Archive by Author

The Sound of Being Alone

6 Apr

I have been remiss of late with this blog. I doubt many have missed it; I am certain most didn’t even notice.

Life just gets in the way of my plans at times, and as an organizer and a planner, one who sticks to a pretty strict schedule, these disruptions can be unsettling. I would love nothing more than to sit at my computer and crank out story after story after story, but the last few months have not allowed that.

That’s a long way of saying “oops” regarding this blog!

I was thinking of a song, from long ago, a song which has a very powerful and significant lyric, at least for me.  It comes from Neil Diamond’s song “I Am, I Said,” and the lyric goes like this:

But I got an emptiness deep inside
And I’ve tried
But it won’t let me go
And I’m not a man who likes to swear
But I never cared
For the sound of being alone

Wow!

Mr. Diamond could have been writing about me.

That one line, “I never cared for the sound of being alone,” is a brilliant line . . . the sound of being alone. I know it so well.  There were times when I craved that sound, but there were also times, an increasing number of times as I grew older, when that sound was deafening and unwelcomed.

As much as I wanted to believe that I was a self-contained island, a man who did not need others, the fallacy of that thinking became, eventually, too strong to ignore.

I need people!

Yes, there has always been an emptiness deep inside of me, but that emptiness is filled when I interact with people.  It’s strange, even now, to write that statement.  People fill me.  People fulfill me.  People, to borrow from a Tom Cruise movie, complete me.

The emptiness is not nearly as deep in volume today.  I have Bev. I have my son. I have some pretty damned good friends who allow me to be me.  And I have my dogs!

The sound of being alone isn’t nearly as deafening as it once was, and that is cause for celebration.

What’s all of that have to do with creative writing?  Emotions, baby, emotions!  If a writer can tap into those kinds of emotions, that is some powerful writing being done.  It’s a goal of mine every single time I sit down to write a story or novel.

Thanks for “listening.”

Thanks for being an integral part of my happiness.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Me And Poetry

9 Mar

I was re-reading my favorite Tennyson poem, “Ulysses,” the other day. I’ve had a love affair with that brilliant work since college, fifty years now and still the bond is strong with these words:

“That which we are, we are

One equal temper of heroic hearts

Made weak by time and fate

But strong of will.

To strive, to seek, to find,

And not to yield.”

Holy cow!  The first thing I thought back in 1970, when I first read that, was “there is no way I could ever write poetry like that.” And the first thing I thought of this morning, after reading it for the umpteenth time, was “there is no way I could ever write poetry like that.”

I’m not a poet, at least not in my mind.  But still, I’ve written prose, at times, which seems mighty poetic.

This from the Academy of American Poets:

“Though the name of the form may appear to be a contradiction, the prose poem essentially appears as prose, but reads like poetry. In the first issue of The Prose Poem: An International Journal, editor Peter Johnson explained, “Just as black humor straddles the fine line between comedy and tragedy, so the prose poem plants one foot in prose, the other in poetry, both heels resting precariously on banana peels.”

“While it lacks the line breaks associated with poetry, the prose poem maintains a poetic quality, often utilizing techniques common to poetry, such as fragmentation, compression, repetition, and rhyme. The prose poem can range in length from a few lines to several pages long, and it may explore a limitless array of styles and subjects.”

I can do that; I have done that; hooray, I’m a poet!

I see sunshine and beautiful colors

From an article I once wrote about musicians:

“You’ll find them on street corners, a bucket for tips at their feet, singing or playing for anyone who passes them.  You’ll find them in dive bars and beach bandstands, on cruise ships and free-mike stages.  They roam the cities looking for gigs, twenty bucks a set and all you can drink, or playing for nothing, a chance to be heard, have instrument will play, in a thousand cities across this land, across all lands, worldwide, those little children with dusty guitars, all grown up now, following clues in search of hidden treasures, or simply doing the one thing which makes them feel whole, to play their only reward.

“Playing music, hearing the murmur of the crowd, feeling the murmur of the crowd, providing a respite, for others, from the humdrum existence of living, bringing a touch of beauty into a landscape of drabness, just doing their thing, creating a score for life itself.

