Archive | August, 2018

Complex Puzzles to Ponder

28 Aug

More naps these days

I’ve been told, by some, that I have very little patience.

It’s not true!

I have very little patience with incompetence.  I have very little patience with laziness.  And I have very little patience with rudeness/disrespect.  Other than those three things, I’m a pretty laid-back kind of guy.  Is it my fault that so many people are either lazy, incompetent, or rude?


I’ve also been told that I look grumpy all the time.

Also not true!  I don’t smile that often because I don’t like my teeth, so rarely will you see an openmouthed smile or laugh from me.  But I do smirk quite often.  Someone once said I have a RBF . . . if you know what that means then you get it . . . if you don’t know what it means, I can’t say it because one word is a bit insensitive.

Oddly, if you listen to me talk, you’ll notice that my voice sounds friendly and happy, in contrast to my resting face.  Someone also told me I have friendly, loving eyes, so toss that into the mix.

And what is this all about?


We are complex creatures, and I always try to remember that when creating characters for a novel or short story.   Characters need to seem real.  They need to seem human, and in order to achieve that, they must be as complex as real human beings.

Just something to ponder as you go about your week of writing.

A former middle school student of mine, from 2012, just got married this weekend.  I cried when I saw the notice.  Complexities . . .


I’ve said that many times, but actually it’s not a true statement.  I probably could write poetry if I chose too.  I’m not certain it would be any good, but I could manufacture something if the spirit moved me in that direction.  Heck, I could write song lyrics if I really wanted to do so.

But I don’t!  I love creative writing.  This is what I’m good at, and I suspect part of the reason I’m good at it is because I love it.  Since I have a limited number of years remaining, I see no reason to venture down a brand new path and attempt poetry.  I think I’ll just try to become the best damned creative writer  I can be in the time I have remaining.


I was watching a documentary yesterday about the defense lawyer who represented Bundy in the late 70’s, John Henry Browne.  Several times during the show, Browne called Bundy pure evil.

As many of you know, Bundy was our paperboy when I was growing up in Tacoma, Washington.  He has always fascinated me . . . this concept of pure evil fascinates me . . . people do evil things, for sure, but are they pure evil?


Many people believe Evil exists. Some call it the Devil.  Some choose to not name it.  Many do not believe in it, choosing instead to believe that man is capable of evil, but it is silly to believe in a malevolent being.


Just something to ponder as you go about your work week.


While someone else sees darkness and muted colors

Forest fires from British Columbia . . .the wind is coming from the north, so today’s clear day is anything but clear.  The sun cannot be seen . . . the mountains cannot be seen . . . and the air quality is downright unhealthy as we are under a health red alert in this area.

Times they are a’changin’ . . . complexities!

“Don’t let the sun, catch you crying” . . . thank you Gerry and the Pacemakers . . . “The sun ain’t going to shine anymore” . . . thank you The Walker Brothers . . .

More random musings from an old man thinking about what it once was like, what it is now like, and what it could be like.

You can hear John Lennon singing “Imagine” in the background.

John McCain died.  Old school politics dead and buried soon, the politics of compromise and integrity . . . random musings . . . complexities of life.

Time for me to get busy. . . . I have chickens who are more complex than some politicians I know.  Have a great week!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Defining Success

14 Aug

I read an article the other day about ex-Beatle Paul McCartney.  In it the author debated whether McCartney should be considered among the greatest of solo artists since the Beatles disbanded.

The debate went something like this: on the one hand, there can be no denying the body of work McCartney has produced since 1970, nor can there be any debate about records sold.  For forty-eight years now he has been one of the most productive writers/performers on the planet.  The other side of the argument, though, had to do with the quality of his work, its pop status, and the relatively weak lyrics.

Now I actually have no horse in this race, and I really don’t have a strong opinion one way or another, but I did find the whole discussion to be interesting.  I know I’m always picking on James Patterson, but I’m going to return to him as an example of this debate.  There can be no doubt that Patterson has been wildly successful and prolific, making him one of the most successful authors in the last thirty years, but is he a good author based on the quality of his writing, or a successful writer based on his sales?

Just something to think about!  I really am just tossing it out for something to think about and talk about.

TURNING THE PAGE (does anyone remember the song by that name by Bob Seger?)

