Scorched Earth

“Only you can prevent wildfires.” ~Smokey the Bear

A fire is a conflagration of circumstances. It is a casual match in a dry field, a bundle of sticks, a blowtorch, a spark, smoke, and ashes. It is all and none at the same time, because a fire is within and of itself. It is wind, and breadth, and air. It contracts and expands depending on the air available to it. And the drier the circumstances the better for the fire to flourish. A fire is brilliant to watch, until it can no longer be controlled.

I watch fires all day. No, I’m not a firefighter. I’m a normal person who simply notices the world around him. And there are way too many uncontained and uncontested fires around that could have been taken care of when they were small, before they got completely out of control and those nearby had to run for safety. Of course I’m not talking about the same thing Smokey the Bear has always been concerned with, but rather the harsh words people wield against each other like torches of flame that burn before disintegrating. Continue reading “Scorched Earth”

The Longer Stories

33,043. That’s the word count on the novel I’m currently writing. It’s crazy how word counts have so much meaning for me now, and they meant absolutely nothing to me before I published my first book. On this side of the looking glass things are much different than they were from the other side. I’m … Continue reading The Longer Stories

Well… F#*k

I said the F word in class the other day,  because a story I read to my students utilized it. It wasn’t just there as decoration, as I often see it, not merely masquerading as an adjective when another word would have been more appropriate. It was an exclamation of sheer despondence. And that’s just … Continue reading Well… F#*k

Where I Create

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“My one saving grace as a writer is that, if I’m having trouble with the novel I’m writing, I write something else, a poem or a short story. I try to avoid writer’s block by always writing something.” ~Jess Walter

That’s me in a nutshell. When someone asks me, “What are you writing?” I can honestly tell them something new every day, at least these days, because while I have two novels that are pretty far along, I am also writing so much else. I take the craft of writing seriously, meaning that I spend as much energy on a one sentence character profile as I do on what I hope is the end to the great American novel I’m currently working on.

And I’ve never had writer’s block (knock on wood).

But where do I do all of this writing? On my computer I’ve christened the “Black Lab,” after one of my favorite bands. I’m often listening to them while I write so it’s also fitting that it is labeled as such. Someone asked me the other day why my handwriting is so atrocious, and I’ll admit that my handwriting wasn’t ever a gem, but I just don’t do enough straight “writing” anymore to keep up any pretense of being able to put pen to paper. And yes, I’m old school about a lot of things, but when it comes to writing, whatever works is my mantra.

So I type everything, and I back up everything (usually multiple ways and in multiple locations). I learned the hard way that sometimes words get lost in the ether when there aren’t enough failsafes, so I have several flash drives, and several external hard drives, and a lovely space in something called a cloud where I store and re-store my writings. I even built my own laptop using the Dell site to maximize hard drive space on the unit itself. Yeah, I’m taking no chances this time. Continue reading “Where I Create”

Opening Up

I envy people who just sit down and write whatever comes to mind at that moment. You see, I’m not one of them. I really haven’t ever been, even in the wonderful confines of my own journals throughout the years. Indeed, even this post is the result of a great deal of introspection and editing. … Continue reading Opening Up