Sailors on the Sea

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Feeling Happy - (I Must be Somebody Else [ha])

Received lots of good news over the past 24-hours. As a result I am feeling especially happy.

Who'd of thought, huh? Bevie James smiling and laughing?

Well, truth be told, there was a time when that was pretty much all I did. Seems like an eternity ago now. But it's still there. It just takes a bit more to wake the feelings of youthful exultations.

But they're awake now, and I have made some changes to my Music of the Day pieces. I added one to Cat in the Buff. Alice Cooper's, Under My Wheels. I've never thought of myself as an Alice Cooper fan, but he does have several pieces I enjoy a lot. Under My Wheels is probably my favorite. I wish I could compose a video of how I would like to perform it. I doubt there are many who know me who would believe it was me. Stephen would. But he knew me well.

Over on A Voice in the Wind I wasn't so "energetic". I was happy. I chose Jim Croce's, I've Got a Name. I don't know why, but that song makes me think of Daddy, but in a happy way. Every time I hear it I feel like I can go on - and succeed. At least I feel like I want to go on. I feel like I have a purpose. (Just haven't a clue what that purpose might be. [grin])

I left Allan Parson Project's, Eye in the Sky, on SOF - The People. Right now, that seems to fit the tone of Swords of Fire and what I'm writing. It's good music.

Here on The Great Sea I chose Creedence Clearwater's, Sweet Hitchhiker. For me, it's another high energy, happy song. D*mn, I wish I could play the bass to these pieces. I try. Just can't keep up. Neither am I sure about the notes. That's all guesswork.

One thing that is wrong with the music has nothing to do with the music. It's the technology used to play it. For about a week now it's been taking up to two minutes before my YouTube links load and play. It wasn't that long ago that it would only take seconds. I think it's Blogger, but I'm not sure. It could be my own internet connection or something.

Have you noticed Blogger running slower than normal recently? I know they've made changes to it. The Followers gadget looks different. (And there was a fiasco with it, too.)

On my way back to Cat in the Buff. I'm under the wheels again.

y y y y e e e a a A A A A A A H H H H H H H H H H H H ! ! ! ! ! ! !

EDIT: Forgot. I was going to post that I just completed Chapter Ten of Traitor (thanks, LaughingWolf for the title suggestion). Not only that, but I dropped nealry 3,000-words from the chapter to bring it in under budget. I hope I still have a good novel after I'm done. Think I will.

EDIT2: Spouse just came down and scared the cr*p out of me. I'm wearing headphones so I don't wake anyone up. Turns out I need footphones, too. I was hitting the floor so hard it was echoing. Spouse came down and got all the way up to me before I realized there was someone there (I only have one small light on at the computer). I jumped so hard my headphones came off. Now Spouse is laughing too hard to go back to sleep. It's hard to listen to Under My Wheels without moving. Real hard.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Surgery Over

This is just an update on my mother, who had surgery this morning for cancer.

The surgeon said all went very well. Better than she expected. Now it is just a matter of Mother getting rest and healing up. That is the current risk. Mother is 82, diabetic, and she has leukemia. These things put her at especial risk for about 72 hours.

Thank you for any thoughts and prayers your gave, and have time to give over the next few days.


God bless.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Another Poem

I found this in my briefcase, of all places. I was looking for some Advil. Used to keep some with me when I went to work. Thought I might find some. Didn't. Found a poem instead. It was written on two little Post-it notes stuck together back-to-back. There is no date, but the time frame had to be between April of 2006 and June of 2008. So it's fairly recent.

Not sure who/what I was thinking of when I wrote this. Could have been most anyone. As is my wont, the meter is lilty and silly. All the same, I kind of like it.


I love you now, I loved you then
I’ll love you till I die
And even after I am gone
My love stays at your side

I grieve because you love me not
I grieve for I’m alone
I stand alone amidst the crowd
I am grief’s firstborn

And when a love begins anew
It lasts forevermore
It cannot fail, It cannot die
This isn’t just some lore

The pain of love is great it's true
When told that it must wait
It yearns, it longs for time to speed

For love is its own fate

Progress Report

Today is supposed to a "What am I Learning" day. However, as I'm not sure I'm learning much of anything I think I will talk about my progress with Book I - A Traitor in the Midst. (Still nothing on how that title works for anyone. Does this mean it's hateful, wonderful, boring, meh?)

Despite all that has been going on, the past two days have been highly productive. I've finished no less than five sections: four chapters and an interlude. What is more, except for one chapter, all of the sections have come in under word budget. In fact, for the entire book I'm only just 2,000-words over budget. Of course, the next three chapters are all currently over budget, so that could change in a hurry. In fact, the current size of the portion which remains is nearly as large as my goal for the entire book. Lots of shredding involved.

With the book now a third finished I find myself once again considering the hateful query letter. Like I posted on SOF-The People, I'm horrendous at convincing others anything is worthwhile. I just don't sell well. Not keen when sales clerks try to do it to me, so I hesitate to do it to others. Yet it's the only way to get a book published. I have to write a great query letter explaining why my book is just wonderful.

It's kind of odd, in a way. All of my life, since I can remember anyway, people have accused me of not caring about people and things which I find most important. When they ask me about what's important to me, I tell them, but they don't catch the excitement. Probably because I seldom show it. I feel it inside. It just doesn't come out.

