David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing. For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com
Posted in profiles on November 8, 2019
Who is Kate Wolf? If you’re like most people, you probably have no idea. I’m a huge folk music fan, and I’d never heard of Kate until last year, but I’m happy to have discovered her. Better late than never. Her music pierces my heart, and the simple beauty of her voice, melodies, and guitar-playing transport me to transcendent realms.
There’s a story that a fan at a live concert once complimented Kate on her earrings. Without hesitation, she removed the earrings and handed them to the fan. I believe the beauty of Kate’s music emanated from the beautiful being that she surely was.
Kate Wolf came to prominence during a ten year period from 1975 to 1985. Tragically, Leukemia brought Kate’s life and singer/songwriting career to a premature end at the age of forty-four. Despite her foreshortened life span, Kate managed, in her gentle way, to become a major influence on the folk scene with songs like, “Give Yourself to Love,” “Across the Great Divide,” “Green Eyes,” “September Song,” and many more. In all, she produced seven albums including a “live” in-concert album recorded at a music festival in Mendocino, California.
The appeal of Wolf’s music is the same today as it was when she released her first album on her Owl Records label more than 30 years ago. Her music is plainspoken with powerful natural imagery woven into poignant portrayals of the longings, joys, and sorrows of the heart that transcend romantic stereotypes.
Singing in a plain, pure voice, Wolf never indulged in vocal ornamentation for the sake of effect, and she avoided saccharine sentimentality with her natural sweetness.
As an acoustic guitar-based folk artist, she distinguished herself from such forebears as Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell and James Taylor, and from her more self-consciously naturalist and mystical contemporaries in “women’s music.”
Now, when cynicism and irony seem to be second nature to pop music, Wolf’s directness rings truer than ever.
“Kate was unique,” says Berkeley-based guitarist Nina Gerber, who was inspired to become a professional musician after seeing Wolf perform in a pizza parlor in Sevastopol, a small town north of San Francisco. Gerber became Wolf’s key accompanist from 1978 to 1986. Gerber produced the memorial album, Treasures Left Behind, and she has helped organize and produce all four Kate Wolf Memorial Music Festivals.
“She had her own style,” Gerber says. “There was nobody to compare her to. Nowadays, you listen to somebody and they either sound like Shawn [Colvin] or Nanci [Griffith] or Emmylou [Harris] or whomever.
“Kate really took on the environment she was in, so when she wrote about it, it wasn’t contrived. She didn’t go out of her way to try to be flowery and poetic. She pretty much said things the way they were.”
Yet, while Wolf’s songs seem inimitably personal when she sings them, they lend themselves surprisingly well to interpretation. As a prime example, Nanci Griffith, an unpretentious young woman who once described her music as “rockabilly” and eventually gained an international audience, lends a soul-searing depth and beauty to her interpretations of wolf’s songs.
When Wolf sang of a woman who “rises like the dolphin,” or an “owl calling softly as the night was falling,” it felt true. She brought the listener into her unpretentious realm while prodding him or her to see the natural world anew — always with love as the bottom line.
Wolf, born Kathryn Louise Allen in San Francisco on January 27, 1942, cultivated her approach after moving to Sonoma County in the early 1970’s. She sang songs like “Across The Great Divide,” “Safe At Anchor,” “The Wind Blows Wild,” “Poet’s Heart” and “Give Yourself To Love” in a pure voice, as unaffected, comforting and honest as you want to hear from your lover in the middle of the night. At the height of her popularity, Kate appeared at The Austin City Limits Music Festival and Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.
“I live for a sense of a feeling of purposefulness in this world, you know, that I could stop my life at any point and feel that my life has been worthwhile; that the people I’ve loved and my children have all reached a point where their lives are now going to come to fruit. And as far as something I live by, it’s to try to be as alive as possible and feel free to make my mistakes and try to be as honest as I can with myself.”
Kate Wolf, 1942 to 1986
This is a guest blog from a Swedish man who writes under the pen name, Fomtriok. I find his writing to be profound and insightful, even more so than published books I’ve read on the human condition. I’ve included his short bio at the end of the post. Enjoy!
There is this disposition that some people have, but most people lack. If one does lack it, it is the simplest thing in the world getting it back. Because everyone had it once. It doesn’t really demand an outward action to get it back, but it rather demands the courage to step out of line and accept having it.
Let us get started.
Children – they live their lives from the inside out. They start focusing on one thing, then they start trying to understanding one thing; playing with, lifting up, measuring, biting, fumbling with – one thing. And then they move to the next. Part by part they get to know their own selves, their room, their house, their universe.
Most adults, however, live their lives from the outside in. They start out by simply acquiring some locale in which to live. Thus, they start with the shell. And they start with a schedule that is empty of activities. Then they ask themselves, ”What do I put in this shell of a house? In this shell of a schedule?” And one by one, they start filling the house with objects, and possibly even a family. Gradually, they start filling their schedule with activities, musts and obligations. From the outside in.
