Haiku Friday: Sad

HistoriansToday my haiku is from October 30th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Spiritual Seekers, Dreamers, and Other Lovers of Magic & Mystery, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Sad”

even though you’ll die
yes, even that – don’t be sad
gonna be all right

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Ghostwriting Tip: Judgment

Ten Reasons to be a GhostwriterHere’s a story from my ghostwriting life, and the lessons I learned from it. One day a few years ago, I was talking to a friend of mine about the old television series Roots. I remarked that slavery might be dead now in the US, but racism surely was not, and we should be telling the stories of our own time too. Although I was glad to know the histories of the brave people like John Lewis who fought against racism, I would also like to read the stories of those who fought against integration back in the 1960s. You know, those teenagers and twenty-somethings you see in the black-and-white photos, their faces twisted with hatred as they shouted racist insults and tried to prevent children from going to school or from sitting down at a lunch counter. Most of those angry white folks were ordinary people and a lot of them are still alive today, now in their sixties, seventies, or eighties. I’d like to ghostwrite their stories, I said, so I could ask them things like: Did they change their opinions over time? How do they feel when they remember what they believed and what they did? Did they make amends in any way? Or did they just go underground when it became impolitic to hold those views, yet still retain them? What have they told their children or grandchildren about their part in the Civil Rights era? Are their children/grandchildren proud or ashamed of them? How does it feel to know you were on the wrong side of history?

So here was lesson number 1: be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it. It was only a few weeks after I had this private conversation with my friend that I got a call from a prospective client looking for a ghostwriter. Forty years before this person had belonged to racist groups and wanted to write a book about how their views had changed, and why. Just a coincidence? Maybe. Or maybe it’s the spooky nature of ghostwriting.

Here is lesson number 2: I too can be biased, and it doesn’t work well for me either. When you ghostwrite, you cannot judge. Judgment undermines understanding, and if you don’t understand the mindset of your client, you simply cannot write as them. My client’s changes, which were not easy to make, requiring a clear-sighted courage which not many can match, certainly merited praise. But still I found it difficult not to judge them for who they were way back when. My judgements kept creeping in to my writing, and I had to keep editing them out.

This book became one of the most challenging I ever ghostwrote. And one of the most fulfilling.

 

 

Haiku Friday: Time & Space

HistoriansToday my haiku is from October 23rd of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Spiritual Seekers, Dreamers, and Other Lovers of Magic & Mystery, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Time & Space”

the Great Mushroom says
there is no time and no space
except when there is

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Ghostwriting for a Dog: Psychic?

Alex Terri - Oct 19Alex Terrgi here. My human says I am “psychic” because I know what she is thinking before she thinks it. I don’t think psychic means what she thinks it means. It is true that I know what she’s thinking, but this is because she has many “tells”. One is the way her right eyebrow moves when she remembers something cute I did yesterday, so I will look up lovingly into her eyes. If her left eyebrow moves it means she’s thinking about something not-so-cute I did, so I quietly go into another room. Another tell is when she lifts up her big toe on her left foot when she is going to put on her shoes. This means she will be going out so it is my cue to start hinting (which she calls “whining”) that I should go too. Another tell is the way she poofs her mouth when she starting thinking about making my dinner, so then I trot over to my dish. Another is the smell of excitement that comes from under her arms when we’re about to have company. The smell is slightly different – better somehow – when the company is one of her grandchildren. And of course the easiest tell to read is when she closes her eyes. That is my signal to hop on the bed and curl my tail up to my nose.

Nothing psychic about it. Just good observation.

Haiku Friday: Prunes

HistoriansToday my haiku is from October 16th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Spiritual Seekers, Dreamers, and Other Lovers of Magic & Mystery, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Prunes”

prunes and spider webs
appear like magic on skin
when you’re sixty-four

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Ghostwriting: Ghost Lessons

Ten Reasons to be a GhostwriterI have lived many lives in addition to my own. I have heard the best stories, been influenced by the best wisdom, learned life-giving lessons, laughed at the best jokes, had the most fascinating experiences. This is because I have been a ghost for over sixteen years, and have ghostwritten, rewritten, or developmentally edited over sixty books. Wow. Sixty! (And that doesn’t count the books I’ve written for me – fourteen of those. And even that doesn’t count the blogs and the tweets.) So I guess you could say I’ve been hauntingly busy.

I often counsel my clients to write their life story, telling them that what they feel, think, say, and do matters. To them, their families, their communities, to history itself. So now I am taking my own advice and will be writing a new book, tentatively titled My Life As a Ghost, which will share what I’ve learned from all these lives that are not my own. I can’t share the actual stories because they don’t belong to me, but what I’ve learned does.

My method of writing this book will be to write it piecemeal, a chapter at a time, right here in my blog. A couple times a month I’ll share one of those valuable lessons. If you read along, maybe you will learn something too.

Haiku Friday: Cobwebs

HistoriansToday my haiku is from October 9th of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Spiritual Seekers, Dreamers, and Other Lovers of Magic & Mystery, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Cobwebs”

bless instead of curse
even cobwebs throw shadows
and darken your day

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.