It's kind of like that with my book. I think it's a fantastic story that anyone who enjoys medieval-style fantasy would enjoy. But I have a hard time saying anyone should read it. Neither will I guarantee they will enjoy it. One never can know for certain. I don't keep tabs on how often I've had this book, or that movie, recommended with assurances that I will truly enjoy it, only to find the thing entirely dull.

Anyway, it really is too early to be concerning myself with the query letter. I've got 90,000-words left, of which 30,000- to 50,000-words have to be cut in order to keep the story within budget. It's progressing, but I believe it's time to sharpen the scalpel.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Good Ol' Blogger

FairyHedgeHog posted this. I looked at my Follower list and I'm still listed as "public". However, if you used to see me as a Follower and now don't, please let me know.

Thanks to Jennifer, through Sarah, for this explanation of why we're all apparently losing followers.

If you use Blogger as your platform, I'm sure you've noticed that your follower count is down. Apparently Blogger has changed everybody's followers to "anonymous" and anonymous followers don't show. If everyone can do these simple steps, we can all get our followers back:Go to dashboard, you'll see "Blogs I'm Following"Scroll down to the bottom of that list and click on manage.Then you'll see that all the drop down menus have been changed to anonymous. You just need to change them back to public.Hopefully we can get the word out, so everyone can take these steps. I hope this doesn't happen again!

Courtesy of Anna Claire Vollers

Anna Claire Vollers (AC, as she is known in the blogging world) recently put up a cute post in which you create a Band, an Album, and an Album Design. On a whim, I decided to give it a go.

This is what I got.
Hilmar Myhra. The name of my band. In case you're interested, Hilmar Arnold Myhra (born 5 June 1915) is a retired Norwegian ski jumper who competed before World War II.
People Would Break His Windows. The name of my latest album. The text comes from a random quote which goes, "If God lived on earth people would break his windows."
Here's an addition. The song list.
1. Sleeping in the River of Life
2. Don't Wake Me With a Mud Pie
3. (the) Slippery Slopes of Living on a Wall
4. (the) Guest Who Came for Dinner - I was Dinner
5. Dust in My Mouth and Ants in My Pants
6. Youth is For the Young
7. My Lover in the Canyon Has Fallen For Me
8. I Would Climb a Mountain For You - If That's Where You Were
9. Living Off the Land - And Starving
10. Your Voice is Music to My Ears, But I Need Food For My Belly
11. It is Cold Outside - Let Me In
12. Afraid of the Dark
If you're curious as to the kind of music, think Rhythm and Blues and Jazz. But My Lover in the Canyon is a Country Western crossover.

Monday, February 23, 2009


Well, it looks like once again I have a computer infected with a virus, trojan, worm, or whatever the correct term is now. The last time this happened it attacked the computer's mother board and destroyed years of work. Most of my files were lost forever. What a pleasant thought.

The good news is FairyHedgeHog directed me to a site which should be able to help.

The bad news is I'm having trouble figuring out how to use the site.

I did get something to run, which produced a log file, which I posted as a message on the site. Now I just have to wait and see if I did everything right.

Hopefully, everything can get resolved satisfactorily. If not, this machine is probably going to crash. Hard. And then I may be off-line for a very long time. Maybe forever. I don't know. I do know I don't have the money to replace the machine if it dies like the last one.


Sunday, February 22, 2009


Lost a Follower this week. That's disappointing, but I bear no ill regard. My posts are not exactly the most uplifting.

For myself, I am now officially following eight blogs. There are twenty-two I visit at least once every day, and fourteen more which I visit occassionally.

It's kind of odd, this cyber-world we inhabit. Apart from Spouse and Son, the only people I am in contact with regularly are here. I belong to two chat rooms, but I don't visit either of them. The one doesn't work worth a d*amn on my machine. Wrong graphics or something. The other tends to deal with subjects I would just as soon avoid. So my communication with the outside world is done mostly through blogs.

Of the twenty-two I visit daily, never are there more than eight or nine with new posts. Today it was only six. I also visited five of my "blogs in waiting" this morning. None of them had new posts.

I've rearranged my "daily blogs" and "blogs in waiting" a bit. When a "daily blog" goes very quiet (no posts for more than a week at a time) and a "blog in waiting" becomes active (at least three posts in a week), I will switch them. I've done that four times this year already. In fact, I did one just this morning.

The people who's blogs I visit are quite a varied group. Kind of like my music. There seems to be something of everything. Most of those I visit are writers, or people who enjoy writing. Not all. Some share my faith, some don't. Some do not personally recognize any faith. Some have lifestyles so different from my own it kind of amazes me that I return to read what they have written. But I do.

There are those to descry the move toward written communication. They cite that only 40% of a message can be accurately transmitted via written words. We need our ears, and often our eyes, to truly get a message. This I know. I've lost count of the number of times I wrote something to be funny only to grossly offend someone. But then I've had that happen face-to-face, too.

But for people like me, written communication is about the only way we get to talk with anyone. It seems safe. For me, anyway.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Discovering New Music

Music is an important part of my life. It has been since I can remember. Even as a little one of five I would get all into music. The first artist who's name I could remember was Johnny Cash. He sang Ring of Fire and I Walk the Line. (I love Rodney Crowell's I Walk the Line Revisited. It brings me back more than forty years.) I remember when we visited Grandma Amy's, Aunt Laurel would be playing Gene Pitney on the big fancy stereo. Lynahr introduced me to the Beatles, and Judayl the Monkees.

