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The Routine Life

4 Dec

The familiar beep is annoying at best.  Ironic since I chose that particular sound because it was the least annoying.

Six a.m. on a Friday . . .

My world . . .

Stumble in the darkness, a daily metaphor, shower, toss down some orange juice, and settle down in front of the computer no later than 6:30.  That time is important to me, though I know not why.

Pound out the words, make customers happy, it’s always about the customers, check emails for instructions, communicate confusion, finally settle into a rhythm of content b.s. designed to score higher with the Google gods, what a silly, silly game I play . . . but it pays the bills and that cannot be ignored.

Everything goes smoothly, done by ten, giving me half an hour to slay some bad guys in my latest novel, and ten-thirty marks the time to clean up the kitchen and prepare for an early lunch with Bev, who is due home by eleven.

Day in, day out, sunrise, sunset, swiftly flow the years . . .

The afternoons are for the farm, feed the chickens, go for a walk with Maggie, make repairs to coops, that sort of thing, thoroughly enjoyable except during mud season, and then not so much, but even my worst days are pretty damned good.

More often than not inspiration visits me on the farm.  My muse loves it out there and, seriously, why wouldn’t she?

Home by three, clean up the house, feed dogs, check emails, organize for the next day, and settle in for Bev’s return at six-thirty.  Most evenings are for us, our alone time, the time when bonding happens and the marriage is strengthened.

And that’s how my days go.  I stick to a routine because, well, life is better for me in a routine. It’s taken me a lifetime to reach that realization. Obsessive-compulsive personalities, like mine, function better when the days are mapped out and randomness is eliminated.

And I’m fine with that.  I do all right.  I accomplish things within the confinement, not allowing the addictions to roam free. It’s worked well for me for twelve years now; don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, or as a mentor once told me, adopt the K.I.S.S. Method  .  . . Keep It Simple Stupid!

What works for you, works for you.  What works for me, works for me.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

In Search of Inspiration

27 Nov

A forty degree November day, no rain, no wind, about as good as one can hope for in Rain Central, otherwise known as Olympia, Washington.

A man and his dog, walking down the road.

The shadows are longer in November, football fields in length, and somewhat menacing, although I know not why.  We are heading in the same direction as the sun, westward, young man, go west.  The sun appears tired in that place, at that time, tired like a three a.m. stripper after a four-set night, dragging ass and longing for the welcoming respite of the distant horizon.

Maggie is alert.  Deer up ahead, a couple hundred yards, Maggie notices, the doe notices, no contest in that race, Maggie left with dreams of what could have been, not so unlike most people if you give it a thought, pondering the shoulda beens and the coulda beens, all the while the sun keeps moving towards the west and another day of the nows is rapidly disappearing.

A coyote howls!

Canadian geese overhead, that distinct sound, that distinct flying formation, destination south, crossing over us, right to left, Maggie looks up, no way of knowing what she is thinking, her senses at that point on overload as the last of the maple leaves drift to the ground, giving up the fight for another season.

A chain saw in the distance, an angry growl from the machinery, a concerned growl from Maggie dog, a new sound she will categorize, store for future reference, all part of the learning experience out in the country.

Dew on the fields, shining, sparkling from the sun’s weak rays, seeming to dance for me and my dog, free entertainment for those willing to brave the chill and leave the city’s insanity for an hour or two.

This could be our home soon. We’re thinking about it, sell it all, downsize, buy a tiny home, move it onto the farm.  Seems like the thing to do, you know, pack it all in, say goodbye to the remaining debt, simplify, and embrace the countryside.  Maggie would be thrilled with the move.  Like many Americans, I’m just tired of the race.  There’s no enjoyment to it any longer.  At seventy, a slower pace sounds right, you know?  I’m not talking about putting the brakes on, mind you, because I think it’s important to stay active and have a purpose.  No, I’m just talking about gearing down a bit, enjoying it more, adding to the special memories while there is still time, before that sun reaches the horizon for the last time.

There is still growth to experience. There is still time to become the man I want to be.  I can still raise my consciousness.  I can still accomplish so much.

