The Manic Pen

Books, music, writing, insanity...

Name:
Location: Clarksville, Tennessee, United States

i'm a writer.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Still Breathing

I'm still alive. As you know, I haven't updated for months. I warned you. The novel is coming along nicely, and I expect to be finished with the first draft by January, hopefully before Christmas. Maybe I should do a manic writing session this weekend. Finish the whole thing in one death blow. WHAM!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Scary Story Writer

I'm back from Greece. And yes, it was awesome. I learned a lot of things, both about people and my self. But I'm glad to be home. And I'm hard at work on a new novel. This novel is super scary, and it's going to kick a lot of ass. I'm working very hard on it because I want it to be a book people will remember. I'm not going to post any of it on here...or at least I have no plans to do so. I will say, however, that I haven't felt this good about my writing in a long time. And I feel very comfortable with the novel as a genre. I'm glad I walked away from screenwriting. I don't want to say never, but now is not the time. I don't care how much money Hollywood has because my soul is priceless. And to think that I had my sites set on the greedy, shark-infested waters of the movie business is to think that I almost became a money-whore. I don't want to be a money-whore, and I'm lucky I realized this before I moved out to Los Angeles.

Oh yeah. I've been reading John Irving. First I read The World According to Garp, and now I'm reading his most recent novel: Until I Find You (822 pages long!). I only bring this up because I highly recommend his books. Plus, I just finished the first book in Stephen King's Dark Tower series, which is also good. And I finally read Catcher in the Rye. I think I see why it's such a classic in that Salinger managed to capture the true voice of a sixteen-year-old. The novel and its events are timeless. I also read Bob Dylan's autobiography, which was very worthwhile. I didn't realize that he liked literature as much as I do, which reminds that I need to read more F. Scott Fitzgerald. I started to read The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner, but I stopped because I wasn't in the mood to strain through the non-stop stream of consciousness prose. I'll go back to it, but it wasn't what I expected after reading Light in August. I also read To Have and Have Not by Hemingway. It was alright. Certainly well-crafted and an interesting look at life during the Great Depression. I enjoyed seeing him experiment with point of view, and I tried that it my own novel, but I have to fix it because it doesn't work the way I did it. A friend told me that half of Hemingway's novels are crap. I've only read two. I don't think To Have and Have Not is crap. I mean, it's easy to sail through because Hemingway's prose is so smooth, but there's substance there, things worth thinking about. A lot of books are like that. Which reminds me that I need to read Hubert Selby, Jr. His stuff is pretty dark from what I understand (Requiem for a Dream), but my stuff is also dark. If I try to write a story that's not dark it usually sucks eggs.

Gregory Frye,
Tonganoxie, Kansas

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Everything Hits All at Once

Initial Writings after Reading Kerouac: and using Hemingway’s built-in shit-detector on myself during a significant period of transition

The Dharma Bums is a book that ought to be read straight through. And it helps if you’re outside, sitting in a peaceful, serene location. I started off slow, and picked up the pace for the last one hundred and fifty pages. There were a few moments where I didn’t think I would finish the book. Although it is well-written, it didn’t seem like the read I was looking for, but I staid with it, I finished it, and for the last one hundred and fifty pages I was flying down a mountain, jumping from boulder to boulder, crag to crag…just like Raymond Smith and Japhy Ryder.

And now after finishing the book by way of a lengthened reading session I feel refreshed, beautiful…and at peace with the world around me. This is a significant feeling due to the “threshold” which I have perceived my heavy feet to be weighing upon, the threshold of a new chapter, of whatever’s next after graduating from college. My educated mind had been troubled and frayed with a worrisome doubt about the future, about life decisions which I felt I had to make immediately. But now there’s no rush toward anything. There’s nothing to worry about. I have my ability to write, the ability to tune in on my view of the world…and The Dharma Bums has altered this view in the most distinguished of ways.

So how has my view been altered? I’ll get to that. But in addition to finishing this fine piece of literature, I also watched a movie called The Tenants, about two writers living in an abandoned building. The film was good. It had a lot of tension and interesting points of conflict. I especially enjoyed the film as it depicted the life of a novelist. This depiction inspired me in a special way because I’ve been struggling with my identity as a writer, struggling with what to write next, and feeling obligated to write a new screenplay. I’ve written a lot of screenplays in the past year, and I should probably be revising all of this stuff, but the thing is I’m feeling burned out on the screenplay. I now realize that I picked screenwriting for the WRONG reason. Money. I’ve been figuring this out during the past week or two, and seeing this movie about a novelist and then finishing The Dharma Bums has helped me reach what I believe to be an invaluable point of culmination.

