Write...or Die Trying

I used to work in a factory. Now I work in an office. Either way, my writing was dying. So now I must: Write...or Die Trying.


Offline till the meds wear off

I have problems with chronic migraines. They're probably stress-induced, which I'm trying to work on.

Expect me to be posting more infrequently for a week or so, since I'm taking some very strong medication to combat them. It makes me loopy and unable to think coherently...but hey, I don't have the headaches ;-)

I'll be back in action next week, once the side effects wear off...

Version 1 or Version 2?

I usually write several versions of a scene. I keep toying with it, changing the emphasis of things, taking things out, putting things in, till I'm either happy or not revolted by what I've done. One of the advantages of using a typewriter is that I don't actually delete anything. I just rewrite it. I have the old one to reference, and I'll often use that as the basis for the next rewrite. In these two versions of a scene, you'll notice a few minor things I thought were important and what I took out or made better.

Keep in mind these are unfinished rough drafts. It's not my best writing and I haven't made attempts to refine it. It's just the real deal. If you think this closely resemebles a scene from the beginnings of An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, then you get an 'A' ;-) That's a major reason this scene didn't make the cut. That and the fact that it's a little heavy-handed in portraying Jimmy as uninterested in spirituality, which he isn't.

Version 1:
Jimmy walked into the brick mission in downtown Kansas City. The place was decripit. Jimmy didn't really know Kansas City very well, but he had happened upon this old warehouse, in an ignored part of town that, at one time, looked like it had been a moderately successful commercial district. There were a few walls that had neglected, peeling advertisements and business names on them. So-and-So and Sons. Doe Mercantile. E.F. Nobody Textiles. Nearly all were deserted and Jimmy wondered what happened. Did they fold because of bad management? Did they move to a more profitable location? Did they get bought out by a competitor? Jimmy thought of those ghost towns in the old west he had read about in the few dime novels of adventerous gunmen and lawmen he had had the fortune to either buy or steal.

The inside of the mission didn't look much better than the outside. Bare walls, open, dark, wooden spaces, stained and worn wood floors surrounded him. It actually looked rather depressing. There were a few handbills plastered to the walls that preached repentence and the depravities of drink through recitation of popular Old Testament quotations. A dirty, drunken, mongrel of a man lay passed out on a cot. Jimmy could smell the whiskey mingling with the stench of body odor and the grime of riding the rails and being alone.

A few other people were wandering around the spacious first-floor meeting area. Someone in a suit, who Jimmy guessed to be the pastor of this mission, was talking softly with a group of men near the back of a curiously arranged gaggle of folding chairs that had apparently been set out to make comfortable the parishoners of this motley congregation while the pastor preached his firey sermons of the dangers of sin and the all-encompassing love of Jesus Christ.

Jimmy had been obliged to hear too many of these sermons since he ran away from his adopted parents over a year ago. He was only 14 then, but he knew that not only did these kind of charlatans not practice what they preached, but that the Jesus they yammered about wasn't nearly as caring as what they made him out to be. If this Jesus of their was as caring and loving and powerful as they said, then why was he forced to roam the country hungry, afraid, alone, and without all those neccessities he'd been told that God would provide? Jimmy's own life experiences contradicted everything he'd heard these purveyors of Christian myth try to sell him. Jimmy wasn't buying it.

The black-haired pastor eventually noticed Jimmy standing there looking around and politely took his leave of the small captive audience he had and walked purposely toward Jimmy. His smile was all teeth. White, perfect, dangerous teeth. He jutted out his soft hand for Jimmy to shake in a way that said "Come into the tent and be amazed at the wonders you will see." Jimmy shook his hand disinterestedly.

"God bless you brother. I'm pastor Kevin. I run this humble mission. Please, come sit down. My lovely wife has made some fresh lemonade and I think there's sandwiches left, if you'd like to partake with us." The pastor's smile never let up and he washed himself over Jimmy with a sincerity that, if seen at a distance, could be doubted, but was so forecful as to compel Jimmy to accept his offer. Besides, he was hungry and the the sight of food only made his cramping stomach ache for the simple pleasures of a small meal.

