Saturday, February 19, 2005

Spam for lunch

I stole this idea from Spam Poetry. Here's my entry into the field:

You need to furnish the delight of having the finest
Life in full color. Inkjet printers.

Want a Tablet PC?
Chat to Delmy at free dating service

Look at the results! I am HAPPY
Women just can’t resist.
Oversize bath towels just 4.99

We’re giving away a Communication Device
Better than Vagra

Something she can’t refuse
Light up her life
Premium cigars with a leather traveler
Get creative and keep your dog happy.

You need to furnish the delectation of having the best
Valuable pharmacy muzak

Would you like a Cellular Phone?
cialis is a bit more expensive but lasts 9 times longer


THE END (for now)

Silence inside, laughter outside

Been reading Zen: Its History and Teachings by OSHO. I find a lot about Zen that appeals to me:

  1. It doesn't take itself seriously. Laughter is encouraged as part of learning and as a vital part of enlightenment. How refreshing after the dour teachings of Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and others. Zen masters laugh at themselves and encourage their students to do the same. Zen masters don't care whether anyone repects them or not. They consider themselves to be opnly human, just like everybody else.
  2. The leaders demand nothing of their students. They depend on "the kindness of strangers" for their very survival. This is not as scary as it might seem, since kindness to others and concern for their welfare is an integral part of learning about Zen and is not just given lip service as other religions do.
  3. One of the foundations of Zen is that each person is responsible for his or her own enlightenment. I really like that. Personal responsibility has been a guiding light for me all my life. My soul is my business. Everybody else needs to worry about themselves, and let me take care of my own needs.
Those are just a few things I have learned so far. Looking forward to digging deeper.

Talking the talk

Yeah, Debra, but talk is cheap. Making that happen in words is the hard part. I've talked the talk, now I have to walk the walk, put some steak with that sizzle, some fire under the smoke, all those other cliches that are so easy but so meaningless. Actually writing the story requires digging deep and working hard, finding just the right word at just the right time.

English is such a slippery language. Every word carries layers of meaning and connotation that have accumulated over the centuries. Finding the right word can be a major feat sometimes. Sometimes? All the time! I can't count how many times I have had to settle on a word that was almost right. And how many times have I been rereading a draft and thought "That's not what I meant"? I keep trying because I really, really love writing. On the other hand, Nazareth got it right: "Love hurts".

Thursday, February 17, 2005

"No" is such an ugly word

Lenox Avenue rejected "In the Hands of an Angry God" with a note saying that the situation and characters are too familiar. While I do appreciate their comments, and I know they are offered in the spirit of offering suggestions for improvement, this has really gotten my back up. Form rejections are just discouraging, but this kind make me say "Oh yeah? You just wait!". That one goes back into the pile for review azs time allows.

A lot of people recommend taking rejected piecesand sending them back out the same day. That's not how I work. I want to understand, or try to, what brought this one back to me, so I can fix it before I submit it again. Plus, there are always those little things that can be tightened up or polished just a little more.

The score is now 26 - 8. In baseball terms, that's a .308 batting average. Not bad.

Today's celebration

Got my broccoli and bok choi set out. 9 of each. Also got started planning the next step in the on-going landscaping project. Good soil freshly turned feels and smells really good to me. Even though I adore really bad puns, I will resist the temptation to say that it grounds me. There is a such an enormous potential in soil, so much it can help us do to actually improve our lives and our planet. When we move into the heat, drought, and bugs of summer, these moments will seem like a dream, but, for now, they are real highlights in my day.

Reading, 'riting, and rejection

The 3 R's of the writing life. The third one I have already covered.

Reading:
Just started a book about Zen. History and theory. I hope one day I will be able to relax enough to meditate, or find some other way to practice. Natalie Goldberg uses her writing as her practice, and that may become a possibility. Or maybe gardening, since I can sometimes lose myself in that for a while.

Also re-reading The Best of Cemetary Dance: Vol. 2. Damn, I can write better stories than that! And do! The first time I read it, a couple of years back, I was intimidated by the big names. This time, I can see the craft behind the work. It is sometimes a real disappointment.