Nothing matters. Life is more beautiful than serious. Live, work, and play. Write what you need to write because that is your own Buddhism, and the only person who can take that away is yourself. To hell with the screenplay, to hell with Hollywood and all those sharks in business suits. I don’t want to swim with sharks…my soul is too fragile. I’m an artist, not a commodity. That’s why I have been struggling! I’ve been too concerned about monetary value! AAAAHHHHHHH!!!! Money is never enough motivation for the life of a true writer. I knew this when I was younger, and I seem to have forgotten it along the way. I was too concerned about the future, and had no regard for the present. I hate to say that about myself, and I never would have guessed, but it’s true.

Indeed, my life has entered a major transition. Graduating from college is a big step. Of course it’s going to shake things up! For the first time in sixteen years I’m not in school anymore. I am more curious about life than ever. And I’m ready to deviate from the only theme I’ve explored, being that of mental illness. This deviation is a bit intimidating, but the only way to make the transition, is to write. Write. AND WRITE. And read as much as possible. I’ve already committed myself for the reading, but the writing…I need to write…write whatever. Even if it’s just a reflective piece such as this. To hell with the screenplay. My heart’s not there anymore, and I can’t bear the pressure of trying to force my heart into anything that it is not willing. I’m talking about my heart, my soul...why did I pick writing in the first place? Because it is the way to express the overwhelming energy and electricity that comes with being Gregory Frye. If I’m not expressing that in my writing, than what am I expressing? Shit. So here’s to you, Hemingway, and that built-in shit detector you mentioned. And to Kerouac, for seeing the beauty.

--Gregory Frye

May 2006

Monday, March 06, 2006

Nervous Muscles and Intense Thoughts

I didn't write all of this at the same time. But maybe all of these things are connected. Or...maybe there not. My thoughts have certainly evolved on some of these things over the past couple of days. So instead of relating these ideas to me, relate them to yourself and your own life. You might get something out of it. Or...maybe you won't. You don't have to take my word for it.


Revise or Die!

Any experienced writer will tell YOU that revision is ninety-percent of the writing process. The art of revision includes a degree of discipline that goes beyond the standard spell-check program. I see the revision process as a giant wall. It’s big. It’s intimidating. Some people look at it, get scared and quit. Other people will try to climb it, but the attempt is usually half-hearted and doesn’t end up anywhere. The true writer will bust through it when the time is right. Those bricks won’t stand a chance.

What’s on the other side of this wall? It is an aspect of the creative process reserved for those who have the passion and dedication to cultivate a craft that gives them life. It takes a long time to get there, though. And there is always another wall. Another level of experience. Another chance to alter YOUR view of the world.

NOTES TO SELF:

1.) drinking = no writing = severe depression and chronic anxiety

2.) properly manage time

3.) write everyday

4.) stay ahead of my courses

5.) relax…don’t worry so much

6.) buy triple-A batteries

BREATHE

For the past couple of weeks my mind has been battered by a countless number of negative thoughts. I have been paranoid and depressed. Anxious to the core. I’m not going to subject myself to this anymore. I’ll go with the flow. Don’t try to fight it or you’ll get bubbles in your blood. You’ll pop a valve. Relax. Do what ever it takes.

I have awoken from a vicious nightmare. Now that I am standing, I can take action. I can do whatever it takes to pull myself from this quagmire of doubt and guilt. Do you understand what I’m saying? I can break through the wall and be the man I’m supposed to be. I’m not sure who he is, but he makes me smile.

Most people have a certain set of standards for themselves. They know how to reason between right or wrong. They know how to listen and accept advice. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe most people are stupid and selfish, but that’s another one of those negative thoughts. I don’t want to think negative thoughts. I am tired of negativity. I want to pour all this bad milk down the garage disposal, get rid of it. While I’m at it, I might as well clean out the entire fridge, get rid of any evidence that something bad was there to begin with. Is there any food worth saving? Can I wait eight weeks without going to the grocery store? If it means being happier then I certainly can do it, and I will.

Your environment changes you. I’ve been living in a questionable environment for the past several months. And I want out. I don’t want to try to fix it because there’s nothing left to salvage. It is hopeless.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Back From the Dead

I promise to fill this site with legitimate updates very soon. I've got a lot of things going on: editing a fine arts journal, working on a screenplay, losing my mind...these aren't excuses--just reasons.

Until then, here's an old short story to tie you over. I hope you like it.

