Sunday, November 20, 2016

What Irony is

I sit looking out my window- at the leaves on the ground, the smoldering fire, the sun rising. The weather has turned cool and I revisited this forgotten blog. I found it truly ironic that I posted the Charles Bukowski No Excuses piece shortly before I abandoned the process myself in pursuit of other things. It has been 1,389 days since I have written anything. Perhaps this will be an awakening, or perhaps an interlude before returning to sleep. Time will tell.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

1000 words today

Think of all the reasons to do something else. Think of all the things you could be doing right now. Think of how long you have been working at this. Think of how long you have been not working at this. Think of people before you who were not dissuaded and met with success. Think of those who climb into rockets and upon mountains, those who sail ships and fly airplanes, those who hike across jungles and deserts, those who cross rivers and oceans, all those who dare to do. Does this seem too big of a challenge?

‘Excuses’, Charles Bukowski

once again
I hear of somebody who is going to
settle down and
do their work,
painting or writing or whatever,
as soon as they get a better light
or as soon as they move to a new
or as soon as they come back from the trip they
have been planning,
or as soon as …

it’s simple: they just don’t want
to do it,
or they can’t do it,
otherwise they’d feel a burning
itch from hell
they could not ignore
and “soon”
would turn quickly into

Friday, March 8, 2013

T.S. Eliot

The Waste Land


APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing 
Memory and desire, stirring 
Dull roots with spring rain. 
Winter kept us warm, covering         5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding 
A little life with dried tubers. 
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee 
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade, 
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,  10
And drank coffee, and talked for an hour. 
Bin gar keine Russin, stamm’ aus Litauen, echt deutsch. 
And when we were children, staying at the archduke’s, 
My cousin’s, he took me out on a sled, 
And I was frightened. He said, Marie,  15
Marie, hold on tight. And down we went. 
In the mountains, there you feel free. 
I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter. 
What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow 
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,  20
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only 
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, 
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, 
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only 
There is shadow under this red rock,  25
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock), 
And I will show you something different from either 
Your shadow at morning striding behind you 
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you; 
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.  30
        Frisch weht der Wind 
        Der Heimat zu, 
        Mein Irisch Kind, 
        Wo weilest du? 
“You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;  35
They called me the hyacinth girl.” 
—Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, 
Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not 
Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither 
Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,  40
Looking into the heart of light, the silence. 
Öd’ und leer das Meer. 
Madame Sosostris, famous clairvoyante, 
Had a bad cold, nevertheless 
Is known to be the wisest woman in Europe,  45
With a wicked pack of cards. Here, said she, 
Is your card, the drowned Phoenician Sailor, 
(Those are pearls that were his eyes. Look!) 
Here is Belladonna, the Lady of the Rocks, 
The lady of situations.  50
Here is the man with three staves, and here the Wheel, 
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card, 
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back, 
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find 
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.  55
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring. 
Thank you. If you see dear Mrs. Equitone, 
Tell her I bring the horoscope myself: 
One must be so careful these days. 
Unreal City,  60
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn, 
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many, 
I had not thought death had undone so many. 
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled, 
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.  65
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street, 
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours 
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine. 
There I saw one I knew, and stopped him, crying “Stetson! 
You who were with me in the ships at Mylae!  70
That corpse you planted last year in your garden, 
Has it begun to sprout? Will it bloom this year? 
Or has the sudden frost disturbed its bed? 
Oh keep the Dog far hence, that’s friend to men, 
Or with his nails he’ll dig it up again!  75
You! hypocrite lecteur!—mon semblable,—mon frère!”

Sunday, January 20, 2013


Return to the Grail Menu of The Camelot Project at the University of Rochester




Briar and fennel and chincapin,
   And rue and ragweed everywhere;
The field seemed sick as a soul with sin,
   Or dead of an old despair,
   Born of an ancient care.

The cricket's cry and the locust's whirr,
   And the note of a bird's distress,
With the rasping sound of the grasshopper,
   Clung to the loneliness
   Like burrs to a trailing dress.

So sad the field, so waste the ground,
   So curst with an old despair,
A woodchuck's burrow, a blind mole's mound,
   And a chipmunk's stony lair,
   Seemed more than it could bear.

So lonely, too, so more than sad,
   So droning-lone with bees--
I wondered what more could Nature add
   To the sum of its miseries . . .
   And then--I saw the trees.

Skeletons gaunt that gnarled the place,
   Twisted and torn they rose--
The tortured bones of a perished race
   Of monsters no mortal knows,
   They startled the mind's repose.

And a man stood there, as still as moss,
   A lichen form that stared;
With an old blind hound that, at a loss,
   Forever around him fared
   With a snarling fang half bared.

I looked at the man; I saw him plain;
   Like a dead weed, gray and wan,
Or a breath of dust.  I looked again--
   And man and dog were gone,
   Like wisps of the graying dawn. . . .

