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January, 2008

The Shy Writer

When I'm (No Longer) 64
Will they still need me?
By  Buzz Burza

he realization that only a month remains to be 64 is, well, if nothing else, compelling.

It should be sad, or something. But it's not. Take if from me. It just is.

During the year I recently spent teaching, one of things I used as a tool was my age. Many of my young charges had never met someone from the United States, nor interacted as an equal with anyone my age.

Asian society venerates age more so than any -- the West in general and the U.S. in particular. So I made it a point to establish with students from the beginning that I was "just one of the guys." Because most of them were in their early 20's, I wished them all as many years as I, but pointed out that, statistically, some of them wouldn't be so lucky. It's the beast's nature, after all.

So with the mythical retirement age around the corner I find myself with three editors who are happy but always want more. This does not include the lovely folks who put together this marvelous writing site, because I look at the ability to share my thoughts with the IN crowd as a blessed gift. The reinforcement I have received from my efforts contained herein has always been most positive.

Nor does it include the writing I do for the non-profit government organization my wife and I run, which has turned out to be more than a full-time job.

What I want, more than anything, is to continue to age with grace and style while maintaining a semblance of coherence in what I write. I am associated with retired professors, diplomats and bureaucrats who continue to write books into their 80's. I consider them role models of the first magnitude.

One of the things I find fascinating is the way older people have ceased to look old. Bill Clinton was the first American president who was younger than me, although his full mop of almost white hair is a dead giveaway that age is at hand. Because I have avoided the pitfalls and pratfalls of parenthood and a whole host of accompanying responsibilities (read: mortgages and tuition and other time-consuming encumbrances), I still have most of my hair that is amazingly un-grayed.

What is not visible is the increasing deafness in one ear as well as the recent appearance of "floaters" -- those vile black spots that have come to stay in my line of vision in one eye.

There are few things I am certain of. But one thing I do know is that the next 30 years (if I am so blessed) will be unlike the sea of endless summers that were the last. Internally, my deafness will increase, as will the nasty spots I see before me.

Externally, the creative decimation that Bush & Co. have let loose upon the world will continue its disquieting encroachment -- and we, the writers and thinkers, will continue to see, think and write, reveling in the physical ease with which we are able to deal with the intellectual life as it is writ.

God bless the Internet and spell-check.IN Icon

Buzz Burza is a regular IN columnist, freelance writer, photographer, teacher, lecturer, film actor and print distribution consultant living in New Delhi, India. Email:

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Part III: What Your Publisher Won't Tell You
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Part I: What Your Publisher Won't Tell You
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Part I: Researching Nonfiction
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Bald Ego
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Writer’s Block
The path to inspiration starts
Upon the trails we’ve known;
Each writer’s block is not a rock,
But just a stepping stone.

Poetry Is Not
Penned to the page
Waiting for us to admire.
It is only a lonely thought
Caught by tears on fire.

Silent Echoes
A quiet rhyme upon a page
Is what a poet gives;
Some gentle words whispered in trust
To see if memory lives.

Bard From Deadlines
What makes a poem finally work
Is not the time it takes;
It’s how the poet used the muse
To prophet from mistakes.

Be Mused
The art and craft of poetry
Are not so far apart;
The craft comes from the cunning,
The rest comes from the heart.

Fine Vintage
Don’t plant your poem on the page
As though you’re hanging drapes;
It’s shape and flow should come and grow
Like wild summer grapes.

Getting It Write
Writers write what they know best,
Their passions, fears, and dreams;
Writers rarely write about
What other call their “themes.”

Double Vision
A writer’s life is paradox,
It’s more than what it seems;
We write of our reality,
The one inside our dreams.

The echo of a promise,
The thunder of a sigh,
The music of a memory,
A child asking why.

Letter Perfect
Twenty six symbols arranged on a page
Can send a soul to heaven or torment it with rage,
Can free a fragile world or hold it in its net--
The power and the magic of the mighty alphabet.

The Write of Passage
The jump from writing just for fun
To getting paid for it
Begins when you first realize
You know you’ll never quit.

It is not the magic of his wings
That sets us free from our bond.
It is the muse within ourselves
That lets our words lift us beyond.

Photo Poet
Consider your mind the darkroom,
Consider your life the lens,
Consider your eye the camera
On whose focus the poem depends.

Rising Moon
A poem is a rising moon
Shining on the sea,
An afterglow of all we know,
Of all we hope to be.

Star Light
Writing a poem,
Reaching a star,
In making good art
We find who we are.

Spider Web
A poem is a spider web
Spun with words of wonder,
Woven lace held in place
By whispers made of thunder.

The final draft upon the screen,
At last my poem’s through;
A verse of only four short lines--
I rewrote twenty-two!

Read All Of Charles Ghigna's Poetry at

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