Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright, Author

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Are There Degrees of Profundity?

Where do profound thoughts come from? Do we just wait for them to smack us on the head?

I learned that enlightenment can begin with an event no more complicated than watching seagulls.

Before we get to the gulls, it bears mentioning, there have been two occasions when seemingly benign comments created circumstances sending my life sailing off into new directions, like a pinball hitting that hundred-point bumper, lighting up all the machinery.

Through my teens and twenties, life was a rather steep uphill battle. At the time, concerns were limited to wondering whether my last ten dollars, three days before payday, would buy gasoline for the car, or a few more groceries. Looking back, those were happy times, the good old days. When the thirties rolled around, income increased and money worries leveled out, even disappeared to a great extent. Life was good.

It’s easy to see it all in retrospect. Living on a plateau, whether financial or from any other perspective, is only comfortable as long as no one pushes us from it. Funny thing about plateaus, no down escalator, only lethal drops. If we’re lucky enough to get there, the battle to keep the fruits of our achievements can be a killer.

Working in the television business in a small Texas market in the seventies and early eighties was a joy, until the station sold and management changed. Suddenly, I didn’t fit. Fear of losing what I had invested years to build pressed my Chicken Little button. It seemed calamity lurked just out of sight, but I expected it to come into view at any moment. I put in twice the time and thrice the effort to simply stay employed. No matter. My goals had been raised to unreasonable limits, support systems removed. They wanted me gone.

Friends came for a visit one weekend. I laid the oh-woe-is-me treatment on a buddy. He tired quickly of hearing it. “Nothing lasts forever,” he said flatly, “Stop worrying about it.”

Comments don’t get more basic, benign or non-threatening than that. But, for me, at that time, it was a life-altering revelation. Like a bullet between the eyes, it exploded the sacred myth that that job should be forever. What the hell was I thinking? He was dead-on right. Nothing lasts forever.

Then came profundity number two. Near the end of that situation, I learned to deal with inevitability, even joke about it. I continued finding or creating promotional vehicles suited to my clients. Admittedly, some of that was to impress my superiors to show them what they would be missing when they let the ax fall.

As I agonized over a proposal and worried aloud about it, a coworker said, “It’s just f___ing television, not brain surgery. Stop worrying about it.”

That’s when I discovered lightning could strike twice. That comment, made in passing, and in jest, scars my psyche to this day, but it’s a funny little blemish. It’s one of those guiding forces in my life I refer to, and say often, just substitute the word television with the flavor of the month. I never change the profanity. It fits all situations.

That former coworker holds a special place in my heart for that comment. He’ll likely never know that he provided me a springboard to another life’s change. All he wanted was a laugh.

When the mind is open, wisdom gets in. But, how does one go about opening a mind? It’s certainly not like flipping a light switch.

Sometimes, a simple summer vacation and a day at the beach can do the trick.

It was daybreak, my favorite time of day. I poured a cup of coffee, grabbed a lawn chair and walked to the beach, no other plan in mind than greet the day while listening to the crashing surf, ready to get my vacation underway.

The rhythmic sound of crashing surf and a steady breeze worked its magic. Troubles took flight—ah, sweet, sweet peace of mind. It felt good. I had nothing on my mind except letting the sound of the surf and sights of the ocean sweep over me.

Gulls gathered at the water’s edge looking into the rising sun, unmoving, even against the stiff breeze. They seemed to be refusing to relinquish a front row seat, like they saw something worth staring at.

I was reminded of a movie where angels gathered on a beach, all oriented east, looking into the rising sun, as these gulls did, greeting the new day. Did the director see this same sight, too?

A cloud drifted across the still-rising sun, shooting streamers of God’s light in all directions. That certainly didn’t settle my seeking mind.

It concerned me that I might be taking for granted what those birds saw as reverent. In their way, they must have been giving thanks for surviving long enough to see another sunrise.

The excited squeal of a small child startled me from contemplation. I looked. People were coming out to enjoy this sliver of paradise. As far as I could see in both directions, people walked to the beach, as if the hand of a director cued them to do so.

At that moment, it was as if God’s finger touched that sleeping part of my brain.

This must have been about the temporal nature of life. A hundred years from now no one on that beach would likely be alive—very few on the entire planet, yet the gulls would still greet each new day and the surf would still pound the beach.

I shuddered.

When life’s drudgery drags you down, someone close will certainly crack wise, “In a hundred years from now, who’s going to care?”

It’s true.


Life’s short.

Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright
Author of
"Paradise Flawed"/Dream Books LLC/2009
"Six Years' Worth"/Father's Press/2007
"The Last Radiant Heart"/Virtual Tales/Summer 2010
"Anne Bonny, Where Are You?"/Rogue Phoenix Press/Spring 2010

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Chicken or the Egg

As a fiction writer, a concept or premise will come to me by way of something I’ve seen or read and then go about the business of concocting characters to bring the story to life. But, just yesterday, it occurred to me that I have several interesting characters rambling around in my head that have no story home. They’re just interesting people I’ve known, or know of, that would make excellent characters if only I had a story for them.

That got me wondering about other fiction writers. And, it amounts to the classic conundrum: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Do other fiction writers build stories around strong characters or create characters to be plugged into a story after conceptualizing a plot line? Or, is there a mix?

As mentioned, I have characters in mind but I’ve never built a story around a single character.

I need to pause and say, though, I’ve yet to write a sequel. That, to me, is a different situation. The story must be built around the character(s). I’m confining this to the genesis of a brand new project.

Somehow, I have the feeling that this might be a polarizing subject if opened up for debate. Who cares? I think I’ll ask anyhow.

Which came first, the character or the story?

Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright

Author of

"Paradise Flawed"/Dream Books LLC/2009

"Six Years' Worth"/Father's Press/2007

"The Last Radiant Heart"/Virtual Tales/Summer 2010

"Anne Bonny, Where Are You?"/Rogue Phoenix Press/Spring 2010