Version 2:

(I ran out of time...will post this this afternoon...)

Deleted Scene

Here's a deleted scene from one of my short stories:

That high-strung newsman didn't even spell my last name right. I told him twice how to spell it and he still got it wrong. It was nice to see my name in the paper, even if it was on page six. I never had that before. But if you're really interested in knowing what happened, then you're going to have to hear it from me. I'm the only one that knows how it all went.

I was only 12 then. That was two and a half years ago. Nineteen hundreed and twenty three. My mother died when I was two. I don't remember her. My father ran off after I was born. I don't remember him neither. I don't even know what his name was. My mother didn't keep pictures of him, so I can't tell you what he looked like. My foster parents gave me their last name of McCullen. I don't know what my real last name is, on account of they never would tell me.

Mr. and Mrs. McCullen were nice enough, I guess, just not my style. I decided to run away that summer, after I read a book by this fella Mark Twain. Huckleberry Finn it was called. I really liked that book. Mrs. McCullen thought I would, it bein about an orphan and all. I reckon 'ol Huck and I had loads in common. If he could manage it on his own, floatin down the Mighty Mississippi on a beat-up ol raft, then I could surely handle ridin the rails with the other hoboes. So that's what I did. I ran away.

I hear tell I dropped off the paperwork of the state social workers. They lost me. I was mighty glad of that. I was really free. I could go anywhere, do anything, or do nothing. I dodged the railroad dicks on the Santa Fe and Burlington Northern through Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Arizona, and Texas. It was a high time. Sure, I was hungry and cold and tired most of the time, same as the other folks. But I was free.

Some of the older fellas couldn't truck with all that being alone. I woke up one morning before anyone else, like always, and found ol Dick DuBois drowned in a pond of muck and puke that smelled powerful like whiskey. Drunk hisself to death instead of hanging hisself or throwin down in front of a train or something respectable like that. Old Dick was a nice fella, but too soft. He missed his family too much, I 'spect. I never did understand why he didn't just go back to them. He said he felt guilty or something. I tried to tell him his son probably would like it if'n he was just home, low-down kerr dog or no, but he just smiled at me and said he wished he could be. That was the day before he killed hisself and the day after I met Andy.

New Secret Project

I've started a new secret project, which is why I haven't posted in a couple of days. Once I get the site design all done and posted, I'll provide a link.

It's gonna be cool. It's gonna be hip. Okay, maybe not hip since I have no idea what that means. It will be fun, though...

Kill or be Killed

I don't blog about current events. There's plenty great blogs out there that keep up with that kind of stuff. I've linked to a few them in my blog roll, over there on the right.

But today's beheading of that pitiful Korean, who we saw begging for his life, makes me genuinely angry--and not just at the cowardice of those handful of people who seek to alter the political destiny of millions through intimidation. I get angry every time I read an uninformed American exercise their first amendment right to rail on our President for what we're trying to do in Iraq.

I served four tours to Saudi Arabia in military intelligence, fighting Sadaam after he invaded Kuwait the second time. My best friend was injured in the terrorist attack on Khobar Towers. I only missed that attack by two weeks. Two damn weeks.

Unlike those whiny babies that think their freedom to criticize is actually free, terrorism's face should be spat in at every opportunity. Kudos to my compatriots still serving around the world in this noble battle.

As a Christian, I don't often wish this on anyone, but I hope God makes a special place in hell for those disgusting cowards we call terrorists.

A darling daughter, a digital camera, a soybean field, and a beautiful summer evening. Posted by Hello

Recycled Material: 6 March 2004

True to my word, here's an old blog entry that never made it online. In the interest of full disclosure, I edited this. What you read here is a tinkered version of the real thing.
It's been a little while since me and the old typewriter have sat down to chat. I've been so busy this week trying to keep up with everything that I've been getting a little sidetracked. Yes, that's an utterly lame excuse. Nearly cliche. So shoot me.

I really took it on the chin the other day when I got those rejection letters. I expected them, but that doesn't make it any easier when they actually come.

