Order of the Good Write

That Magic Feeling When the Words Flow. A Blog by Debi Rotmil

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Storytellers in the Arts: Ralph Fasanella


Painting of Triangle Shirtwaist Factory by Ralph Fasanella

Ralph Fasanella (1914 – 1997) was a self taught American artist whose creations depicted the struggles, strife and triumph of the working class. Born in Bronx, NY to Italian immigrant parents, Fasanella’s political activism was harvested by his mother – who took him to union meetings instilling a strong connection to labor workers and ant-Facist causes.  During the Depression, Fasanella found employment as a textile worker and a truck driver. Sensitive to the plight and committed to the rights of the hard working class, he volunteered to fight in the Spanish Civil War, and returned to the U.S. after the conflict to organize labor unions.

It wasn’t until he developed arthritis in his hands when a union colleague suggested he try painting to ease the pain. This is where his art life began.

Fasanella paintings have the purity of color and structure, depicting the lives of everyday hard working people. An painting on Yankee Stadium is colorized and enlivened with every ounce of human kind and commercial atmosphere. Not a space is wasted as humanity is illustrated – the story of a day in the ballpark – mid-century –  forever painted on canvas. Think of the lives each painted character represents, their history and their day at the park. Where the Yankees winning?  Did Mickey drive home a run to win the game? Your imagination runs wild with possibilities.

Take the painting that is the header of this blog. It shows a landscape of a bustling city. The bridges over the East River and beyond to the skyscrapers giving way to green pastures of the suburbs in the distance – the suburb where Fasanella settled down to raise children late in his life. Far away from the rattling ice trucks and the pumping iron of everyday life. Far away from woefully dangerous pre-labor forced laws that came too late for the women of the Triangle Waistshirt Factory depicted during an ordinary day in the painting above – before the catastrophic fire that forced new safety laws for workers in this country.

Fasanella was a storyteller in painting. The colors created the words. The brushstrokes enlivened people long lost in the passage of time, their memories and minds lost forever, yet brought forth in brushstrokes controlled by a man who knew their struggle.

For more on Ralph Fasanella – please check out the American Smithsonian Art Museum’s retrospect of the man and his work entitled “Lest We Forget”. 


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Off-Day Writing for the Writer Who Writes

The-Beatles-1963-the-beatles-31890892-1600-1022I’m starting this wonderful program called B-School. It’s part of business school created by business coach Marie Forleo for self starting business people who want to make a difference in this world while delving into the world of entrepreneurship.  Yes, Orderlies, I’m starting my way, gathering the building blocks toward a writing coach business that I will morph into an interactive online world for writers to come and gain inspiration. Whether it be the student, the mother, the business person, the corporation – I’ll be unfolding this within the next year. I’m very excited. Although I’m grateful for the job I have now, it’s time to shed the corporate world and start moving away from the work force as I’ve known it. It’s not easy. It’s going to be a major challenge. But it will be done.

Yet, the thing about all this is – I’m finding it hard to write!  Yikes! The writer/writing coach who love to write is so busy, she can’t find the time to write the content she so wants to provide to the universe of writers!  But – it will get there. It will!  Despite not getting the work done today – it will get done. I’m still writing morning pages, business plans, dreams, throughts and connecting with a new community of creative people starting or revving up established businesses. And damn, I’m loving it!

So why do I have the Beatles up there? Well, I bet there were days during the height of Beatle-dom (before fame and growth made them grumpy with each other) when Paul or John were too busy doing something else beside being a Beatle. They may have had to travel for family – or tend to a problem with their mansion somewhere in the English countryside or London.  George woke up on a given morning in 1964, took a look at the girl gazing inside his bedroom window, and the blonde under his bed and thought,  “Yeah…I’m off to the Bahamas.”  There may have been a day that Ringo didn’t feel like playing the drums, or McCartney didn’t have it in him to write ‘Yesterday’ or ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Those songs would be written on another day.

So, we don’t have to focus on a writing project everyday if we can’t get to it. No need to beat yourself up, I convince myself.  ‘Revolver’ wasn’t recorded in a day. ‘Abbey Road’ wasn’t written in a moment. It will all get done – even if you can’t physically open up that document marked “AWESOME NOVEL I’M WRITING” (working title, of course) today.

But I do write morning pages. I show up somehow, even if the writing it just clearing the morning cobwebs.