But most of the time I hadn't a clue what a song's title was, much less who sang it. There are dozens upon dozens of songs I never got because I hadn't a clue what the titles were. You would think someone who was so moved by music would pay attention to things like that, wouldn't you? I hardly ever did (do). I know a lot more now because of the (d*mned) internet. Talk about a love-hate relationship with something inanimate.

Recently, I stumbled across Eye in the Sky, by the Alan Parsons Project. It's a great song. I tried to play bass with it this past week. (Boy, do I s*ck.) But listening to the song via YouTube exposed me to other Alan Parsons Project songs. Historically, I have not listened to songs I didn't think I knew, but I gave it a go this week. Most of the songs I had never heard before, but I found I liked most of them. In fact, I have yet to come across one I don't like.

I remember the same thing happened when Stephen introduced me to the Moody Blues. (And Chinese food, and mushrooms.)

What a waste I have made of my time on this planet. Music means so much to me, and yet I have barely pursued it. All because I'm afraid of - something. D*mned if I know what. Boy, has it cost me.

Alan Parsons Project has been around for years, but I only discovered them this week. Then there are the Celtic songs I heard from exploring from Procol Harum's, Conquistador.

If I could have another dream it would be to be part of music. To play it. To sing it. To tell it. To show it. To feel it.

When I hear music it's like two liquids coming together. It mixes with me, and I am new. I'm listening to Eres Tu, by Mocedades, right now. God, I love that song. It's a song of power. It's the kind of song which makes my heart reach up with arms extended to God and weep with the desire to express love. Maybe that's why music is so important to me. Without it, I don't really express love at all.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Something Worth Reading, I Think

I am not going to make one of my regular posts here today. Instead, I am going to refer you to something I posted about on A Voice in the Wind.

For me, it is a very moving story I read just this morning. Maybe it touches me more closely because my own mother has cancer, but I don't think so. I think it is a moving story no matter what.

If you have the time, at least read the link to the story I read.

You have a good day.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Day of Minor Progress

What is it they say about the best laid plans of mice and men? Today was to be my big day for writing. Not only had I got up on time, but I would have the bulk of the day to myself. Son at school. Spouse at work. Whoopee!

I was already ahead on my laundry, thanks to yesterday's fiasco. And Spouse had done me the favor of doing the dishes last night. That's the up side of Spouse's moods. Spouse will noisily clean up the kitchen when angry. I'm not going to argue.

So, the plan was to finish at least two chapters today. That's not how it worked out.

I knew trouble was in the wind when Son failed to come down on time to get to school. Thursday is Jazz Band Day, which means Son goes in an hour early to practice with the Jazz Band. We were running late. Son never misses Jazz Band. Almost never. Turns out Son is sick. I managed to get him into the car, but only halfway to school he was hunched over an empty ice cream bucket. So it was turn around and come back home. Sick children are not condusive to creative writing. The creative juices just do not flow when one's son (or daughter) is sick.

But I have finished Chapter Three, so the day wasn't entirely lost. Tomorrow I believe I am going to my mother's apartment. She wants to give me keys and such before her surgery, which is next week Thursday. She also wants to show me where the paperwork is for her cremation - should things go badly. I don't really want to know about her cremation because I don't want there to be one. Not next week, anyway.

So, not much writing will take place on Friday. Or Saturday. Or Sunday. That means Monday is my next best shot.

My days keep getting filled up with things I don't expect. I make these plans for my days and weeks. They're good plans, too. I'm going to get all of these things done. Hardly anything does get done. Can't complain to Spouse, though. Spouse is one of my biggest interruptors. Spouse - and the d*mned telephone. I hate that instrument. I wish there was a way to make it outgoing calls only.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What am I Learning

What am I learning? Well, I can tell you one thing I've learned just today: The cap on the soy sauce with the neat little spouts isn't sealed. It doesn't leak. The sauce just pours out.

How did I learn this?

Well, some time last week I bought a bottle of soy sauce. It was an impulse purchase. I hadn't bought soy sauce in ages. Hadn't eaten chinese in ages either. Emotions. Sometimes they just s*ck.

Anyway, yesterday Spouse and I went shopping. Needed to purchase several of a ccertain clothing item. Mine had become so threadbare from who knows how many washings that the elastic waistbands were tearing away from the cloth. We went to a local Target Store. It was a Super Targetstore, complete with groceries. While going up and down the aisles I chanced to see big cans of La Choy Chow Mein. Now chow mein from a can is hardly my favorite (much prefer shrimp fried rice and beef lo mein - with lots of hot sauce), but I had to make myself feel better about buying the soy sauce. So I bought a can of chicken chow mein. Spouse and Son aren't keen on Chinese food at all, so I figured I would have it for lunch. Which I did. Today. (Oh. Got two packages of the clothing item. Seven per package. Only ten dollars each. I think that's a good price.)

So, just as my lunch was finishing up in the microwave, Spouse comes home. Great! We can have lunch together. I put everything on a tray and bring it upstairs. The idea was to watch television while eating. When I lay down on the bed, I set the soy sauce to the side, like I would ketchup, mustard, or bar-b-que sauce. And, like the aforementioned condiments, the bottle fell over. So what? I hadn't taken the cap off.