I think it would be a good idea if I did some more flowcharting on my stories. Keeping an Excel spreadsheet or something to keep track of all your characters and plot elements makes a lot of sense. When it's all planned out, you can stay organized with all the scenes and where they fit emotionally. That must be how you do it with a screenplay. By the time you actually film the performances, you must have gone over everything so much that it's not really funny--or sad or whatever emotion you're trying to evoke--anymore. It lost its shine.

I've tried rewriting some of the runaway story. It's going O.K., but I've taken some things in a little bit different direction. I'm not sure if that's entirely good. I feel like I copped Theodore Dreiser with my intro of Jimmy. It's something I had been thinking about already. When I read a similar scene in American Tragedy, things started to fit better.

I still think this whole story would work better as a screenplay. You can get away with more in a screenplay. It would appeal to the impatient in me, too since it would take a lot less time to produce. I don't know whether it would sell or not, but for $100,000 or more, it would definitely be worth a try.

Speaking of more money, I feel like I'm getting greedy with the thought of this job at [Not Important]. I haven't even talked to them yet and I'm already thinking of ways to spend the money. And I say I don't work for the paycheck. That's not always true, now is it? It depends on how many bills I'm behind in.

Virtual Posts

I've been doing some virtual posting lately. As I've recently discussed, the majority of my writing is done on paper. Some of those blogs I don't end up posting, either because I don't have time at the moment to transcribe them, or because I've changed my mind about how I feel. Not wanting to be wasteful, though, I've decided to go through the large stack of one and two-page meanderings I've created when I couldn't think of how to proceed with a story and post some of them.

Being a circumstantial perfectionist, I tend to shy away from posting something that I don't feel good about. It happens, of course, but not if I'm sober enough to help it :-) In the same spirit of mediocrity, I'm going to post a deleted scene (to use a DVD term) from a short story I started over a year ago.

A Writer's Toolbox

I'm an experimenter. I love to try different ways of writing, different locations, different situations, different implements. Generally, I write my weblog entries into my pocket-sized paper notebook. That's right, my high-tech journal is nothing more than a transcription of my real, pencil and paper journal. For my longer writing projects, I tend to use my portable Underwood typewriter. If my writing desk isn't piled high with clothes that haven't been put away yet and other things people tend to just dump on it, I use my desktop Underwood #5.

I really love my Underwood typewriters. My portable is almost 70 years old and my desktop is over 80. I tend to spend entirely too much time rewriting sentences and paragraphs when I write on a computer. Paper forces me to commit. I leave the editing to the editing process. Right now, I'm using this older laptop I got from work. The batteries are essentially worthless. It has to stay plugged in whenever I'm using it. But writing implements are not what prompted me to blog tonight. My writing style while using each implement tends to be drastically different.

You wouldn't think that using a pencil and paper would change the essence of your sentences. An Underwood, objectively speaking, shouldn't alter the tone of the writer's voice. A word-processor shouldn't make the same writer spew eight bland, unemotional sentences for every two good ones.

I haven't pinpointed the exact alignment of celestial bodies that makes me feel much better about the writing that comes from my stubby pencil (which I have to break off to make fit inside my notebook) and paper. In general, I am more morose in tone and use more complicated phrases; I also tend to be more obtuse on paper than on LCD screen.
When I first noticed this difference in writing style, I tried to eliminate it--or at least make it less obvious. Now I try to harness these nuances of style depending on my purpose. If I intend to bring the reader into my world through vivid imagery, I'll start with pencil and paper, then transcribe that into the computer at a later date. When time is limited, I'll use the typewriter. I can produce twice as much writing on a typewriter than on a computer. This was wonderful for me when I worked in a factory. I'd bring my portable Underwood to write with on breaks.

Since technology doesn't fascinate me anymore, the computer is usually the last stop. When it's time for posting to the weblog, printing out a manuscript to submit for publication, or just to edit or rewrite, then I'll retype everything into the computer. This retying gives me an opportunity to reevaluate every single word I've penned and has become an important part of the writing process for me. My edits have become less time-consuming and I have a more objective opinion of what I write instead of losing those words forever when I hit the delete key.

In the end, the goal is to produce. As long as you are improving as a writer and are able to produce something consistently and at a consistent quality, then your writing implement of choice is just that: your choice.

