Jay Dubya describes how "self-analysis" often motivates the author to create original fictional literature.
From my perspective, everyone has two basic psychological needs: a need to socialize with others of his/her species and secondly, a need to be alone by oneself. I, like most introverted writers and authors, much greater prefer the latter to the former. Confidentially, I totally enjoy being removed from social clutter for my self-motivated brain to quietly explore the development of new story plots and themes. When I’m preoccupied writing, my fleeting thoughts at that intense moment are just as indispensable as oxygen and food. To preface my personal observations, I maintain that an author’s examination of conscience is both a meritorious and healthy sort of worthwhile enterprise.
As a young boy attending the afternoon black and white cowboy movie matinees at the Rivoli Theater on Bellevue Avenue in downtown Hammonton, New Jersey, I quickly comprehended the valuable concept that is readily apparent in the nomenclature, “It is better to make dust than to eat it.” In other words, I always admired either the Sheriff or the Marshal leading the on-a-mission posse and simultaneously felt sorry for the poor deputes having to eat the dust of the head guys up front chasing the dastardly outlaws across the cactus-laden wilderness. And oh yes, Rule #1 of being a nationally recognized author is that no one will take either you or your writing seriously until you first take you and your writing seriously.
When I was a New Jersey teacher of literature for thirty-four years, one of my favorite tales that I used to orally read with my classroom students was the mythological story of “Perseus.” One fine day the young Greek hero was curiously standing on a mountain cliff when the goddess Athena appeared and approached upon a floating cloud and imperatively asked, “Before I send you on a dangerous challenge to slay the formidable monster known as Medusa the Gorgon, I’d like for you Perseus to courageously answer this one simple question. ‘Which would you rather have; a soul of clay or a soul of fire’?”
Perseus did not hesitate to answer the odd interrogative by intrepidly articulating, “A soul of fire, because most vain cowardly men commonly possess souls of clay. Dear goddess, pardon my audacity but I won’t ever want to be greedy and weak like most other craven humans behave on this rather corrupt planet!”
And so, I wholeheartedly maintain that to be the proud-but-humble owner of “a soul of fire” happens to constitute the very essence of my literary philosophy. A mortal in quest of literary excellence must search for and find a viable writing voice to adequately complement his or her writing style, and then the aspiring author should avoid being timid and next boldly address any relevant issue that should enter his or her psyche.
While vacationing with our wives ten years ago on the West Coast, a professor friend and I stepped into a Palm Springs, California bar to savor a few cold drafts of beer. Being gregarious, we struck-up a conversation with two other elderly retired tourists, and the topic of discussion soon changed from “the pleasant weather” to the subject of “property.” The two wealthy gray-haired gentlemen each bragged that they had owned houses in Florida and California, and each respective fellow extensively cherished his coveted lengthy stock portfolio. “What kind of properties do you own?” the first zealous capitalist bluntly asked me.
I pondered the conceited guy’s direct inquiry and soon carefully replied, “Most of the property I own is ‘Intellectual Property’.” “I am the author of 52 copyrighted books, and every idea, every character, every plot scenario, every conflict, every aspect in the stories’ constructions is owned exclusively by me. I honestly mean Guys,” I paused and deliberately emphasized, “I do own my New Jersey home, I have some blue chip stocks and bonds, and my wife and I have an acre of land in the Poconos along with several building lots in Florida, but believe me, the most priceless properties I value still are the intellectual properties I own that nicely exist in my fifty-two published books.”
Naturally, my strange unexpected declaration made my new bar acquaintances pause and stare blankly at me with their dual mouths agape as my New Jersey pedagogue/companion giggled profusely and then anxiously proceeded to swallow-down another gulp of his delicious cold beer.
Eminent New England nineteenth century writer Ralph Waldo Emerson had imaginatively invented the now-obsolete “Theory of Transcendentalism”, the romantic notion that Emotion should “transcend” Reason in order for a regular person to ultimately experience true satisfaction and complete fulfillment in life. On the contrary, I staunchly subscribe to the principle of what I describe as “Reverse Transcendentalism”, or the requisite speculation that Reason should valiantly triumph and dominate over Emotion in a story presentation.