The Riot

By Gregory Frye

The day is beautiful as I take a casual stroll through the park. The sky is clear and the grass freshly cut. A cool refreshing breeze gently blows upon my face, keeping my overgrown hair out of my eyes. I hear birds chirping and see squirrels crawling around on the branches of trees. People all around me are enjoying the outdoors, having picnics, jogging, walking their dogs, and reading in the shade. I feel like I could walk around in this park all day. I pass people on the sidewalk and they give me a friendly nod. I nod back, sometimes even wave. An attractive woman passes me, smiling. I smile back, and give her a wink. I think to myself that this is nice. This is what makes life worth living. Spring time, walks in the park and amiable people, amiable souls.

I don’t notice I have stepped in a fresh glob of bubble gum until it has somehow been caught on the top of my opposite shoe and even tangled in my leg hair. My mood is quickly soured. There are two things in this world that I hate most: leaky fountain pens and…stepping in gum. Needless to say I am…livid. In a matter of moments I become entrapped in a towering rage. I am like a hydrogen bomb on the brink of explosion.

Unable to control myself I jump off the sidewalk and onto the grass, running to a nearby tree. With my bare hands I begin to rip off the tree’s bark in a desperate attempt of destruction. I don’t care about this tree; I want it to die. I peel off the layers of bark until I tear the fingernail off my left index finger. I don’t feel the pain, however, as I am surfing on pure, chaotic adrenaline.

I grab a lower branch of the tree and began to pull my weight down, but nothing happens. I swing back and forth for several moments before realizing that this tree is stronger than I am. This, of course, makes me even angrier.

I begin screaming and yelling, ripping out my hair. I run over to a nearby family and start stomping on their picnic. They scatter in fear as I approach. I step on sandwiches and kick salads. I pick up a quart of orange juice and hurl it as far I can. I take handfuls of potato salad and smear them all over my body as I drool and spit at anybody who comes close.

Next I wrap the entire mess in the picnic blanket and stuff it into a nearby trash can. I tip the trashcan on its side and begin to roll it toward the street. The street is packed with cars, as usual.

I hate traffic.

I pick up the trashcan and smash it into a taxi’s windshield. The taxi driver gets out and starts to yell at me. I don’t even listen, though. Instead I jump on top of his cab and begin to bounce up and down. I stomp my feet back and forth, the windows shatter, and the roof caves in.

Traffic all around me has come to a complete standstill. People are standing around pointing at me, staring and gawking.

“You fucking rubberneckers!” I yell. I begin to jump from car to car, trying to get away from these strange, bloodthirsty sightseers. I jump my way to the other side of the street and come down on the sidewalk in front of a strip of shops. I begin to kick one of the display windows. One time, two times, three times until it finally shatters. An alarm from within the store sounds, but I don’t see anybody in there. I grab a smaller trashcan from behind and go to smashing the other store windows with it, one by one.

More and more people are gathering around me, keeping at a safe distance, as they watch. Another man emerges from the crowd and joins me on my path of destruction.

This man grabs another trashcan and begins to smash the windows of cars parked on the side of the street. Neither one of us say anything as we smash the glass. It is a mutual feeling.

Pretty soon a third person joins in and fourth, a fifth. In minutes the entire block is filled with chaos as hundreds of people join me in my raving anger. People are smashing, yelling, looting, and spitting. Everybody seems to be letting out every bit of rage that has been bottled up for too long.

The destruction continues to spread, creating virtual madness for several blocks. For a few moments it’s as if the entire city becomes a united entity.

Before long troops of police and swat teams are marching the streets, hitting people with nightsticks and giving them faces full of mace. A cop comes and sprays my face and hits me in the groin with his nightstick. I stumble into a nearby alley, blind and in pain. I am able to take cover in the quiet seclusion of the alleyway. When I regain my vision I realize that I have stumbled into my own alleyway. I quickly climb up the fire escape to my third floor studio.

I watch the rest of the riots from the safety of my apartment. They go on for two days. When it was all over there had been two power outages, $340 million in damages, 2,000 injuries, and 207 deaths.

I decide to take a week off work, canceling all of my appointments and skipping the next congressional meeting. I’ve earned it.

Copyright 2004, Gregory Frye. All rights reserved. misterwoe@hotmail.com

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Meet Samuel Towers

Baby

By Gregory E. Frye

“Baby? Is that you?”

“Yeah, baby. It’s me.”

“Where were you?”

“At the bar. Go back to sleep,” I said as I took the revolver from the nightstand drawer.

I shut the bedroom door and went to the bathroom. I turned on the light, looked at my face in the mirror. Blood. My right eye swollen, cut.

I spat into the sink. More blood. Part of a tooth.

My shirt stained with blood. Some of it mine.