Random thoughts on this November day, a man and his dog, walking down a country road.

SIDE NOTE:  This is my writing process, in case you were wondering.  I find inspiration while living my life, and I wanted to share part of that process with you.  The simile I used, about the stripper, was part of the process. I’m always trying new similes. That one might find its way into a novel one of these days.

Until then,  I’ll keep on practicing as fall turns to winter here in God’s Country.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Wishing You Peace

20 Nov

It would take me a month of Sundays to list the many things I am thankful for, and I just don’t have the time to do that . . .

But without a doubt, all of you would be on that list!

Let’s not mess around this week with discussions about writing . . . let’s just share in the thanks, the happiness, and the love of Thanksgiving!

Thanks to you all!

Love to you all!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

The Origins of a Literary Character

13 Nov

Someone asked me the other day where the inspiration for my character Eli Baker, in the Shadows Series, came from.

I suppose the answer would be from several people and characters I have known and/or seen in movies, but the main inspiration came from Charles Bronson and a movie called Death Wish.  In that movie, and in sequels, Bronson plays a character named Paul Kersey, and out of revenge for unthinkable things done to his family, Kersey sets out to wreak havoc on the local criminal community.

I liked that concept of uncontrollable rage AND the idea of roaming the underworld, wiping out the bad guys, and being so good at it as to be almost immune from harm or prosecution.

But I wanted that Kersey character to have more depth, and for depth I turned to a fictional police officer called Dave Robicheaux in the James Lee Burke novels.  I loved the way Burke’s characters were philosophical as they waded through the detritus of society.

And finally I wanted a paranormal/supernatural element to it all, so I put Eli Baker in touch with the spirits of victims of violent crimes, and in turn his battles were actually against Evil itself, an ongoing battle between Eli Baker (Good) and the Evil character.  Neither can be killed as they are locked in a battle which truly has no end.

Put it all together, heat at 350 for an hour, and you have my central character Eli Baker.

AND THEN SOMEONE ASKED

Do you really believe there is an Evil being, Bill?  And to that I say I am certainly open to the concept.  It would appear no stranger than believing in a character who represents ultimate good . . . aka God . . . so why not Evil?  It seems to me if you are going to hang your hat on the concept of God, you certainly should be open to the concept of Evil.

Was Ted Bundy mentally ill, or was Ted Bundy the personification of Evil?

How about the Green River Killer?

How about Hitler?

I guess we will all find out when we die.  Until then, I’m going to turn Eli Baker loose and let him do battle with Evil. I sleep better knowing he’s on the job while I sleep.  Lol  And he’s in one hell of a battle in “The Magician’s Shadow,” my latest due out in January.

AND THEN SOMEONE ASKED

How much longer are you going to write, Bill?

That’s like asking how much longer I’m going to breathe.

I am a writer.  This is what I do. I love creating.  I love communicating in this way. I love building a legacy of the written word.

Why in the hell would I stop?

Have a great week, unless you’ve made other plans!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

What We Do Matters

6 Nov

An old classmate from long ago died last week.

No, it’s all right, really.  He wasn’t a close friend, just one of thousands of people who pass through our lives over the years so please, there is no reason to tell me how sorry you are.

I mention it because, when I heard he died, my mind immediately sprang into action, remembering back, tall kid, thin, bookish, quiet, a bit clueless with regards to sarcasm, and quite concerned about the political landscape of that time.  I remember he liked classical music, and I only remember that because I knew him in the 60s.  While we all listened to The Beatles and the Stones, he was listening to Mozart.

And that is the total of my memories about him.  We never ran into each other after school. I have no idea what became of him, where his actions took him, or anything about any accomplishments.  I knew him for four years and that was it.

My other thought, and this is brutal honesty, was “whew, I outlived another one,” because seriously, I think we all have that fleeting thought, especially once we reach a certain age.

WHAT’S THE POINT, BILL?

So anyway, this all got me to thinking, I wonder what people will think of when it is my turn to pass on, and they hear about it, and that got me to thinking that we are all memories in the making.

