And this display,” added God, “Looks far worse than it is.

Natural forces occur to keep my earth in a happy balance. Life is already reviving and reasserting itself.”

“Could you not be a bit more gentle?”

“My winds must go somewhere,” said God. “As you already mentioned, even elephants go upon the occasional rampage.”

“I’ve never done anything like this,” said the elephant.

“You’ve not seen yourself from the ant’s point of view,” answered God.

Ghost Stories Wait For Me To Walk Past

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Yesterday, on the penultimate day before All Hallows, I was out for my evening walk k, going at dusk to take in the Halloween decorations. And, many there were. The most pleasing (even more than the wedding dress hanging from a tree as if a Ghost)was a pair of skull chandeliers, gracing either side of a Bay window in a brick house. It’s true, I might not have entered.

On my return circuit, I passed one of those small wooden frame libraries which have sprung up in may cities. Looking like a small house, often with a glass pane door, there are usually three shelves which hold books. I’d guess usually 100 – 150 books. The books are donated by anyone who wants to give their books a second chance, and a person can take from them what they want. But last night, there it swung. I went to close and latch it, but thought I’d look in at the books. And there, facing out instead of spine to, was:

The Literary Ghost: Great Contemporary Ghost Stories

edited by Larry Dark, Other Atlantic Monthly Press 1991. The book blurb states:“…28 subtly disturbing, enigmatic modern tales are distinguished by global settings, some memorable ghostly narrators and the depiction of various religious beliefs about the spirit world:” Among the authors are Muriel Spark, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Joyce Carol Oates,Graham Greene, Robertson Davies and Nadine Gordimer

I do like to think I can take a hint.

I closed and latched the door, and brought the book home.

Killing All My Pretty Darlings As The Edit Gathers Steam

I am ripping my five-year-in-the-making novel apart in the edit. I do so love editing. Dialogue, descriptions, witty comments, all get turfed with abandon. They were great fun to write, but they don’t fit the novel now.

Don’t stop me before I kill again. **Mad Cackle**

The following is a brief example of what gets tossed asunder. My characters are visiting a Police Museum.

They leave the first room, cross the hall, and enter the second. Whereas most of the exhibits in the other room dealt with criminals and their crimes, here the displays concentrated on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there did not seem to be a definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set out in chronological order. There is some overlap, so not all are exact decade by decade. But most of the display segments do not stray by more than ten years, and are not forced into uniform-sized display footage.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in the contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

“Then we will miss the ship.”

The paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty-looking. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“That it does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“Well, I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“Yes. And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’d be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one.” Says Amanda, “And I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So’s my singing,” says Amanda.

Unbeknownst to them, as they have been chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opened near the display of uniforms on manikins. A stout yet still powerfully-built man steps though. He stands amidst the manikins for a minute, realizing that he has not been heard. He decides he had better announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And here is the edit.

They cross the hall and enter the second room. Here the displays concentrate on the police force and policing itself.

In the first room there was no definite pattern to the displays. Here, things are set in chronological order.

“Which direction do you want to go?” asks Alison Alexandra.

“I’m more interested in contemporary things.” Amanda points. “Except for that.”

“The Paddy Wagon?”

“Yes. Let’s go see it. Maybe we can get inside.”

“Maybe we’ll get arrested if we get inside.”

“Maybe they’ll take us away.”

The Paddy Wagon is a black box of a vehicle, large and hefty. It is in the middle of the room, so visitors can walk around it. When they approach, they see it is on a raised platform, and each wheel rests on a metal plate.

“That looks to be the real deal,” says Amanda.

“It does.” Alison Alexandra looks at the license plate. “It was on the streets in 1948.”

“Do you think it has been restored?”

“I’m guessing it was solidly built at the time.” Alison Alexandra gives the back doors a thwack. “After all, it was a mobile prison.”

“Full of miscreants,” says Amanda.

“And no doubt rowdy.”

“If we get locked in, do you think we’ll be rowdy?”

“Goes with the territory.”

“We could sing.”

“Sing and catcall,” says Alison Alexandra.

“You could do one,”says Amanda, “I could do the other.”

“Mix it up.”

“Yes.”

“That would confuse the coppers.”

“They’d beat their nightsticks on the walls,” says Alison Alexandra.

“Maybe they would beat rhythm to our singing,” says Amanda.

“We could break out in “They call the wind Maria’.”

“’The Black Maria’,” says Amanda.

“I see you understand two part harmony.”

“And if I don’t,” says Amanda, “You could beat out a few bars.”

“That’s criminal.”

“So is my singing,” says Amanda.

 As they were chatting, and peering into the windows of the vehicle, a door opens near the display of uniforms on mannequins. A stout, yet still powerfully-built, man steps through. He stands amidst the mannequins for a minute, realizing he has not been heard. He decides to announce himself, before he frightens anyone.

“Now you two ladies are not going to be troublemakers, are you?”

God And The Elephant Talk About Beauty

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    The elephant was standing in the rain, enjoying the rivulets which streamed along the creases of his skin.

     It was cleansing and refreshing, and he occasionally flapped his huge ears, causing a small waterfall. The birds and monkeys kept a safe distance.

