Sailors on the Sea

Sunday, May 31, 2009

What and Do I Believe

The last seven years have brought something home to me with tremendous force: I don't believe in very much.

My life is filled with doubts and skepticism. Some of it very rightly so.

When politicians speak from their pulpits I find myself searching for their motivation, and often find it has to do with some special interest, or self-promotion in order to be re-elected.

When social priests, religious and otherwise, get in front of television cameras, or radio microphones, and spout off their outrage over whatever, I find myself wondering what they're getting out of it. Most of the time it's just attention.

I do not believe our judicial system has been politicized. I don't believe that things work out for the best, nor that hard work results in any reward other than the satisfaction of having worked hard. The best team does not always win, and good does not always triumph over evil. Not in the short term.

I see crooks in Washington and on Wall-Street make off with millions while the innocent lose everything they've worked for.

I've seen good employees harassed and suck-ups get raises.

What should be cause and effect is not, because after the initial cause, others interfere and effect it before it can achieve its purpose.

To win, one must play the same game the same way as others have established.

I don't do that.

Some used to claim it was because I couldn't. That was not true. I recall at one company I worked I was not well thought of by management because of my outspoken cries against favoritism and company politics. Got into an argument with a co-worker who challenged me to "play the game". So I made a bet. We had just had our annual reviews, and I had received no raise. The next time around, I would get a good one. He laughed at me.

I played the game. Did and said everything one was supposed to say and do. Got promoted and received the highest raise given out that year. And hated myself for doing it. The next two years in a row I refused the raises which were offered. Then I quit the company.

I can do it. I know how to do it. I just can't bring myself to do it. Not and live with myself. In some ways it turns out I really don't care what people think of me. And it really isn't about the money after all. It's about the few things I still believe in.

When I look at those who seem to believe everything I sometimes envy them. They ask no questions. They see no misdealings. They just accept what they're told and go on with their lives, fitting in nicely to the places others have made for them. Those who ask questions always seem to have some frustration or other when they catch people in lies, and find that things don't work as promised.

That's me. I question it all. Having lived my life among so many who use others for their own advantages, the first question I ask when I see anyone do anything is - why are they doing that? Why are they cruel? Why are they nice? Why take that? Why give it? How can they like that? How can they hate it?

I suppose it comes from my firm believe that everybody is capable of everything. Good. And bad. All it takes is for the right sequence of events to occur. This means that, technically, I am my own worst enemy, and I am as horrible as anyone I can think of - given the right sequence of events. A lot of people get angry when I tell them that. But it's one of the few things which I truly believe.

Here's something else I believe:

It doesn't have to be that way.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Only You Know

Here's a song I got to thinking about. Never knew the words, but I have always loved this song. I believe I read some place recently that Delaney had died. What a pity.

There had been a very nice YouTube track from the album, but apparently it violated some copyright law and was removed. Here is a live version of Delaney singing it.

Only you know and I know
All the love that we've got to show
So don't refuse to believe it
By reading too many meanings

'Cause you know that I mean what I say
So don't go and ever take me the wrong way
You know you can't go on getting your own way
'Cause if you do it's gonna get you someday

I appear to be pleasin'
Oh no no not deceivin'
But it's hard to believe it
When you've been so mistreated

'Cause you know that I mean what I say
So don't go and ever take me the wrong way
You know you can't go on getting your own way
'Cause if you do it's gonna get you someday

If I seem to mislead you
It's just my craziness comin' through
But when it comes down to just two
Aw I ain't no crazier than you

'Cause you know that I mean what I say
So don't go and ever take me the wrong way
You know you can't go on getting your own way
'Cause if you do it's gonna get you someday

Only you know and I know ...



Just because it'sJust because it's Music Day on The Great Sea.

Rock 'n' Roll is in the Attitude, and not the age - Delaney

But it's hard to believe it
When you've been so mistreated

It's still a fun song.

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Story is Born

To grow anything takes time. Even grass doesn't happen in minutes. Have a bare patch in your lawn? Till it up. Add some black dirt and compose. Sprinkled seeds over it. And within a few days the grass begins to sprout. But it will be weeks before it looks like a lawn.

Same with fruits, vegetables, and grains. Farmers and gardeners alike will work feverishly in late winter and spring to prepare things for their plants. But often it will be weeks, or even months, before they reap the harvest. Assuming no disaster has occurred to prevent it.

It takes weeks to build a house. Months, if it is important to you.

Generally, rehearsals for a new play go a month or two. While these are taking place, set designers are working with construction workers to finish the set.

The same is true with storytelling. Whether the story is in poem form, consisting of just a few lines, or a thick novel, using hundreds of pages and thousands of words, the cycle must be worked in order. And to put a story out before it is truly finished is like serving unripe fruits and vegetables. Oh, sometimes it can be pulled off. Ever have green tomato pie? One piece is actually good. Two pieces not so much. A third piece will make you gag. But no one I know puts green tomatoes on their BLT. (Someone probably does, but it's not regular.)

Stories are like that. How many times have you read a story, or listened to someone tell it, or watched it on film, and thought, this needs more work. It's not ready.

You can tell that the premise is good. It's interesting, and maybe even exciting. But it was released before it was ready, and so it does not satisfy. In fact, it is tossed aside like garbage.

Stories are not like bananas, which you can set on a counter and they will ripen on their own. Stories are more like apples which, once plucked from the source of their nourishment, cease to ripen and begin to decay. Few stories - even good ones - stand the test of time. Those that do are magnificent indeed.

Some of us get impatient at times with our writing. I do, so I expect there are others like me. I like to think of myself as unique, but the truth is there is nothing special about me. Too often I have put forth some work of mine before it was ripe. There was so much more I could, and should, have done with it.

On the other hand, just as fruit and vegetables can be harvested too soon, so can they be harvested too late. The time for some things is now, and if they are not ripe, they will never come to market.

To some degree we control the speed of our story/poem's fruition. Personally, I believe inspiration plays the largest part, but I also believe that once one has taken hold of inspiration it is possible to consciously extend it's stay. Different methods work for different writers.

For those who do not write, the belief is that harvest time is the greatest time in a story's life cycle. Not true. Harvest time is the most stressful time. So many things can go wrong at harvest. Yet even if all goes well, there is the fear that this could be the final harvest. What if inspiration is gone and not to return? No. Like sex, conception is the fun part. The writing of a story can become very uncomfortable as it grows and begins taking control of our lives. The actual birthing is often painful - and life threatening when the subject is politically charged.

The problem is, though, that unlike fruits, vegetables, houses, and childbirth, knowing when a story/poem is ripe (finished) can be most difficult indeed. Even for the Author.

And some seeds should never be planted.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

What to Do - For Me and For You

There's a new story episode posted on The Legion of On-Line Super Heroes. It's a Writtenwyrdd story, so you know it's good.

My current Hero Series, Hidden Embers, is now finished and the final two episodes will post next week and the week after.

I interrupted my work on The Animal Kingdom with work on our garage sale. Haven't done my query for Swords of Fire: Traitor, either. Don't look forward to being rejected again. That's the real difference between me and published authors. They kept sending in queries to new agents and editors while I sit fearfully doing nothing.

