Sunday, May 12, 2019

#39 Inside the Emotion of Fiction's THE WOODSTOCK PARADOX by Edward DeVito

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****Edward DeVito’s The Woodstock Paradox is the thirty-ninth in a never-ending series called INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION where the Chris Rice Cooper Blog (CRC) focuses on one specific excerpt from a fiction genre and how that fiction writer wrote that specific excerpt.  All INSIDE THE EMOTION OF FICTION links are at the end of this piece.

Name of fiction work? And were there other names you considered that you would like to share with us? The Woodstock Paradox

Fiction genre? Ex science fiction, short story, fantasy novella, romance, drama, crime, plays, flash fiction, historical, comedy, movie script, screenplay, etc. And how many pages long? The novel may be classified Historical Fiction with an element of Fantasy, for the tale’s incidence of time-travel.   The Woodstock Paradox has 390 pages.

Has this been published? And it is totally fine if the answer is no. If yes, what publisher and what publication date? Yes, The Woodstock Paradox - Copyright © 2011 by Edward DeVito, ISBN 978-0-9910791-0-0. Published by Wayward Mountain Press (Logo on left), in Zigzag-Rhododendron, Oregon (WMP and its ISBNs will have moved with me to my current residence, in Maine.

What is the date you began writing this piece of fiction and the date when you completely finished the piece of fiction? I began writing The Woodstock Paradox in the late summer of 1990, and finished it almost exactly twenty years later, in the fall of 2010.

Where did you do most of your writing for this fiction work? And please describe in detail. And can you please include a photo? The Woodstock Paradox was written in Oregon.  Though you didn’t ask, I should say the idea for the story came out of a coincidence of conversations among young people I worked with in two, very different youth programs.  One, was at a half-way house for youth-at-risk, in Portland, Oregon; and the other, a conservation project for high school-age volunteers, at Richmond National Battlefield Parks, in Virginia.  To get to know the kids I worked with, I’d throw out conversation prompts, such as, “Where would you go if you had a time machine?”  I was surprised by nearly identical answers from many of these kids.  So often, it was Woodstock! 
      Since the work happened over a number of years, it was written in a series of residences.  Some of these moves contributed to long delays in finishing the book.  The disruptions were just too much, and almost derailed the project several times over those two decades.  
     One location was a modest little house my partner and I bought in Portland, another one was in Sandy, and the last in Zigzag-Rhododendron, which is up Lolo Pass – on the north side of Mt. Hood, all in Oregon.  I departed from here in the spring of 2010, with a young traveling companion, on the research road trip to Bethel, NY.  This was a very necessary information-gathering expedition to wrap up the project with the site-present accuracy it deserved.  
     The trip retraced the journey our protagonist from 1990 takes, with friends he made after an electrical accident awakens him in the year, 1969.  The story is related as realistically as possible, as in:  An angry, mixed-up kid runs from his adjudicated group home, and incomprehensibly finds himself in another time.   How would such a thing likely go down, considering the character, if it actually happened?  Then, how does this experience change him, now considering the iconic era where he has landed?
     The (below)photo provides a look to the window of my office “on the mountain,” where a three-month writing and editing marathon went down, mostly over the summer of 2010; going over all the pages, some of them written by hand, others printed out from a word-processor, then an archaic Intel 486, and finally my first Dell Laptop.  A dear friend of mine, the late Karyn Conlon (Right), was a real fan of the book.  At my wedding, which took place at this house, Karyn stood in the office, closed her eyes, and said,  “This is where Arien lives!”

What were your writing habits while writing this work- did you drink something as you wrote, listen to music, write in pen and paper, directly on laptop; specific time of day? (Left: Edward's writing space) I usually wrote into the wee hours.  The last big push generally included herbal indulgence, which had a way of refreshing me, and instigating rhythms of writing that attracted ideas and concepts that assumed movement, as in music, which came to their crescendos in nicely-wrapped chapters!  It was as if the scenes unfolded before my eyes as the characters told me what they said!  Almost all editing was grammatical. 
     It hurt me, however to smoke this much, so after it was done, I took nearly a year herbal fasting from this helper to recover from its physical wear and tear.  I later came to understand my best writing time is in the morning, but the rhythm of my life and work for most of this period conflicted with that.  Sometimes music played, and sometimes not.  When I was focused, nothing mattered.  And, if I was hungry, I’d ride it, like a horse, to get that much further on.