Now, depending on how you have lived your life, there is either great comfort in that thought, or there is reason to break out into the cold sweats of regret.  Just more random thoughts, my friends . . . what we do matters . . . what we say matters . . . how we treat others matters.

I’ve talked before about our writings, our novels, our blogs, our articles and our short stories, and how they are part of our legacy forever, and how cool is that?  Hundreds of years from now our words will be read by new generations.  But there is more to us than our words.  There is more to us than the books we leave behind.

What we do matters!

Just something to think about as November slides into view.

Make life matter!

And of course November brings with it Thanksgiving, and I am so damned grateful that I am a writer.

And for those who asked, I am now halfway through my latest novel, “The Magician’s Shadow.”

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Celebrating Imperfections

23 Oct

I was listening to a friend the other day as she lamented what she saw as a character flaw of hers. The nature of that flaw is not important for this venue, but suffice it to say it really did upset her, so much so that she finally said “oh my God, I’m so fucked up!”

I could relate.  There have been countless times, in the past, when I’ve said basically those same words, and truly felt the angst associated with those words down to the depths of my soul.

The other day, though, I just listened until she was finally on empty, and then I gave her the message I think is important for all of us to internalize:  we are all fucked up!

Show me a person without issues and I’ll show you a person I have no desire to know.

An old mentor of mine said it best: we are spiritual beings having a human experience.  In other words, we are imperfect on the best of days, and always will be while we rent this particular piece of cosmic real estate.

I try to remember that when I’m creating characters for a novel. We are all imperfect and we all have issues.

I actually find great comfort in embracing my imperfections.  In my humble opinion, perfection is greatly overrated.  Imperfection is where it is at for this boy.

It is also the reason why I don’t give advice unless it is asked for. Who am I to give advice, particularly on life’s issues?  I’m a recovering alcoholic, for God’s sake.  I’ve been divorced.  I have made more mistakes than Carter has liver pills.  Old joke!  And I should tell someone else how to live?

Not likely!

More naps these days

So I’m all about love, and one reason for it is purely selfish: I need as much love as I can get, and it’s my hope that by giving love I will, in turn, receive it.

Just sayin’

Have a great day no matter your “issues.”

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

A Jumbled, Blurry Mess

16 Oct

While someone else sees darkness and muted colors

It’s foggy this morning as I write this.

I like the fog.

It’s mysterious, is it not?  Sounds are a bit muted, which I also like.  Shapes are distorted, and I find that interesting as well.

It’s a fascinating phenomenon, really, especially if the fog is really thick.  The obvious suddenly doesn’t seem so obvious. A tree you have passed by literally thousands of times suddenly looks sinister. A mail box, from a distance, looks like a little child.  Our imaginations play tricks on our minds.  What we think we see we actually don’t see, and what we have always seen morphs into something never seen before.

Pretty incredible, really!

“Red is gray and yellow white, and we decide which is right . . . and which is an illusion.”

As a writer I see certain parallels with the fog.  Whenever I try to critique my own work, or do an in-depth edit of my own work, my view of that work is distorted by the fog caused by my closeness to that work.  My logic becomes shrouded.  My analytical skills suddenly lose their edge because, after all, we are talking about MY work, and I am attached to that work emotionally and, well, emotions have a way of muddling the whole affair, or so it seems to me.

What’s the old saying . . . a doctor who treats himself has a fool for a patient?  It’s like that, me thinks, when trying to critique oneself.  Objectivity goes right out the window and is hauled off with the weekly garbage.

Just random thoughts as the sun burns away the last of the morning fog.

THE SAME MOST OF MY LIFE

I find it very hard to be objective regarding any of my work or accomplishments.  I tend to hold back praise of any sort.  I tend to be the harshest of taskmasters when judging something I have done or accomplished.  Whatever I have done is never going to meet the standards I have set.  Never!  According to a little voice in my head, I never should have published or posted any stories or novels, because none of them were “perfect.” I should still be editing them and trying to find the perfection I chase in vain.