Had a thought about going back to Swords of Fire: Prophecies of Madatar. It's a finished story. Just needs to be edited. It's also 190,000-words long. Part of me resents being told a story is too long. How can it be too long? It's as long as it is for crying out loud. I learned that lesson all over again when I wrote Quest. Quest is the sequel to Apprentice.

Apprentice is just over 6,900-words. When I wrote Quest I was focused on not letting the story be longer than it's predecessor. The result was a bit uninspired, and there were multiple problems throughout. After receiving Fairyhedgehog's critique I returned to it and basically rewrote it, not caring about word length. I wound up with a very nice story at just over 7,800-words. The story needed to be longer because it had more to tell.

We have a rule on the The Legion of On-Line Super Heroes about episode length. Episodes should be in the 500-word range. However, most of the episodes exceed that. I know the one post is over 600-words. It has been my feeling, and now others are beginning to comment, too, that 500-words is merely an appetizer. Perhaps we should have allowed up to 1,000-words. But then some would think their 400-word story wasn't "good enough". It is. I have no doubt about that. So we'll leave the 500-word limit, but just not enforce it strictly. Kind of like speed limits. Whatever works well within traffic constraints. Just keep your vehicle (story) under control.

Not all of the posts make 500-words, though. We have at least two in which the posts are less than 400-words - and still very interesting and well-written. I guess we need to think of our "rules" more as "guidelines".

If you like to write stories, particularly fun stories, I strongly encourage you to check out the The Legion of On-Line Super Heroes and write something for submission. Don't let the quality of Writtenwyrddd and the others intimidate you. It's all about having fun with a story. I post.

Meanwhile, I have several writing projects of my own to choose from. I've got The Animal Kingdom to finish, Prophecies of Madatar to edit, the Traitor query to write, and there are other Hero Stories waiting to be told. What to do, what to do, what to do?

Finish getting the garage sale set up. That's what's to do.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Some Days the Dream Seems So Elusive

What am I learning? That I have a long way to go. Possibly further than I have to to travel. Likely, in fact.

I feel I am at a bit of a crossroad. Or is it a dead end? Another cul-de-sac. Kind of like this man my Daddy used to laugh about. How Daddy knew him I don't know, but they were friends. Compared to us this man (let's call him Rich, just for fun) was quite wealthy, which is why it was so odd he was friends with my Daddy. But he related something which Daddy never forgot, and often repeated for us, which is why I still remember it.

Rich was traveling on a train. Back in those days train travel was common. Not like today, where only the most major cities have stations for people. In those days even small towns and villages had stops, and so people traveled by train a lot more frequently.

Well, Rich was on this train and walking from one car to another. He chanced to pass by a compartment where three men were playing poker. Now Rich liked to gamble, so he paused and asked politely if he might join the game. The men all smiled, and one very politely explained that Rich probably couldn't afford to be in the game. Always ready to show how wealthy he was, Rich took out his wallet and slapped down five one hundred dollar bills. He was given a single white chip. Without a word Rich picked up his money and continued on his way.

I feel like that. A lot. In my own little world I can write. Not only that, but I can write well. I can compare myself against people who can't write at all and believe I am a master. And then I read someone else's work and I am humbled. Ashamed for even thinking to myself that I am good at what I do. The truth is, I am a rank amateur, and probably won't be anything more than that.

In the movie, Chariots of Fire, Sam Mussabini tells Harold Abrahams, "You can't put in what God left out."

When God creates us he gives us each abilities. However, even scripture acknowledges that these gifts are not doled out equally. Some get more of one thing, and others more of something else. But we all get something.

Unfortunately, some of us, maybe me, desire abilities we do not have. We can enhance what we have of them, but only so far. A lot of very athletic men and women will never play major league sports. A lot of very nice singers will never stand before large crowds. Many actors and actresses will never play Broadway. Not all piano players will play Carnegie Hall. (How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. Practice. Practice.) And not every story will be told to the world.

Those who do not attain their high goals are not necessarily without talent in that area. Rich was far from poor. He just couldn't afford to play poker with those who were wealthier than himself.

I read what other people are writing and I am tempted to pick up my chip and go home in disgrace for believing I can write as well as they. I don't because, to be honest, I think the story I have to tell is greater than my ability to tell it. It needs to be told. But will it?

Days like today I very much think not.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Friend For Life

Have you ever told someone who doesn't write that writing makes you tired? If you have then you have gotten "the look", haven't you? You know the one. It's that condescending, "Right", look which speaks volumes about their opinion of someone who thinks scribbling with a pen or pencil, or tapping some keys is somehow strenuous. But you know they couldn't do it.

You know something else I've noticed? That people who work eight hours a day doing some sort of physical labor (tossing bales of hay, landscaping, construction, or anything which requires great and/or continuous physical effort) always seem to be filled with energy to do other things when they get off work?

Meanwhile, the people who spend their day in an office dealing with this problem and that, trying to figure out how to do whatever, come home completely exhausted.

Odd.

Went bicycle riding with Son the other day. We biked seven miles. When we got home we both felt energized. Meanwhile, on days when I actually work on writing something, I feel worn out. Of course, neither bicycle riding nor writing is generating any money for me, so I guess it doesn't matter which I do.

But my point is that writing is hard. Even bad writing. (I know. That's the only kind I know how to do.)

Writing puts a strain on the spirit while physical exertion seems to release it. And of the two, the wearing down of the spirit is far more taxing than the wearing down of the body.

Sometimes I have become tired just thinking about writing. This is when the Muses have deserted me for more fertile ground to play on. During these times writing anything is taxing. Lack of confidence also makes writing hard. When too many things have gone contrary to my desires I cease to believe in my ability to do anything right, including write.

When I was young I remember talking with my brother about sports in general. The two of us played a lot of sports together, despite his being ten years older than me (nearly to the day). Mother hated sports. But then she hated anything that took her children's attention away from her. But she (and a couple of my sisters) often argued with Mickey about the uselessness of sports. As far as they could see, sports were pointless.

I had not bothered to argue with them. My attitude was, what was the point? By keeping silent their criticisms didn't last quite so long. But at the same time I felt personally maligned by their dislike of activities which gave me great pleasure. The truth was, I didn't know how to put my feelings into words at that time. Too young, I guess. But Mickey put it better than anyone I have ever known.

Sports is my friend. It's one of my best friends. I know it will always be there for me.

That was it! It explained it all. Every time I played baseball, or football, or any sport, I was engaged with more than just the other players on the field of play. There was something else there. Something alive! It was Sport itself.

Unfortunately, Sports and I had a parting of the way. It changed to suit a new attitude which I cannot abide. It was an unhappy, but necessary, parting. I hardly pay attention to sports anymore. Don't care for the attitudes of athletes, coaches, reports, or spectators.

Writing is another Friend. One that is still with me. It has also changed, as it has many times through the years. The story forms which worked well in the 1800s are no longer accepted. Same is true of early 1900s work, and other eras. To be honest, I very much doubt that J.R.R.Tolkien could get his book published today. The requirements have changed.