I put my drinks on the bedstand and poured the dry noodles onto my plate. Then I spooned some of the hot mixture on top. Then I took the soy sauce and poured some on. I remember actually pausing when I put the soy sauce on the bedstand. I thought, How could I do that without removing the cap? Then I looked at the bottle. It was nearly empty. I had only used it once. I looked at the bed. Oh. Wonderful!

I jumped up and tore the blanket off the bed and tossed it to the floor - where it immediately began to leak out onto the carpet. So I rushed to the bathroom and set it on the floor in there. It had soaked through every blanket right down to the mattress protector, which did its job. Of course, now I'm doing laundry. And my food wasn't hot when I finally got to it.

Did manage to get some writing done today. Haven't finished Chapter Three yet. In fact, Chapter Three is now Chapter Four. That scene which I needed to bring forward forces a new chapter. Hadn't counted on that. Throws off the whole schedule. That's another mess I've got to clean up. What am I learning?

Having a job that doesn't matter and fills no void in the spirit is a lot easier than trying to do something that does matter. Creativity spills like soy sauce sometimes. Sometimes it's just messy. Sigh.

Back at it.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Progress Report

Figured I'd do another progress report. Got up at 3:00 a.m. This gave me four hours of uninterrupted writing. The result? Chapter Two is in the book. I also came in 211-words under budget, too.

In case you find it at all interesting, in ten days I have completed one interlude, two chapters, and 15,128-words. If the current pace holds true I should finish some time in the middle of March at around 110,000-words. Don't hold your breath on the pace holding, though. There are plenty of things to get in the way, including not waking up at the right time. Also, Mother's surgery is next week on Thursday. I can forget about writing that day. Maybe the day before and the day after, too. We'll see. It's a scary surgery.

Lots of characters are being left on the cutting room floor. Good characters. Interesting characters. Lots of background, too. The infodump is being dumped.

The changes do neccesetate me moving a scene. What once took place in Chapter Nine is now going to have to occur in Chapter Three. I had planned on moving it to Chapter Two, but it just refused to fit. That's the problem with stories. Once they're on their way they begin to dictate storyline as much as accept it. I think I can do it, though.

A Traitor in the Midst (still would like some feedback on that title - before I marry myself to it) will be the first installment of what I hope to be an extended series. Book II, The Prophecies of Madatar, is already primed and ready to go. Book III, Bonds of Love, has been begun but put on hold. Book IV (untitled) is mostly in my head. I did write a few scenes under inspiration. Thanks to Risa, Isista, Quixa, and Sonja, the Muses who inspired the work. Book V (untitled) is also mostly in my head. I may have written a couple of scenes. Not sure. Book ? (untitled) is interesting because I don't know if it is Book VI, VII, VII, IX, or X.

There are a lot of scenes to be written, and a fair number to be rewritten. Some, I know, are going to go away. Even some of my favorites. That's the way storywriting goes. Once you jump out of the plane it's too late to do anything on the plane. Whatever is left out is gone. But, given clever writing and design, some things can be raised from the dead.

That's what happened to the original ending of Book I. The ending line was magnificent. It was just beautiful. However, as I began developing the story as it needed to be, I suddenly found myself confronted with the reality that there was no longer any place for that line. It was gone. Then, as I carried the story forward into places I had yet to explore, I discovered the line could be used after all - at the very end. Of course, I haven't got there yet. I still haven't finished A Traitor in the Midst. Could someone tell me what they think of that title?

Monday, February 16, 2009

Progress Report

Suprisingly, I actually do have a progress report to make. On February 8th I completed the new First Interlude at 66-words under my goal of 1,500-words. Yes, I know the idea is to write as much as I can, but I've also been told - many times - that a first novel cannot go much more than 100,000 words. When I finished my last edit job I was still over 157,000 words. Having cut what I believed to be all extraneous writing I was left with the daunting task of deciding which pieces of the story had to go in order to save the rest.

I struggled for a long time with how to do this. There was a point when I was thinking of starting the story several days in from where I had. That would cut out several chapters. But I would only have to find other ways to bring the information I had cut back in. Basically, I was looking at just writing a new story. That was too daunting for me. At least now. Besides, Judayl (older sister) told me she thought I was starting the story at the right place. I just needed to get rid of some of my backstory. She didn't use the word, but the word was infodump.

What is funny is that I did that with Apprentice, at the guidance of FairyHedgeHog. Apprentice became a much better story as a result. I'm quite proud of it actually. It tells a quiet story in a quiet way without putting too much in. The result is a 7,000-word story which is quite charming, I think. The funny part is that two of the four who have critiqued it told me they actually wanted more than I gave. You can't win, can you?

Anyway, I compromised with A Traitor in the Midst (my latest - and greatest [grin] - working title - somebody, please tell me how that title grabs you). I began the story on the same evening, but two turns (hours) later. Then, I eliminated the introduction of the entire Council. I only gave speaking parts to seven of the twelve, focusing on four.

I struggled with it, and with the constant interruptions from Spouse and Son. Eventually, though, I started waking at my regular time, which is like three hours before Spouse and Son, and I was able to finish Chapter One on February 15th. Not only that, but I reduced the chapter by over 3,000 words. I'm still 1,900 words over my goal of 6,000-word chapters, but I already have seven chapters which are currently less than that goal.

