To write, or not to write?


Ah, the sound of a pen scribbling.  The late nights under soft lights with a cup of tea at my side.

Writing is so romantic, isn’t it?

I wish.  Replace the pen with a keyboard, and what you’ve got is a headache from the pounding of the keyboard.  The tea becomes coffee (it’s stronger), and the late nights spent writing become late nights spent watching television or doing otherwise unproductive stuff.

I love to write, but like most things in life, it’s a love/hate relationship. If I could just write, just let the words flow, it’d be great.

But I’m a self-editor.  A big one.  I can hardly go a minute without using backspace.  In fact, I just used it on that last sentence.  And that’s my biggest fault, the biggest thing that has held me back from writing something lengthier than a chapter or two.

So, I’ve been toying with the idea of participating in NaNoWriMo again this year, which if you do not know, is short for National Novel Writing Month.

I’ve tried in the past.  And by “tried,” I mean “failed.”  I always start with some grand idea, some grand plan.  Four years ago, it was a tie-in to my favorite band’s new album: a story that would follow the beats of each song, one after another, telling the tale of fighters in a worldwide resistance.  Three years ago, it was a thriller involving some combination of murder, kidnapping, home invasion, and vigilantism.  Two years ago, I participated in Screen Frenzy instead, in April, and tried to write a screenplay for a war story.  A year ago, I gave up.

I have an overactive imagination, and that (combined with backspace), kills me.  By the time I get to chapter two, I have three new ideas.  By chapter three, I have six.  And I lose track.  It’s like I’ve created my own, modern-day, computerized Cerberus.

So why is this year different?

Who knows that it even will be?  Writing a novel is a daunting task.  More daunting if you’ve never done it before.  But I have all these ideas in my head, and if I don’t get them on paper, I’ll lose them forever.  And maybe it’s just me growing up, but the idea of losing those ideas disturbs me more than it ever did.

I’ve had enough of reading other people’s stories (not literally, I still enjoy picking up a great book and will do so until I can read no longer), and I think it’s time I put some of my own out there. 

Who knows, maybe by this time next year, I’ll have written a New York Times bestseller, scored a movie deal, and moved into my drug-lord house on the cliffs over Los Angeles.

More likely, I’ll have a modest and terrible novel, but a complete one, and a better sense of my writing ability.

I’ll cross my fingers and toes that it works out that way.


Opera and the open mind

Gradually, from this chaos of thoughts and sketches something orderly and definite begins to emerge. Everything extraneous is discarded. That which is unquestionably suitable remains.”

– Sergei Taneyev



So, I wrote a little about opera today.  I’m not going to lie, it was my first real experience with it.  In my 22, nigh 23 years on this planet, I’ve never taken an interest in it.  Never looked further into it than those jumbo-sized trailers before the movies at Regal Cinemas. 

But that says more of my own ignorance than the shortcomings of the genre. I’ve boasted that I can belt it out like an opera singer before (I can),  but never took a look at opera as anything more than a set piece on an episode of Seinfeld.  Until today. 

As I am sure you know by now, I write for the Poughkeepsie Journal.  I was assigned a story about the upcoming production of Oresteia that Bard College is putting on.  I knew nothing of the subject, so my first step, naturally, was to immerse myself in it.  I plugged my headphones in, tuned the world out, and blasted some opera that I ripped from YouTube.

And I’ll be damned, I kind of enjoyed it.  Maybe it was just the particular piece, that snippet of the obscure Russian opera that made up a mere fraction of the entire thing (I made it through about 20 minutes of 2 hours), but it resonated. 

Now, I won’t go so far as to say I am an opera fanatic.  That would probably take a lot more exposure and a lot more time.  But I can say that for the first time, I would not only consider going to an opera, but I would look forward to it.

I’ll keep you all posted on when the article comes out!

Quite a crew

They rose past the sons of bankers and politicians; they rose past the Great Depression; they rose above the Aryans of the Third Reich. The year was 1936 when nine young men rowed, and rose, to Olympic gold in Berlin, stunning Adolf Hitler and the world.

In the same year of Olympic sprinter Jesse Owens’ great “individual achievement,” there was also a “great collective achievement” of the 1936 University of Washington men’s crew team, according to author Daniel James Brown.

In his New York Times bestselling nonfiction book, “The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics,” Brown chronicles the trials and tribulations, and eventual victory, of the team, including their participation in the Poughkeepsie Regatta.

To read more, visit The Poughkeepsie Journal!

Life during wartime

Becker, 90, retells how he escaped a sunken freighter, City of Flight, and drifted atop the ocean on a lifeboat with five merchant seamen and five Navy personnel for nearly seven weeks.

Each day, he and his 10 fellow castaways made a notch on the side of the boat.

Becker recalls that the men “worked very well together,” despite near-insurmountable odds of survival.

“There was nothing to do when the weather was good,” he said. “You just sit there and wait.”

To read more, visit The Poughkeepsie Journal!

Art explores the role of screens

Article not published online.  Full text taken from Highland Focus Supplement of The Poughkeepsie Journal:

NEW PALTZ — A screenplay is more than just a script, more than just shooting directions and is relevant outside of Oscar season — “Screen Play” is how artists create and interpret art. With his exhibit, “Screen Play,” Daniel Belasco would show just how much screens effect the world.

The exhibit is Belasco’s first contribution to the annual Hudson Valley Artists exhibit since he was named curator of the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art.

The Dorsky Museum on the SUNY New Paltz campus and the Hudson Valley Artists exhibit promote works relevant to the Hudson Valley and Catskills regions. Fifteen multimedia artists are in this year’s exhibit, including Steve Rossi of Beacon; Adie Russell of Stone Ridge and Amy Brenner, a potter from Wingdale.

Videos, paintings and sculptures will be on display today through Nov. 10, with an opening reception held 5-7 p.m. today.

Film screenings and artist talks will also give visitors the chance to interact with some of the artists involved.

The first screening will display the works of Rachel Rampleman, who said her work explores “subcultures not often represented on the ‘silver screen.'”

At “Screen Play,” she said she will use “archival imagery of hyper-muscular women,” to “inspire conversation, or even an internal dialogue, about such topics as ‘What does it mean to be feminine?'”

Steve Rossi, another featured artist, uses utilitarian objects in his art such as shopping carts and cowboy spurs to raise questions about social practices and tendencies. Rossi has contributed an interdisciplinary work combining video and sculpture.

“Screen Play,” Belasco said, is “taking a focused concept,” and creating a “different iteration of similar ideas of how the screen has evolved.”

One of the key themes being explored is the interaction of analog and digital media.

Belasco said “most artists live in some space” between the “tactile quality” of analog, and the “magical quality” of digital. “They are constantly walking the tightrope,” he said.

SUNY New Paltz stands to benefit from the exhibit, as well, Belasco said.

The museum’s “primary audience is always the students,” he said, adding that students benefit from the “in person” experience.

Jac Bergenson is an intern with the Poughkeepsie Journal: 845-437-4838,; Twitter: @JacBergensonPJ

Bright minds

Hudson Valley entrepreneurs, writers, activists and artists will convene today to discuss what they call the “new economic landscape,” as the Beacon Institute’s Center for Environmental Innovation and Education on Denning’s Point will host the inaugural TEDx LongDock event.

The locally organized TEDx LongDock aims to stimulate discussion among Hudson Valley residents on the topics of the vital role of the creative economy, entrepreneurship, and the creative class of the area, organizers say.

To read more, visit The Poughkeepsie Journal!