So Long, Ray

Ray Manzarek died yesterday.  The Doors’ keyboardist was 74.

It’s a little disorienting to know the ages of my early rock heroes.  Obviously, I’m older, too, so it shouldn’t be so jarring.  The rebels, the ground-breakers, the stars, hang ageless in my mind… until I see video of the Stones on tour.

It’s one thing when they die of an overdose at age 27, as did Manzarek’s bandmate Jim Morrison in 1971.  Morrison would be 70 pretty soon if he’d lived, but, to me, he’s forever the good-looking 24 year old who electrified the Hollywood Bowl in 1968.   It’s quite another thing when they succumb to disease and old age. Then they just seem, well, old.  Like anybody else.  Anybody else with superb talent, that is, anybody who gave me and  my generation vibrant, textured soundtracks for our lives.

The Doors kept me going through the tear-soaked summer of 1984 after my mother died at the age of 53.   The Doors and an awful lot of Heineken got me through it.  “The Alabama Song”, especially poured into my heart, making the grief and pain and emptiness a tad less unbearable.

“Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say goodbye
We’ve lost our good old mama
And must have whiskey, oh, you know why
Oh, moon of Alabama
We now must say goodbye
We’ve lost our good old mama
And must have whiskey, oh, you know why”

The jazz-loving Manzarek admired saxophonist John Coltrane.   His keyboards gave The Doors a sound like no other rock band in the late sixties, and after.  He continued to play and release albums when the Doors broke up for good the year after Morrison’s death.  Ray was an innovator, producing the first four studio albums for the punk rock band, X, in the 1980s.  They didn’t sound like The Doors but they certainly were influenced by them.

Ray Manzarek, like all the others, will live as long as we have CDs and MP3 players, and even those old, scratched up vinyl LPs.  Despite the technology that keeps voices and sounds alive for those of us that remain, it still means time for sad reflection when they leave this mortal plane.


Happy May Day, Writing Projects, and All That

Happy May Day; Happy Beltain to my fellow Celtophiles.  The colorful maypole in my yard is being drenched with snowy-rain this morning, so we’re calling off the pagan festivities.  Meanwhile, I’m hard at work, rather glad for a gray, drizzly day. They’re the best writing days.

I’ve got a few writing projects percolating this month.  The hardest thing for me to do is prioritize sensibly and not work on what is simply the easiest or the most appealing at the moment. Pressing deadlines, pressure from writing partners or a writing class are good motivators, though, so I’m letting them help me get my work done this month.

First, I have a handful of short stories, completed first drafts, that I’ve been avoiding doing further revisions and edits on.  The stories aren’t related, not by character or location or theme, but I’m going to package five of the best ones into an eBook.  Since I know almost nothing about publishing an eBook yet, I’m thinking that figuring the process out will take me not a little time, as will revisions/edits, so this is a new idea that is being pushed back a bit, with a “ready to publish” goal date of September, 2013.   Two of the stories are close to completion, but the others need work, possibly of the major variety.   On the whole, going this route seems a whole lot easier than trying to sell each story individually to magazines, although I don’t preclude that possibility.   Wishy-washy much?

Secondly, I have my novel, The River of Time, that was featured in my Blog Hop blog (see April 29 entry)… and, man, I am glad I’m done with Blog Hop…I am tired of typing those words.  “River” currently exists in a very rough stage with a couple of chapters written and the rest sketched out in random notes, but at this vantage point (after 20+ years) I am thinking I will need to do major rewrites on them and proceed from there.  My goal is to have a completed, usable draft by the end of this year.

Okay, I’ve committed myself.  Now, I need to f follow through because I’ve told you about it.  My capacity for self-delusion about my progress on this book knows no limits, especially when I have kept it all to myself for so long.  No more procrastination on this huge project, not any more.

Thirdly, I am working on what I think will end up being a novella and will fall into the category of Y/A (Young Adult) fiction.  The story emerged from a free writing exercise in a short story class I am taking, the idea one of those unexpected gems that hold a whole world of possibilities.  I know where the story is going, but still have a lot of writing to do.   By the time class ends at the end of May, I should have a pretty decent start, if not a completed first draft.

And finally, I am working on a Super-Duper Top Secret Writing Project that will last the month of May. It’s actually my top priority for the month, so the other three projects will need to fit themselves in where they can.  I’m working on it with a writing partner, so don’t feel completely at liberty to disclose much about it yet, but I can assure you that there will  be leaks from time to time during the Merry Month of May.

With that, I’m off to work.