One chapter in a week is hardly worth bragging about, though. Except that, as you may have read in my earlier posts, I have been struggling with writing for a while now. Considering all of that, one chapter finished is a major accomplishment. I think it still works, despite what I've cut. I'll have to let someone else read it to know for certain. The Muses are happy with the results, if not my schedule.

I am very lucky. As much as the internet can tork me off, it has provided me with what I need most to go on: friends. You who read what I write and then comment back help me more than anything I can ever do for myself. Even when what you have to tell me is that I'm off base, for then you steer me back to where I need to be. You give me confidence. There is no way to repay that, although I dearly wish I could.

I give you my thanks and my love. It isn't much, but it's all I have. Thank you, for continuing to believe in me. I can't say Swords of Fire will ever be published. But it will be finished. This time for sure.

No writing for today, though. I got up three hours late this morning. And it's Presidents' Day in the U.S.A. This means Son is home from school. My only "me" time today is going to happen when I leave to go to the grocery store. Son wants to stay home alone. He's 12-1/2 and very responsible. And I won't be gone that long. Spouse will be home a good portion of tomorrow. Hopefully, I will wake at 4:00 a.m. like I'm supposed to. Then I can work on Chapter Two. Major changes to take place there. Currently, Chapter Two is 11,600-words. My goal is 6,000-words. Can I chop a chapter in half when I'm actually planning on moving a scene there from a later chapter? We'll see, won't we?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Posting. I'm getting out of practice. It reminds me of something B (my sister-in-law) once said to me when I refused to go riding with her, Spouse and Spouse's brother.

You have to ride, Bevie. I know how it goes. First you don't ride, and then before long you think you can't ride. Then you won't ride. You have to ride. So ride.

As it turned out, did not ride my horse that day. I worked out an agreement with B to ride extra long the next day. She agreed.

The same thing can happen with writing, can't it? Or anything, for that matter.

For nearly a week now I have been considering whether or not to just quit.

Quit what? Everything. Just - give up and let it go.

After February 1st I didn't write. Now I'm thinking I can't write. It's like, why bother? Everything I write s*cks anyway. My dream is a fool's dream, and I have no right to it. I should give up my last hope and just find some cr*p job which pays minimum wage and die a slow death.

This is how the last thing I wrote began:

She crawled out of the mire, mud clinging to her like a second skin. Her hair was matted with thick clumps of goo. Her face was smeared with the shades of purple and green which only hinted at the smell. Slime fell from her cheeks down onto her breast. What did it matter? Her clothes were soaked through.

She looked down the road. The way the others went. No one was in sight anymore. So much for the shortcut.

Most of the spectators had long departed. The runners were gone, why remain? There were a few stragglers. Participants of beverage more than watchers of the race. None paid Lorelei any heed. She had long ceased to matter.

For several minutes she stood in what had once been the path to glory. Somewhere down that road was the prize, and all who crossed the finish line would share in it. But getting there was a problem, and Lorelei was tired. She had exhausted herself in the mire, and extracting herself from it had taken all she had left. She was done. She knew it. For her, the race was over.

Do you ever feel like that?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Nothing For Here

Haven't felt much like posting. Been sick, and recovery has been kind of off-and-on. I think I'm better for a day, and then the next I'm running a fever and such.

If you're looking for something of interest I wrote a bit about unicorns on SOF - The People. Not too interesting for most people, I think. I just found it curious.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

When Can I Write

Today's Music is Sukiyaki, by Kyu Sakamoto. I first heard the song as a seven-year-old. It touched my heart even then. As a seven-year-old I did not understand about love relationships, but I knew rejection and loneliness, and that is what the song speaks to me. There's an English translation done by someone, but I think it s*cks. I'll take Kyu over anyone else. His voice cries, and my hearts sops up the moisture and wrings it into my belly.

When I used to have a harp I dreamed of playing this song. Actually, even without the harp I imagine myself playing it. Wish I had the harp now.

I wonder why it is that - when I wish to write something meaningful/important - I go to the sad songs. There are plenty of happy songs I like. Some are quite comedic. But they do not inspire writing. They make me laugh. I feel good. But I won't write. To write, I draw upon the songs of loneliness, emptiness, and heartache. Even when writing something happy. Some of the things I'm most happy for having written have tearstains on the paper - when I used notebooks.

I look at my keyboard now and see the blops of moisture stains on the keys. Sweat from my fingers, or tears from my eyes? I guess it's some of both. And I guess that's why I can go so long at times without writing anything worthwhile. To touch those feelings, while needful, and releasing, is not fun. But it seems they are somehow intertwined with my greatest creativity.

How odd. To write beauty and light I must first feel darkness and despair. It doesn't make sense. But that's the way it is.

It makes me wonder about others who write. When I read something especially moving I wonder if the author is like me, having to reach into a hurtful place to find the combination of words to express the mood. Assuming they do, I often will cry for them. That's why I usually try to read good books in private. It's kind of embarrassing to be seen crying while reading. Don't know why. I guess because I've never seen anyone else in my family cry over a book.

I'm going to save this post for another day. I just checked and saw I already have 99 posts. FairyHedgeHog had suggested I do a photo shoot for my 100th post. I like the idea. I'll do that first, and then begin the next 100 with this.

NOTE: This post was actually generated on Saturday, February 7th, and does not (necessarily) reflect my mood at the moment.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Book I - A New Beginning

So, Book I is on the move - again. Began writing this past Saturday. The Prologue is still out. I guess that's gone forever. Left in the First Interlude. I had planned on dumping that, too. In fact, I had originally planned on picking an entirely different place to start the book, but after speaking with my sister, who said the book begins exactly where it should, I decided to go from there after all.