But writing is different than sports, because writing still has a place for people like me. People who just want to write and be happy with what they've written. People who want to write a story that's just fun to read. Will agents and publishing houses want what we've go to offer? Probably not. But unlike Sports, in which the whole point of even playing has changed, writing still has a place for me. Together we can still have fun. Sometimes wearying fun. I can still put together words in a way that I like. That make me happy. For when I am happy, so is the writing - even when it's saying something sad.

Sometimes, however, I do find myself wishing for more.

Monday, May 25, 2009

What Was and What Is

Some things change over time. I'm talking about what we like and dislike.

I can recall when I would practically gag at the thought of eating a mushroom. Now I try to eat them as often as I can. Same with Miracle Whip, lettuce, broccoli, cocktail sauce, and picante sauce.

On the other hand, I no longer care for Fig Newtons, certain candies, and the like.

When I was young I loved monster movies and stories. Now they annoy me. Maybe it's because I prefer the old monsters: Bela Lugosi's Dracula; Boris Karloff and Glenn Strange's Frankenstein Monster; Lon Chaney Jr's Wolf Man. I find the modern versions of these, and other monsters, quite dull.

There was a time when I was very interested in science fiction movies. Never liked reading it, though. Now I'm not so keen on even the movies. Still like Star Trek, though. Star Wars is okay, too. The rest? Meh.

Some things don't change.

Still like ice cream and watermelon. Spaghetti and roast beef are still my favorite foods. I still laugh at Bugs Bunny. And I love reading/watching fantasy. Even when it's not great I still enjoy it. When it's pretty bad my joy fades considerably, but mostly I like it.

The truth is, good fantasy in films is almost impossible to find. Special effects have improved, but the storytelling has not. In fact, I would venture to say that with the improvement of special effects, the quality of storytelling in films has actually decreased. The original King Kong captivated me. The remake not so much.

I think there is something about simplicity which appeals to imagination. My son has always played more with the toys which don't do anything than those which have all kinds of special gadgetry. His hard plastic Batman figures get much more play time than those which can do all kinds of poses. The cars, tanks, and other vehicles, who's only moving parts are wheels that go round and round, are played with far more than those which shoot foam darts, steer, and do other things.

Simplicity. It leaves so much to the imagination, which makes the film or book so much better. That's kind of how I see it anyway.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Ever Steeper, The Mountain Rises Before Me - Slowly I Climb

I get to vent today without guilt. You see, Sunday is Venting Day on The Great Sea. The other days are not, so when I do I feel guilty. But not today! Whoopee!

So what to vent about?

How about the biggest differences between children and adults? And I'm not talking about size.

Do you realize that children have a tendency to believe everything a person of authority tells them? Adults tend to be the opposite. We tend to disbelieve everything we're told until we have proof otherwise - unless it happens to agree with our preconceived notions.

Do you realize that a lot of adults are quite jealous of children? This jealousy only intensifies as the children become teenagers and, eventually, young adults.

Why do I say this? Well, apart from the fact that so many people I have spoken to never seem to have anything good to say about teenagers and young adults, I also listen to what they are trying to teach children, teenagers, and young adults.

We are born believing the world is ours and that all it contains is at our disposal. This gives us confidence to do a myriad of things - many which are just plain dangerous to infants and toddlers and such. To protect us, parents, and other adults, begin teaching us what we can't do. This is well and good. Except the teaching often doesn't stop at protection. It continues to life skills.

You will never learn to play that. You can't do that. That's for other people. You're not talented enough. That's no good.

We think we are protecting our children when we tell them they're athletic skills s*ck, that they're drawings are not worthy to be called art, that they singing is more annoying than a cricket in the house. We look and see no chance for a career and try to protect the children from the pain of failure by convincing them not to try in the first place. And do you know what? Most children believe these admonitions.

They grow up thinking they can't. And it snowballs. They've been told there are so many things they can't do that they just keep adding to the list on their own. And when they finally reach adulthood guess what? They can't do it!

What's just as sad is that when you tell an adult they can do it, they look at you like you're out of your frikkin' mind. They know in their heads that what you are saying is technically true - in general. But they can't make themselves believe it for themself. "Not in my case. I'm different. I can't."

It takes years - decades - for people to finally get to the place where desire says, "To h*ll with it", and they give it a serious go anyway. Too many people have to wait until they are facing retirement, or looking back on it, before they realize that they can.

Books, movies, television, news features. These all make it seem like the discovery is a one-time thing of wonder. No. It's not. It's a series of small and large successes and failures as adults who have finally reached the place where they need to start anew struggle to find out what it is they have missed for most of their lives. There are days of great joy and wonder and hope. These are followed by days of great sorrow, loneliness, and despair. The cycle continues until such time that the adult comes to find the place where they always wanted to be.

We can make this journey to find our places much easier for each other if we would only stop telling young people that they can't. Don't fill in the passes between the mountains because you're afraid of what lies beyond. Doing so only means a rough and dangerous climb in order to get where we need to go. And getting down the other side we risk hurtful falls, which would be far less painful had we been able to walk on more level ground.

For a young person one of the most exciting things there is to believe is, "I can".

For someone who has never believed that it is quite terrifying, really. I know. That's my experience. I am not on the mountaintop. But I'm climbing with many slips and slides.

What, oh what, is on the other side of this mountain I climb?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Music in My Heart - It Changes You Know

Do you have a song? One that speaks to your heart more than any other? One that defines who you are to yourself? Over my life I have had several, I guess.

The first I recall was the one from this post. It became kind of my theme song through the 70s. By the time I graduated from high school it was how I felt most of the time. I think it was how a lot of teenagers felt most of the time. Being a teenager kind of s*cks sometimes. Remember? Sometimes it was a lot of fun. The highs were so high. But then came the lows, and they were so low. Such was growing up.

It's amazing to me that things have changed. While the song still touches me, it no longer speaks the same words of stoic defiance. It turns out the walls I built were not so impenetrable as I believed. For some, it is like they don't even exist. Danged if I know how they do it, but there are people in this world who just walk into the inner circles of my heart whether I want them to or not. Kind of scary, actually. And comforting. Not quite the island of rock I imagined myself to be.

I Am a Rock
by Simon and Garfunkel

A winters day
In a deep and dark December
I am alone
Gazing from my window to the streets below
On a freshly fallen silent shroud of snow
I am a rock
I am an island

I've built walls
A fortress deep and mighty
That none may penetrate
I have no need of friendship friendship causes pain
It's laughter and it's loving I disdain
I am a rock
I am an island

Don't talk of love
But I've heard the words before
It's sleeping in my memory
I won't disturb the slumber of feelings that have died
If I never loved I never would have cried
I am a rock
I am an island

I have my books
And my poetry to protect me
I am shielded in my armor
Hiding in my room safe within my womb
I touch no one and no one touches me
I am a rock
I am an island

And a rock feels no pain
And an island never cries




Such was the way it was.

The way it is? How's about this?