“Their music elicits emotions. They have the ability to touch your soul in a way few strangers can, connecting with each of us in some inexplicable way, and oh how sad life would be if they were to disappear from our lives.”

Hey, it’s not Tennyson, but it’s not bad, and it’s a bit poetic, so there you go, prose poetry, I can live with that, makes me feel good, you know? Accomplished, with a smidgeon of talent, and God I love that word “smidgeon,” gotta ask Ann about the origin of that word when I get a chance, but back to the topic at hand . . .

Poetry may well be in the eye of the beholder!

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Song Lyrics Evolution

26 Jan

“Capture the moment, carry the day
Stay with the chase as long as you may
Follow the dreamer, the fool and the sage
Back to the days of the innocent age
Storybook endings never appear
They’re just someone’s way of leading us here
Waiting for wisdom to open the cage
We forged in the fires of the innocent age

Back at the start it was easy to see
No one to own to, nowhere to be
Deep in the heartlands a sad memory calls to me (calls to me)
Fretful horizons, worrisome skies
Tearful misgivings burning your eyes
Yearnings unanswered, reckon the wage you pay
To recapture the innocent age”

I was thinking about the evolution of song lyrics the other day. Don’t ask me why, it just popped into my head, like the old Whack-A-Mole arcade game, and when it popped, I knew I had to do a piece on it. Welcome to that piece!

The lyrics above were written by Dan Fogelberg. The song, “The Innocent Age,” was released in 1981.  I’ve mentioned many times the awe I feel when I really study some of Fogelberg’s lyrics, an awe I never really felt, listening to music, in the 50’s and early 60’s.  Think about it and tell me I’m wrong, but lyrics to songs, prior to say, 1963 or 1964, were ridiculously simplistic.  Songs penned in the 30’s, the 40’s, the 50’s, were all about melody, and lyrics were almost an afterthought.

And it seems to me, and this is simply my memory and random thoughts, that it all changed when the folk singers of the late 50’s and early 60’s became popular.  Those folk singers were all about the message, and not so much about the melody, and suddenly we see Joan Baez and Joni Mitchell, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Bob Dylan, Jackson Browne, a major shift in songwriting, really poetry to music.

Of course there are exceptions to this theory of mine, but the music industry, as a whole, really leapt forward as I was entering my teen years, and I’m thankful for it. I can’t imagine my teen years being filled with The Lettermen, Paul Anka, and nothing more.

Poetry to music – so beautiful!

What does that have to do with the passion of writing? The name of this blog is “Artistry With Words” so yes, it has much to do with it.

Write on! The world needs more beauty, and you have the talent to add to our supply.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Preacher Likes the Cold

12 Jan

“You know the preacher likes the cold; he knows I’m going to stay.”

I’m sure you’re all familiar with that line from the classic rock song “California Dreamin’”

It popped into my head the other day as I was preparing to walk the dogs on a 36 degree, drizzling day.  We have a different cold here in the Pacific Northwest, specifically Western Washington.  It’s a damp cold.  It’s a cold that seeps into your clothing, somehow, some way, and finds the marrow of your bones.  It’s a cold that sucks the last remnants of warmth from you, leaving you chilled throughout the winter.

I know, I know, it’s colder in other places. I’ve lived in Vermont and minus twenty, the snow glistening in the sunshine. I’ve lived in Alaska, minus forty, moon dogs floating in the air, defying logic, air crystals frozen, other worldly type of stuff.  But good God, there ain’t enough fleece to keep you warm, in Olympia, when the skies are weeping and your breath plumes, day in, day out, dampness the default setting for everything you see . . . everything you touch . . . and how many more goshdarned days until April?

That might be the first time I’ve ever written/typed goshdarned.  What’s up with that? I can cuss like a sailor, so goshdarned stretches the limits of believability and authenticity, don’t you think?

I think about that when working on a novel.  Is this authentic?  Is it believable?  Supernatural thrillers like I write, The Shadow Series, I’m pushing the limits of believability right out of the gate, so I want my dialogue to be believable if nothing else, you know?

Of course you do!