This may be my final approach, so I'm going back to my roots to write it. My hope is that I will be relaxed in my approach and just write it for fun. We'll see how it goes.

Right now I've completed the First Interlude and have just begun Chapter One. Won't be home again today, so I probably won't write much until Tuesday or Wednesday.

If it is a final huzzah, I hope it goes well.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

You Can't Go Home - 100th Post

They saying is "You can never go home again."
Yeah. That's true. For me anyway.
FairyHedgeHog suggested I might do a photo spread for my 100th post. I decided to do that, but with a slight twist: I wouldn't use pictures of my current neighborhood. Instead, I would return to the place where I spent most of my youth and take pictures there. I reference it so much, particularly on A Voice in the Wind, it seemed appropriate. It was a shock to return after so many years.
I generally go back there about every five years just to look around. It's been closer to ten now. Things have changed drastically. Lots of new roads, houses, and malls. Old roads are gone - or moved! They actually moved a road.
But what amazed me was how few buildings remained. Houses, stores, barns, and a host of other places just aren't there anymore. I had taken Son with me. I was going to show him all the places where various friends and such lived. So many of their houses are gone. Wiped from history.
And yet some of the most decripit places remain. They were decrepit when I was young forty years ago. They're still there.
This first picture is of the old creamery in the local town, just a mile north of my old home. It was an abandoned building all through my growing up years. We kids found a way to break in through the pipes and use it as a clubhouse. Doesn't look like it's used today. Yet no one tore it down. Seems odd. Especially when I discovered the local grocery store is gone. ALL of the businesses in town are gone. But the creamery remains.

The second picture is what remains of our neighbor's cabinet-making business. There used to be other barns in the background, but those were torn down by my brother and the neighbor's eldest son. My house would be behind and to the left.

The school where I went for grades two through six. It's not a school anymore, although it is still a government building. That roundish portion on the right is new. They tore apart the entire right side where I spent my last two years.

This shot show another round addition to the left. I wonder why they closed the school. There'a heck of a lot more people out there now than when I was there.

This is the house my parents built after the fire. It wasn't blue back in 1973. The siding was stained redwood. The people who bought the house from us thought it would look good to paint over beautiful redwood. They did add a porch. That wasn't there when we built the place. My room was in the upstairs left corner. Helvie's room was right below mine.

I took this shot just to show the gnarled trees which remain from forty-plus years. They are some of the few remaining trees from the fire. They survived from being so far away from the original house.
This is an original building to the farm. We called it the Root Cellar. It was actually in quite good repair when we left. Now even the bricks are falling away. This was our storm shelter in case of tornadoes. Dirt floor. No windows. No electricity. For some reason it seems sad to see it so decayed. The greenhouses used to be to the right, but Daddy and Mother destroyed those right off. Then we used the space for a garbage pit. The orchard is gone, too. A dozen fruit trees. All gone.

On the way back home I drove by Stephen's old house. It was about five miles from mine. When Stephen lived here the house was yellow. No trees. Stephen's room was in the basement, at the near corner.

Very little remains of the places I knew growing up. Ball fields are identifiable simply because the wooden posts which supported the backstops have yet to topple. But the screens are gone. The fields are overgrown with weeds and, in one case, two large trees. So many houses are gone. My own, included. We only lived in the house above for a little more than a year.
I went back expecting memories to flood. They couldn't. Nothing looked the same. There is so little left to trigger a memory. So now I will rely on smells and sounds, which inexplicably bring me back thirty and forty years in time. More than once I have said to Spouse upon walking outside: It smells like summer in 1965. It doesn't look that way any more. It never will again.
I suppose I should take pictures of this town and save them. Son is going to need them when he comes back searching for a memory. I don't know what it will be like then, but it won't be like it is now.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Physical versus Happy

A couple of days ago I wrote about my Happy Place. I like to go there. While there I can do just about anything I want. All exceptions fall into the same category: I can't do what is physically real.

While in my Happy Place I can (and do) write scene after scene for story after story. Unfortunately, no text is typed into my computer and no notebooks are written in. The scenes, stories, poems and artwork exist only in my thought. And when other thoughts push the first away, many of the first become lost forever.

To actually write anything, I have to be in a Physical Place. That's easier done than the Happy Place, but the Physical Place has its own set of problems. Foremost among these is my family's refusal to leave me in peace when I am at the computer. In my Happy Place I don't get interrupted, but neither do I really accomplish anything. In my Physical Place I get interrupted, and I don't accomplish anything.

Do you have this problem when you want to write?

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Starting Over Again - and Again, and again, and again ...

When is it all right to abandon something and start anew? A while back I had an exchange on someone else's blog dealing with this question. My feeling was she presented her position far better than I did, so that if one were to have considered it a "contest", she would have won.

Her position is solid. Basically, it is that one should not give up. But I think she was speaking more to life in general as opposed to specific paths and roads one walks while living. That is more what I think of when I talk of "quitting". No, she is absolutely correct with regard to life itself. We keep going. Even when it seems hopeless to do so.

And yet I have known people in a sick bed finally take the position they will not endure another tortuous treatment to stay here. But that's a different topic. I'm more thinking about specific paths, lanes, trails, directions. Whatever you want to call them. Choices.