Friday, May 22, 2009

So Where is Your Place to Write

It's kind of odd how one person likes to read one kind of fiction and another person likes to read something completely different. And a third doesn't read fiction at all.

What is it that formulates our passions - or lack thereof - toward reading? I have two brothers and four sisters, and none of them are especially interested in reading fantasy. As far as I know, Ranlen only read college science books, mostly about geology, but some about astronomy and nature in general. Mikey likes biography, social awareness, and detective stories. Lynahr liked romance and Christian. Judayl likes detective. Gayanne read most anything, particularly mysteries, but seldom fantasy. Helvie didn't read much at all.

So why did I become so different? We all grew up in the same house. Had the same parents. But our interests are different. Mine apparently most of all.

My best friend likes to read science fiction. I have never been especially keen on science fiction. For some reason I have a horrible time trying to visualize it.

Back in the early 1980s I was accepted at the School of Christian Writing in Wheaton, IL. While there I met Myrna Grant, a published author. She taught one of the classes I attended. During the class she said something I have always remembered. "Learn what your place is, and write about it."

She wasn't talking about where you keep your computer, or notebooks, or desk, or whatever. She was talking about where your imagination likes to go to write. Her place happened to be Soviet Russia. For some, it's New York City. Others, it's any city. Or maybe a small town. My place appears to be medieval. All of my stories seem to be there, even if they don't have to be. Apprentice and Quest could just as easily have taken place in 19th century America, or any place, really. But in my mind it is medieval. That's how I see it. I wonder why?

There's a summer/fall thing which goes on in Shakopee, MN, called The Renaissance Festival. I love going there. Spouse hates it. But it's one of those places where the employees dress up in period costumes and artisans sell craft items made in similar fashion to what was done hundreds of years ago. There are also troubador harps for sale there.

Sometimes, I wish it were a place where I could live in all the time. Of course, with my health issues, I would die in hardly any time at all. But - sometimes - I think it would be worth it. Just for a little while.

After all - it's my place.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Nothing's Getting Done

Haven't been working on real writing this week. Been too busy setting up the garage sale and working on things for the Legion of On-Line Super Heroes blog.

Not only that, but I have been sleeping through my regular wake up time. Just so doggone sleepy. Son and Spouse are keeping me up two hours later than I want to be up. This means I am sleeping two hours later than I want to sleep. This is where my supposedly congenial nature works against me. A normal person would kick everyone out of the room and go to sleep. I can't bring myself to do that. I don't like to argue over silly things, and I know it would become an argument.

What do you care? You don't even work.

I don't really want to deal with that. And so my sleep schedule is thrown off. I guess that's why I want to sell the television. That's the reason they're staying up. They watch videos and DVDs. No television. No videos and no DVDs. We're having - discussions - about whether to sell the television.

So The Animal Kingdom has gone back on hold. The Swords of Fire: Traitor query is not being written. The third installment of Kiahva and Amice is not being considered. The final episode of Hidden Embers remains unwritten.

All because of a garage sale and a shift in sleep patterns.

Just too many things to do. You know?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Not Finished Yet

Been way off on my writing of late. Including my blogs. Haven't visited anyone else's blog in a week now. I apologize for that. One I visited as many as forty in a day. Now I'm down to zero. Went several days without writing on my own, too.

To be honest, I was seriously considering just shutting down and going quiet. Give up what I like doing, find some cr*p job I hate (but generates an income), and passively wait for my time to bail permanently.

But I'm not ready for that. Not yet. I suppose the day is coming, but it's not here yet. I find I miss the writing, even when nobody reads it and writes back. For those of you who do, I thank you. That does enhance the experience considerably. Solos are fine and well, but sometimes one likes to be part of a chorus.

There is something about writing which has always appealed to me. What's strange about that is I have never been able to maintain a diary. I've tried. Over and over and over again I have started journals, only to abandon them within a few weeks. Blogging is kind of like that, except I am not reporting what's going on in my daily life every day.

These blogs of mine (and there are six now) offer me an outlet unlike anything I have ever had before. For one thing, I have met some incredibly wonderful people from around the world. Old Scardy-Cat Bevie would never have met any of you were it not for my blogs. And your blogs. I'll be returning to my visits again. Just not sure when. I feel almost like I'm starting over. A mini-crisis has been weathered and the skies are clear again.

Got an idea for a seventh blog. Wanted to start it last March, but it requires a lot of background work first. For one thing, I have to rewrite a program I wrote back in the early 1980s which I have never been able to completely rewrite since I lost it in the late 1980s. It's not the kind of thing I'm thinking is going to appeal to a lot of people, but then I didn't think any of my blogs would appeal to anyone. Even the Legion of Super On-Line Heroes blog wasn't begun until I knew there was interest. Which reminds me: we've made some refinements to the blog, making it easier (hopefully) to follow your favorite Author and Hero. Also, this new formatting makes occassional submissions even better than before. So if you would like to write a hero story, but don't want to commit to a regular schedule, now you can do so without feeling you are letting anyone down. If you're interested, I recommend going to the blog and letting us know. Just comment on the most recent post and we'll set you up.

So, to update everyone on where I am at with my writing projects, I believe I am on Chapter Five of The Animal Kingdom. My third installment of Hidden Embers will post on Legion of Super On-Line Heroes Saturday morning. Haven't started the fourth episode. Still haven't re-written my query for Swords of Fire: Traitor.

My life's currently being taken up with preparations for a large garage sale we're about to have. Going to try and sell lots of things, including nearly all of our remaining furniture. What would really be nice would be if we could sell off our gift business inventory. I really feel bad that just never panned out well. Oh, well. Ceste la vie, right?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

How to Survive

I recall when I was a teenager sitting in our family room with a couple of sisters and my grandmother. My grandmother made a comment which struck me as odd.

Sometimes I wish I hadn't been born with so many talents. I wish I just had one.

We teased her about her humility, but she was quite serious and went on to explain.

If I had only had one talent I would always have known what to do. But God blessed me with talent in several areas, and I never knew what to focus on. So I never got really good at anything.

I know at least part of what she said is true. My grandmother was multi-talented. I knew she could write. She was published several times, but I don't know if she was ever paid for her work. She painted with water colors. I thought some of what she did was quite nice. She was excellent with cloth and thread, able to make all kinds of clothes. She liked to sing. Don't know if she ever played a musical instrument. Don't think so. She made things with clay. She designed beautiful flower gardens, and arbors, bird sanctuaries. Regarding the arts she was multi-talented.

But growing up poor in rural Iowa those talents had few chances to develop to their potential. Most of her talent remained quite raw.

I found out via some old photographs that Grandmother also liked to play-act. She and her best friend would get their husbands and others in the community to dress up like old pioneers and put on skits. She loved to have fun.

I think that's why I love her so. Grandma knew how to have fun. She knew the importance of just being silly sometimes. She appreciated good humor and often told us (me) jokes meant for adults. Not dirty jokes. Well, not too dirty. I still recall this story she told me, which actually happened to be true. I'm sure you'll see what was funny before I get to the end, but I'm going to relate the entire thing as I remember her telling it to me.