You do and I do, for better or for worse, till death do us part, and there goes my mind again, taking another side-trip down the Word Association Lane, wondering where I’ll end up next, might be a dead end or it might be the beginnings of a story, or novel, a seed planted in the womb of fertility, growth or abortion, picketers around the abortion clinic, shouting their slogans, anti-protestors opposite them, shouting their slogans, no one really listening, a wall of sound, and that takes us to Phil Spector, Motown, 1964, music history in the making, smoke-filled studios, engineers, experimenting with a sound soon to become classic, and isn’t this fun, playing with words, creating on the fly, no nuns to slap my hands if my grammar is broken?

You bet it is!

Happy 2021 to you all! Let’s rebound in a big way, put this darkness behind us, warm up after the cold, put those preachers out of business. 😊

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Staring At A Bleak Landscape

16 Dec

The evergreens, sixty feet in the distance, are gray in color, embraced by the low clouds. Their limbs constantly weep.  No breaks in the clouds can be seen, a smooth carpet of pewter overhead.  It is nearly impossible to say where they end and the landscape begins – disconcerting, depth-perception malfunction, messing with my feng shui.

The gray seeps into my writing studio, layers upon my head, seeps inside, cloaks me with melancholy, a blanket of somberness, making it difficult to summon uplifting thoughts.

I’m drowning in the drabness of a Northwest winter.

A high of forty-five, low of thirty-five, set the selector for repeat, and repeat, Shannon on the local news telling us a series of systems await offshore, all aimed towards us, ten days into the future, a future of soaked clothes, soaked shoes, soaked psyches and soaked dogs.

And winter ain’t even upon us yet! Heaven help us all!

Turn on the news, COVID twenty-four seven, another blanket of gray upon the mood, trying to remember what shaking hands feels like, what hugging feels like, what discussing anything without the filtered masks of protection feels like.  Twenty-twenty, you are no longer welcome, thanks for the visit, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

Neighbor across the street, Joel, house-husband and new father, wheels his son, Fritz, I swear to God the kid’s name is Fritz, outside in the stroller, both bundled against Nature’s wrath, and off they go down the street.  Anna, eighty-something and frail, pushes her recycling bin out to the curb, raingear clutched, her walk so much slower than when I first met her.  Alana, from down the block, walks her poodle by, sees me in the window, waves, shakes her head, throws up her hands to the sky, in supplication, a statement without words.

Life goes on, through the storms, through the pandemics, day-to-day stuff, terribly unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but crucial to our grasp of sanity, one foot in front of the other, always moving forward, doing what we need to do to simply survive one more day, waiting for Shannon to greet us one night, nightly news, and tell us brighter days are ahead, the storms have ceased, the sun will shine.

My wish, for all of you, is a day of sunshine! Blessings to you all this holiday season!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

New Novel Published

24 Nov

Just a quick note to let you all know my new novel has been published, and you can find it by following this link.

So far I have only published the paperback. There are some issues for the ebook, and right now I don’t have time to deal with those issues. I’ll let you know when I work it all out.

This is the 6th in the Shadow series, and I think the best. It was fun to further develop some of the main characters.  Now they get a break while I work on a stand-alone novel which has waited patiently for its turn.  In six months, I’ll return to the Shadow series, I’m sure.

Anyway, there you have it. Thanks in advance if you purchase it, and thanks always for following this blog.

Be well, be safe, and for my American friends, Happy Thanksgiving!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Odds and Ends

17 Nov

A quick moment of self-promotion: “Shadows Across The Pond” is coming this week. I thought it would be published by now, but the review process on Amazon is taking longer than usual.  Stay tuned!

BLOGGING

How many of you have a blog? I’m just curious.  Why do you have one?  What value do you get from it?  You can answer in the comment section if you want; or don’t! I started out blogging as a way of adding to my writing platform. Today, though, I simply blog because I enjoy it. My following is small, but I’m fine with that. It’s just for my enjoyment, and the interaction with others is a pleasant bonus for this introvert.

How about vlogging? Podcasting? Facebook Live? Do any of you do any of that?

I still think I’m going to do a podcast one of these days. Self-deception is a wonderful thing. It’s like taking hallucinogenic drugs without taking the drugs.