That fuck-face really beat the shit out of me.

I turned off the light and went into the kitchen. I got more bullets out of the drawer beneath the toaster. I never knew why I kept them there. I loaded the gun and stuck a handful of bullets into my jacket pocket. On my way out, I stopped and looked at my typewriter, setting in the dark like a mechanical ghost. I thought about sitting down and writing, but I didn’t.

Revolver in hand, I left the apartment and made my way down the stairwell. On the ground floor there was a middle-aged woman with big hips checking her mail.

“What the hell happened to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Your face…It looks like you got hit by a truck.”

“Oh, right. I guess you could say that.” I gave her a smile, and she looked away either in disgust or fear, perhaps awkwardness. I held up the gun and scratched my head with the barrel. “You should see the other guy.”

The woman shut her mailbox and hurried up the stairs. More fear. Or was it confusion?

The night felt cool and refreshing. I was disappointed that the city lights were drowning out the stars. I wished the power would go out.

I stuck the gun in my jacket pocket and headed back to the bar. Some jackass passed me on the sidewalk and tried to pickpocket me. I’m lucky the gun was on the other side. Some day I’ll carry a dildo in my pocket. Let them grab that!

The usual bar patrons were still there, trying to drink their problems away, yet continuously talking about them whether one was listening or not. I sat down at the bar and ordered a whiskey.

“Look, Samuel, I don’t want any more trouble in here. Do you understand?” Tony said as he poured my drink. His face was tired, old. Wrinkled.

“Tony. What on earth are you talking about?”

“Sammy, don’t be such a shit head,” Cecilia said from two seats down. “You were screaming at him with a megaphone.”

“Yeah, and he broke it. That cocksucker owes me.”

“Just watch it,” Tony said.

I drank down the whiskey and signaled for another. “Keep them coming, Tony--Hey, Cecilia…Where did that cocksucker go anyway?” I was purposely emphasizing the word cocksucker just to be offensive.

“I don’t know where he is, but if you’re lucky he won’t come back here tonight.”

“Maybe you’re right,” I said.

Cecilia was at the bar every night. She had been married five times and divorced just as many. People said she was crazy, but I always thought she was nice. She stared at me through a haze of cigarette smoke.

She got up and moved to the chair next to me. “Do you have any cigarettes, Sammy?”

“You’re already smoking one.”

“C’mon it’s my last one. Do you have any or not?”

“No, but I have a joint.”

“Shit! You’ve been holding back? Let’s light that thing up!”

Fair enough. I unbuttoned my shirt pocket and removed the joint. It was a little beat up from the fight but still smokeable. I lit it and passed it to Cecilia.

“Hey you guys can’t smoke that in here!” Tony yelled from the other side of the bar.

“Nobody cares,” I said.

“Yeah, Tony, who cares?”

“I do! If you’re going to smoke it, take it outside.”

Cecilia and I got up. I took my drink with me. We stood in the alleyway and smoked.

“How does your face feel?”

“It’s not so bad.”

“Gees, why do you do this to yourself?”

“How long have we known each other?”

“I don’t know…three years? Four?”

“Do you have me figured out yet?”

“No.”

“I don’t have you figured out yet either, and I know I don’t have myself figured out.”

“Sammy, where are you going with this?” It was only the women in my life who called me Sammy.

“I don’t know why I do the things I do,” I said. “I don’t know why I drink; I don’t know why I eat; I don’t know why I fuck. Why do you do the things you do?”

“I don’t know. For fun…I enjoy the things I do.”

“You enjoy everything you do, like work?”

“Well, I don’t really enjoy work…I work so I can do the things I like to do.”

I took another hit off the joint. “So you’re saying that you spend your time working so you can spend the rest of your time not working?”

Cecilia began to laugh. “You’re fucking with me, Sammy.”

“Seriously, why not spend all of the time not working. Who says we have to work?”

“It costs money to live…bills…rent…”

“That’s what I’m saying! Who says we have live like everybody else? Who says we have to wear expensive clothing? Who says we have to drive fancy cars? Why give a fuck about what other people think? Why not just do what makes you happy? We only live once.”

“Sam--”

“Why are those bums, homeless people, so frowned upon? I don’t know what it’s like to be homeless. It could be this whole different culture that I’m missing out on. I mean, what a grand way to put so many things into perspective. Homelessness. Sure it’s got its problems. It may be the hard life, but at least you won’t have to do anything you don’t want to. At least you won’t have to work a slave job. Anything is better than conforming, Cecilia.”

“I think Hal hit you one too many times. It sounds like you’re asking me to runaway to the junk yard with you or something.”