You know your mother's cousins, John and William? They both live in the same town and they both have sons named Peter. Well, John's son got sick with whooping cough a while back. He's better now, but at church one Sunday, Edna - you know Edna - was talking with my cousin, Clare. They got to talking about John and William, and then Clare asks Edna, "By the way, how is John's Peter?" Edna looks all worried and says, "Why I didn't know he had hurt it."

That's about as blue as Grandma got, but she had that Barney Rubble kind of laugh that was just so contagious.

Another story she told me about a friend of hers who's husband was letting her drive the car. He got mad because the woman was driving with the wheels on the dotted lines separating the lanes. When he yelled at her to get in her lane she responded by telling him that she was supposed to drive that way. "You silly woman! What if everyone thought that?"

Grandma's sense of humor. She gave it to her daughter, who passed it on to me. I think that's why I have made this long. I know how to laugh.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

T.O.M.A.H.W.O.D.E.

I was inspired last night to remember a story idea I came up with a year or two ago. Son wanted to rent "Cats", and the entire concept got me remembering. So, after one or two years "cooking" in my head, the story began to be written. I posted it on Cat in the Buff.

What was cool was that remembering T.O.C.A.T.Y.M. reminded me of an earlier story, dating back two - may be three - years ago. That story was the inspiration for T.O.C.A.T.Y.M., and it was called, T.O.M.A.H.W.O.D.E.

T.O.C.A.T.Y.M. was conceived of as a television show. T.O.M.A.H.W.O.D.E. was to be a stage production for the theatre company I want to create. It would be a regular performance, done in serial style, almost like a daytime drama, only it would be a comedy.

I couldn't find any of my original notes. Would have bet large sums of money they were on this computer, but they weren't where I expected to find them. So, I started over. Some things are different, but the general idea remains the same. This is what I came up with.

This saga goes back at least two or three years from May of 2009. The original intent was that it be an on-going serial at a playhouse. Episodes could even be filmed. I seem to have lost my original concept pieces, but as I remember they included these:

The Old Man: He is a bit of an enigma. Perhaps he is an aged wizard who no longer practices his craft (much). He tends to be a bit grumpy, but is truly quite generous of heart. He may be out of shape, but he’s not fat. He complains about (to) his wife, but he really loves her deeply. Generally, he likes to sit in his soft chair near the fireplace, and any effort to move him is met with resistance. He has a staff, kept in a corner (offstage), which flies magically to his hand whenever he needs to rise from his chair. His name is never used. His wife calls him “Old Man”, and most others have taken it up as his real moniker.


The Old Woman: She may, or may not, be portly. She should be significantly shorter than The Old Man, in any case. A gentle woman at heart, she has learned to play hard in order to get what she wants from The Old Man. She caters to him, but not without letting (especially) him and others know how it has put her out to do so. Ultimately, she loves her man and will defend him to the death – when she is not fighting with him herself. She is a wise, but simple, woman, who cares more about house and family than about larger issues. She always seems to be cooking something for someone. To everyone else, her name is Mayarya, but The Old Man does not use it anymore. To him, she is “Woman”, or “Old Woman”.


Jedrek (The Son): He is in his early twenties and still quite handsome. His charm and goods looks have made him the object of affection for one particular young woman of royal blood. The problems with their relationship, of course, stem from his family roots – particularly The Old Man. He gets along well with both his parents, but is closer to his mother by matter of course. The Old Man and he are in something of a competition. They snipe at each other, but The Old Man loves his son very much, and Jedrek is closely bonded to his father.


Nida (The Daughter): She is young, beautiful, sassy, intelligent, daring, and she is sought after by every male (attached or not) who has ever seen her (excepting her father and brother, of course). Her mother gives her conservative instruction while The Old Man tends to spoil her. As a result, she is much closer to The Old Man and uses his love for her to get her way. Her goal is to be a mighty sorceress, and she’s ever coaxing her father to teach her. The Old Man never quite admits he knows anything, but she gets her lessons all the same.


Heber: Friend to The Old Man. Ever supportive of his old friend, Heber is somewhere near The Old Man in age. Could be older, or younger, but not by much. He has some knowledge of The Old Man’s past, but he keeps it close, only occasionally granting hints of the well of knowledge at his disposal.


Eufemia: Friend to Mayarya, she is the same age as The Old Woman. Loyal and wise, she is The Old Woman’s most trusted sounding board when she needs to vent, usually about The Old Man. A one-time beauty, her age now conspires against her appearance. But she was never as beautiful as Mayarya. Not in the eyes of The Old Man, anyway.


Tadzi: Friend to Jedrek. Playful and irresponsible, Tadzi is ever encouraging Jedrek into mischief. Consequences are something to be considered after the fact, not before.


Shikita: Friend to Nida, Shikita is openly in love with Jedrek, who sees her as an attractive, but young, girl. Undaunted, Shikita is ever alert to opportunities to lavish Jedrek with attention.


Danica: Jedrek’s true love. She is also in love with Jedrek, but his social standing is in the way of their betrothal. However, once she can convince her father to allow it, she will marry Jedrek and “live happily ever after” in his arms. She is a bit possessive. Sometimes ruthless.


Marid: The Old Man’s nemesis. Marid has been given the task of ferreting out illegal sorcerers, and he has set his sights on The Old Man. Unfortunately for Marid, he is something of an idiot and none of his efforts to trap The Old Man into revealiing his secret past work. The Old Man publicly grants Marid little heed, but the evidence suggests he likes to play with Marid’s mind. Something which requires little effort on The Old Man’s part.


Edacious: The Old Man’s pet, which guards the homestead. Edacious is never seen but is often heard and mentioned. The intention is for the audience to believe Edacious is a small dragon. The family calls him by his name. Others refer to him as “it”, or “that creature”.


That is the ensemble. The would, naturally, be other characters which come and go. Perhaps some could even become part of the ensemble cast in time.

Since it is intended to be an ongoing show, there is no main plot. It is a show about love and family, and the silly things people go through for having both.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Imagine Me

Got some great feedback on The Animal Kingdom over at Evil Editor. Some of you who read this blog have given some, too. Now I'm feeling bad because I'm still in chapter three. Gotta get crackin'.

It is refreshing to know I've come up with an idea people like. Kind of like the Legion blog. Which reminds me. If you like to write at all, do sign up to be a sometimes Author. By "sometimes" I mean, when you can. Apart from giving the current Authors a break, you may find writing within a 500-word confine rewarding. Teaches word conservation. And don't worry about being profound or anything. I've got two storylines going with two separate heroes, and both are quite ridiculous. That's the point.

Along with my writing I'm back to playing my bass. Purchased a couple of song books. One because it had "Your Song", by Elton John. I once sang that song over the radio and I thought it might be cool to accompany myself on the bass. The book has quite a song list:

Bass1 Songbook1:

  • Brown Eyed Girl

  • Great Balls of Fire

  • I Want to Hold Your Hand

  • Oh, Pretty Woman

  • Wild Thing

  • Wonderful Tonight

  • You Really Got Me

  • Your Song

The second book is equally good.