Silly, right?

But at some point I just have to recognize my silliness, bite the proverbial bullet, and publish what I have done.  I have to accept that perfection is a fool’s quest, and I have to embrace the fact that I am a spiritual being having a human experience.

And I don’t have to like that fact.  Acceptance is the key for me, but being satisfied with acceptance is not always possible.

And I’m fine with that!

I’m a jumbled mess, and I’m fine with that as well.

Anyway, the fog has lifted, and it is time to head to the farm and take advantage of this unseasonably warm October we are having.

I wish you all peace of mind and heart this week.  You deserve it!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

 

Simple Complexities

2 Oct

I graduated from Seattle University in 1970 with degrees in Economics and Marketing.  I understand the marketing game.  I just don’t like it.

I make a living as a freelance writer, spending about twenty hours each week writing sales pitches for various corporations.  I’m good at what I do.  I just don’t enjoy it.

There are several ways to look at marketing, I guess, but to me it is manipulative and a bit underhanded.  If I do my job correctly, as a freelance writer, I will use the perfect combination of keywords to entice the buying public to purchase my employer’s product.  That’s my job!  Mind you, I’ve never been within spitting distance of any of these “products” I market, but in the marketing world that isn’t terribly important.  My job is to make those products attractive enough so that people will put down money for them.

Period!

It’s a job I really don’t enjoy, and I find myself turning down more jobs than I accept of late.

AND THEN IT GETS PERSONAL

And then we have the marketing of my own products to consider.  I write novels when I’m not promoting the latest commercial real estate offering or beauty salon, and if I want one of my novels to have a chance of selling, it is necessary for me to promote those novels.

And I don’t enjoy that either!

My philosophy regarding my novels is buy them, don’t buy them, it simply makes little difference to me. I write novels because I love writing novels.  If people buy them then great; if they don’t buy them then great.  Life will go on!

There is no purpose to my mentioning all that.  It’s just a peek into my psyche as a writer.  You probably have completely different viewpoints about marketing and that, too, is great! I wish you well with your endeavors.

ONE MARKETING GIG I DO ENJOY

Oddly, I enjoy marketing the farmers market I am involved with, not because I want people to buy my product, but because I believe strongly in the farmers market movement in this country.

So it’s all a bit complicated inside my brain.  Lol  I realize there is a conflict there, and I’m fine with that as well.

SO WHAT AM I GOING TO DO ABOUT IT?

Well, today is Saturday, and I don’t plan on doing anything about it today, quite frankly. I have chores to do in preparation of winter, so I’ll be heading out to the farm soon to start in on those chores.  At some point I’ll lay down under the trees and watch the clouds float by.  I’ll probably feed some grain to the horses, and most likely I’ll stop to pet the baby goats.

There is no conflict in that at all.

Have a great week and remember, please, to do all things with love.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Don’t Quit Before the Miracle Happens

25 Sep

I see sunshine and beautiful colors

A PLEASANT SURPRISE

I’m still laughing as I write this  . . .  life is truly a magical mystery tour.

I picked up the mail a few days ago, just as I do most every day.  Sorted through it . . . looked at a catalog explaining Teamster retirement benefits . . . thought it was a strange thing for me to receive, thought nothing more about it, went on my way with the rest of my day.

A tickling in my brain several hours later . . . why am I receiving a catalog from the Teamsters regarding benefits?  True, I had once been a Teamster, way back in the late 60s and early 70s, but that was another lifetime ago.

Kept thinking about that; something didn’t seem right, you know?  So I retrieved the catalog this morning, called the toll free number, asked why I was receiving catalogs about benefits, and lo and behold, I am a vested member and I have retirement benefits due to me.  LOL

Who woulda thunk it?  Somehow I accumulated enough hours to qualify under the Ten Year rule, so I have a little paperwork to fill out and then I’ll receive monthly retirement checks . . . and Bev will receive payments after I die.

A very nice surprise, one which got me thinking and reflecting once again . . .