     I never – that’s never experienced anything like writer’s block.  Whenever it stalled, I’d switch to reading over what I had, and editing, and then the scene would open once again as if the projector had only been changing reels.   I’d call my friend, Eadi  and husband Bruce (Left), who at the time was a school teacher who lived in Portland, and I’d read the latest chapters to her over the phone.  Eadi would ask: “How long did that take to write?”  Or, “Is that the way it came out?”   Sometimes, she told me it was hard for her to believe.  (I’ll ask her if she would speak with you if you’d like to have her own recollection).   Eadi became a serious fan of the story, to the point where she and her husband supported the project with time and yes, even financial assistance. 
     I should mention, during this period I kept having synchronistic experiences that were so connected to the material, it approached the uncanny.  I’ve since learned many writers have mention this happening to them.  I’m sure it has something to do with the power of the creative imagination, itself.  For what it may be worth, the study of Hermetic Philosophy (Right) would readily endorse such a conclusion.  

What is the summary of this specific fiction work? I volunteer at Penobscot Community School (K – 8) to help a teacher there with her creative writing class, for three periods a week.  It came up in December that the school was having a “Read-In,” and since it was known I was an author, they invited me to read some passages from my book.   The combined group took in students of grades 5 – 8.  So, the task for me was to eschew sex and drugs, and there’s a lot of that in the book – it’s about the months leading up to, and including some of Woodstock, after all, <chuckles> but it wasn’t nearly as difficult as one might think.  I was able to gather a thread out of a few chapters to convey in just 30 minutes a fairly good idea of the story, and only had to skip over a few F-bombs to stay out of trouble.  The reading was well received, and one of the listeners, an adult, said I’d convinced her to buy a copy of the book!   So, that’s what I will provide for you below.

Can you give the reader just enough information for them to understand what is going on in the excerpt? Here’s the encapsulating back jacket spiel:
While running from a juvenile court-ordered group home in Portland, Oregon, in 1990, seventeen year-old Arien Danner is catapulted to another time as the result of a freak electrical accident.  And so begins a tale of life in the Haight-Ashbury (Right: in 1967), a pivotal experience of the People’s Park Riots in Berkeley (Below: May 15, 1969 Bloody Thursday headline), and the adventures of a cross-country road trip.  The tale concludes at Bethel, NY, the site of the legendary Woodstock Festival in 1969.
     Within an exploration of the period are elements of coming-of-age, finding love, communal life, and a mystery quest into New Age and Native American magic and spirituality.  Though The Woodstock Paradox is fiction with a touch of fantasy/sci-fi, it is well-researched and contains many historically accurate details.
Why is this excerpt so emotional for you? And can you describe your own emotional experience of writing this specific excerpt? Arien, our protagonist, was modeled on two lads I knew while working with teens whose backgrounds could hardly have been more at odds, but who both answered “Where would you go if you had a time machine?” in the same way.  I met Jason at a group home where I was an on-call house monitor and mentor.  This was an angry boy who came out of a perfectly horrible, tormented childhood, yet who I recognized to have had a sincerely good heart, and that “there but for…”  he might have been, just as the Cullen, a proud volunteer for a national conservation program, who hailed from a model family out of a privileged world.  However, their answers, immediate and certain, were nearly identical (as, it turned out afterwards, were so many others’).   It was really eye-opening!
“Why, Jason?”
“Because I would be free!” he declared.
“Why, Cullen?”
“It was beautiful; and do whatever you wanted.”
Regardless of the veracity of such a belief, here is what has certainly become the underlying myth of that iconic festival.
As of a few years ago, Jason’s last address was the Oregon State Prison.  Cullen is a successful lawyer who works on environmental issues.  He is currently raising two boys at an address in Manhattan. 
I had to ask myself, what if Jason could have had his wish, and get so far away from this place they would never find him again, and he, as we said in the ‘60’s, “could be whoever he wants to be?”