The Value of The Stereotype

We might not entirely appreciate the idea of being stereotyped. But as a writer, I'm constantly amazed at how closely the vast majority of people I meet conform to their stereotype of choice.

Last night, my wife and I walked the long aisles of the local mall. I know I'm getting older and crotchetier, but that doesn't entirely explain these weird novelty shops that keep popping in and out of this mall's storefronts. I call them "I Want to be Someone I'm Not" stores. You know the ones I'm talking about: they sell lava lamps, plastic skulls that glow to the light of an ultraviolet lamp, and those electric plasma balls. Not only do the people that wander around inside these stores dress the same, they also talk the same, laugh at the same jokes, and buy the same tacky decorating fodder.

I'm eating lunch at Mr. Goodcents today. I work in a college town, so I see a lot of young couples like the one coming across the parking lot just now. The pair got out of their non-descript sedan of a car and the attractive female kept her little puppy from hopping out while she shut the door gently. The dog is running around on top of the dashboard, looking dangerously like he needs to pee. They're holding hands uncomfortably. There's an intimate distance between them that hints at the common, complicated relationship too many college students have that's predicated on sex. They don't exhibit that comfortable silence of two people who know each other very well, standing in line, and they almost wince at sharing the same floor tile.

Could I be wrong in my assessments? Of course. But as a writer and an aficionado of subtlety, I doubt I'd be far off the mark. That's what excites me about the power of literature, combined with the eye of a writer. The writer expresses common human emotions through the recognizable aspects of the stereotype. It's our job to be a student of human nature and use that to bring together people to wallow in those common feelings.

If people weren't so comfortably stereotypical, we'd have no tool with which to connect to our readers.

Country Perfume

I was forced to straddle two diagonal parking spots because the SUV next to me was too big to fit into these slanted stalls that were laid down long before they made vehicles that big. A high, lonesome bluegrass vocal was drifting into my consciousness, but only just. I hunched over the steering wheel, holding it down with interlaced fingers the way tired farmers do as they putter around town.

My photographer's eye admired the cottony light which glowed a strange yellow-orange like the lillies in our flowerbed right before the sun hits them; while the scattered and confused light of early morning soaks up the sweaty dew. My wife had gone across the street to wait for my oldest daughter to get out of her ballet lesson. I just sat waiting.

I winced at the confused tangle of electrical conduit and natural gas and water lines growing up the side of the century-old brick building in front of me. Decades of paint tried to cling to the old brick, which was now too worn to hold it very well. Our county courthouse basked in the sleepy early evening. The pre-civil war building watched the sun set tiredly, sporting its new high-speed wireless internet antenna where a cupola that was destroyed by fire during the civil war had been.

Our small, rural town is alive and well. The Wal-Mart Supercenter is almost finished out by the four-lane highway. We have broadband internet to connect us to the rest of the world--for better or worse. We have satellite television to satiate our children when we need to get something done without being distracted by them. We have drunks, heroine additcs, tweakers (meth heads), and drug dealers.

But we also have more churches in one square mile than some small countries. We have neighborhood watches and the VFW veterans to serve as honor guards in our parades. We want to get back home after we've gone somewhere and we sit on our porch in the evening, listening to the birds, and watching our kids fight over toys while they play in the yard. We have the constant toil of working the land, in scopes both large and small, and we have each other. A community of people who live outside the fast lane, but only just.

Some people, whether out of jealousy or true disdain, despise the life of the rural folk. But I live it happily. And I'll continue to do so as long as the Lord sees fit to allow us the opportunity to raise our kids in the place of our choosing.

New Books

We had some time to hit the bookstore last night. I picked up a couple new (old) books:

I'm a little concerned about reading The Glass Bead Game, given its influence over the growth of eastern mysticism in the western hemisphere. That said, I very much enjoyed Hesse's excellent novel Steppenwolf and am finding this book to be in the same vein. Hesse was notoriously introspective, and all his works show an unflinching analysis of the raw, human psyche.