And then I was watching a YouTube video of a “release party” by Jason Mraz, who happens to be one of my favorite performers.  He’s releasing a new album, and he was talking about the process of writing songs, and he mentioned his muse usually takes him in directions he never planned during the writing process, and I’m sure most of you can relate to that.


And then I was thinking of a musical group out of McMinnville, Oregon, called “We Three.”  They are currently competing on America’s Got Talent, a sibling band, two brothers and a sister, and their music has touched me in a way I am not often touched.  It’s a bit odd because I’m not sure why.  Is it the arrangement of the music, or their voices, or the lyrics?  Is it their charming personalities and their obvious humility?  Or is it a combination of all those factors.  Give them a listen if you get a chance. I’d be interested in what you think.

Relating that to writing, I often wonder what it is that attracts a reader to a particular book, or why one book is considered a classic while another will never be . . . there are so many factors which play into success . . . and the conclusion I came to is that it is random and it is particular, it is ethereal and it is visceral . . . toss in random luck and a kiss from fickle gods, and you just might find success.

Have a great week!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly

“When I’m Sixty-Four”

7 Aug

More naps these days

Someone asked me the other day what they should do if they run out of synonyms.  They were referring to the color blue, and they had already called it indigo, aqua, and cobalt.

It’s a pretty common problem for writers.  You certainly don’t want to keep using the same word over and over again, thus appearing as though you have a limited vocabulary, but you also don’t want to take a long walk down Synonym Lane because, well, it seems a bit contrived if you know what I mean.

I suggested to that person, and I suggest to you, that you use similes and/or metaphors to reach the same goal.  Instead of saying a person’s eyes were blue you could say her eyes reminded you of robins’ eggs in a nest on a brilliant morning, or you were lost in the tide-pool depths of her eyes.

Just a suggestion . . .


I spend the last hour of my evenings reading, usually a novel by one of my favorite authors, but this past week I’ve been reading my second novel, “Resurrecting Tobias.”  I guess I wanted to see how I have evolved as a writer, but I also wanted to revisit my own personal favorite and try to recapture things in that book I was proud of.

It’s an interesting exercise and I highly recommend it.  If you don’t write novels then go over some of your old articles.  Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it also can be beneficial.

Oddly, parts of that book made me question whether I had grown at all as a writer. Some passages were better writings than I’m doing right now.  I’m not sure what to think of that.  LOL  There were some passages which seem poorly written now, and I can see what I should have done instead, but we all know that hindsight is a luxury none of us can act on in the present.

So we move forward!


I was thinking back to when we were kids, and the things we did, without parental supervision, which would today be considered almost frightening.  My parents usually sent me out the door to play with two words of advice: be careful!  Of course I paid zero attention to those words.  We had snowball fights with rocks in the snowballs, just to spice it up a bit.  We played dodge ball with the hardest balls possible because, well, it was really cool to nail a kid in the head with a high, hard throw.  We loved to jump off roofs, and we climbed trees like we were spider monkeys, never giving a moment’s thought that we might fall down and break a bone.

“Be careful”….no chance, Mom and Dad, but thanks for caring!!!

And then we got older, and with age came an oppressive wariness, and our risk-taking adventures dwindled to nothingness, and honestly I find that a bit sad.

I haven’t climbed a tree in a very long time.

I miss doing so.

I was reminded of my age the other day.  I was in the hay barn looking for eggs, and a sleeve from a hay bale broke loose while I was standing on it, and I fell down on my side.  Didn’t hurt anything, no permanent injuries, but the realization hit me that friends my age have broken hips and ankles and shoulders by doing exactly that, something seemingly innocent which turns out to be six months in rehab.

It was a sobering moment, a moment of considerable introspection, coming face to face with the inevitable.

I laughed when I first heard The Beatles sing “When I’m Sixty-Four.”  I’m not laughing now.

Anyway, the next day, I went back into the hay barn and climbed to the top of the hay stack because, well, it was necessary for my own peace of mind that I do so.


I guess the point is that a day will come when I can no longer produce the way I am today.  I will sit down at the computer on that fateful day and the words simply will not be there.  My fingers will not be able to dance across the keys, and my mind will not be able to dance across the spectrum of our language.

So today I must squeeze every last drop of enjoyment from writing that I can.

And so must you!


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”