     “You’ll be creating your own weather system,” said the cloud, which was part of the larger cloud covering the whole sky. “Trunk squalls and violent ear showers.”

     “Just a portion of your abilities,” said the elephant.

     “Part of something is part of everything,” said the cloud. “I don’t do my works on my own.”

     “A humble part,” said the elephant.

     “Humble neither in might nor main,” said God. “That would be the estimation of most of my species – both animal and plant.”

     “I feel humble.”

     “You are humble,” said God. “But I don’t want you to feel humble.”

     “Excuse me?”

     “I want you to realize how wonderful, how exciting, how important – how equal – everything around you is. The blade of grass you eat; the stream from which you drink; the ants under your feet who keep the earth healthy; the butterflies who make the plants grow.”

     “The butterflies are beautiful.”

     “They’re all beautiful.”

     “I’m not so sure about the ants,” said the elephant.

     “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” said God. “And I behold everything.”

A Hurricane, The Elephant, And God

The elephant was lost to the wind.

He stood foursquare against the tumult, head lowered as if ready to charge. It wrapped his body in its flags and banners, and then as quickly ripped them away. He had to close his eyes in some of the gusts, and occasionally his tail stuck straight out behind.     Many of the other animals found shelter, and even the monkeys came down to the lower branches of their trees. But the elephant flapped his ears in ecstasy as the wind battered against him, and trumpeted as loudly as the rowdydow would permit.

“I hear you,” said a frolicking cloud, as it whipped past his head. It turned a summersault back over the elephant’s back, and positioned itself with much dexterity in the elephant’s line of vision. “And I hazard the guess I’m the only one who can.”

“It’s like flying.”

“Now, now. You’ve tried that before.”

“But I’m staying on the ground, this time.”

“Well,” conceded God. “You’re standing on the ground. And it’s probable you will be staying on the ground. But, as you know, nothing in life is certain.”

“It certainly isn’t,” agreed the elephant, who then attempted to nod his head in agreement. But the wind took a particular bend, and not only could he not nod his head, but his trunk got thrown back into his face, hitting him in the eye.

“Ouch,” said the elephant.

“A cautionary God,” said God, “would go `tsk tsk’, and tell you to come in out of the wind.”

“And is that what you’re going to tell me,” shouted the elephant over the roar.

“God, no,” said God. “This is great stuff.”

“You’re a reckless God, then?” asked the elephant.

“Reckless. And cautious. There is a time for both. There is a need for both. Life demands that you run with it. And sometimes you run scared, and sometimes you run joyful.” The cloud was now tangled in the elephant’s tusks. ” And sometimes you get so caught up in it all that you can’t tell the difference.” The cloud shouted. “And sometimes you get hit in the eye. And sometimes you don’t.”

“And sometimes both,” suggested the elephant.

“You’re catching on.”

“But to you,” protested the elephant. “It is all so simple.”

“But …” The cloud sounded perplexed. “It is as simple as it sounds. Everything is everything. What you seem to do is pay too much attention to the individual parts. Concentrate on the whole.”

“I can hardly think of everything when I’m in the middle of this.”

“This is the perfect place.” The cloud played tag with the elephant’s ears. “Race with it. Race with it. Race with it. You

will never dance a better dance than here. With me.”

And the elephant watched the cloud tumble around his head, and bounce against his back, and twist around his tail.

And the elephant laughed, and laughed so loud that it broke through even the racing wind, and made the other animals peek from their shelters to watch.

And the elephant bobbed and weaved with the cloud, and the cloud held the elephant in a wispy embrace, and the wind turned to music.

Author Interview w/ CBC

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1. What unique challenges do you face when writing about serious
non-fiction issues such as religion?

I WRITE about spiritual matters and leave religion to others. The spirit and its quests drive religion – religion just interprets. The biggest challenge I faced in THE ELEPHANT TALKS TO GOD is that the Elephant started asking questions I could not answer. Thus endeth the book.

2. You wrote The Elephant Talks to God in 1989. Why did you decide to
re-release it with the added stories rather than write a sequel?

THIS WAS the decision of the publisher, Goose Lane. When they approached me for a re-issue they were unaware of the additional stories. It was decided the marketplace would prefer one longer book over two shorter ones. Having just one book also reduced production costs, which in turn reduced consumer cost.

3. Why did you decide to become a writer?

“I WAS born like this, I had no choice, I was born with the gift of a golden voice.” This quote from Leonard Cohen sums it up. Not “born” this way exactly, but within one month in grade eleven I went from ‘no writing’ to ‘continually writing’. I have no explanation. I had no previous interest nor inclination toward the arts, or writing. I was not a reader, and only after university deliberately read such children’s classics as Black Beauty and Alice in Wonderland.

4. What books or authors have most influenced your life?

POSSIBLY P.G. WODEHOUSE was the most influential author in my formative period. I even sent him a fan letter and received a response. In university I experienced Franz Kafka, and I believe I have read everything of his in print. Much later I visited Prague to research a novel I have since written about him. There are reports of ‘missing’ stories and diaries of Kafka still in Berlin, which I would dearly love to find.