Please include the excerpt and include page numbers as reference. The excerpt can be as short or as long as you prefer. From Chapter 7 – Derby Street, p. 68-70: 
The Danner's kitchen was a bright and friendly place that had a large window with yellow curtains.  There was an archaic refrigerator with a rather fat yellow porcelain owl cookie jar on top.  The owl had great big blue eyes.  A maple wood table was set in yellow place mats with green cloth napkins and medium sized green glasses of orange juice at every place.  A half grapefruit rested in small green glass bowls in front of every place too.  Alex silently reached for the matching sugar bowl as he sat down and spread a white pile of the stuff over the top of his grapefruit.  It was evident his mother recognized that something important was in the air but she chose to say nothing.  She stood at the stove and poured more batter on the griddle that spanned two of the four gas burners.  It hissed as the batter met the surface.  She kept looking at Arien, who looked awkwardly back at her.
It seemed the gray drizzle outside was lifting.  The room brightened from the light of the window.   Arien's eyes wandered from the woman at the stove to the window.  For a moment time was suspended as a fragment of memory drifted by.
“Thank you, Ma’am,” Tina was saying.  “It's so nice of you to have us in for breakfast.”
Arien snapped back to himself.  He took the sugar bowl Tina passed to him.
“Where are you from, Arien?”
“Originally from Berkeley here, but I've been living in Portland for a long time now.”
“What's your last name?  It's amazing how much you look like one of the family,” she blurted out, folding her arms.  “What a marvelous coincidence!  Why, now I understand why Alex asked me if he had a brother.  If I didn't know better, I would think so, too.  Oh my.”  She turned the cakes on the griddle.
Tina looked up from her grapefruit.  Her spoon stopped midway to her face as she looked at her companion.
“Yes.  It really is something, isn't it,” Arien said.  He blushed.  He hoped she wouldn't press him.
“So what brings you two down this way?  Did you come just to see Alex?”
“We're visiting, Ma’am.  Yes.  In a way, I came to see Alex.”
“Alex, you said nothing about this friend who looks so much like you.”  Mrs. Danner stacked plates with the pancakes.  She moved efficiently around the room like an organist playing her instrument.  The music smelled so good.  Arien dumbly looked up at her as she set a plate in front of him.  She had to slide his grapefruit over to make room.  There was another flash of distant memory where this woman was barely older.  It was difficult.  Tina reached to help her, but too late.  Mrs. Danner already had it down.  It was as if Arien had frozen solid.  He blushed again.  Nanna had touched his hair.
Her fingers stroked and lingered at the back of his head as if disbelieving what was before her.  Her son watched this intently.
Arien closed his eyes.  His grandmother moved away to pick up two more plates, but after touching this little bit of him it seemed she moved in slow motion.  Her expression changed.  Words seemed to form on her lips but she held them back until she sat herself down at the table.
“Tell me about yourself, Arien.”
“My parents died when I was young,” he said, his voice edged with emotion.
“Oh dear.”
“So I never had any real family.  I had foster parents.  Lots of them.”
“You had no other family?”
“No, Ma’am.”
“I'm sorry.”
“So am I.”
Alex quietly stared at his visitors as he ate, but now he dropped a bomb.  “You said we're related.”
Mrs. Danner seemed to apprehend the obvious.  Her face darkened.  “Your father was a good man, Alex,” she said.  “He never cheated.”
“Maybe he did.”  Alex rocked back in his chair like a little boy, staring sullenly at Arien.  “You knew so much about me!
“Momma, this is the second time I've seen him and he knew all about me!”
Arien blushed again.  Tina shifted uncomfortably.  “It's not like you think it is,” she offered.
“I should think not.”   Mrs. Danner agreed, but her eyes betrayed confusion.
“How is it then?”  Alex asked her.
“You wouldn't believe it,” Tina responded bravely, “but your husband was not Arien’s Dad.”
Mrs. Danner sighed.  She smiled thinly.  “Of course not,” she said.