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A Little Patch of Heaven

Beechwood Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

Beechwood Canyon, Los Angeles, CA.

Yesterday’s holiday gave me pause. Off the merry go round of everyday routine, I  took the hound and headed for the hiking trails of Beechwood Canyon. It’s our usual familiar stomping ground. Part of the expanse of Griffith Park, its trails snake up the steep slopes of the Hollywood Hills that reach close to the Hollywood sign. You often run into tourists asking how they can get to the sign. It’s unclear what people expect when they get here. Various photographs rife with photo shop imagery  allowed the world to believe the Hollywood sign is a place were you can go and have brunch under the “L”, or lean against the “W” while looking out at the LA vista stretching toward the sparking ocean on the horizon.  When I come upon these hopeful travelers longing to be near this famous iconic landmark, I have to break the news. You really can’t get to the sign unless you are met head on with angry locals who want you to stop clogging their streets with your car rentals.

Hollywood has molded the image of itself and its very essence is in the letters of that iconic sign. I can see it from my street. It’s the new Empire State Building in my makeshift Los Angeles world. When one comes here, they believe touching the Hollywood sign is like touching fame and fortune. Yet, fame comes at a cost. Whether you sell your soul to live by the Hollywood dream, or whether your car veered off a sharp turn and tumbled into a ravine – it comes at a cost.

While on our hike, we continued up our trail, now filled with chatty hikers and skateboarders heading for the concrete hills where they congregate, I saw a big dip in the ground, likely the hard worn pathway of a dried up stream. It was steep, dug in rocky and dangerous gaps between the trail and this lush beautiful area across the way. The green hill was filled with peace and quiet, with a yellow butterfly dancing from blade of grass to tree branch. It looked like heaven.

The big dip was a bit perilous, yet as we moved along, it took different heights. When I found a part of the dip that seemed okay to walk down and over – we crossed over to this quiet patch of thick, naturally growing grass. It was pristine.  Well almost. There were lonely sprawls of beaten walkways worn down to dirt, snaking up into the dark shadows of incline that went to nowhere. They were remnants of footsteps lead by hikers who “took the road less traveled.” The grass itself had been trodden into flat walkways leading up hill to a few boulders, marked with graffiti on their surface, flat enough to sit on. They were likely used for nighttime bullshit by some really crappy graffiti artists. (As opposed to good graffiti artists.)

We made our way up this grassy hill to a zen like garden of small trees. And there we sat. Away from the fray. Situated in a lush zen. Baxter was munching long strands of grass as if he were a cow. Me, feeling like I found a little piece of something I left behind before I came into this world.

Going off the beaten path, separating yourself from the chatty fray of hikers – you take the chance on a greener patch of grass. And you do find a bit of heaven.

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Write Today….Be Happy Tomorrow

do something

A little end of week inspiration. This is an excerpt from my rambling journal on 750words.com – a website that helps you write everyday. I treat it like my morning pages. This came out. Hope it helps the writer in you. Please disregard any redundant words. This was a free flow.

If you write at least 500 words a day for a year, you actually have a nice novel brewing. Don’t lose the fight.  I realized in mid-life I had let so many days go by without doing a damn thing. If I had written 300 – 500 words or even 1000 words a day starting 20 years ago, I’d have 10 novels published by now — perhaps self published a whole library of books. I may have attracted a literary agent and publisher by now.

Don’t let your days go wasted if you feel the burning desire to write. Pick up the pencil, pen, computer keyboard and write anything. Write “I don’t know what to write” twenty times until your brain starts to open up. Then let it flow. Don’t hold back. There is always editing. Think of writing as plopping up a glob of wonderful clay – it’s the raw material of minerals and compounds – these are like sentences and paragraphs of thoughts, stories, melding scenes that pronounce scenes and illustrate the human condition. When you’re done with the blob of thought and story – then comes the editing – you take your knife and start carving it out, honing it, getting rid of a passage you love but doesn’t fit (Keep a Text dump file where you plop your scissored out passage – the ones you really like but don’t fit. That way you can  have it set aside for something else someday. It can be a morsel to the beginning of another story.) The more you carve and clip and paste and rearrange and prod, the more you’ll see your story become a concise, firm, pearl of an essay or short story or novel. This even applies to non-fiction writing which is something I did more of in the past few decades.

Write! Write like the wind! Don’t wait for a muse or an open door in your brain. You invite that all in when you sit down and begin.

Happy Friday!