The Glass Bead Game is supposed to be a satirical look at "civilized" society, but westerners, upon discovering Hesse, missed the sarcasm and took him seriously. Keeping this in mind, I hope to not be bothered by Hesse's backdrop of eastern mysticism and be able to appreciate his insight into the mind of Man.

HP3: The Review

We all really enjoyed this movie. I can't add much to what other reviews have have said about the scope and grandiose vision of the imagery. It was fabulous.

One beef I had was more with the screenplay than anything else. The dialogue was faithfully rendered and the dramatic scenes of the novel were all there, but if you had not read the book first, I would question whether or not it would be very easy to figure out what in the heck was going on. The subleties involved with Harry's relationship with Sirius, for example, was only barely hinted at.

If you haven't read the book yet, read it first, then see the movie. Of course, you might raise the ire of fundamentalist-leanging christians, but that's a whole nuther blog...

Free Electronic Dictionary

I'm trying to get this free ebook of the 1811 Unabridged dictionary to work on my computer. You can download the thing from The Gutenberg Project. Problem is, it's got all these funky character things in it. I know it's supposed to help you pronounce the words, but I can't just do a search on a form of a word and go right to it.

My eventual goal, being the computer geek that I am, is to write a little program that would search these text files and give you a searchable, free, electronic dictionary. Of course, the words are old, old, old, but that's part of its nostalgic appeal.

WANTED: Strange Story Needs Good Home

I'm looking for a short story market. The Diary is inspired by the true story of my grandfather while he served on the island of Saipan in 1945. When my grandmother and I cleaned out her attic a few years ago, she let me borrow a box of his personal effects, which included a large number of photographs and sundry documents and paperwork. Two official-looking documents jumped out at me. One was a debriefing of an American GI about an unnamed battle during the invasion of the island. The second was four typewritten pages titled: Translation of A Japanese Diary. True to form, this document covers a month on the island, from immediately before the invasion, till the author's presumed suicide. It's a compelling look into the experiences and mindset of a Japanese soldier.

What struck me most was how I felt when I read it. I was conflicted. On the one hand, I didn't want to feel outright sympathy because our war against the Japanese was more justified than any we've fought in a long time, owning to their unprovoked attack against us; on the other hand, having been in some very dangerous places while on military deployment myself (like Khobar, Saudi Arabia), I could get a sense of the empathy a soldier sometimes feels for the people he's supposed to kill. It's a dichotomy I wanted to explore in a short story.

The Diary follows the thoughts of a fictitious surrogate for my grandfather while he reads this document for the first time. I tried to include bits of the atmosphere of being deployed and spent some time exploring the complex emotional reactions of someone coming to grips with feeling empathy towards an enemy.

My only problem so far is finding a home for this little guy. It's made the rounds at the larger magazines and literary journals. I'm down to the more obscure ones now. If you have any ideas about what would be a good market for this story, then please let me know. If I can't find a market for it in the next couple of months, I might go ahead and post it here. Let me know what you think...


[singing and music] We're off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of [stop singing] ...Hogwarts.

We finally have time to see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkabahn and my whole family is pretty excited. My wife has read all five books and I'm on the fourth. Even though my midwestern-christian family hates the whole Harry Potter thing, I've found them very stimulating.

Maybe I'll post a review later tonight...

Time to Write? What Time?

My kids drive me nuts sometimes. They haven't learned (...yet, but they will) that when the typewriter case is open and they hear mad pecking, then do not bother me. I have a hard enough time concentrating without having to get cups of milk, grab the 18 month-old before she heads out an open door, etc.

It's not just my kids, though. My wife caught herself asking me to do something without even thinking that I was writing. I think she felt bad about asking, too, since I just quit trying after that. I wasn't getting anywhere. Getting to write only part of a sentence at a time isn't very productive.

This problem is somewhat systemic. I used to work at home as a computer programmer; I freelanced, and did sundry contract jobs. Often, the fact that I was sitting in front of the computer wasn't enough to deter the cries for help. Don't think I mind helping out, because I don't. I understand how hard it is to keep everything going in a family as large as ours--and if I'm just sitting there anyway...

Is it a question of validity? I know people tend to not take artistic endeavors seriously, even though I approach my writing with the same professionalism I show towards any job I do. To me, it's just another part-time job. To everyone else it's... To tell you the truth, I don't know what they think it is.

