Monday, April 28, 2014

A long way this day

A year ago, on this day (April 28, 2013, which fell on a Sunday) I started the journey of writing the second book in The Fable Avenue Saga. I posted an entry highlighting that I was starting the beginning chapter, accompanied by a screen shot. Now I found myself at the end, writing the climax of the story that has a sinister reflection of the first chapter (as if that opening scene wasn't intense enough). It won't be too long now before the writing is complete. From there comes an intense session of editing. Two full rounds of edits will happen, and then we'll submit for a proof. In book form, we'll be able to see what's working, what's not. We'll be able to weed out as many typos (hopefully all of 'em) as possible. Two proof reading rounds will take place, and then book two of this story will see release.

b write black

Monday, April 21, 2014

Purpose 21-37

Right here. Right now. On my birthday, April 21, 2014, I have concluded my fourth and final epic poem. Its story crisscrosses into the narrative of Fable Avenue’s second installment, much the same as my third epic poem (The Son Dial Tone) that ran parallel to the main story in the first book in the series, The Ghost of Gabriel’s Horn. From this point forward, the remaining two books of the Fable Avenue Saga will feature no poetic narratives running parallel with their prose stories. My days of scripting lengthy, epic poems with symbolic heroes and grand, social commentary are over. I was near finishing it yesterday. But I stopped writing, leaving notes on how things should be versed before the end arrives. I wanted to end today on my birthday. Epic poetry writing ends on the day I began. But where did all this epic poem writing begin?

Back in 1997, I came up with the idea of writing an epic poem. I was doing performance poetry, and was starting to get bored with it, from a creative standpoint. It was all the same to me, and I wanted to get back to writing stories, manuscripts. But I didn’t give up on the poetry. It was fun, and was a breath of fresh air to hold cyphers with other inspiring poets (and writers) rather than the lonesome sessions of putting together plots, places, and characters (as fun as those brainstorming sessions can also be). Coming up with concepts, sharing them, and engaging in the occasional battle kept your wits sharpened, and had you constantly thinking creatively on what could be said through a poem, and how it could be expressed (performed or simply written). In a solo brainstorming session, after composing a 7-page poem titled “The Ronin Poet”, I decided to write an epic poem.

To be fair to history, this self-imposed challenge was nothing new to me. As far back as the tenth grade I wanted to write an epic poem, but I needed a concept. The intro chapters to a work I wrote in tenth grade titled “7” were composed of poems. But they sucked really bad. Atrocious is too nice of a word to describe the awful poetry written as that manuscript’s early chapters. When I went to rewrite the work, however, that first chapter (which was a 20-page poem) turned into a 400 page book (prose). Too much was trying to be said in such a short time, and in a terrible, pretentious way (in stanzas).  The other “poetic” chapters were turned into regular prose, and after writing an entire manuscript from the 20-page suck fest of poetry, I resumed rewriting the “7” manuscript. The two pieces would become “books” 5 and 6 in an 8-part series titled The Infinity Cycles.