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

A confession: I’m a Youtube junkie! I love videos about tiny houses and farming. Right now I’m hooked on two in particular: “Farmhouse Vernacular” and “Gold Shaw Farm.”  The farmhouse video in particular is entertaining and habit-forming because of the young woman who produces and stars in it.  She is simply a delight to watch. Very little of what she says about their farm applies to my life, but I enjoy her enthusiasm and her willingness to take on any job with a childlike spirit of adventure.  Plus she’s kind of a goofy dork, and I like goofy dorks.

Anyway, I mention those two because they have huge followings on YouTube, and I suspect the huge followings are because of the delivery and personalities.  You have to be able to sell your own work, whether you are a YouTuber or a writer or an artist.  Without self-promotion, you are doomed to languish in relative obscurity.  Now me, I’m quite comfortable living in obscurity, but there may be some of you who would enjoy a little limelight, so that’s why I mention it.

REFLECTIONS

From a writer’s standpoint, I wish I was younger. I wish I had started this writing journey twenty years ago, when I had the time, desire, and fortitude to really dive into it and make a success of it.  Today, well, I just write because I enjoy it. I doubt seriously if I’ll ever find fame, but I’m fine with that.  It would be nice to receive a sizeable income from my writing, but the effort it would take, today, to make that happen just isn’t something I’m willing to expend.

I’m just being real!

I know I can write. I know I can write well, and that’s all the confirmation and affirmation I need.

It’s nice to be that secure.  It took me a long time to reach this point of inner-security in my life, but I finally made it, and for that I say “HOORAY!”

I hope this finds you well!  Have a fantastic week, stay healthy, and I’ll catch you down the road of life.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Trudging Along in Relative Obscurity

20 Oct

I haven’t written on this site for a while.  It’s not like I’ve taken a break from writing. The opposite is true, actually, I’ve been so busy that this blog just wasn’t important to me.  Besides, it’s not like I have thousands of followers, so I didn’t feel like I was disappointing throngs of people by not writing here.

No followers here

How the hell do people get thousands of followers, anyway?  It blows me away, really.  I was watching some Youtube channels last night, and one woman has like ten-thousand followers for her channel, and the whole thing is about renovating an old farmhouse in Kentucky.  Now granted, she’s a good-looking woman, and I hope I doesn’t sound sexist but that has to help, right?  But still, ten-thousand loyal followers?

And the leader on Youtube in 2018 was a seven-year old kid who did toy reviews, had millions of followers, and made $22 million that year.  A seven-year old kid.

Anyway, I have a couple dozen, and I’m grateful for them.

THE BOOK

One more read-through and then “Shadows Across The Pond” will be complete. Give me a week after that, and it will be published.  So let’s call it a November 1st Publishing date.

I had plans to then write a stand-alone novel about growing up in the 60’s, but my wife, Bev, had other plans for me. She wants me to re-write my very first novel, “The 12/59 Shuttle From Yesterday To Today,” in my writing style today. In fact, she wants me to write a trilogy based on that original book.

So that’s what I’m doing. The working title of that new, old book, is “Resurrecting Hope,” and I’m kind of excited to do it.  It’s a fantasy about climate change, and the environment, which is actually what my other blog, “The Art of Living Simple,” is about.

There are times when Bev knows me better than I know me, and that’s a bit frightening.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I wish I was younger, if only because I would do this writing thing a bit differently. I would take social media seriously, and use my marketing degree to help me self-promote and actually, like, make an effort to sell my writing.

But that just doesn’t interest me now that I’m seventy-two. I write now for my enjoyment, and if others find my words to be of interest, fantastic.  If not, well, I’m still having fun.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Finding Inspiration In Everyday Places

22 Sep

Occasionally I come across a comment from one of my followers, and the comment goes something like this: “I’m just not feeling inspired lately, so I haven’t written in a while; I can’t seem to think of anything to write.”

And I want to scream at that person, “For the love of God, inspiration is all around you,” but then my kinder angels intervene and allow me to be a bit more understanding.

The thing is yes, there is inspiration all around us but, still, there are competing forces which block that inspiration on a daily basis.  Our muse is constantly doing battle with the bills which must be paid, and the job that must be found, and the kids who need meals fixed for them, and trips to the Vet and family members who want to talk and phones and social networks and bad health and deaths and taxes and . .