From Chapter 21 – Clayboy, p. 177-178:     The long night wore heavily on Arien through the dim lights of the van and the painfully hesitant slap of its single windshield wiper.  It barely revealed a hollow road through glistening fragments of broken light smattering both halves of a windshield.  A dull, luminescent reflection from the speed gauge remained.  It was a ghostly companion in some parallel world hologram that hung suspended outside in the darkness.  “Vdo,” he read.  “Vdo.  Kaplunkit.  Vdo.”  Jeff once said the radio had been ‘kaput’ since he owned this magic bus.  Man.  Some tunes would be ‘gear’.  What a quaint word.
He sang under his breath,  “I have climbed highest
mountain / I have run through the fields / Only to be with
you, / I have run, I have flown, I have scaled these city walls, these city walls, Only to be with you…”
       The rain drove in waves that lessened to a bare sprinkle and charged again in ferocious drumming drops, forcing him to slow down, as if that were possible without entirely stopping, so he could see.  And then a moment's stark flashing revealed a world in its great halftone panorama; the shimmering, snaking road clinging to forested slopes in sheets of rain, the gray metal dash, the white of his knuckles on the broad wheel, dangling osprey feathers hanging from the rear view mirror, a glimmer of golden hair in the corner of his eye.
       Incredible.  You'd think the boom blasting through the air would wake everyone - but it didn't.  They slept like sacks of damp grain.  Andy snored a little.  Otter wheezed.  Jeff was invisible in his silence.
         Arien yawned.  The air was thick and humid.  He could smell their bodies, especially the sweet one pressed against him.
       “Only to be with you…”
         Oh, Tina.  His heart felt too full, like it would crowd his lungs and restrict his breathing.  He tried to think back to how it happened; of when he knew.  It was something he hadn't felt before, and it snuck up on him, a Robin Hood that brought so much floating good feeling to his poor soul he pitied the rich man it had to come from.  He could not bear thinking what it would be like to lose that once it was tasted.  His deepest dread approached when her Mom stole her away.  It had to be the worst thing that could possibly happen.  If it were not for Jamie Sun!  Oh, in spite of everything, he acknowledged such incredible luck!  God!  So this was love!  Am I really ready for this?
His shoulders ached.  He tried to stretch and flex the
muscles in his arms and back without disturbing her.  He shifted his feet one more time.  The beating drone of the engine wavered then restored its rhythm.  Another flash.  Another crack and boom.  That one was really close!  Rad.  He could still see the country in his head after the brilliant light faded.  And he hadn't even closed his eyes!  Candles would be brighter than those stupid headlights, he mused.  They just pointed to where his eyes had to adjust to the darkness.
      “Wow!”  It was a low exclamation from behind him.  He could feel a hand on the back of the seat and breathing push the sluggish air against his ear.  “Are you okay?”
      “Yeah, Andy.  Thanks."
       “If you see a place to pull over just do it.” Arien smiled to himself.  “Who was Nike?”             
       He knew Andy would likely know the answer.  Andy was into that stuff. 
       “Oh, ah, a Goddess, bro.  Goddess of Victory.  Greek.  She had wings.  Why?”
        Tina stirred and snuggled.  She hadn't awakened. Arien stretched and flexed again, this time more smoothly.  The beating engine hardly wavered.  God it was fun to drive!  Even this torture was fun.  It was so new a thing.   He rubbed his eyes.  “I'm good,” he said.  “I'll drive a little longer.”
      His feet felt clammy in Keds.  He hadn't worn his High Tops since leaving the city by the bay.  They were stashed away in the pack.  He'd cleaned them up and bought new laces.  They were being saved now for special occasions.  Arien didn't want to wear them out.  They were the only pair of High Tops in the world.