Bass2 Songbook1:

  • Back in the U.S.S.R.

  • Born to be Wild

  • I'm Your Hoochie Coochie Man (not heard of this one)

  • Imagine

  • Layla

  • Maggie May

  • No Particular Place to Go

  • Takin' Care of Business

Right now, the only song from these books I'm playing is "Imagine". It's a slow pace with few notes. I've got a 5-string bass which makes playing the notes easier. I don't have to extend my arm to play the notes. With 36" or 38" arms you wouldn't think it would matter, but I like to play with a definite bend at my elbow.

I like music. I like writing. I like singing. I like playing bass. I like acting. What a pity I'm not making money doing any of those things.

Sometimes, life just isn't fair. You know?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Medicine For Men

This post probably belongs on A Voice in the Wind, but it strikes me as creative, so I'm putting it here.

Not too long ago I worked for a temporary agency. Through the agency I found myself working at a company as a data entry employee, helping them catch up on a half year's worth of paperwork. Being a fast typist (well, faster than a lot of people), I was able to accomplish this task quickly enough.

Since I wasn't an employee of the company where I was actually working, I was not given a desk with others in the department. Instead, I was placed in the very center of the Sales Department, because they had an extra cubicle space.

Now the people in the department which owned the records I was entering into the system hated the sales department. Some of their animosity was warranted, as they didn't particularly care for all of the entitlements the sales staff got. On the other hand, the sales staff lived much more precarious lives. Fail to sell enough and you don't have a job.

I could never do sales, and I (kind of) respect those who can. If they're really good, I do respect them. If they simply know how to take advantage of people, I don't. But more than respect, I generally like being around sales people. They are usually up and positive. Granted, a lot of that positive energy is forced - part of the persona they put on in order to do their jobs. But it's still fun and energetic. This was another reason for the A-Type group's dislike of sales people. Sales people always seem to be wasting time.

That's the way it seemed where I was sitting. The staff would be in a constant state of chatter, mostly telling jokes and making fun. To be fair, there were times when it got quiet and each sales representative was busy at their own telephone. Or perhaps they had left on a sales trip to wherever. But when they were all around it was usually fun and games. I frequently found myself laughing at their antics, even though most of the time I didn't really get the inside jokes.

There was one woman in particular. I'll call her Leez. She was about four foot eleven, a very smart dresser, and silly beyond description. She frequently entertained her co-workers with tales of her husband. Those made the best stories. The department was about 60% women, and they loved to talk about the silly things their husbands did. But not in a mean way. To them it was just fun and games, and Leez's stories of her husband were frequently hilarious.

But it wasn't always husband stories which made me laugh. Another rep (let's refer to her as Ceelia) told how she had brought her preschool daughter to a public pool. When they had finished and were changing into her street clothes she saw here daughter walk back out into the pool are stark naked. Fearful of what could happen the woman ran out after her - in her underwear.

My favorite story, though, came from Leez. Although in his forties, her husband was still going through the big "macho" phase. Or perhaps it was a relapse to his youth. Like many women, she found his efforts to prove his youth and vigor amusing. Soon, all the women were adding their own observations of their own husbands. The condition appears to be pandemic. Leez said, "What I'm thinking of doing is handing him a bottle of prescription tables. Udaman. All men need to take these. Udaman. Take 'em when your ego is down."

It probably isn't really funny, but as the company was a pharmeceutical company it struck me as funny. And so I made up a bottle of UDAMAN tablets. Take 'em as needed.

I go through them by the gross.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Different Kind of Story From a Different Inspiratin

So I went downstairs and what do you think I found? Why it was a mess of Son's and my plush animals engaged in a pool party. It's a good thing I remembered to bring my camera. (One never knows what one may find on the fifth level.)

My good buddy, Tomoko, was facing off against Logan Lemur. Tomoko won the lag and got to break first.

C'mon, Tomoko! No pressure now. Don't worry about the spectators. You know Gilroy Gorilla is rooting for you. And Echo Elephant. Just shoot.
Ah, you missed.

Looks like Hissy Blue Snake has a comment to make to Logan.

Logan's response? I'm a solid player, so I'll take the solids, thank you.
Gonna run the table, Tomoko. Might as well get your money out now. This one's going right under Echo's feet. Look out, you sweet thing!
Ha! Watch your feet, Gilroy. This one'll take 'em off.
If you're going to miss easy shots like that then you shouldn't brag, Logan. Oh, and thanks, Gilroy. Uh, fifteen in the side pocket. Cedrid, quit stamping your feet. You've only got about a hundrd of them. And what are you lauging at, Cleo? Just 'cause you got clothes.
How does that saying go, Tomoko? You couldn't hit water if you fell out of an effing boat. Ha! Now watch and learn. Seven in the side.
You're running out of time, Tomoko. I'm putting you away.
Yeah, right. Well, I'll tell you, Logan. I keep missing to give you a chance. But watch out when I get going. Then you'll see something.
See what, monkey brain? Watch this! Gonna bank the cue off the cushion, it'll come back and hit the eight, which will roll into the side pocket. Fancy, fancy.
Pretty fancy all right. Especially when you consider you forgot to put in the five. Well, since you're going to insist on being stupid, it's time for me to put on my show. Watch this bank into the side pocket.
Now that the fourteen is also put away, here's how you do a long shot.
After that nice double bank to drop the thirteen and eleven, all I need now is to sink the nine. Then it's just the eight to win. Who's laughing now, Lemur?
Look on in vain, Lemur. This is the winning shot.

Fine. Fine. Who do you think you are anyway? Tiger Woods? Just shoot.
And Tomoko won. I thought he was just sitting back and giving Logan a chance. Tomoko is our plush house champion.

Congratulations, Tomoko!


Heck of a day, huh?

(pre-posted on 5-8-09 for publication on 5-9-09)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Writing Without Inspiration - Can it Be Done

I visit a lot of blogs. Probably not more than most, but still a lot. I think. A good number of those blogs are headed up by writers. It's fascinating to me to see how different writers all seem to have different ways to spark their creativity. I also find it interesting that so many seem to adhere to the theory of writing being "1% inspiration and 99% persperation".

I don't buy that at all. I never write unless I am inspired. Not unless it means losing my job if I don't. Even in school, if I had no inspiration I had no story. When given dull assignments which required writing I would inevitably seek my inspiration in sarcasm and parody. Teachers didn't much care for it and graded me down because of it, but I didn't care. I thought the assignment was stupid and I made sure they knew it in a way in which I could not be punished. Let them keep their frikkin' grades. I wanted them to know that I knew they had no sense of humor. Few teachers did when I was in school.

I think there are two reasons why writers/authors say they think writing is mostly work and has little to do with inspiration.

First, that's what everyone else is saying. It's an "emperor's new clothes" kind of thing. No one wants to appear stupid unless, like me, they've reached the point where they don't really give a d*mn anymore.

Second, some actually believe it. But it's not true. I mean, think about it. You're writing a story which requires imagination because it never really happened. That can't be done simply by 'working at it'. No way. If it could, why is it so difficult to write something well?