Compost: Open Letter to a Dog

Dad&Akeem - Cropped

Instead of ghostwriting for my dog Alex Terrgi today, I am sharing something my father wrote back in 2002, when his beloved dog Akeem (named after pro basketball player Akeem Olajuwon) died. My father was 85 then, and Akeem was the latest in a long line of historic dogs (historic in our family, anyway – I can recount the life stories of dogs who died long before I was born.) I got my love of dogs from my father. Perhaps you will enjoy this letter. It says a lot about Akeem the dog, but even more about my father. And of love.

July 11, 2002

Dear Akeem,

It has been one week since you failed to greet the morning with me in your usually enthusiastic manner. When I came out of my bedroom and saw you lying in your bed unmoving, I thought the worst and then I touched your cold body and knew my long-time friend and associate was dead. There is a Native American saying: “When you left, my heart fell to the ground.” It will take a long time for me to lift my heart back up.

You know I don’t believe in a heaven for a human or a dog, but my brother says all things are possible. “You can’t be an atheist,” he said. “You can be an agnostic or a non-believer.” Whoever is right, I will write this letter to you with the realization that if there is a dog heaven, you surely are there. The odds are less than the crows and coyotes joining together and seizing control of the world or the Republican Party.

Many thousands of years ago, a human hunter or caveman bonded with a wolf and realized that if they worked together they could find more food for both the human and wolf families. Then their experiences together probably brought respect and love. I believe the caveman loved his wolf-dog as much as I loved you.

Dogs give unselfish devotion and attention to those they bond with, and man, even with his greater amount of life activities cannot give back nearly as much time or devotion. You accepted whatever time I could give you, and were constantly at my side sharing experiences.

Akeem, what I am about to write to you would not be understood by people who don’t have dogs and know the companionship a dog can give. They might think this old man is a bit dotty and is losing it. Anyhow when I found you lying in your bed, I said, “It is time. You are a very old dog for a Doberman and you will no longer feel the troubling pain of arthritic hips.” A lump formed in my throat but I said, “I have seen a lot of deaths during my lifetime, and besides tough old men don’t cry.” So I went out and got the paper from the box, as you and I have done a thousand times, fixed my breakfast, started to read the paper, took two bites of cantaloupe, and then began to blubber like a baby with bad milk in its bottle. When I got myself under control, I called my son, told him of your death and then lost it again. I realized that you were better off and I was only feeling sorry for myself in losing a very close friend.

During this past week, hundreds of activities around the home have reminded me of our relationship. Mornings were our special time. We both enjoyed the early mornings and while I went out to get the paper, you would run full speed out to the back garden and then full speed to the front yard. If no lions, tigers, or squirrels were found, you would come in for your breakfast. After I fixed and ate my breakfast, I would give you a piece of toast piled high with raspberry jam. Some mornings I would hide small pieces of food around the kitchen and see if you could find them. You enjoyed that.

You did have a sense of humor. Sometimes you would try to keep me from getting out of the swimming pool, by standing on the top step growling and showing your teeth. I would then grab you, rough you up a bit, and then you’d go away happy. Sometimes when I grabbed the edge of the pool, you’d reach down and grab my hand. This would startle me and I’d react; then you’d back away with a satisfied smirk on your face. I know you were laughing because all those skin wrinkles around your jaws got very deep.

You seldom talked to me but you often had long conversations with my wife. You made strong noises but used great enthusiasm in your discussions. You understood a lot of what we said to you, but we were never smart enough to understand your replies.

Akeem, you were not always law-abiding. Sometimes you’d open the bread drawer, seize a loaf of bread, and go off into the woods for a picnic. You never took along butter, raspberry jam, or bologna. I guess you could picnic on bread alone. You seemed to estimate how much troubled you’d get into if you stole a cookie from a child or an apple from the coffee table. Sometimes you thought the food was worth the punishment.

You were my supervisor while we worked in the garden. You didn’t do much work yourself, but you did enjoy the results of my labor. During raspberry and strawberry seasons, I’d pick handfuls and feed them to you. At times I even allowed you to pick your own apple from the tree. You loved carrots the best, and I was always amazed how you’d surgically cut the green tops from the edible parts.

Akeem, my dog, my friend, I don’t fully understand a man’s love for his dog, or a dog’s love for a man. I know I enjoyed our relationship tremendously and life for me will not be as good now that you are gone. I do know that you should end up in heaven. Heaven would be a hell of a place if dogs like you were not allowed.

Love,
ADP

Note from me, ADP’s daughter: My father died in 2011 at the age of 94. If there is a heaven, I suspect he and Akeem are now together enjoying raspberry jam and playing swimming pool jokes on each other.

Haiku Friday: Waiting

HistoriansToday my haiku is from October 2nd of my book A Haiku Book of Days for Spiritual Seekers, Dreamers, and Other Lovers of Magic & Mystery, one of a 7-book series. The topic for today is: “Waiting”

if you wait too long
wide open doors gently close
“too bad” say the gods

It’s Haiku Friday again. For the past twenty years or so, it has been my practice to write one haiku every day. Every Friday I share a haiku here, about whatever topic I happen to choose. I invite you to write a haiku on this topic too, and share it with me and the readers of this blog. Just write it in the Comments below. The only rules are: 1) your haiku must be about the named topic; 2) you must follow the 5-7-5 syllable format; 3) no obscenities or hate (I will delete those). That’s it.

You can purchase this book on Amazon here.