Chapter 36 – Mother Shongo, p. 330 – 336:     “Man, this is rad!” Clayboy declared with a smarmy grin at Arien, wiping his lips on a bare forearm.  The better part of a barbequed chicken leg dangled off the tips of his fingers.  He sat on the end of the bench where he’d squeezed in at Arien’s picnic table, precariously balancing his paper plate by the edge.
“The dead stuff always gets good marks,” Otter declaimed.  He smiled wanly over the potato salad, a pile of greens, three-bean salad and raw vegetable bits in front him.
          Arien had been nibbling all morning while he and Tina helped Willow, Laurel and Sundew turn out bread and berry pies from the step van’s oven, so his appetite was on hold at the moment.  He did accept a cup of tapioca from Janie Redeye, a kindly middle-aged woman in a light blue cotton dress and beaded felt vest that was open in front.  Her pudding was excellent, like quality vanilla ice cream with tapioca pearls might be if it could be served at room temperature without melting.
It turned out to be quite the gathering.  Several native
families besides Black Snake, such as Redeye, Shongo, Jimerson and Half Town were represented so, with all the Tree People, there were close to sixty picnickers at the site.  The adults were warm and friendly, especially after the Trees formed into a circle and Hawthorne paraphrased their new circle’s invocation, blessing the gathering as a statement of gratitude to the “Mother and Father of All Things… for the gift of ourselves and our new friends among the Seneca.”  All the while he’d held a smoldering smudge stick of wild sage.  One of the locals responded by quickly unwrapping a broad drum, probably intended for later.  He began to beat a steady rhythm out in a taught, deep tone that had everyone silently standing in accord with it.  Some of the older women lightly swayed or tapped their hips and some of the men bobbed their heads.  It was simple and gracious and Arien was deeply impressed both with the beautiful, easy connection among the folks at this happening and his amazing perspective as a part of it; how radically his world and his outlook had changed from that of the boy he used to think he was, and the impossibly limited options that other lad had been capable of seeing.
“Yeah, Clayboy, it’s out-a sight!” Arien agreed. Andy looked at him over a fork laden with potato salad, dipping it in a salute.
          “Keep that up and you’ll be talking like the hippies,” Jeff warned with a wink.
The two groups basically sat by themselves to eat but the native kids were curious enough afterwards to hang around the Tree folks and some had questions about their origins, their road trip, the up-coming festival at Woodstock, and about Arien.  Many of them had long hair and wore a choker here and there and it didn’t seem like there was much difference among them.
        “So the concert is free?  I heard they’re selling tickets for six dollars a day,” a young teen-age boy in a black T-shirt and blue jeans said.  He stood behind Arien with a small group of friends that drifted over.
Arien had a slug off his second can of Schlitz to wash down the last spoon of tapioca.  The beer and pudding made for a strange combination.  “But if you go it will be free,” he corrected.
“Believe it, he knows,” Tina assured them, though they looked like they didn’t quite believe it.
Arien watched as a big, swallow-tail butterfly fluttered erratically over to hover for a moment above the table.  It made him think of a line from that song by (what’s her name?) about Woodstock he’d heard in a future time that by now, with every passing day, grew more fantastic and remote, and were it not for the occasional incidents of current events, song fragments and cultural instigations, Arien might have indulged a little self-doubt. “And I dreamed I saw the bombers riding shotgun in the sky... turning into butterflies above our nation.”
But everything was making Arien think about Woodstock lately.  And, when Aspen, Willow and Ben produced their guitars they opened a set with “We Shall Overcome,” perhaps as a conscious effort to connect with native people’s issues – which was well received – and he was sure he’d recognized another song from the movie.  In any event, the “Keepers of the Western Door,” the title Ellison had told Arien his people proudly carried, appeared pleased and a few drums that were produced by some of the people underlined the song with a reasonably conventional rhythm.  There was a drummer that especially attracted Arien’s attention, a woman among them, who was old enough to be his grandmother.  She tapped-out a unique, complimentary sound that would have been counter-point, or harmony, had it been song.  She was very good.
When the song came to an end however, the drumming  continued and gradually altered to an aboriginal pulse.  Some of the people sang along with it in paradoxical cadences both unfamiliar and timeless to the Western ear, to blend into the surrounding forest and some of the deepest places of genetic recollection in the souls of the listeners.
Arien was sure he heard modulations and breaks in the rhythms he’d never noticed or considered before and it came to him that it was not rote and repetitive drumming he heard, but an articulation of the mysterious place where nature and human experience come together.  The rich awareness washed through him, speaking through the beating of drums, heavy with a subtle yet fulfilling substance of gratification, worthy pride, and as a bulwark of confidence like a deposit of bullion to his account, and yet infinitely more precious than anything real bullion could possibly obtain.  It was clearly a part of him and who he was and he could appreciate how that justified the new and amazing proportions of his life.
When it got dark Coleman lanterns came out.  Many among the Seneca families said their goodbyes and drove away, but those who remained set up folding chairs and pulled benches in to join the Trees in an intimate ring around a blazing campfire Thomas and some of the young fellows built-up and fed.  Ellison said a prayer by the fire in a quiet voice Arien couldn’t make out from where he sat, but he was excited to see Ellison wearing a small fur cap with a single feather attached to it.
Arien nudged Tina, when Ellison sprinkled flakes from his fingers into the fire.  The unassuming little cap suddenly seemed magnificent, its evocative feather appearing to come alive in the firelight.
Ellison sat down in a deck chair next to Arien when his prayer ended.  Thomas brought him a cold can of beer.  Carefully Ellison opened it with a little folding can opener on his key chain.  Arien had seen these before at Andy & Bax, the Army surplus store in Portland.   Ellison made a small cut on the edge of one side and then a longer one on the other, which he bent in with his thumb against an edge of the opener.
The evening breeze was erratic and the musicians had to move occasionally to get out of the smoke.  Aspen, Ben and Willow, with the addition of a teenage Seneca girl, introduced as Emily Half Town, played folk songs including numbers participants could sing-along with.  A few of Emily’s songs, she announced, were by Buffy St. Marie.   In their breaks, the native lads with the drums beat out ancient songs that easily resonated among the Tree Family.
