Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It Doesn't Matter....

Yes kiddies, that is me. Yes kiddies, that is General Peter Pace. I was a mother who wore combat boots, so I know a little bit about not accepting failure as an option. There is a beautiful story behind this image. General Pace was my first commander when I once upon a time lived in Miami, Florida for seven years. Like the rest of the nation, I bought into the idea of what we were doing was right at the time. I, like the rest of the world, scoffed at Richard Gere's cautionary words about us plunging head long into this costly war. The irony of being a flower child in military uniform is another story,

General Pace was making his final rounds, touring all of the units he had once commanded in his career before his retirement in 2007. I was always a fan of his speeches, because he kept them human, so I determined to sit as close to the front as possible. He had served for 40 years, and remembered every name of each Marine that had lost their life under his command when he was a young lieutenant. The emotion of serving in a hated conflict and carrying the survivor's burdens for all of those years touched the very core of the audience. I never forgot his speeches, and when he left us to serve up at the Pentagon after 9/11, I told everyone, 'He's going to be our next Chairman of the JCS'. Less than 3 years later, he was the first Marine posted to the position.

How this picture came to be, was actually a funny story. General Pace had just finished speaking and held up a coin, his personal one as an incentive to the person that would ask him his first question. I didn't just raise my hand, I jumped out of my seat. I don't do that for every one, but this was a man I had greatly venerated. I approached the General and whispered something in his ear and the audience gasped as I pushed away the microphone. Somehow the salut was lost and instead he pressed his coin into my hand and we broke into smiles.

Admidst the emotion of the moment, I had almost forgotten to ask my question, until I was reminded by the General. My question, was two words, "What's next?" Those words have been like a boomerang for me, as I finally took off my uniform a few months later.
I fell into my writing as if I had a brain fever. I was not able to control myself. I realized I had to go and do this and forsake a life of perceived security. I have been fortunate to meet Jim Haynes, an incredible ex-patriate author who resides in Paris. I have never sat down to read his biography, but I smiled when I felt like I saw my words in his biography. Synchronicity is wonderful when you see it. I idealized what I thought my life supposed to be, when under the surface, I also knew that I was not following my heart. I was following the illusions of the day.

I have to admit, that looking back, had I known some of the struggles I would be going through, I wonder, if I would have had the courage to make the journey, and at times, the courage to continue. I have great respect for all of the writers on this blog. It does take a certain amount of courage to refine your work. This crazy dream was planted within me at a very young age, but it was always to write about life, and not fiction. It is hard to tell people without sounding self-important about the amazing journey that I have been on. Sometimes I embed my work in poetry. A wonderful poetess, Lena Vanelslander, from Ghent Belgium decided to write with me during this past summer. I just simply said, we publish it, and that is all there is to it. No second-guessing, no doubts, and just create. That was the heart of this project that evolved into "Quills of Fire". The official release date is 10 January 2010. It sounds simple, doesn't it? Really, my friends, it is. You sit down, and you write, edit, and just do it because you believe.
One of my favorite pieces, from this anthology was inspired by an artist, a friend of mine who I frequently correspond with over the past few years. It is my pleasure to share it with you. A footnote...to leave you with.

Ode to the Unknown of Art

Oh craftsman, the night is spent
Yet the canvas is still wet
Wet with your blood and sweat
Painted before you
are your nightmares and dreams
Those silent prayers and screams

And still, the insanity of creation goes on...

The wordsmith with tools of the new and old
A quill and an inkwell
A cursor that flashes a dare
Create to create
For is it foolishness to covet to be great?

When all is said and done
Isn’t all of creation condemned to die?
Oh we, who spurn to be immortalized
through our works be it in song, verse...
the prose upon a stage...

The charade that is life in an actor’s gaze.

The fortunate ones...the despised...
Who become a shred of what they were
as fame becomes their guise.

Whether known for a moment, a decade or for centuries...
we all become the unknown of art
to become the dust of another...

Far flung...in the vault of morbid histories...
just to say we bled, we sweat, and cried untold tears.
For the human hand yields the power to destroy or create.
Who will look upon our works in the span of time?

To be remembered and not known...
for art is the measure of a society.
A power to love...to portray,
perhaps display what we would like to see.

However, do not see this as a futility.
For eternity is not how to measure art...
for truly it is all unknown art that is rendered
and what lasts...is only but for a moment.

Marilyn Campiz


Katherine Jenkins said...

Beautiful Marilyn. I love that you put your "past life" in here. It seems we all lead many lives in one life if we are truly growing. I like your line, "Create to create, for is it foolishness to covet to be great?" I think some writers struggle with this...with our own voices. I have always kept my writing in the closet. It wasn't until I started blogging that it came out (January 2009), but I've always been a writer. Now, I just keep putting it out there, expanding into it, moving with it. I think we become it and at times lose ourselves in it...I feel, for me, it takes on a life of it's own...writing, but yet it moves through me. I feel this writing is also so moving...you are connected to what you are doing and you carry the reader with you. Very nice!

Marilyn said...

It is my greatest hope that we see more books produced by this group, books that are the hearts and souls of all who participate in this adventure. With the freedom to fall down on our faces, wipe our scaped knees and get up again.

I see this flurry of blogging activity and it is moving fast....wonderful!

Thank you for the kind words Kathy. A lot of my butt kickings are for me as well..to keep on a path that is true to the work.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful post Marilyn-Your admiration for General Peter came through shiningly. He connected to you through his words. How much does one write about their experiences and what if anything is/should be held back? I struggle with these questions.

Marilyn said...

The censorship is a battle I struggle with, and that I had to get over to finally write 'the book'...or should I say, THE BOOK...the one I promised to write for my mother...and it has taken me over 25 years to write.

So I have finally finished the first draft and it is in the hands of an editor...who I highly regard...Barbara Peroni...yes, I am paying her...but this is too important. It has to be written...

Those are the kinds of works we all strive to write...and I needed someone to trust...to call me out when I am not being forthcoming...or foggy.

Stephen King wrote, "If I ever was afraid of what other people might think, I would have never published a single word." (On Writing)

Those are words I try to live by...