By 1999, I had four concepts to write from. Again, to be fair to history, all four concepts were a bit of an accident. From the 7-page “Ronin Poet” poem, I knew I could create a story surrounding the character and subject of the piece. I imagined his many adventures, and at the time, there was no social commentary involved. But I would do what I had done for a long time in my life and writing, take from my own life and recreate some situation as a grand, mythological advanture and track the stages of my life. That concept, which had “The Ronin Poet” project without any kind of social commentary, would be saved for…what I’ll call, the hidden “fifth” epic poem. But as I started dealing more with black studies and history, I put mythologizing myself (thank the Lord) aside and went for talking about something worth writing, reading about, and something far more serious.
So concepts came, and this is when the happy accident occurred. I always envisioned The Ronin Poetz to be a short chapbook. But the story expanded, what with all the things black people have been through and all. And though the commentary was intense, there wasn’t enough room for all of it. So I split it up. What couldn’t make The Ronin Poetz would then be a concept for another story. And I didn’t want “sequels” or an epic poem “series”. Each concept would have new characters, and a new focus on the social commentary surrounding black people. There were roughly four concepts, however, that hidden “fifth” was still nagging at me, so I kept it in the pile of ideas. This separating of concepts came as I was composing The Ronin Poetz. I saw what worked and what didn’t work for the particular story I was working with. The many paths I wanted to take the story didn’t always fit. Maa Kheru being captured and enslaved was taking too long. It was cut down and saved for the first act of 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. The scenes dealing with enslavement and spirituals really didn’t fit, and thus went to The Sun Dial Tone. Composing The Ronin Poetz had its share of trials and tribulations, but nothing compared to the publishing (Part 1, Part 2). However, the work was released through The Chosen Publishing in 2002, was pushed through black bookstores, and eventually saw a worldwide release in 2005 (Part 3, Part 4).
I finished The Ronin Poetz in 2000, and I immediately went to work putting together something called "What the Ego Said and How the Id Replied". Sounds very Dr. Seuss. To plagurize myself from an earlier post, I have the first five [scenes of that epic poem] scripted...The idea was so abstract and so personal I didn’t believe anyone but [myself] could connect with it. I still jumped into this venture, despite the unshakable feeling that there was no way I could make this idea fly. And a little ways into it, I realized as much. Fortunately, 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. started taking shape. And the 300+ page poem was completed in a year's time. I believe it was December 2001 where the poem came to an end, but to this day, it's been collecting dust on the shelf. I haven't found the time to put it through pubishing, or considered what would be the proper time to do it. All my works that have been published thus far have become obstacles for getting out 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. But I've put my sights on February 2015 for the publishing date. I do have to go through it an iron out some concepts, as I've grown and either no longer believe in some things, or have come to realize others, and some concepts then need extending. Some January 2008 entries in this blog go into greater detail of the story and subject matter for 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z (Epic Poetry. Epic Too, Racist Commentary, 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z.). After finishing 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z., I thought about going back to What the Ego Said and How the Id Replied. But inspiration didn't hit me to do so. I moved on.
From 2002 to 2004 I started composing the third epic poem, and at this point, there was no intentions to pair it with The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn (which was being written as a simple, short screenplay, and its story was not attached to the Fable Avenue Saga, which was being scripted as a graphic novel called The Nu Ancients). Before writing the poem, I emersed myself in music, its origins, and in the period of African enslavement in America. I stuided close Negro Spirituals, and all the music that blossomed from the hardships of African-Americans. Jazz, blues, gospel, rock, funk, hip hop. I started expanding the small notes I had written while putting together the final touches on The Ronin Poetz story. For this third epic poem, what was composed first was not the opening scene. This mirrored how 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. was composed. The first scene in the third act for 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. was composed first, but, I wouldn't know that at the time. I realized I needed some background story for the main character, Kham Noize. It was supposed to be a simple two or three page sum up on where he'd come from. That turned into the first two acts of the story, which by page count, dominates the third act where I began composing. The Son Dial Tone was not that intense, but I realized I wanted some explanation to the hero's lineage. It was here that I experimented with past lives, and Mother Harmony and Father Voice showcased that there love's spanned lifetimes. And as he was growing in the womb, and reading the hieroglyphs etched on the inside of his mother's belly, Mojuba Kimoyo would understand what love and freedom was. This would be the source of his strength when rebelling against his enslavement in America. In 2006, I lost the notebook that had composed within its wire-bound pages, the first two scenes. Luckily, the more complex poetry written within those scenes was taken from a notebook still in my possession, so all was not lost...even if I was pissed as hell.
Up to this time, there was still no plan for my third epic poem to coexist with The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn, which was now being eyed as a novella project. I'd also just released my book of short stories, 12 Stories High. The book is put together from old and new ideas. In that intense writing session spanning from October 2005 to May 2006, I was bombarded with idea after idea. It was a creative growth spurt that was all smiles and no growing pains...yet. In that creative spurt came the idea for The Son Dial Tone to act as the pastlife for the main characters of The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn. I was like Ma Otter at the end of Emmet Otter's Jugband Christmas. I saw that the two stories fit together, their common thread being music and freedom, expression. I was excited, but I wasn't ready to start writing. I knew that my novel Code-47 and my historical fiction novel, A Company of Moors, were my next projects up. And they needed to be. 12 Stories High was very metaphysical, symbolic, even in its more straight forward stories. Code-47 and A Company of Moors were more grounded in reality. Fable Avenue was nowhere on my sights, but I did always keep checking on the notes and couple pages I had scripted for the graphic novel. But between this idea of combining prose and epic poem, and my next projects was three years of preparation. In that time, The Fable Avenue Saga took shape, and The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn was outlined to be its first installment (or, to some degree, a prologue to the larger The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings series). The story of enslavement on a 18th century plantation, African culture and African spiritual systems, and rebellion was tied together through the notes played on a magical horn by a young jazz player in 1957.
During this time, I thought about my fourth and final epic poem. Everytime I tried to release a work, I also attempted to release 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. later in the same year. It never worked. And ideas for the fourth epic poem had been bombarding me even before I started penning The Son Dial Tone within The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn. The flow and rhythm of poetry started coming back to me, but I wondered if my final epic poem would suffer the same fate as 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. So, I started thinking if it would fit within the story of the second installment of The Fable Avenue Saga. Would it make sense? The Son Dial Tone and The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn had a common musical thread, the first common aspects that anyone could readily identify. But I wondered if this would work. And I didn't want to seem as if I was trying to recreate the samething. If they were going to go together, it couldn't be for the purpose of "This might not get a release any other way". It had to serve the story. When I thought about my two main characters, and a couple opportunities missed in The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn, I realized that quite possibly it made more sense for these two to fall in love while composing their own mythology, and for them to use it as a guide to help defend their culture on Fable Avenue.
Between the release of The Ghost of Gabriel's Horn and January 2014, old notes were looked over and combined with new ideas. Composition began early February 2014. And as of today, April 21, my birthday, the epic poem concludes. Now all that's ahead is the rest of the prose narrative...and two more books in the series.
Writing epic poetry has been a long, epic ride. It's had twist and turns no different than the turn of a phrase. And it's not over. The fourth, along with the second installment of The Fable Avenue Saga will be published later this year. 2 Enlighten the G.O.D.Z. still has to see the light of day. But it is finished, though some editing will take place. And that hidden fifth? There are plans, but not as a written out work. Stay tuned.
b write black