“There’s someone waiting to meet you,” Ellison said without looking at Arien.
“I’m ready.  Where is he?”  Arien had just made eye contact with Otter, who was a few feet away, along with Jeff and Andy. Arien’s dismissive expression begged another question from his friend.
“She’s ready now, too.  I see she’s put down her drum.”  
      Ellison stood with a motion for Arien to follow and together they made their way around the fire circle and the others there to a picnic table set back beyond a stretch of darkness.  The table was covered with a red-and-white checkered oil cloth, starkly illuminated in the brilliant halo of a Coleman lantern.  The woman drummer sat there by two other ladies with coffee cups before them and a stack of used paper plates at one end.  They all smiled as Ellison with Arien approached.
“Mother Shongo, this is Arien, who is keeper of his young  family’s staff.”
Arien focused on her eyes.  They seemed to him bigger and deeper than they could possibly be, as if the night sky, itself, was somehow locked in them.  He’d been drinking beer but hadn’t smoked pot at all today, and he wondered at the visual anomaly.
Ellison introduced the other women as Alice and Wendy. They were all well into their middle age, which to Arien was as distant as a school board.  They were reserved, but carried a familiar quality, happening a lot lately, and though Arien was comfortable with that feeling it always caused him to marvel.
“My compliments to Cypriano,” Mother Shongo opened. Arien nodded, assuming Ellison must have told her about that, but this was the first time he’d ever heard an outsider repeat the name of the voice in his head.
“So, the big fuss in the Catskills is what’s brought you through our Western Door, eh?”
Arien grinned.  “Yeah,” he agreed.
“What do you bring there?”
Arien wasn’t sure how to answer that.  He almost deferred the first thing that sprang to mind, but with no worthy alternative in the queue, reluctantly gave it a voice, “We bring a circle for unity and peace.”  It still felt so awkward to say that to someone, especially an older woman he’d never met who was born a thousand miles from his generation.
“Then yours is a gift for the ages,” she said with a smile, both to Arien and the others, who nodded in affirmation.   “Tell me, young son, how well, then, do you know the Great Mystery?”
“There’s a rad song the Beatles do,” he thoughtfully answered, “about the love within you and without you.  It’s like that.”
“Ho!”  Her smile broadened.  “This one’s a gem, Ellison.” The others agreed, smiling at Arien and one-another.  “What place do you call home, Arien?”
It had grown quiet.  Arien could hear Aspen’s singing from the fire circle and she’d undoubtedly captivated her audience.  He wished he were over there just then.  He hesitated.  “Uh, Portland, uh, but really it’s here, with the Trees.”
“Hum, yes, I see,” Mother Shongo said.  “That’s good. 
Now, I’m sorry to keep you from the others, but please sit down because there are some things we need to discuss and we don’t have much time.”  She patted the bench along side of her and Arien sat down on the end while Ellison went around to the other side of the table.  “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
“No thanks.”
Mother Shongo smiled patiently.  She was a diminutive woman, this time with eyes Arien saw as sharp as spears.  Her  double-braided hair was mostly grey with streaks of white.  She wore a necklace of brightly-colored beads that hung in several strands on a blouse of crushed green velvet.  She projected considerable strength and dignity, which Arien got, and his presence was finally bound to her with a sudden and genuine curiosity.
“Arien,” the elder woman continued, “You probably have  some idea of the forces arrayed against you, yes?”
“I do,” he nodded emphatically, like she’d opened a door being pushed by a bear from the other side.  “It’s scary sometimes.”
“Yes it is,” she agreed, resting an elbow on the table and her cheekbone against her knuckles.  “Tell me, have you ever been struck by lightning?”
Arien felt a chill at the back of his neck as he grasped for a connection.  His mind raced – lightning, lightning…  “No.”  But he really wasn’t sure.
“Hmmmm,” the woman mused.  “It’s simple, but it's complicated, too.  You know?  I feel this about you.  The lightning wants to try you again.  It’s had some experience and knows the way you can be taken.”
Arien searched himself for the storm but he couldn’t find any.  Yet something about this woman’s words resonated and he suddenly felt so vulnerable.  He grasped his hands together on the table top.  He actually began to tremble.
“Hmmmm,” Mother Shongo mused again.  “Stay connected, son.  Reach and hold it.  Relax.  Breathe easy.  You’re safe here. I’m sure I can tell you that.  And for what is to come, as long as you can be connected to the Mystery, the life \that is within you and without you, the oneness of all things, it will be as the life ring is to the man on a sinking ship.”
Arien was silent for a moment, contemplating this woman’s words.  Then, he had to ask her, “Is the lightning my enemy?”
“No son, but it can be its weapon.”
“What am I supposed to do?”  It was an honest question.  Her choice of the possessive adjective, ‘its,’ struck a chord.  He’d always thought of his terror as a force and not merely a person.
“Ah,” she said, flipping her hand back, away from her face, “strategy changes with your choices, young man.  I don’t have infinite advice for anyone, but a few generalities may offer some guidance.  There’s much, by example, to be learned from the opposites that you see.  They can be the stone and flint in your hands.”
The word, paradox,’ came to mind.  So far, Arien followed this.
“Always find the high ground,” Mother Shongo continued.  "Be as wise as you can.  Allow the time to know the wisdom in your soul to seep into your mind.  Be as honest with yourself and with others as you can be.  Look in the mirror of your life and declare that you know the truth!”
Arien said, “Wow,” under his breath.  This lady was a trip!
“Be consistent,” she said next.  “Be like the rock that everybody can be at peace knowing what it is.  And then, don’t forget respect; respect for yourself and all others, your brothers and your sisters, your friends, and the little creatures that are just pieces of the Great Mystery and that includes you.”
She leaned forward, lowering her voice, “Then it will be right to use your power, to free your gifts, and when they come home, and they will come home, like birds that have flown away for the winter, you will welcome them with joy and gratitude in your heart.”
Arien laughed, not with disrespect but excitement.  It was a strange feeling, like a sudden rush of energy. And the woman smiled back at him.  “You are beautiful,” she said.  
       “You are a butterfly and no longer a worm.”  She placed her hands on her lap and Arien knew their meeting had ended.
“Who is she?” He wondered on his way with Ellison back towards the fire, his friends and his family.
“Mother Shongo is one of the Wisdom Keepers of the  Onodowahgeh,” Ellison explained.  “She speaks with the river of voices that go back to the beginning of time, and you know, young fellow, it is now as it has always been; the true way will always come to you through the spoken word.  This is the greatest gift of the Creator, so that you will know that he is still with us, always.”

