Monthly Archives: July 2016


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“Energy and persistence conquer all things.” – Benjamin Franklin

With all due respect to old Ben, this is not entirely true at face value, if we are to face reality. Still….

We’re tooling along well in the current work in progress, although we – me and voices in my head! – were struck by some kind of bug this past week that has been a malaise more annoying than completely debilitating. The writing suffers when it’s difficult to look at words on a page or screen without queasiness setting in after a very short period. It put a damper on things, and has resulted in even less sleep than the usual little, but we’re back on track, I think.

The gardens are suffering from a severe lack of attention between the above, terribly out of sync hot and humid temperatures far above the norm, and bugs – lots and lots of bugs. I’m restarting some flats, however, as here we have the opportunity to have two seasons if we like, and I would like that. The harvest totals have been good but not great, thanks to lack of proper management and the incessant ability of weeds to thrive when nothing else wants to do so. That has a potential solution that I’ll be working on that requires a delicate balance of keeping weeds down in the frames without setting the roots of the plants on fire. That same delicate balance has to be done for life in general, too: all work and no play does in fact make Jack a dull boy, after all.

By the way, I am still off facebook except to update the requisite author page, since “all authors must have a platform!” is now the mantra and requirement. I’ve been tempted here and there to pop on after monstrous, horrific events, but it would simply suck me back down into its depths only to surface for air who knows when, with all that time wasted. It’s good to know your own weaknesses and fight them accordingly.


Retaking the pen, day six

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It’s coming on a week now with the writing goals, and is now a full week since cutting off the whirlpool of suck that is facebook. How are things going?

Terrifically well! Far better than I expected, as it happens. I have resurrected previous snippets of the novel in progress, gone back over them to edit a few things, and used them to jump off into new material to add to that work. The work is now just shy of 13K words, with another writing session later to make up for time interrupted earlier this morning by work-related issues. I know that I tend to “write light” and that I’ll need to go back and flesh out some things, especially for descriptive reasons. Over half a lifetime in the tech world will do that to you, since the object of any communication with clients is to understand the problem, repair it as quickly as possible, and explain it to them as simply as possible, with as little jargon and few words as possible. This can be a slight handicap in breaking back into a world where lengthier strolls into prose are welcome and necessary. That mindset, like the novel itself, is a work in progress, and perhaps always will be.

The story itself is coming along nicely. Last night, I had one of those flashes other artists will understand perfectly, where a problem in the plot I didn’t fully understand I had worked itself out and the solution came to me with a side dish of “duh”. I’ve had these moments throughout the years, so it’s hardly surprising in and of itself, but it’s always surprising when such a moment bubbles to the top of the braincap to explode like fireworks.

Thoughts on Night

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Elie Wiesel died yesterday. Unlike (apparently) a lot of people, I did not encounter Night, his nonfiction/fictional account of internment at the Auschwitz concentration camp, survival, forced march, and subsequent liberation, until a few years after high school. It was not among the required readings for any of my classes, not even AP History (nor was Anne Frank’s diary). My reading habits by that time after graduation had come to cover a range very far and quite wide, and I found myself with a particular interest in Europe post-WWI through the end of WWII. More specifically, I was fascinated by both Germany and Russia (and then the USSR) both under the spell of tyrants, with people surrounding them willing to do the unthinkable to others whose only crime was being different or having some trait – religion, education, race, ethnicity – deemed undesirable by the dictator in charge. I was also amazed by the kindness of those not blinded by hate who were willing, often at a steep price, to assist complete strangers escape the realm that held them in such disregard they may as well not have been people at all.

Wiesel, like everyone else, was not perfect, and I did not agree with him on everything, just as no one does with any other person (his balking at the Iran nuclear deal was one such instance). However, his was a large and important voice with others reminding society of just what it is capable of doing if hypernationalism, xenophobia, and hatred are combined into a toxic mix. Unfortunately, those other voices who lived to tell their stories of that period are rapidly dying off as well, and I can only hope that people, now and in the future, are willing to heed the voices of those no longer among us.

Retaking the pen, day one

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I had previously (months ago, back in March, just after my birthday) created a goal of finishing a first draft of the current work in progress by the end of June. Three months, from April to the end of June, would be, I thought, plenty of time to complete it, as when I do write, I write very quickly, since the scenes have been bouncing around in my head for awhile – in a few cases, over twenty years.

If you have read a couple of the older entries here, you’ll know this did not happen. However, you’ll also know that there is a reason behind it. I had to switch from doing the actual writing to wrestling with that rather annoying (and, I had thought, forgotten) issue. I believe I’ve kicked it down enough at this point to not be as huge an impediment to getting some serious work done and get the novel (first novel!) rolled out.

Toward the end of June, I decided to also simply push aside social media. I had done this before, with some good success, but some events in June pulled me back to facebook. Today, though, is the end of the first full day with zero visits to the three social media platforms I more or less surf around: twitter (where I do more scrolling past people hawking their books nonstop and the people retweeting them than finding actual news or interesting tidbits), instagram (dogs!), and facebook (the Mothership of the Time Sink Armada).  I used the time to address a few things that had to be done, and today – day two, since the clocked tolled past midnight almost an hour ago at this point – I will begin working my way back into the writing pool, with a low hanging target of 250 words. That’s right: about one typeset page. This post is longer than that, but I’d rather work the novel writing  upward in a gentle manner, instead of trying to be like the gym cowboys who show up after New Year’s, work out for six hours, then cannot move the next day and eventually let it slide.

Almost every writer on the planet says “write every day”. I’m a believer of that myself. It is not, however, because I think that such writing has to be done because the train has to keep moving forward nonstop – after all, it’s possible whatever was written on day x may not make it into the final draft, or may be cut down significantly, or rearranged, or whatever else could be done to it. I think, at least in my case, it is because when it becomes a habit to write every day, it is like any other routine that becomes ingrained in our lives, done automatically, without a lot of thought that it could be terrible, that everyone will hate it, that a meteor will fall from the sky and crush you at your desk for daring to write. Instead, it will be just another part of the rhythm of the day, and will be eventually be noticeable by its absence rather than its presence.

So, here we begin. The map is laid out, and the path is faintly scratched over it to the destination to which we strive, but those lines await a heavier hand with the pen, to clearly define the journey’s progress. I have the greatest expectation that this time things will be different, because sometimes digging at the scars of your psyche is the only way to get to the truth, and then gain the ability to move large obstacles from the very start of the trail to discovery.