Were they a part of the grim death there--
   Ragweed, fennel, and rue?
Or forms of the mind, an old despair,
   That there into semblance grew
   Out of the grief I knew?

NOTE: In a letter to the editor printed in the Times Literary Supplement (8 Dec. 1995, p. 14), Robert Ian Scott suggests that "the many similarities between this poem" and T. S. Eliot's "The Waste Land" "can hardly be coincidental." Scott notes that Eliot "had reasons to be reading" the Jan. 1913 issue of Poetry in which Cawein's poem appeared because it contained Pound's article on the poets then in London (though Eliot himself is not referred to in the article).

Monday, December 24, 2012

Gifts for writers

I Google this every year to see what new ideas the internet comes up with. Usually it's a plethora of journals, inkwells, books about writing, and writing software. Occasionally someone will think outside the box and include a USB powered coffee mug warmer or a subscription to Writer's Digest or Glimmer Train.

This year I found Chuck Wendig's terribleminds blog with a list of 25 things for writers. The list is mainly more rambling from Chuck, including a shameless plug of his own merchandise. I disagree with most of it, particularly his expressed hatred for blank notebooks. I personally write in notebooks everyday, preferring it to the computer because there are no distractions in a notebook. Of course, there could be any number of mentions about self discipline here, but there's just too many things to do with a computer to ignore. Let's not forget also that it is called writing, not typing.

Did I mention I have no idea who Chuck Wendig is? He is a writer of some sort, and I looked his books up on The reviews were favorable, but I'm not sure if it's my type of work. I like Chuck Palahniuk as much as anyone, and I daresay Mr. Wendig does also.

On Wendig's blog there was a reference to Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own". I looked that up as well and found it was a fictional essay book written by Woolf about writing and feminism. I have never read Virginia Woolf, but I watch "The Hours" everytime it's on, and I wrote a play about her in college that won the "Best Play" award in my creative writing class.

What I did like about terribleminds was the apparent honesty that Wendig writes with. I have a tendency to censor myself on the internet, and it leaves me a little uncomfortable that I don't write what I think I'm going to write. I suppose this is character development, and I have yet to find the spot I am comfortable with. I choose to avoid profanity as much as possible, aware that my kids know how to use a computer.

I am reading "The Poisonwood Bible". Good book so far.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Scrivener writing software

I bought a new laptop which has Windows 8 and decided to try out a new writing software. I googled around and found Scrivener for windows, which has a 30 day free trial. I was mainly influenced by the fact that the trial is 30 days of use, not 30 calendar days. I've downloaded trials in the past and forgot about them, only to open the files later and find that the trial period had expired.

The program is quite complicated to start with, but not unlearnable. Most of the features are set up to organize, format, and export a novel, screenplay, or short story. There are nonfiction categories as well, with a great toolbar that includes research and media file folders.

The program automatically saves every draft, which for me is not necessarily a benefit because i like to keep my original rough drafts and then save multiple rewrites so I can go back and reference each evolution of the story. I believe there is a way to turn it off, but I grew bored with the extremely lengthy tutorial and proceeded to test out the software.

This led to an 850 word beginning effort on a new story which is based on a nagging thought I've had for years: the worse writing advice ever given and writers who write about writers. Stephen King is a pretty regular offender at this, and often writers who try to write characters in other professions end up seeming clunky because they have no experience in the field they are trying to portray as real.

The program is pretty good so far, with a compilation feature that allows you to export everything to Word as a rich text file while retaining a working draft in the program. The cost to activate trial version is $40.00.

GlimmerTrain competition for new writers ends this month. Final draft efforts for a short story to send in this weekend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

What surreal is

It's seeing a deflated balloon caught in the surf and wondering if it can ever be a balloon again, and shedding tears at the concept. It's fishing at night while the moon and stars shine above you and the beach is empty and there are green waves crashing around you,

and you are alone. It's finding yourself in a situation that you don't understand, a situation that you did not choose, and feeling at home. It's looking at the world around you and for once not questioning how you fit in but understanding that you don't fit in and that's okay, because there are plenty of people who do. It's that moment when you realize that, in spite of the years you have spent thinking you are different and somehow untouched, that you are in fact exactly like that which you see and you are okay with it. It's staring into the tempest and letting the sand and the saltwater blow into your face and you don't flinch because this is nature and you are part of it. It's staring unblinking at the sun. Surreal is that moment when you see all around you and you understand it and you no longer feel the need to put yourself into the context of this thing, but accept instead that you are a background and that all of this will continue with or without you. Surreal is when you finally realize that your time here is fleeting and that you will make your mark or leave no mark at all and there is nothing you can do to change this. There are other worlds than this and you were born unto this one and you have the gift of deciding how it will turn out, if you can only see what is in front of you and distinguish between what is real and what is surreal.