Were there any deletions from this excerpt that you can share with us? And can you please include a photo of your marked up rough drafts of this excerpt. There were no deletions. One might have thought the availability of this example of reference (marked-up rough drafts) would have disappeared with the typewriter.  There were notes, but they did not survive the move to Oregon, and printouts wouldn’t provide anything new for contrasting development. 

Other works you have published? Yes, as mentioned, The Woodstock Paradigm – 338 p, Copyright © 2013 by Edward DeVito, ISBN 978-0-9910791-1-7 is the sequel to The Woodstock Paradox.
A pair of technical articles for antique car hobbyists have also been published by the Horseless Carriage Gazette, and the Hupp Herald.

Anything you would like to add? I believe this has been fairly thorough; however, if you find yourself curious…
     I was born in 1948, raised on Staten Island, and then attended college at RPI – VCU, in Virginia.  In three years there, a confluence of events occurred which was to have a deep impact on my life:  My mom (as a baby with mom in 1949, Below Left) passed away in that first semester (we were very close); 
     I fell in love with a boy, which in the mid-60s was not supposed to happen; and, as with many of us in those days, I discovered Timothy Leary.    One of those experiences serendipitously led to the Hellenic & Classic – through – Renaissance Era, Hermetic Philosophical Tradition of Western Magic and Alchemy.  I’ve been following that thread ever since.  I consider it the “Raja Yoga” of the West.

     Over the years, I have resided in ten states: New York, Virginia, California – 2x, Hawaii, Vermont, Ohio, Arizona – 2 x, Florida, Oregon, and now Maine, and supported myself with hotel and restaurant work, framing and trim carpentry, cabinetry, woodshop, furniture and structure restorations, school teacher’s aide and facilities custodian; client projects, and consulting.  
      I have also been both an employee and a volunteer, leading youth programs – seven conversation projects at Richmond National Battlefield Parks, in Virginia, and one in Oregon for at-risk teenagers; teaching Adult First Aid & CPR; I served on the Sandy, Oregon Library Advisory Board, and was very active with the Portland (Oregon) Regional Group of the Horseless Carriage Club of America, and was President in 2015 and 2016, and after two, personally very involved years with the planning committees, directed this club’s participation in the One Hundredth Anniversary Celebration of the Historic Columbia River Highway, which was a state-level event, held June 7, 2016.  
     I met my life-partner, Wayne Chadburn in Arizona, in 1976.    
      Since relocating to Maine to retire, I’ve found myself as busy as ever restoring a house in Penobscot, and making new friends in the Down East area, where I may be seen sporting about in a 1918 Hupmobile touring car.  I’ve also been volunteering at the Penobscot Community School, where I help with students’ writing and grammar lessons.  And, at this moment, I am a write-in candidate for an open seat on the Penobscot Community School Board.