Starting over is a sometimes accurate descriptor of me. I do it a lot. I guess that's why I've never made it anywhere. Too many restarts. Sometimes it works out well.

There is a table game I used to play. It's a strategy game. There was a time I was very into strategy games. Not so much anymore. Somewhere along the way I lost the drive to win. Anyway, the game is called Twixt. It's a bridge building game for two players. One player tries to construct a bridge going east-west, and the other tries north-south. By definition, only one player can complete their bridge. I've never lost at it. Ever.

It's a boastful statement, but to put it in context, in my entire life I only played one other person who took the game seriously enough to study it. All my other opponents just played it to play. Whereas I spent hours, days and weeks studying all of the possible strategies and their weaknesses, others did other things. Thus, when they went against me, it wasn't even close. Eventually, no one I knew would even bother to compete. That used to happen with all my strategy games. Now I hardly ever win. I can't bring myself to even try. Wonder what happened?

One day while at a family camp I saw an older man playing Twixt with the teenagers. (I was twenty at the time, which somehow made me feel a lot older than 'the kids'.) None of them could beat him, and he was enjoying his victories. Knowing something of the game I sat and watched. I didn't know the man, or even many of the teenagers, so I was not part of their conversation. But I found myself laughing inside at the old man's failure to take advantage of certain mistakes the teenagers made. "He's not so good as he thinks he is," I thought to myself. Finally, the teenagers all gave up and went to go swimming or something. The old man looked at me and then offered to let me compete. I smiled and said I would be happy to play. He asked if I understood the game and I said I did. Then we began.

What I quickly learned was that the old man had not missed the opportunities the teenagers had given him to end the game quickly. He had just ignored them in order to keep the game going. The truth was, he was quite good. Quite good. I found myself on the defensive after just a few moves. Not a common experience. I felt panic. I didn't want to lose. Especially to him. He had an arrogance which I didn't particularly like.

The nature of Twixt is that one can quit on a strategy and start over in another place on the board. This was my sole advantage over the old man. He hated to do that, and resisted it. But he couldn't let me get footholds, and so when I abandoned one battle he had to leave off, too. And so I led him around the board. We engaged in probably six or seven mini-contests. He won them all, forcing me to quit and start over. His arrogance was gone, though. He knew he had the advantage, but he also knew if he made a single mistake he could lose outright. I, on the other hand, had already made my mistake and was suffering for it as a result. Then came the final mini-battle.

By reason of so many "battles" remaining on the board, the last battle involved the linking of several previously fought contests. Now one would think that once a battle had been lost it could not be won. Not always true. By incorporating a previous defeat with a current contest, I managed to turn the entire game around in three moves. I felt it. For the first time in probably thirty or forty minutes my stomach was relaxed. It was over. To his credit, it only took him two turns to see it himself. Reluctantly, he conceded me the victory. Then he criticized me for my strategy. Basically, he told me I was lucky. Starting over was a poor strategy, and had I stuck to a real strategy I would have lost.

I didn't say anything to him. Didn't know him at all. But my thinking was, why the h*ll do you think I quit using that strategy? What's the point of doing something you know can't succeed?

The old man was unhappy because he felt my restarts were random acts. Shooting in the dark, as it were. In fact, he may even have used that term. But my restarts were not random. I didn't just go to a random place on the board to begin anew. There were specific reasons for why I went where I did. I knew about the linking strategies possiblity. True, I had to trust to a certain amount of good fortune, but that's true in any competition. What I was doing was trying to position myself to a place where good fortune would smile on me instead of the old man. And that's exactly what happened.

So, what does playing a silly game of Twixt have to do with writing? A lot. I think.

As a storyteller and writer of stories I very much want to be published. Getting published is like winning at writing. Unlike Twixt, which I never lost at, I have never won at writing. But the game isn't over. And it's an awfully large board. And this is where the analogy fits. I start over.

I have been working on my big story for a very long time. Longer than a good number of the people I know have been alive. Several times I have thought the work positioned well for publication, only to learn I was wrong. Failure. Defeated. Dead end.

But not end of story. Not end of game. I've just lost a battle. Not the war. To win the war (get published) I need but win the final battle. Like my contest against the old man, a decisive victory at the end makes all previous defeats meaningless.

And so after every rejection I have gone back to the story and started over. I do not write randomly. I do not just "try something new". I know the story now very well. Perhaps too well. I tend to infodump. But I try to take the lessons learned from the most recent failure and apply them to the new write - remembering the lessons from previous rejections, too. And, like the board from Twixt, the remnants of previous defeats remain at my disposal. I can link to them, and in so doing, perhaps change a previous defeat into a victory. After all, not everything I wrote was cr*p.

That's were I am at with Swords of Fire. Previous mistakes have put me to the disadvantage. Not only is there no guarantee of success, but the smart money is against me. But then, the smart money was against me when I competed against the old man. I expect he probably was/is a better player than me. I just survived long enough to win.

That's how I feel about my writing. If I can just survive a little longer, I can achieve my goal. I just need to restart again.

I told my sister I was going to "blow up the story" and start over. When I told her I believed I had started the story in the wrong place, she disagreed. She said the problem wasn't where the story began. It was with too much background data. (Infodump.) She actually liked the aside pieces I included and felt they added to the story.

Well, no matter where/how I do it, it is time to begin again with a blank page.