Is Nothing Sacred?!

This whole low-carb thing is really starting to piss me off. I can't turn around without seeing some advertisement for something that is "low carb" (it disgusts me to even see those two words together in that context). Worst of all (and a harbinger of Armageddon, I'm certain) is what I saw on our way home from Branson this weekend. Right under the gas prices at a local gas station was an advertisement for low carb snacks.

That's it. I have to draw the line somewhere. Gas stations are for buying Mountain Dew, chewing tobacco, beer (and sometimes gas, but not near as often as for the other three), and extremely unhealthy snacks. Low carb snacks? Sheesh!

Over 90% of people on these stupid diets don't even need to lose weight. Most of the people I know on them are already too skinny to be healthy. Most of the rest only want to lost weight, but don't need to. Their problem is self-esteem, not an unhealthy diet. I've heard people tell me they were losing weight just for themselves. So they'd feel better. Whatever. Unless it's for health reasons, people diet because they want to perceive that by dieting and losing weight, other people will look more favorably upon them than if they didn't diet. It's all horse manure. People will like you or hate you whether you weigh 90 pounds or 390 pounds.

People, taken as a whole, are shallow and self-absorbed. If they hold your weight against you, why in the world would you want them as a friend?

Back to School

I know, it's a little early to be talking about going back to school. My wife would probably slap me upside the head for even mentioning it. But I'm not talking about my five kids here, I'm talking about me.

Since I got out of the Air Force, I've been wanting to use my G.I. Bill benefits to finish college. I always swore to myself that, once I was back in school, I'd study what I wanted to study, and not use it as leverage for getting a job. Although I work as a computer programmer, that's the last thing I want to study at a University.

Pittsburg State University is where I dropped off my enrollment paperwork today. They've got a much better English Bachelor's program than the school I was taking classes from previously. They have an emphasis in Creative Writing for Fiction that I'll be majoring in.

I didn't know if I'd be excited about going back to school or not. It's going to be a lot of work and hard on the schedule (thankfully, my employer is very willing to help me work around day classes), but I'm starting to get excited about being in an acedemic environment. I know I don't need to finish my degree to become a writer, but I want to learn all I can about being a great writer, not just a mediocre one.

Lord willing, I'll start classes this fall.

Goin' to Branson

Our family is headed out to one of our favorite weekend places: Branson, MO.

I've always been fascinated by the town, but not for the same reason those 2-3 million city slickers go there. Early 20th century writer Harold Bell Wright stayed there and wrote his immensely popular novel Shepherd of the Hills based on the region. It's definately not the Branson of Wright's day, what with all the music shows, attractions, motels/hotels (and eventually, if organized crime gets their way, casinos) and sundry other attractions. Still, a palpable shadow of the quiet, Ozark mountain people still wanders through the hollers (that's a small valley for you city folk) if you listen hard enough.

The Ozark mountains have a long and interesting, but little known history. If you want a glimpse of what it was like around here in the late 1800's and early 1900's, then pick up a copy of one of Wright's books.

Military History

Another interesting, historical read from Gutenberg:

Sir Edward Creasy, M.A. (Late Chief Justice of Ceylon) Author of 'The
Rise and Progress of the English Constitution'.

I'm thinking about writing an article on middle age warfare and came across this in my research.

Anton Chekhov's Notebooks

Just to clear some things up: yes I do occasionally work...

I subscribe to the RSS feed of the Gutenberg Project (find out about it on their homepage). Someone has posted Anton Chekhov's Notebooks on the site. Here's some interesting excerpts:

Why did Hamlet trouble about hosts after death, when life itself is haunted by ghosts so much more terrible?

_Daughter_: "Felt boots are not the correct thing."

_Father_: "Yes they are clumsy, I'll have to get leather ones." The father fell ill and his deportation to Siberia was postponed.

_Daughter_: "You are not at all ill, father. Look, you have your coat and boots on...."

_Father_: "I long to be exiled to Siberia. One could sit somewhere by the Yenissey or Obi river and fish, and on the ferry there would be nice little convicts, emigrants.... Here I hate everything: this lilac tree in front of the window, these gravel paths...."