5. What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good
writing?

SURPRISE, HUMOUR and reality. ‘In context’ (it doesn’t matter what the genre) I want to be surprised by what is happening, yet fully believe in the reality created in the book. And somewhere, at least once, every character in every novel should make me laugh at least once.

6. What are you reading right now?

“WICKED” BY Gregory Maguire. His abilities as a writer astound me. I am a slow reader, and seemingly getting slower. Soon (?) to be read will be Alice Munro’s “The View from Castle Rock ” and John LeCarre’s “The Mission Song”, both requested Christmas presents. I also do a lot of research for my novels, and will embark upon histories of China in the near future.

7. What advice would you give to writers starting out?

I HAVE two steadfast rules, one put into rhyme. “When in doubt/take it out.” Regardless of the wonder of the poetic line, or the awe of the slice of dialogue, if you have any questions about its effectiveness, that is reason enough to remove it.
The other concerns the physical writing itself. At the end of your writing day, and you know what the next line of dialogue is, or the description you are going to write, or the next line of the poem – DON”T write them down. Start with them the next day, and you will quickly get back into the writing. I find this works 90% of the time.

8. Describe your writing process.

I’M A morning writer, roughly from 9:00 until 15:00. There’s a meal in there, and research and email and such, but I will generally complete two pages a day. I generally write seven or eight days straight and then take one off. At the start of a novel I have a well developed outline and characters, though I rarely write such things down. I find that at the end of a novel I spend an additional third of the writing time editing what is done. I usually complete a novel in two years.

9. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome
it?

THREE MONTHS of writer’s block during my second novel has (so far) been my experience with this curse (knock knock knock on wood). I sat at the desk literally for hours per day attempting to continue. I think I wrote five paragraphs in that time. I know of no way to overcome it other than attempting to write each day. My number two tip in question #7 will help in avoiding writer’s block.

10. Naturally, most writer want as many people as possible to read
their work. Who did you have in mind when you were writing this book,
the “believers” or the “non-believers”?

BRITISH PUBLISHER Joseph Dent introduced “Everyman’s Library” in the early 1900’s (which is now published by Random House UK). As my mother was from England and my father was a proud UEL, there were many of these books when I was growing up. Everyman’s Library had a motto at the beginning of each book: “Everyman, I will go with thee/and be thy guide,/ in thy most need/ to go by thy side.”
This is what came to mind when thinking of who I write for. I did not write for either believers or non-believers. I wrote for everyone, and my job is to make them both accept that the The Elephant believes. 

The Elephant Talks To God

As Kafka Tip Toes Past While You Sleep

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In my novel about Franz Kafka, where I fill in his “missing” diary entries, I create many dreams, because Kafka often recounted his dreams. For a recent blog, I searched the ether world for an image that included Kafka & Dreams. To my surprise, a quote came up, by Kafka, that I never came across before. Even with its doubtful provenance, I used it.
I later tried to track down the quote, and it seems this source is the only source. A monograph called Franz Kafka by Franz Baumer. But it is such a Kafka-like comment, I’ll take it.
Also, in hunting for this source, I came across a site called ‘Fuck Yeah Franz Kafka. Which is an attitude I much admire.
The Kafka story and quote:
“Once while visiting his friend Max Brod, young Kafka awakened Brod’s father, who was asleep on a couch. Instead of apologizing, Kafka gently motioned him to relax, advanced through the room on tiptoe, and said softly: “Please – consider me a dream.”’ from Franz Kafka by Franz Baumer
The unrelated site:
Jan 9, 2019 – Where people come together to celebrate the greatest author of the 20th century.

Reality/Un/Dis // Fact/You/All /// DDD /// Ghost

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I have a *new* message

From a “ghostwriter”

Who

Whom(?)

Will make my BOOK

look

BRILLIANT

Will this give me

A ghost of a chance?

{Image} https:/cdn.writermag.com/2017/10/shutterstock_715257643.jpg

No Giller Prize For Margaret Atwood … Or Me

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Much literary note has been taken that, although Margaret Atwood has won (jointly) her second Booker Award (for The Testaments), she was not even a finalist for the most prestigious (and lucrative) book award in Canada – The Giller. In some small way I can feel her pain (if, indeed, she cares at all).

I was in the fancy downtown Library a few days ago. When I left, I took a different route than usual. On the non-street side of the library, for its whole length, there is a walk/bike/delivery area. Down at the auditorium end, three chaps were unloading a van. I was surprised when one of the men smiled and waved at me.

He is a musician acquaintance who – oddly – I come across in similar circumstances, at other places, two or three times a year. This time he and his mates were unloading their equipment for a gig later in the evening at the library. They were going to play ‘background’ music for an event concerning the Giller Prize.

I have since looked it up on Google. It appears the Giller finalists are being presented at a half dozen venues across Canada, to be part of some type of panel about writing.

Anyway, while explaining what they were doing there, he told me he was so out of touch with Canada’s literary world, that he wondered if I was there because I was a finalist for the Giller, and on the panel.

I believe that we were both disappointed.

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