      Hobbies are making “things of beauty” out of wood; restoring old stuff; keeping a 100 year-old car on the road – driving it year-round is the sport; writing; Facebook; and making meaningful connections with people.
     Lastly, I love reading, the majority of it has been histories, biographies, political articles, and otherwise historical and science fiction; and I’ve published two novels; a pair of technical articles for antique car hobbyists; and I have an inventory of unpublished short stories, poetry, journals, and spiritual musings. 


001   11 15 2018 Nathaniel Kaine’s
Thriller Novel
John Hunter – The Veteran

002   11 18 2018 Ed Protzzel’s
The Antiquities Dealer 

003   11 23 2018 Janice Seagraves’s
Science Fiction Romance
Exodus Arcon

004   11 29 2018 Christian Fennell’s
Literary Fiction Novel
The Fiddler in the Night

005  12 02 2018 Jessica Mathews’s
Adult Paranormal Romance
Death Adjacent

006  12 04 2018 Robin Jansen’s
Literary Fiction Novel
Ruby the Indomitable

007  12 12 2018  Adair Valerez’s
Literary Fiction Novel

008  12 17 218 Kit Frazier’s
Mystery Novel
Dead Copy

009 12 21 2019 Robert Craven’s
Noir/Spy Novel
The Road of a Thousand Tigers

010 01 13 2019 Kristine Goodfellow’s
Contemporary Romantic Fiction
The Other Twin

011 01 17 2019 Nancy J Cohen’s
Cozy Mystery
Trimmed To Death

012 01 20 2019 Charles Salzberg’s
Crime Novel
Second Story Man

013 01 23 2019 Alexis Fancher’s
Flash Fiction
His Full Attention

014 01 27 2019 Brian L Tucker’s
Young Adult/Historical

015 01 31 2019 Robin Tidwell’s

016 02 07 2019 J.D. Trafford’s
Legal Fiction/Mystery
Little Boy Lost

017 02 08 2019 Paula Shene’s
Young Adult ScieFi/Fantasy/Romance/Adventure
My Quest Begins 

018 02 13 2019 Talia Carner’s
Mainstream Fiction/ Suspense/ Historical
Hotel Moscow

019 02 15 2019 Rick Robinson’s
Multidimensional Fiction
Alligator Alley

020 02 21 2019 LaVerne Thompson’s
Urban Fantasy
The Soul Collectors

021 02 27 2019 Marlon L Fick’s
Post-Colonialist Novel
The Nowhere Man

022 03 02 2019 Carol Johnson’s
Mainstream Novel
Silk And Ashes

023 03 06 2019 Samuel Snoek-Brown’s
Short Story Collection
There Is No Other Way to Worship Them

024 03 08 2019 Marlin Barton’s
Short Story Collection
Pasture Art

025 03 18 2019 Laura Hunter’s
Historical Fiction
Beloved Mother

026 03 21 2019 Maggie Rivers’s
Magical Mistletoe

027  03 25 2019 Faith Gibson’s
Paranormal Romance

028 03 27 2019 Valerie Nieman’s
Tall Tale
To The Bones

029 04 04 2019 Betty Bolte’s
Paranormal Romance
Veiled Visions of Love

030 04 05 2019  Marianne Maili’s
Lucy, go see

031 04 10 2019 Gregory Erich Phillips’s
Mainstream Fiction
The Exile

032 04 15 2019 Jason Ament’s
Speculative Fiction
Rabid Dogs

033 04 24 2019 Stephen P. Keirnan’s
Historical Novel
The Baker’s Secret

034 05 01 2019 George Kramer’s
Arcadis: Prophecy Book

035 05 05 2019 Erika Sams’s
Rose of Dance

036 05 07 2019 Mark Wisniewski’s
Literary Fiction
Watch Me Go

037 05 08 2019 Marci Baun’s
Science Fiction/Horror
The Whispering House

038 05 10 2019 Suzanne M. Wolfe’s
Historical Fiction
Murder By Any Name

039 05 12 2019 Edward DeVito’s
The Woodstock Paradox

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