The children growing up talked at meals about religion and laughed at fasts, monks, etc. The old mother at first lost her temper, then, evidently getting used to it, only smiled, but at last she told the children that they had convinced her, that she is now of their opinion. The children felt awkward and could not imagine what their old mother would do without her religion.

Mitya and Katya were told that their papa blasted rocks in the quarry. They wanted to blow up their cross grandpapa, so they took a pound of powder from their father's room, put it in a bottle, inserted a wick, and placed it under their grandfather's chair, when he was dozing after dinner; but soldiers marched by with the band playing--and this was the only thing that prevented them from carrying out their plan.

There is a bad smell in the barn: ten years ago haymakers slept the night in it and ever since it smells.

Of some writers each work taken separately is brilliant, but taken as a whole they are indefinite; of others each particular work represents nothing outstanding; but, for all that, taken as a whole they are distinct and brilliant.

Woe Be Unto Thee, Dear Writer

One of the bad things about being forced to be a writer (if it's in you, it's not like you have much of a choice) is that you often can't just sit down and work on that special short story whenever you want to. A professional occupation, just to pay the bills, is especially destructive. A writer's creative energies are finite. If you have a job that requires creativity, then woe be unto thee that hast come home stressed, tired, depressed, and just wanting to work on thy story.

I started a story the other day based on a conversation I had with someone I'd become good friends with when I worked at a factory in town. His life is almost stranger than fiction and I really wanted to tell this story (fictionalized with my own twisted spin on things, of course). Sitting down in front of the Underwood, I realized I was dry. All I could come up with is what you're reading now.

It's not that I mind spending time with you wonderful folks, but let's be honest: this isn't helping me get my story done. Blogging does have its advantages. You can actually write something when you're too scared, instead of staring at a very quiet typewriter or a blinking cursor. But I hate to use this as a crutch. I don't want to blog just because I'm too tired or too scared or too pissed off to do anything else. That's not good for either of us. You shouldn't have to put up with crap and I should be enjoying the fruits of creative productivity.

Right now, though, I'll just shut the lid on the old Underwood, eat some dinner, drink a few beers and relax. The muse will probably waylay me right about bedtime. Then I'll be hellbent on making use of the few minutes a day I can rope that philly in.

Ted Dekker

My reading list is getting longer. Having well over a dozen books (and growing) on my "this-is-the-next-book-I-read" list might make a normal person stopping buying more and adding to the overhead. Unh, uh. Not me. More is better.

That's why I haven't gotten around to Ted Dekker's books (yet)--even though everything I've read about him suggests I'll like his work. If you're not familiar with who Ted Dekker is, here's a great interview with him on Fuse Magazine.

G.K. Chesterton on Charlotte Brontë (and others)

Ran across this interesting article about Charlotte Brontë on the Gutenberg Project website. It's by the grandaddy of modern Christian philosophy: G.K. Chesterton.

There are other authors reviewed/critiqued in this article as well. It's an interesting look inside the mind of a forward-thinking christian philosopher. His take on the role of christians is very interesting. Although written 102 years ago, these thoughts are still applicable. Even in our "modern" society.

Surviving Nugent 2

Generally speaking, I don't watch "reality" television. The only exception I make is Surviving Nugent. It's an utterly demented show where these city kids go out to Ted Nugent's ranch and are forced to perform these completely nutty tasks to win $100,000.

Ted is a psychopathic freak. He had the contestants jump into a stock tank full of chili beans and have their partner lick as many off the other's body as possible and spit it into a three pound coffee can. The winning team had sucked off almost three pounds of chili beans from each other. Then there's the game where one contestant puts on a helmet with a tupperware dish attached to the top and their partner chucks cow poop over the fence at them. Whoever catches the most in the dish on their head wins.

Although it just sounds childish, Ted's point is to put people through really ridiculous and gross things to teach them something about themselves. If they're not egotistical know-it-alls, they actually seem to learn something. It's not wholesome television, I know. But NO television is wholesome. I just kick back, have a beer, and laugh at the city folk.