Yes indeed, it is true that one could have emotion demonstrated in the content of one’s story, but the evolution of the plot along with the accompanying vital subplots ought to be both logical and plausible in construction for the captivated reader to easily grasp the tale’s scope and sequence. The prescription for a terrific story is quite elementary from my lifelong writing point of view. The appropriate literary formula to faithfully apply is this: Quality + Quantity + Author Discipline + Perseverance = Eventual Success. In the final analysis, that particular recipe has loyally worked for me.
Being a public school English teacher for thirty-four years, I had been fully aware of distinguished educational psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Theory of Hierarchy Needs, represented in a standard pyramid illustration. At the bottom of the isosceles matrix is any living creature’s need for food, shelter and clothing (fur or other external protection). Then above those fundamental essentials is a definite need for basic socialization, recognition, love, acceptance, "emotional security" and group or family approval.
And now inside the triangle formation we get into the more complicated and intricate “lower thinking skills,” which along with important problem solving ability, dramatically and intellectually separates mankind from the lower animals. Here’s where I selectively believe the strict differentiation between writers and authors comes into stark focus.
I strongly insist that authors write fiction novels and fictional short stories, and on the other hand, writers systematically research and organize non-fiction books, term papers and newspaper and magazine narratives. Non-fiction writing (in its architectural format) involves the explicit use of general description. The whole process is akin to newspaper front page articles that are characterized by the creation of “a hook” introduction to gain the reader’s instant attention. Next the non-fiction journalist accurately exploits the presentation of “Who? What? When? Where? How? and “Why?” in his’ or her’ newspaper article. And then to add a personal non-fiction touch, a few direct quotes are slickly thrown into the writer’s process of front page narrative construction in order to add a distinct degree of “human interest” to the initial exposition being adroitly fabricated and communicated.
On the periodical’s Editorial Page, certain higher level thinking skills are evident with the deft utilization of Opinion, Interpretation and Analysis, three distinct thought synthesizes that are significantly emblematic of us mortal humans and which are not widely present anywhere in the lower animal world. College term reports and theses papers are very similar to a writer preparing a serious newspaper or magazine task. One must austerely employ lower-level thinking skills encompassing the methods of Research, Description, Interpretation, Analysis and possibly Opinion/Conclusion.
But conversely, fiction authors take their thinking dynamics to a higher level than non-fiction writers do. They perilously enter the lofty realms of Imagination, Creativity, Originality and Invention, thus attempting to fearlessly imitate the Glorious Creator. Renowned Abraham Maslow calls this highest level of thought ascension “Self-Actualization,” and this coveted perch is the thinking plateau that authors audaciously pursue and that non-fiction writers dare not enter or tread.
Three areas of human classification represent the population of American academic organization ranging from lowly kindergarten up to the prominent university niche. It has been statistically established that around 75% of the people associated with American education are students, 22% are dedicated teachers, aides and instructors, and the remaining 3% or so are the gifted creators and inventors of knowledge.
By consistently producing quality fiction as being an elevated dimension of accepted literature, authors are conscientiously competing for respectable inclusion into the revered 3% “creators and inventors” who are superbly contributing to the advancement of modern civilization.
Even though I consider Non-Fiction scribes as ‘Writers,” and despite the fact that my literary efforts venture mostly into “Fiction,” I insist that I am not yet an author in the same sense as Mark Twain, O. Henry, Jack London, Edgar Allan Poe or Nathaniel Hawthorne, but if people are reading and relishing my works a century from now, I will have then satisfactorily risen my accumulated literature up to international fame and therefore, my fictional works will have earned me the coveted designation of finally becoming an “Author.”
A certain nebulous facet of fiction writing is the obscure enigmas of Creativity, Imagination, Invention and Originality. Exactly what are the defining characteristics of these often-elusive authorial phantoms? In reality, it’s fairly easy to explain but rather difficult to fully fathom.