That is no way to live life. That life is unnatural. It is a mere imitation and parody of life. It is the life of a machine. People who live like that often find themselves unhappy and ask themselves, “Why am I unhappy?” The question is ironically a manifestation of the very problem. They ask themselves, “What do I lack? What is it that I have not yet put into my life, or schedule?” So they try to add even more things, or activities, to fill the void, and “fix” what they assume is the problem; that a certain thing, or event is lacking.
But they are doing it all wrong. It is not so much that they add things, but rather how and why they add things. The underlying problem – sickness even – is that they are living from the outside in: They add things only after careful consideration. That is not life. That is work. Life happens when you turn the whole thing upside down, and start from the inside. Then you won’t even notice whether you are adding or removing things, because all that consumes your attention is primal and unaltered curiosity.
Those souls who drive the world forward, in the small or the big sense, never abandon the way of the child. They never stop living their lives from the inside out. They never stop focusing childishly and joyfully on the small “toy” – on that singular point of interest. They could care less whether others perceive their curiosity as weird or normal. And only from that standpoint do they gradually work their way outwards into the unknown, constantly playing, constantly putting together and taking apart; disassembling and reassembling, over and over, in an infinite loop. Until the whole room has a role in the game. And then the child starts over. With a new room, or the same room from an entirely new perspective. From the inside out. And the game is on again.
That is a true life. It is the only life that is happy and free. It is simple – even when it is complex. It is irrelevant whether your point of curiosity might be pottery, or explaining a complex scientific phenomena. It is still an utterly simple life.
When you are a child, there is no arrogance. You do not drag others down with cynicism. Nor do you let cynics drag you down. You merely play. At the end of the day, that is all life is; a vast playground for us to fill with meaning.
My name is Oscar Herrgård. I am Swedish. I am interested in meeting fascinating and kind people, who think well, but also act and don’t just talk.
I want to share my story. This journal is simply one of my windows to the world. Already long ago I decided that the only life I want to live, is one where I wholeheartedly dedicate myself to solving some of the greatest challenges in our world (most importantly climate change and socioeconomic unfairness). Life is simply wasted if you don’t spend it doing what is most valuable to you. Don’t become; Rather be. Don’t want or plan; Rather be. Incorporate your ideals in the small detail here and now. That is how you move mountains.
Copyright 2018 David Gittlin
It was great fun doing the project. I want to give a shout out to my writer/musician friend, Joe Canzano, for inspiring me to do the project. Also, thanks to my narrator, Caitlin Willis Frizzel, for doing an excellent job of bringing my characters to life.
Special Offer: Get a FREE Micromium audio book by following these easy steps: Go to the Micromium page on Audible by clicking https://tinyurl.com/yar5hmsk. Listen to the five minute sample (optional). If you like what you hear, contact me through my website at www.davidgittlin.com. The first ten people who contact me will receive a promo code and instructions for downloading a free Micromium audio book. Be sure to send me your email so I can send you the code and instructions. I will NOT use your email to send offers or promotions. I DO NOT keep email lists for promotion. (I hate spam, and I’m sure you do, too).
Synopsis: The year is 2038. Earth’s biosphere is on the brink of destruction from the effects of global warming and pollution. The World Energy Council has awarded a lucrative contract to a major US corporation to mine a precious ore discovered by the first manned mission to land on Mars. One kilo of Micromium can power a large city for a year without environmental side effects. A few grains of the ore can fuel a car for a year or longer. Micromium promises to provide clean energy to a thirsty planet far into the future.
When two people die in a mining accident on Mars, the World Energy Council sends Commander Logan Marchant and a crack team of astronaut specialists to investigate.
Confronted with a lack of cooperation from the mining colonists, the investigation is further complicated by Logan’s growing attraction to the team’s beautiful and brainy geologist. While tensions and tempers rise, Logan and the audit team make one shocking discovery after another, until the investigation leads them into mortal danger, and ultimately, to a surprising conclusion.
“A fun science-fiction thriller with both unique and familiar concepts, MICROMIUM delivers a satisfying story with memorable characters you don’t mind spending time alone with on a desolate planet, millions of miles from Earth.”
Joshua M. Patton, IndieReader.com
“Versatile in its imagery, characters, and storyline, Micromium: Clean Energy from Mars will take readers on a journey throughout the galaxy. With scenes ranging from intense and scary to action-packed and awesome, the novel will never cease to wow readers. The pages of this easy-read will fly through readers’ hands while its story and characters remain in readers’ minds.”