No. I think people don't understand what inspiration is. They think it is the igniting spark which gets the motor running and then is gone until the engine quits. Not so. Inspiration is fluid. It is the fuel which burns and keeps the motor running. It is work? Sometimes. But that something is work hardly means inspiration is not involved. When a story begins to write itself, and the author must reign in characters to keep them in character, that's inspiration. Finding the next sentence to write is inspiration, even if it takes four hours to find it. It's ALL inspiration. No story can be written without it. Not just at the start, but all the way through.

When inspiration fails, that means the engine has no fuel. The fuel quits flowing and the engine shuts down.

Inspiration comes from many places. We have this thought in our head that it always comes apart from our will. I don't believe that's true at all. Inspiration can be caught even as fish can be caught. It's a question of using the right bait at the right time in the right place. Sometimes the trip produces a large catch. Sometimes the trip is fruitless.

For myself, I often call to the Muses to come and play. Often they do, but sometimes I need to coax them with music, the right kind of daydreaming, and - time.

When I played tennis I would get quite sweaty, tired, and sore. But it was all fun. Sometimes just happened to be more fun than others. The same's true in writing. Sometimes it flows fast and quick. Sometimes it doesn't seem to flow at all. But it's ALL inspiration. That's what I think. Why can't work be inspired, or inspiration be work?

Got an idea for a cute thing. That's my teaser. When I get it going I'll post it.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up

I grew up with two big loves in my life: baseball; and make-believe. Was pretty good at both, too. For awhile. In a small community everyone gets known for being something. Some are known for their kindness. Some are known for their brilliance. Some are trouble.

I was known for:

  • Not getting into (serious) trouble

  • My sense of humor

  • Baseball

  • My imagination

Not necessarily bad things to be known for. I remember when I worked receiving merchandise at a dock. We had to call in a repairman for our freight scale. The repairman turned out to be one of the "leaders" of my elementary class. He recognized me right off. (I recognized him not at all until he identified himself.) The first thing he said upon confirming my identity was, "I thought you would be playing professional baseball some place by now."

So had I.

Not good enough. The story of my life. [smiles]

The reason I never got into serious trouble was that I was too afraid to join in any group activities - outside of baseball - in the area. I often played alone. There's only so much trouble one can get into playing alone in their own yard. Even when I left the yard it was only to wander in the trees, looking for cool places which bespoke fairies, wizards, dragons, swamp beasts, and all kinds of mythological imaginings. (Found a really cool place along the railroad track. One side was the 'good' side, and the other the habitation of witches and evil things.) Playing alone allowed me to develop my imagination. Strangely, I did not have an imaginary friend. At least two of my sisters did, but not me. It never occurred to me to imagine a friend. I didn't want an imaginary friend. If I couldn't have a real friend I would play alone. Often I did. Until Stephen. But that wasn't until I was fourteen.

I have humor because my family taught me that everything is funny. And by everything I mean everything. God. Sorrow. Pain. School. Politics. Work. Play. Sickness. Injury. Death. Everything was laughed at. I remember the night Daddy died. Nearly all of us were there. He sat up in bed calling to my mother to hurry because "they were here and she was going to be too late." He died in her arms with Mickey on one side of the bed and me on the other. Everyone huddled around Mother to cry. Then she said she needed to call the funeral home. We all walked in one giant huddled mass to the telephone. I remember thinking at the time we must have looked like some comic episode from the old Mary Tyler Moore Show. Even in death we find a reason to laugh. Some hate us for it. To me, it's just the way we are.

I struggled for a long time with what I wanted to be when I "grew up". On the one hand I wanted to play baseball. More than anything, it seemed at times. But I wanted to act on stage and in movies, too. And I had just fallen in love with music. I liked to write stories.

In seventh grade English we were required to write about what we wanted to be and why. I eliminated music right off. I have a voice like beef jerky. "Either you love it, or you hate it." (From the commercial.) My family had already succeeded in convincing me that only "other people" grow up to star in films and stage. They were working on my baseball dream, too, but had yet to finally succeed. So my choices were baseball and writing. (My family didn't know about my writing dream at that time.)

In my concluding paragraph I chose being an Author. Admittedly, this was due in part to the fact that I was writing this paper for an English teacher. It was also because my family's incessant reminders that it didn't matter how good I was at baseball, I would never make it, were getting to me. But Author is what I wanted to be. Back in seventh grade.

I now say writing is my last dream. The final dream for which I have any hope of achieving at all. I find it interesting to realize that it is the only one of my dreams I never shared with my family - until the past ten years or so. Came as a shock to them. They had missed one. Oh, darn it! [haha]

I think that must be why I get so angry when I watch people profile children. "She can't sing!" "He's not good at sports." "She can't draw." "Why is he even wasting his time with that?" I get very, very angry.

I read somewhere that Michael Jordan didn't make his seventh grade basketball team. Didn't Albert Einstein flunk math in elementary school? People have won olympic medals after horrible accidents in which they temporarily lost the use of their legs. A man named Bob Champion won the 1981 Grand National after nearly dying of cancer.

It's bad enough when we profile adults. That's called discrimination. When we do it to children, however, it seems it's called "looking after their best interests." I don't think so. I think we should be teaching all of our children that they can do anything, not nothing. Don't make losers out of children. They never get over it. I know.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

More Sad News in the Neighborhood

One of our neighbors just stopped by. Saw Spouse outside and came to tell us his son, just a couple of years older than Son, committed suicide some time Monday evening or Tuesday morning.

I'm still feeling sick. And it puts everything I moan and groan about into a new perspective. My troubles are easy troubles. My griefs are nothing. How awful.

So why write about someone else's sorrow on my blog? I don't know. I guess it's a kind of desperate plea for someone, somewhere, to make things better. Do we know how to roll back time and restart? How often have I wished we could.

My neighbor said it wasn't entirely a surprise. The boy had tried before, and one of his counselors had warned he would try again. In fact, she said he was likely to correct the mistakes of the earlier attempt and succeed. He did.

Sometimes we are so helpless when we are confronted by another's anguish. We love. We exhort. We encourage. But sometimes they still go away.

Although I did not know the boy, except by name, this news will affect me for a time. Sadly, I will soon forget the emotions I feel now. His parents never will. Not while they walk the earth.

A lot of things fell upon this young boy at the same time. Things he shouldn't have cared about at his young age. The world financial collapse bothered him. That our government should be proven to be as corrupt and evil (torture and such) as our "enemies" bothered him. Banks, corruption, war. These are not things a fourteen-year-old boy should be carrying.

Inevitably, the news makes me worry for my own son. He is entering that turbulent time of teenagers in which everything is either the best or the worst. However things are now, that is how they will be forever. And it's all my fault. The horrible time of being a teenager.

Made Son go to school this morning. He said he wasn't feeling well, but I got the distinct impression he was afraid about something. He had at least one homework assignment he had neglected to complete yesterday. Perhaps there was another. In any case, I could tell he was hoping I would let him stay home. I didn't. I didn't get a kiss when he left the car either. So now I'm going to be all teary until I bring him home again.