First of all, I realize that I first require a suitable outline to effectively arrange and present a well-structured story in a rational manner. What I’m about to disclose is my former secret method that predictably always had worked for me, and I hope I’m not precariously jinxing myself by hereby revealing its former surreptitious mechanics. The up-to-now reliable practice ordinarily determined how something inside my head mystically connects like an electrical extension cord into the Universe’s master wall socket AC power plug.
Allow me to first sincerely divulge that I am not a particularly religious human being. Now in my home’s computer room there are three lamps (two identical table ones and the third light located upon a tall thin stand), which I mentally reference as ‘the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit’. Like a submissive suppliant, I reverently invoke each lamp individually to assist me in my writing endeavor, obediently reciting in a silent prayer, “Lamp of wisdom, lamp of light; please help me’ to create a new story idea.” Amazingly, this unique, mysterious and esoteric technique has always enabled me to become spontaneously erudite and capable of “Inventing” numerous outlines and subsequently, of scheming-up quite “Original” characters, settings, conflicts and noteworthy story patterns.
Essentially, I acknowledge that there are two types of Creativity: “Reactionary Creativity” and “Imaginative and Original Creativity”. Reactionary Creativity is rather easy to perform. A good example is shown in the biography of L. Frank Baum, who was sitting as a restless patient inside a doctor’s nondescript office. According to the legend, Baum was thinking about what should be the name of a fantasy land that would be the functional title to a new children’s book he had been contemplating. Out of sheer boredom, L. Frank glanced over at the doctor’s metallic filing cabinet of patients’ information and then perceptively noticed two ordinary-looking drawers. The first compartment was labeled “A-N”, and the bottom one remarkably read “O-Z.” ‘Oz!’ Baum mentally exclaimed. “That’s it! My new book has both a title and a very neat setting!’
Here are several instances of Reactionary Creativity from my own life’s mundane adventures. While I had been authoring the novel The Great Teen Fruit War, I was driving my auto’ on Fairview Avenue in downtown Hammonton when the railroad crossing gates began descending along with the objects’ corresponding flashing red lights. Immediately I “Imagined” the Blueberry Gang kids tying two Peach Gang teens to the already descended gates as the extended passenger train speedily whizzed-by. When the gates eventually ascended (in the novel), the two Peach Gang kids were elevated to straight vertical positions, giving the victims the appearance of being primitively crucified to the all-astonished motorists encountering and passing-by the bizarre prank scene.
Another occasion of Reactionary Creativity was when my wife and I were vacationing in beautiful Taormina, Sicily. We were staying at the quaint Hotel Villa Schuller, which had a terrific penthouse lounge that allowed a fantastic view of distant Mt. Etna. I ‘Imagined’, 'Now I really have discovered the ending to my latest detective story. Terrorists are captured by the local Mafia. The U.S. government had hired the Mafia to perform the critical service and pays the awesome Messina and Palermo crime syndicate a handsome stipend to conveniently dispose of the diabolic villains. The Sicilian Mafia rents a huge helicopter, and then the notorious mobsters toss the alarmed handcuffed terrorists into the steaming lava crater of the gorgeous island’s constantly active volcano.'
A third situation where Reactionary Creativity is identifiable was when I had ventured on an excursion through Bristol, Pennsylvania on my nostalgic way to Levittown, where my family had resided from 1953-’59. Immediately a worthy story title popped into my head “Doing Bristol,” and then thanks to my knowledge of United States geography, I recollected that in addition to Bristol, Pennsylvania, there is a Bristol, Virginia, a Bristol, Connecticut, a Bristol, Tennessee, a Bristol, England and a Bristol Rhode Island. I ‘Imagined’ that the main character of the story would go to sleep in one Bristol (Pennsylvania) and then each night would surprisingly wake-up each morning in another Bristol until the protagonist gradually would wind-up back in a familiar motel in his original destination, Bristol, Pennsylvania.