“Yeah, well that cocksucker broke my megaphone. I had to steal that from a cop.”

“Why do you keep using that word? I resent that, you know.”

“Which word?”

“I’m taking my kid brother to the zoo tomorrow. Do you want to go?”

“No.”

“Thanks for the joint, Sammy; I’m going back inside.” She tossed the remainder of the joint onto the ground. I was going to smoke the rest of it, but didn’t say anything, only watched her walk around the corner to go back inside. I didn’t feel like going back into the bar. I don’t know what I felt like, except that I never wanted to go into another bar again. I threw my glass against the brick wall and headed towards the liquor store at the end of the street.

“Rough night, Sam?” Charles asked me from behind the cash register. He was like me, hadn’t shaved in days.

“No.” I bought the six-pack and left. I didn’t feel like talking anymore either.

I opened one of the beers and drank it as I made my way back home. I thought about Cynthia, my girlfriend. She was probably still lying in bed, having a dreamless, sedated sleep. I loved her, but she was taking too many pills. Uppers, downers…a pill for every occasion, mood swing, and feeling. I have always been a fan of drugs, but not when people can’t handle them, not when they ruin things, not when they become an excuse for an excuse.

I made my way up to the apartment and took the six-pack into bed with me. An all too familiar angst was building up in my stomach. I thought about those pills, glancing at the several prescription bottles setting on Cynthia’s nightstand. They all had different people’s names on them. My mother used to do the same stuff. As an adolescent I watched her slip further away everyday. Maybe that’s why I loved Cynthia so much. She was like my mother.

“Baby,” I said. “Wake up.”

“Baby? Is that you?”

“Yes.”

Cynthia turned on the lamp. “Oh my, what happened to your face?”

“Nothing.” I took a drink of beer as I watched Cynthia reach for some pills on the nightstand. I watched her swallow them.

It broke my heart.

“Where have you been all night, Sammy?”

“Look, Cynthia, you need to stop taking so many pills.”

“What for?”

“Have you looked in the mirror lately? You look like shit.”

“Ha. Speak for yourself.”

“Cynthia--”

“No, Sammy. I don‘t understand. Here you are drinking beer in bed, reeking of pot, telling me how to live my life.”

“Yeah.”

“What about you? Do you think your life style is any healthier? You don’t work. All you do is sit around, drinking, smoking, and writing. Why don’t you straighten up?”

“Don’t go there. Don’t. You still have something, Cynthia. There’s still a chance for you. I’ve seen things that I can’t forget. It’s too late for me to go back. It’s too late for me to ever give a shit about anything in this world. Everyday I see the useless, depraved, unimaginative, Neanderthal, zombie-like ways of humanity and it depresses the shit out of me. The only thing left in this world that I can love is you. It’s you. I don’t know why, but that’s it. I fucking love you Cynthia. These pills are fucking killing you. Every time you take one I feel like I’m losing part of you. It’s slipping away one strand at a time, and it tears me apart like nothing else. I’ve seen people burned alive, children that have died from AIDS, parents killed in car wrecks, and innocent old ladies stabbed to death for five dollars. Nothing breaks my heart more than seeing you die, right here, right now.”

Cynthia began to cry. “Sammy…”

I held her in my arms. I had actually gotten through to her. We both cried. I felt like this was a new start for both of us. At that moment I felt like I could quit drinking, I could stop harassing people with megaphones. Whatever it took to be with Cynthia, to make this last, to make it work. I could have done it. Easy.

I threw the rest of the beer away and held Cynthia in my arms and fell asleep, dreaming of a fresh start.

When I awoke Cynthia was still in my arms. A warm morning breeze blew from the open window, the curtains dancing about. I took a deep breath and stretched, yawned. Today would be great.

A new start.

I snuck out of bed and into the kitchen. I wanted to surprise Cynthia with breakfast in bed. I cooked her eggs, sausage, bacon, and made orange juice. I took a tray into the bedroom and put it aside so I could wake her.

I leaned over to give Cynthia a kiss on the cheek. She was cold. I pulled her over, and from her hand fell an empty bottle of pills.

I’m not sure how long I stood there, looking down at what once was a beautiful, vibrant life. This was irony, it was sadness, and it was tragic. The significance of the day struck me. Is it sad when somebody dies on their birthday? Or is it special?

I went into the other room and sat down at my typewriter. As the words began to flow and the tears began to dry, I remembered what it is to be human. I remembered what it means to dodge the nervous breakdowns and anxious folds of life through discipline and craft. And when I finally stopped writing, I remembered that my baby was gone.