It's hard to be a parent. But I've got it a hell of a lot easier than the man across the street.

UPDATE: I went to school and brought Son home early. He is still not feeling well. Got a hug. [smiles] I'm not a good parent, though, am I?

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Writing New or Addressing Old: What a Choice

Think I may get some real writing done today. Having done some exercise already I'm not encumbered with guilt over my slothful behavior. The Animal Kingdom is crying to be finished and I think I shall give it some more attention today.

The story has a major flaw, and in typical Bevie fashion I'll go all around the houses to tell you what it is. Perhaps you have dealt with the same flaw in your writing.

The Animal Kingdom was inspired in a fit of creative humor back in the late 1980s, I think. The actual year is revealed on an earlier post to this blog. I knew the beginning right off, which pointed me right at the end. The story opens with Sparks, a German Shepherd dog, being yelled at by Eschae, the kingdom Mare (a very attractive philly). One of the Hogs has been murdered, and it looks like a Panther did it. If a predator has gone berserk the rest of the kingdom may insist on banning all predators. So Sparks, and his partner, Casper (a Black Panther), have to solve the murder.

So I know the beginning. I also know how it is going to end. What I'm not clear on is everything that takes place in the middle.

This story lacks the stepping stones most of my stories have to get me from the beginning to the end. Twenty years in the creative oven and it just hasn't produced the required thinking I need to pull it off successfully. But the very act of writing has sometimes lured the Muses to come and see what I'm up to. If they're interested, they begin feeding me with all kinds of ideas. Then the writing goes quickly.

There's something else which is beginning to clamor for my attention. Swords of Fire History. Last fall I finished assigned all 7,000+ members of the Archive Database to a house for every year of their life. My next big project in that area is to determine when all 7,000+ people entered military service, when they received any/all promotions, when they left, and which members re-entered military life, when, and so forth. It's a major undertaking. It took me months to get through the housing. There's 352 years to account for. The problem, of course, is that I'm the only one who finds this remotely interesting. Whenever I work on these projects everyone tells me to leave it go and get back to writing. But having a history for each of the 7,000+ people makes them all real to me. When I reference some new character, I know exactly who they are and why they are where they are. I like that. It gets rid of the "why would they be coming here just in the nick of time" syndrome. All people do things for a reason. This must include background characters.

But I segue. Or digress. Or something. The Animal Kingdom. That's today's project.

When Son starts summer vacation in a couple of weeks I will do that. With him about all day I won't get much writing done at all, I'm thinking.

Not that I really mind.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Haven't Gone Exactly Dry - Just Windy I Guess

So I wanted to write something cool. Wanted to express a deep mood and feeling. Then I realized today was a Not Home Alone day. It's hard to get writing in on days like this. Did get posts done on SOF-The People and A Voice in the Wind, but nothing more.

It's probably just as well, though. I haven't really been happy with many of my posts for more than a week now. My thoughts are kind of distracted and I'm having trouble correctly expressing what I'm feeling. I get close, but it's like making a supper and finding out it wasn't really what I wanted to eat after all.

Thought about writing a poem, but the last one was so awful I've resisted. Wrote a bit on The Animal Kingdom, but quit after finishing the second chapter.

You ever get in this writing mode, where no matter what you write it doesn't fulfill? The sense of longing remains. It's not exactly lack of inspiration. It's like trying to tune a guitar. Sometimes it just doesn't seem to want to sound right no matter what you do. So you loosen the string WAY too much and try again. Then again. You repeat it until finally you hear the harmonious tone which satisfies.

Still looking for that harmonious tone, I guess. Time to loosen up. What a pity I can't drink alcohol. [haha] Well, I could, I suppose, but it would be my last post before making my final trip. Alcohol doesn't mix well with my medicines. Found that out the hard way when I took some Ni-Quill a few years back. Nearly wound up in the hospital.

Got a four-mile bike ride to look forward to in a bit. Son and I are biking to the mall to visit Spouse at work. That isn't going to loosen me up. My backside still's sore from a half hour ride this morning. Asked the guy who sold me the bike about gel seats and he dismissed my concern as no big deal. Before I invest extra money in a seat I need to give this one a go to see if I really need it. Well, my backside is pretty good sized, so I think it is a big deal Unlike the youthful enthusiasts at the bicycle shop, I have no desire to "tough it out" and become another Greg Lamond, or whatever his name is. Will be looking into a replacement bicycle seat, I think. At my age (and width) it's about comfort.

Until then, I guess I've successfully wasted a bit of cyber space. Sorry.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Setting Up an Agenda

Wrote a new installment of my latest Hero story for the Legion of Super On-Line Heroes blog. It won't actually post until the 9th, but I know for a fact there is a good story posting tomorrow (Monday, the 4th). It's by Fairyhedgehog, and I've had a sneak peek at it so I can honestly say I know it's good. Also, if you haven't been following any of the other stories I strongly recommend you do so. Writtenwyrdd, Whirlochre, and Blogless Troll have some fantastic story lines running, too. In fact, I like all of the other Authors' stories better than mine.

Not that I don't think I got cool heroes. I do. It's just that I've kind of stretched my creativity a bit thin lately and it's in need of recharging. In fact, the post I just scheduled is more of a set up episode than an action episode.

I was hoping to do some more work on The Animal Kingdom this weekend, but I got very little done. Did get some, though, so I'm thinking I may have put it on track for completion at last. We'll see. No promises. Not even to me.

In case you haven't figured it out yet, I'm not a very disciplined writer. I rely heavily on the Muses to keep me amused, so to speak. When inspiration runs dry I quit creating. I can edit during a dry spell. Just can't create anything new. Or, maybe I should say, I don't.

The Muses have been kind to me this year. Thus far. Summer is soon upon me and so the Muses may take a holiday. Often they do during the summer, which is a shame. But they're used to me being outside and active when the weather is warm. Haven't been for years. That's why I'm so fat. This year, however, it is beginning to look like I might be spending more time outside than in recent years. Got myself a bicycle.

In the meantime, what have I on, or near, my plate?

Got to rewrite my query for Swords of Fire: Traitor. Once that is done I have no place left to send it for review. Had my two goes with Evil Editor. I guess it's time to begin hunting for an agent. I find the prospect scary. I know virtually all the good books were rejected at least once, and some dozens upon dozens of times. And even the best authors had to start some place. But the worst authors have to start at the same place, and it's unsettling to think that I shall not get out of that place because I'm not in the same league as those who get published.

The Animal Kingdom is begging to be finished, or at least brought further than Chapter Two, which is where it is now.

My Hero story needs at least one more installment.

Spoke with Fairyhedgehog. She was encouraging about my idea to add a Legion Commander for the Legion of Super On-Line Heroes blog.

Just sent Quest to Fairyhedgehog for reading. Like I indicated in an earlier post, there well could be a third installment following Kiahva and Amice. A third episode would naturally include more of Amice than the second.

And there are a few other leftovers from the Muse Party bouncing around in my head. I may take a look at some of those. But only while the inspiration lasts. I need fuel to function. But don't worry.

I'm green.

Contributors

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