In the deep darkness he brooded...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Happy Place

Several weeks ago a friend of mine pointed me to a website which contained an interesting exercise. Basically, it was a visualization exercise of one's "Happy Place". I had intended to do the exercise right off but, as I so often do, I put it down for a moment and then didn't get back to it. Then, this week, while making blog rounds, I found someone else talking about wishing they had a "Happy Place". I referenced the same website for them as my friend did for me. Then, finally, I took the exercise. Here is a description of my "Happy Place". Just in case you're interested. Well, actually, whether you're interested or not. Here it is.

(I don't think it diminishes to describe my place. I can tell you how to find it because the knowledge will be useless to help you get to my place. Follow the instructions and you'll only find yourself at your own place. You can't get to my place.)

The journey to The Place begins in a tunnel. There are torches on the wall to light the way. The passage is only wide enough for two to walk abreast. A flight of steps leads downward. At first the steps seemed short, but to step on one stretches it forward for several paces. Each step is bathed in its own light. The first step is bathed in red. Energy. Orange is warmth. Yellow is for sunlight. Green is for strength and beauty of nature. Blue is pure heavenly light. The last step, purple, is the colour of spiritual power.

Now the way is blocked by a sheet of water, falling from some unknown source above. It blocks the way as like a curtain, or door. The water rushes down fast – and hard – with noise. Yet it’s a peaceful noise (steady) despite the volume. The water falls to the sides, and through small cracks in the rocky floor. I like to stand in the torrents, taking a shower to wash away the remnants of those things which I must leave behind. The continual beating of wave upon wave against my shoulders is as a massage. I lift my face and let it beat against my chest. I tilt my head forward and let it relax my shoulders. The water is cool – but not cold. In time, it feels warm. Then I move on.

I have crossed the barrier. From here on I am in My Place. I am alone. No one can hurt me, and I can hurt no one. There is no one I can offend or frighten with my moods and damaged pieces. No one will take advantage of me. I am safe. Protected. It is an aloneness of comfort and freedom.

There are trees. Tall trees. Pines. Oaks. Others I cannot name. They block the sun, creating a shadow world just above their roots. There is life there. Things are happening. But the path is lit from above, where the trees leave a gap in the canopy. Beside the path flows a river, carrying the water from the falls to some future destination. It is not over wide. Perhaps I could jump it – at least, in places. It is seldom deeper than my waist. But there are deep places, where the water will pool. Otherwise, it moves along quickly.

When I break the cover of trees I have reached the cul-de-sac which marks the end of the journey. It is a hollow surrounded by tall hills uncrossable by human desire. Down in the middle is a pool. The pool is small, perhaps no more than a mile across. Can it even be that far? It isn’t deep, but to cross it I need swim. At the center it's depth may be twenty feet.

The water is warm, heated by a bright and happy sun which smiles down upon me to bring daytime to my heart. Sometimes I will grab an inner tube and float out on the waves. The water is clean, for one river fills it and another carries away the sediments. Those filter down a hole too small for my spirit. So I can float and let the current take me on a quiet journey around and across.

There is a large rock formation on one hill. It is white and smooth, rising perhaps two or three feet over the ground which anchors it. The sun makes the surface warm, and I will lay on it as a bed. It's a rock, but still there is comfort to lay there. A sacrifice on an altar. The sun cuts into me and I bleed the pain and sadness which clung after the shower. Now breathing is easy and free. The joy of life is in the light. The sun likes me.

Away to the left, along the slopes, is a little house I use. It is a small building. There is just the one room. It appears to have been constructed of Redwood. The boards are vertical, with periodic variations in thickness, giving it texture. I can see curtains fluttering through open windows. It is a pretty house. The roof is peaked. There is smoke exiting a small chimney. There is white trim. It is a happy house. An inviting house. I go inside.

There is a fireplace at the back. A rocking chair sits near, with a large floor lamp to the side. There is a table with a book. A tea cozy with saucer and cup. Windows on the side walls. A pot-bellied stove. A wood-burning kitchen stove. Rustic cupboards holding fixings for breakfast and lunch. An ice box. There is a settee. Music plays from a victrola. Quiet music. Peaceful. Relaxing. The windows are open and the air is fresh. There is a bookshelf. It is small, because when a book is needed, it simply appears. There is a writing table near a window. An artists table by the other window. A harp. A guitar. Pictures adorn the walls. Some are of family. Some are of friends. The one over the fireplace is me. It changes. Whoever I am, the picture will show it. In here I am whoever I feel like. It changes. Figurines adorn the shelves and tables. Dogs. Cats. Dragons. Unicorns. Fairies. Mice. There is a cross over the door. The mood is peace.

So much for dreams. What a pity it can't be a real place where I can really hide. Perhaps not. People are meant to interact with other people - no matter how poorly we do it or how much it can hurt. For the simple truth is, if I could get to such a place I might never return. Not many would miss me, I'm sure.


A Tentative Schedule

Monday - Progress Report
Where am I with regard to the Current Book

Tuesday - Thoughts About Writing
I was going to be profound, but let's be real

Wednesday - What Am I Learning
What can I take from what I am doing

Thursday - Work Sent Out For Review
Respondes to my submissions

Friday - Other Works of Fantasy
Some of my other fantasy writing

Saturday - The Impact of Music
How music has influenced what I write

Sunday - Venting
My 'morbid' time. A safe compromise, I think