I am an emerging fiction writer living in Chicago. While I am a Luddite, I am using the forum because I love to meet new people, especially fellow artists, and learn new things.

Anyone interested in reading my published work can access it through the link under the My Web Site header on this blog. My short story "Life Goes on Without Me" recently won an honorable mention from Conclave: A Journal of Chracter's 2009 Fiction Contest. I am currently working on a novel, new short stories, and a creative non-fiction essay. My friend T.E. Russell has encouraged me to write a screenplay.

And as always, I am still submitting, submitting, submitting.

I look forward to meeting and reading from you.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

"Saint" Thomas Merton

Thomas Merton Icon Pictures, Images and Photos

Since June 6, I have read a lot of spiritual books, but none has touched me more than the work of Thomas Merton. A Franciscan Friar I am friendly with at Saint Peter's in the Loop introduced me to Thomas Merton a couple of years ago. In a documentary entitled Merton: A Film Biography, one of the interviewees said when a person reads a work of Thomas Merton that person will become addicted. I second that.

Like me, Father Louis (Merton's religious name) grew up in a secular household and environment. Like me, he knew from childhood that he wanted to become a writer. Like me, Merton committed acts in his childhood and young adulthood that shamed him. And like me, God always haunted him.

Merton's writing would be welcome to any person no matter his or her spiritual leanings or lack thereof. So far I have read The Seven Storey Mountain, No Man Is an Island, and a collection of his work on writing taken from his books, essays, journals, and letters entitled Echoing Silence.

Merton's writing and spirituality matured from TSSM. Perhaps the biggest lesson I have learned and am working to ingrain within me is being silent. This helps writing and, of course, becoming closer to God.

Rereading Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca

As a child and a teenager, I spent summers with my late beloved godmother. She loved old movies in addition to being a bibliophile. I first saw Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca with her the summer I turned fourteen. I loved the movie, and she said I had to read the book, which was very different from the movie and better.

How right she was. Hitchcock had cinematic style, but De Maurier's prose not only created a story with depth and resonance but also showcased a skill in dramatic story telling. I read the book again in college and again in my early twenties. I just finished reading the novel again in my late thirties, and it still remains brilliant.

Life and maturity have changed the book's impact each time I have read it; I have learned not only more about fiction's craft and art but about myself. The 1997 version featured an actress who more embodied my vision of the the novel's unnamed narrator who I identified with in terms of her shyness and insecurity. A skillful writer, Du Maurier brilliantly chose to create a narrator that would allow Rebecca's ghost to overpower her own personality.