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars, bookreviewdirectory.com
David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quiting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copy writing, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing. For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com
Most serious writers want to connect with an audience; preferably a big one. You have something to say. You have a story to tell. You want people to read it. One of the best ways to make people want to read your work is to create memorable and relatable central characters. Whether you are writing a short story, screenplay, or a novel, you want your readers to identify with and live the story through your main characters. To do this, you have to create three dimensional characters that live and breathe in your reader’s imagination. I’d like to share with you a method I learned for from professional, published writers.
I started writing in earnest when I began a career in marketing communications. In my early thirties, it became clear to me that writing was the thing I enjoyed doing the most when it came to work. I wrote promotional copy and content for radio and TV ads, brochures, websites, press releases, Power Point® presentations, sales contests and salesperson motivation, and on and on. In my forties, I wrote a few not-so-good short stories. At the age of fifty, I decided to try my hand at writing screenplays. I was scared shitless. Deep down, I really didn’t think I could do it. Some crazy impulse pushed me towards the cliff’s edge and over it into the unknown.
Fortunately, I was old enough to realize I needed help. At fifty, I didn’t have the time or inclination to fall into the traps most beginning fiction writers do. I had already suffered enough scars from learning how to write business communications. I wanted to walk as straight a path as possible in this new world of fiction writing. I knew that mistakes were inevitable. I just wanted to avoid the detours.
Somehow, I found my way to the Online Writers’ Program at UCLA. One of the first things I learned in my online courses was the necessity of building an original and compelling Protagonist and Antagonist plus an interesting cast of supporting characters. Unless you are an incredibly gifted genius, you will need to know your characters thoroughly before you start writing your story. You must know them in detail, including the seminal events that made them who they are today, commonly called their backstory. Why is this necessary? Because if you don’t know who your characters are and what they need and want before you start writing, they will almost certainly be flat, two-dimensional cut outs. At the very least, they won’t be original and interesting.
If you craft your characters carefully and thoughtfully, your story will write itself. Your plot will be character driven, rather than contrived. Your readers will become emotionally attached to your characters.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking: Enough of this baloney. Tell me how to write amazing characters.
There are two methods I can suggest. You can sit down and write everything you know about your character. Hopefully, you’ll fill several pages with your biographical information. If you can do this effectively, more power to you. There’s only one catch: You better know what to include in your character’s bio because, as we’ve said, you have to know your character inside and out. That’s why I prefer the second method, especially if you are new to creating fictional characters.
The second method, which I deveoped from my online courses at UCLA, employs a character template to build your character. I feel it’s better than writing about your characters in an unstructured format because it forces you to answer questions about them that you might try to avoid or just plain leave out. Here’s the template you can use to create central characters with more originality, specificity, and complexity. Filling out the template takes a bit of work, but in the end, I believe it can expand your audience and pave the way to greater writing success.
Build or Figure:
Past/present home life:
David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. For more information, please visit www.davidgittlin.com
“The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.”
I’ve been working towards a spiritual awakening for most of my adult life, and it seems I’m on the brink of a promising development in my growth process. There are many paths to “higher consciousness” and many kinds of spiritual awakenings. In fact, each of us is destined for his or her own unique awakening. For the past five years, I’ve been involved in something called “Waking Down in Mutuality.” WDM is a path that nurtures an embodied individual awakening through energetic transmission and various forms of study and group participation. There are no gurus. It is not a cult. The people who help other people to awaken are teachers and facilitators. There is no hierarchy. There is no dogma. There are no “shoulds” or “oughts.”
The chances are that you’ve never heard of anything like WDM. You’re not alone. Less than one percent of the world’s population is interested in transformative spiritual awakening. You may be wondering why I’m interested. The answer is simple: I want to experience more peace, love and joy in my life than most other pursuits can provide.
Thanks to the evolution of consciousness and the opportunities and modalities provided by WDM and its close relative, Trillium Awakening, I don’t have to be a monk or a saint to awaken. I don’t have to destroy or surrender my ego. I can just be me, whatever that is. I don’t have to separate spirit and matter. I can live a relatively normal life while opening myself to the treasures of the Heart, every chance I get.
Recently, I’ve made a discovery. It’s a big one. It’s really more of an experience than a mental concept. I’ve realized that self-worth ultimately has nothing to do with accomplishment. Equating self-worth with achievement is a trap that most of us fall into.
I’m not saying there is anything wrong with striving to accomplish things, or to be a better you, or in getting better at whatever it is you do. It definitely feels good to get things done and to improve. As an example, I enjoy the feeling of writing this. It feels good to create something new. But writing a best-selling novel will never give me the deep down satisfaction, wholeness, and completeness that my heart craves. This type of satisfaction can only be found buried deep within my heart. The same is true for you.
I’m not sure where I’m going from here, but I’m confident it will lead to more and more happiness and self-satisfaction. It won’t happen overnight. What’s important is that it’s happening. As WDM founder and spiritual teacher Saniel Bonder likes to say, “The Sun in Your Heart is Rising.” That sounds pretty good to me.