I’m exhausted! How about you?

So, this is a message for all of you who are experiencing constipation of the mind: It’s all right!  Don’t fight it!  Allow inspiration to wash over you at its own pace.

I WAS WATCHING A DOCUMENTARY THE OTHER DAY

I watch a lot of documentaries, so the fact I was watching one isn’t news. This particular doc was about a husband and wife who took a rundown piece of property, about five acres, barren and unused, and turned it into a lush forest/jungle with twenty years of loving determination.  It was inspiring and it gave birth to an article idea.

OUT TAKING A WALK

Lady passes by, going the opposite direction, takes a look at my dog Maggie, and asks what kind of dog Maggie it.  “Northwest Farm Terrier,” I reply, “a fairly new breed started in Port Angeles about thirty years ago,” and the woman remarks she is thinking of buying a dog for her son, who is autistic, how she’s thinking a loyal dog companion would help her son to navigate through life.

I guarantee that woman will be in a short story or novel one of these days.

LISTENING TO THE OLDIES

I’m sorry, but I’m stuck on the Oldies. I will occasionally listen to some current music, but I would guess 90% of the time, it’s music from the 60’s and 70’s I listen to as I go about my day.  And the thing is, I can pretty much tell you the year of every song I hear, and I can relate to you an event in my life which happened while that particular song was playing way back then.

That’s how important music is to us all.  It’s like a time machine made up of notes.

Inspiration through music – we all are capable of it if we can just find a way to clear our minds and allow it to happen.

AND THAT’S REALLY WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT FOR ME

For this writer, finding inspiration is really as simple as allowing my mind to go blank, and being open to the messages being sent my way.  Now granted, that’s easy to say, but not nearly as easy as do. Back to those bills and dwindling bank accounts and illnesses and deaths, the everyday stuff which overloads us, at times, and prevents inspiration from flourishing, and I understand totally, but still . . .

Where do you find your inspiration?

PODCAST UPDATE

I wish! I just can’t carve out the time to do a podcast.  It’s still there, waiting for me to do it, and I better figure it out soon. I ain’t getting any younger.  The good news, though, is that I’ll be finished with my newest novel, “Shadows Across The Pond,” in two weeks, and then I’ll begin the process of formatting it for publication on Amazon.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Creating A New Reality

6 Aug

Let me take you back to Tacoma, Washington, 1960.  I was twelve years old when I received a new transistor radio for Christmas.  For those of you who are far too young to know what I’m talking about, a transistor radio was about the size of a cell phone, a little bulkier, and it ran on batteries.  It was a big thing back in 1960. It meant I could listen to music while riding my bike and, in my case, I could take it to bed with me and listen to my favorite baseball team, the Tacoma Giants, play games long after my bedtime without my parents knowing it.  Sneaky little bugger I was.

The play-by-play announcer for the Giants was a man by the name of Don Hill, and I loved listening to his broadcasts.  Like any good sports announcer, he made the game come alive, giving the listener a great experience without having to actually attend the game.

Neither the Giants nor the radio station, KTAC, could afford to send a radio announcer to “away” games, places like Portland or Hawaii or Sacramento, so Don and his wife would “call” the game from the KTAC radio studio.  Gail would be on the phone with some person at the Hawaii game, that person would tell her every pitch and all the action, and Gail would relay that information, on notes, to her husband, who would then call the game as if he was seeing it.  He would clap two pieces of wood together to imitate the sound of the bat hitting the ball.  He had “canned” crowd noises so it sounded like the crowd was really into the game.  You could hear vendors yelling out “Peanuts, popcorn, cold drinks,” and I swear, even though we knew Don was not in Hawaii, it was as if he was.

Great memories!

Which got me thinking, the other day while out walking the dogs, that Don Hill’s call of the game was similar to what we do as fiction writers.  We create a reality out of practically nothing and, if we do a really good job of it, people will feel like they are actually experiencing the action with the characters.

Just something to think about on this lazy summer day.

Be well, be safe, and do all things with love.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”