Archive by Author

Aimlessness Vs Inspiration

17 Aug

After ten solid years of writing, years which included nine novels, six novellas, two non-fiction books, and over two-thousand short stories and essays, I find myself in a weird place.

No, it’s not writer’s block. I have plenty of ideas. Hell, I’ve got two novels which are both partially-written at the time of this writing, and I have countless ideas for short stories bouncing around in my head.

More naps these days

It’s more a matter of concentration and desire, or a lack thereof.  I’m simply not enthralled with writing at this moment, and I haven’t been for at least a month now.  Writing has been a passion of mine for so long now that it seems strange not to be consumed by it, but that’s where I find myself. There are other things I would rather do. I would rather walk the dogs. I would rather work on projects in the backyard. I would rather do research about RVs and daydream about taking a prolonged RV adventure. I would rather spend time with Bev.

Maybe the heat of the summer has zapped me of my desire to write. Maybe this is some post-pandemic mental lull.  Or maybe it is something more long-lasting.  Whatever it is, my writing output is diminishing and I don’t much care whether it is or not.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy writing any longer; it’s just that I don’t enjoy doing as much of it as I once did.

It is what it is, simple as that.  One way or another, it will all work out.  I’ll just get up each morning and do what feels right for me, and we’ll see where that takes me.

In the meantime, take care.  Be good to yourself.  I’ll catch you down the Road of Life.  I’m not going anywhere. I just won’t be nearly as prolific as I have been for over a decade, and the frequency of when I publish this blog will reflect that.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

An Appreciation of it All

2 Jun

So much I did not notice about life in my youth.  The seeds had been planted, and perhaps seedlings had broken ground when I was pre-teen, but a full-on, total immersion in the appreciation of life, that took time.

One of my favorite childhood memories was actually an action of inaction, laying down on the grass, under the massive willow tree on our property, watching as the thin branches swayed in the breeze, pillows floating above it all, a feeling of distinct peace swelling me beyond the proportions of such a young boy.  Without knowing how to verbalize such things, I was at peace in the world, feeling as though I did belong, feeling as though I did fit in the grander scheme of the universe, feeling small and yet capable.

More naps these days

Those feelings were fleeting back in those days. Finding my footing, deciphering ethereal clues, that took time.  In my twenties I found more answers in nature, hiking trails, scaling peaks, pushing limits, crossing cirques, tiptoeing ridges, being one with, making love to a world above the clouds, body and mind melding, and that feeling of belonging increased, that appreciation increased, answers to long unanswered questions took shape.  I learned how to feel sights. I learned how to hear shapes. I learned that transformations take precious time, in nature, in ourselves, and patience accompanied that knowledge.

One feels small in nature.  One feels, at times, insignificant, a tiny speck on the canvas of life, and in feeling that there are two opposing reflections: one, that you are meaningless and two, that you are one of a kind, among billions of similar miracles, unique in DNA.  The Yin and Yang of it all, meaningless and yet completely invaluable.

As the years accumulate, I am left with increasing reflections, and those reflections lead to great appreciations.  I do not work as hard as I once did. I see no need in it. I take more time to enjoy walks, enjoy talks with my partner, and enjoy the fine Art of Living.  I am comfortable within, amused by the changes to my exterior, and much more accepting of others.  We all struggle. We all have days when we wake up and feel foreign, you know, like we just don’t fit, and that affects our moods and our actions and, well, I need to realize that on a regular basis and cut my fellow travelers some slack.

Just relax!  Breathe deeply!  Take a gander around me, immerse myself in the wonder of it all. Find a willow tree to lay under, and time-machine back to those early days, back when I instinctively knew what was really important, what was vital for my happiness . . .

Loving others, loving myself, and being grateful for every single day I’m allowed to be a part of this magical mystery tour!  That’s what it all comes down to, cutting through the bullshit, setting aside all of the mundane we think is so important, all of the nonsense we spend so many years chasing, yearning for, bottom line, the final word, is . . .

Love!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Sometimes You Just Have To Get Away

18 May

As some of you know, my bride and I took off for a mini-vacation the first week of May.

It was needed, and I didn’t realize it.

We visited the tiny tourist town of Leavenworth, in Eastern Washington, staying at an Airbnb for the first time, and it was lovely. We had our own hot tub, a private place on the river with an acre of landscaped property, and it took me all of ten minutes, upon arrival, to realize how much I needed a break from life.

We spent three days being tourists, eating at sidewalk cafes, walking the dogs on the many nature trails, probably eating too much, and really doing nothing but relaxing.  I did no writing at all, and my muse appreciated it.  We talked about our future plans, talked about our past, and talked about our love for each other.

When we came back home I was refreshed, re-energized, and eager to write and dive into outdoor projects.  All it took was three days away from it all.  Three simple days.  Seventy-two hours of downshifting, putting on the brakes, and saying “No Mas” to it all.

I highly recommend it.

I’m sure three days, for many of you, does not constitute a vacation, but for us, it was the first vacation in ten years, and it was heavenly.

That’s all I’ve got for you, other than this thought: it is so easy to get wrapped up on the business of living.  We must do this, we must do that, we must hit deadlines and we must do extra, always extra, on the go, flitting about, marking items off our to-do list, and I’m not so sure the lifestyle I have lived, for so long, has been good for me.

It only took me seventy-two years to figure that out.

Yes, I think it is important to have projects. It is good for the mind, and body, to stay active.

But sometimes it’s also good to do absolutely nothing but relax and enjoy life.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Just Practicing My Craft

20 Apr

Don’t be concerned as you read this. I’m simply practicing something that’s been kicking around in my head. Maybe it will make it into a story one of these days. I shared this on the HP website, so if you’ve already seen it, I apologize in advance.

I remember thinking, there’s no way this turns out well.

Have you ever experienced that? You’re suddenly faced with a situation, a decision, a fork in the friggin’ road, you take a moment to ponder, your neurons engage, your options flash by in a millisecond, the computer between your ears comes to a conclusion, and that conclusion is nope, no way this turns out well no matter what the hell I do.

That’s where I was two months ago, a knock at the door, me on my fourth beer of the night, turn the tv off, get up off the couch, open the door and there she was, breathtaking, a catch-of-the-breath beauty, raven hair flowing over her shoulders, green eyes illuminated by the porch light, her exhales pluming in the nighttime cold, maybe five-six, maybe one-twenty, hard to tell with the bulky clothing.

She didn’t raise her head enough to look directly at me, choosing instead to keep her head bowed, raising only her gaze, an odd gesture I thought at the time.

And my first thought, the aforementioned there’s no way this turns out well.

Such a strange thing to think, faced with loveliness, nothing out of the ordinary happening on the street, nothing at all to trigger that thought, and yet there it was, harkening back to the cave man, hunter-gatherer of yesteryear, trusting instincts fueled by life and death experiences, fight or flight, choose right or become a meal for others.

There’s no way this turns out well.

I should have listened to that voice.

Why do I write random scenes from a non-existent short story?  I’m just practicing my craft.  “Use it or lose it,” the doctors will tell you. Don’t let muscles atrophy, and don’t let your writing skills go stale.  Use it or lose it.

Will I ever use that opening scene in anything? Maybe, maybe not!  All I know, with any certainty, is it does no harm for me to practice.

Have a great day and thanks, so much, for spending a few minutes with me today.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

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.”