Another form of Reactionary Creativity that I habitually employ is when I satirize or parody the serious works of acclaimed writers like William Shakespeare, Edgar Allan Poe, O. Henry, Mark Twain, Jack London and Nathaniel Hawthorne. This type of “Reactionary Creativity” comes easy to me because all I have to do is rewrite what already has been expertly organized as quality literature.
However, since “Original Creativity” is much harder to achieve than “Reactionary Creativity” happens to be, that’s precisely where and when the three magical, admirable, aforementioned computer room lamps come into play. Quite candidly, I often seek (and obtain) inspiration originating from outside myself. As I’ve already indicated, the lamps (along with my special personal incantations of solicitation) were always a trilogy of fabulous charms for me to be able to accomplish my central authorial ambition. But I cannot guarantee (toward the end of my writing career) that my little treasured secret would magnificently work for everyone or anyone else.
Throughout my life, I’ve always been a rather persistent, stubborn, and obstinate individual, and coincidentally, the general thrust of my exerted energy was specifically to prove the venerable Albert Einstein wrong. Einstein is reputed to have confidently stated, “A stupid person keeps redundantly committing the same silly mistakes over and over again without ever obtaining any favorable results.”
Well then, after I had written my first book Enchanta, the overall sales effect was absolutely negligible. After my thirtieth book, Einstein’s genius was still essentially infallible with me having dismal sales’ results from my frustrating labor. But after my forty-eighth book Hawthorne: Hazed, Hooked, Hammered and Hijacked, the popularity of my previous literary products suddenly began to proliferate. For the past fifteen years, I just felt totally compelled to prove Einstein’s provocative declaration to be (in my extraordinary case) erroneous.
Since childhood, finding my environment rather lackluster and horribly mediocre, at every opportunity I’ve attempted to “think outside the box”. But conversely, morally speaking, I’ve always tried my best to “believe inside the box”. Sometimes I’ve discovered my subjective conscience to be at continuous war with my objective-oriented mind. At times, even to this very day, this ongoing mental struggle is a troubling disappointment to me, and the battle causes my intelligence to be plagued with both mental and emotional turbulence. In truth, many authors are hapless tortured souls of their own doing.
I conjecture that three elements have over the years formed my spirit’s core philosophy. Sometimes the three items are compatible; sometimes the triple ingredients are combative adversaries. To be sure, I’ve always honored the ancient teachings of the Ten Commandments, especially adhering to the principal tenets “Thou shall not kill; Thou shall not steal; Honor thy father and mother; and Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s goods.”
But then my thinking has also been influenced by Ancient Greek thought, an afflictive effect that encourages me to literally doubt almost anything and everything. The sterling expressions of Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Aristophanes have suggested to me that I should chronically be cynical and mutually skeptical of most things, including religious history and the Bible’s Old Testament.
And in retrospect, the third feature prevalent in my ambivalent personality, Jeffersonian thought, is thoroughly embodied in the Declaration of Independence and also in the Bill of Rights. This American “freedom of thought” perspective often puts my mind at odds with prevalent religious teachings and with their “absolute truths”.
But in the final analysis, my moral compass (hammered into my vulnerable cerebrum for eleven years by various Catholic school nuns and priests) is usually victorious over Reason, the Commandments trumping both Greek Thought and the alluded-to Ten Amendments to the United States Constitution.
In conclusion, I generally try to behave in a humble/modest life style even though I’m relatively proud of my abundant stories and novels. But to authentically communicate with the outside world, I needed a nom de plume in a similar fashion that Samuel Langhorne Clemens needed to be Mark Twain, William Sydney Porter needed to be O. Henry and Mary Anne Evans needed to be George Eliot. Lacking full confidence writing as John Wiessner, I respectfully summoned the very necessary assistance of the "Trinity 3-Way Bulb Illumination Lamps" stationed in my upstairs computer room, and then in a sudden inspiration, my brain incredibly came-up with the all-too-obvious pseudonym “Jay Dubya,” which is a genuine corruption of my very common “J.W.” initials.
Author of 52 Books
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