AN OLD SAYING I REMEMBER

“Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens”

That saying was shared with me twelve years ago by a mentor.  I was struggling at the time, trying to give up alcohol, one more attempt at shedding the demons, one more attempt to get my life back.

“Don’t quit five minutes before the miracle happens, Bill,” Ralph said to me.  “Just hang in there long enough to see the miracle unfold.”

That was twelve years ago and, for this recovering alcoholic, those words came true.  The miracle has happened, and continues to happen each and every day.

So, if you are a writer . . . or if you are anyone going through a struggle . . . don’t quit one second before good times arrive. One thing I know with certainty is that I know nothing about the future.  You know that old joke . . . if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans . . . that perfectly applies for this boy in this lifetime.  I have no clue what is going to happen tomorrow.  As a writer I have no clue if tomorrow is the day a publisher falls in love with my work.  As a human being I have no clue if tomorrow will bring me riches, or heartache, struggles or smooth-sailing.

My job is to be ready, and to never quit trying.

MY DAD

It’s funny, thinking back.  One of my Dad’s favorite sayings was “Always move forward, Bill.  Never give up ground you have gained.”

He and Ralph must have been soul-brothers. Same message, different words.

Have a great day, all of you, unless you’ve made other plans.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Fighting the Demons

18 Sep

I was in a car crash back in 1972.  I was sitting at a stop light, waiting for the light to change, and a gentleman, seriously inebriated, plowed into me from behind doing over sixty-miles per hour.  His car pushed my car through the intersection and my gas tank ignited.

I remember fumbling with my seat belt, which had jammed, as flames started in the back of the car.  I remember the heat, and smelling my hair start to burn, and I remember the sheer panic as I tried to get that damned seat belt to unlatch.

Obviously, since I’m writing about that memory, I survived.  I came out of it with a seriously sore neck, burned hair, and a couple second-degree burns on my hand and neck, but all in all it turned out much better than it could have.

The reason I mention that car wreck is because for months afterwards, when I went for a drive, I would not use my seat belt.  I absolutely refused to use it because there was no way I was going to get caught in that frightening situation again.  Intellectually I knew that seat belts save lives, but emotionally and psychologically all I could remember was that seat belt trapping me while the fire raged.

My reaction then reminds me of the reactions of some writers now who are afraid to publish because they have received negative comments about their writing in the past.  Months and years after receiving a negative comment about some story or article, they are still affected by that negativity and cannot pull the trigger and publish again.

It’s totally illogical, but it is a very real fear.  None of us want to be attacked for what we wrote.  Most, if not all, of us do not like negative comments or mean critiques.  It is only human to want validation and positive strokes.

But we cannot let that stop us.  If writing is a passion . . . if you derive pleasure from writing . . . you need to buckle up and go for a drive again.  There will always be haters.  There will always be negative people.  That’s why God gave us middle fingers.  LOL

TWO WEEKS TO GO

Can you tell I’m excited? Two weeks of farmers markets to go and then I can return to creative writing. I am beyond pumped for that moment to arrive.  My brain is overflowing with ideas. I plan on finishing my current novel, “The Magician’s Shadow,” and then tackling a novel I’ve been thinking about for years, a 60’s memory which is inspired by “To Kill A Mockingbird.”  Stay tuned!

CAN YOU FEEL IT?

I just watched the latest news coverage of that hurricane back east.  The scenes of loss are heartbreaking.  The scenes of neighbor helping neighbor are heartwarming.

Watch the scenes . . . file it all away . . . use it in your creative writing.  This is the human experience, for better and for worse, and writers need to capture the angst and the jubilation that is unique with being human.

Can you feel it? How would you feel? What would you do?

WELCOME TO FALL

I love this time of year.  There is inspiration in the air, a time of change, a sense that something exciting is approaching, something which will affect us all.  The lethargy of hot temperatures is being pushed aside by the winds, and the smoke of burned memories is washed from the air by the September rains.

I love this time of year!

And I love all of you.  Thank you for joining me once again.

Remember to do all things with love.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”