'riting:
Got the 2nd scene of "Wolf Moon" rewritten. Next scene, our hero (he's between names at the moment) leaves on a year-long expedition to the continent to gather enough silver that he can marry Astrid and buy a farm. Mayhem ensues, as one would expect in a story about a Viking. I'll be working on that tonight and tomorrow night. It should be fun. I get way too much pleasure from writing about fire and blood. Heh, heh, heh.

The 4th scene will be a tough one. He will return home to find that Astrid has disappeared under certain circumstances which shall remain untold here, since that would give away the whole story. In his grief and madness, he strikes out and kills his own father. The Althing recognizes the mitigating circumstances and exile him instead of killing him. Then things get dark and ugly. More killing, some magic, some more magic, then the climax. The end.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Say What?

This just in: FDA will create new drug safety board to monitor drugs after they're on the market. Wait a minute. Isn't this the Food and Drug Administration? Aren't they supposed to be doing this already? God Almighty, it's no wonder the country's broke and getting broker. With a government like this, we don't need enemies.

Hip, hip hooray!!!

Noon blood sugar was 122! It's been a long time since I saw the underside of 150. It may not last (probably won't), but on this day, on February 16, 2005, I win!

I don't celebrate enough. A lot of that is an effect of PTSD. I just can't let go and enjoy the moment. SoI'm starting to look around to find those small things that I usually ignore. I'm willing to bet that every day has a least one thing I can celebrate, or at least take a small moment of satisfaction from it. Hell, some days, just getting out of bed is cause for rejoicing. :)

Looking at some new software

Ran across Prose last night. It looks interesting. I downloaded and installed it for evaluation. If it works as promised, it may be better than Word. It has built-in chracter analysis, scene development, outlining, and other stuff. We'll see.

I also took a quick look at PDF reDirect. This is just cool. It claims to be able to turn damn near anything in a Windows app into a PDF. I'm considering this one, too. It sure can be a pain making PDFs the way I've been doing it (print to file using a PS printer driver, then use GSView to print that file to PDF). If it really work well, this could be a really useful tool.

Gardening season commences

Got one bed turned over and ready for planting. I'll be able to set out my broccoli and bok choi tomorrow morning. Considering trying some leaf lettuce. My experience with lettuce has not been good in the past. Our springs are usually too hot, and it just bolts to seed.]

I'll get the other two beds ready before Easter. Our official average Last Frost date is March 20, but the old-timers say never plant before Good Friday. Since that's March 25 this year, it works out pretty well. Current plans include tomatoes (of course, are you crazy?), peppers (bell and jalapeno), squash, and cucumbers. Pole beans are a possibility if I get motivates to build a frame for them to climb.

I'm a firm believer in the deep bed method of gardening. That involves digging down two shovel-blades deep and never walking on the cultivated surface. My beds are 3 feet wide and 25 feet long, which gives me more than enough growing space, since I can plant more intensively. It's a ton of work the first year, but after that, I only have to turn over the top layer of soil. It's still so soft that I can stand off to the side and turn it over using a spade without having to step on the blade to drive it in. Hard work now pays off later, isn't that how it's supposed to go?

Oh, and writing...

Finished one crit for one of my crit buddies, one more to go. I hope to get it out Saturday. Brought "Wolf Moon" to work with me in hard copy. I can work on rewriting in the slow times. In this part of the quarter, every time is a slow time. :) Mid-term was last Friday, and the quarter ends on March 18, so everybody's coasting right now. From March 14 on, it will be quite different.

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

This hit the spot

Just ran across this article--On Faith and the Difficulty of Writing. I'm going to keep this one handy for those gray days.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Writing is an act of faith. The written words are the substance of the writer's hopes and the evidence of the things the writer sees but others don't. It takes a lot of faith to put words on paper, mostly faith in yourself. That is what makes writing such hard work. To believe in your ability to tell your stories in a way that will engage the reader is a real leap of faith. Who knows how other people think? Everyone is just as strange as I am, in their own ways. What makes me think I have anything to say to them?

Faith in my vision and faith in my ability are the touchstones of my writing passion. Without these, I might as well just stop. I have days when my faith wavers, when I wonder why I do this, why I torture myself and pour my heart and soul out on the page. Will anyone ever appreciate this? Does anybody even care? Those are bad days. But those days pass. As the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes: "Nothing is new under the sun." All things pass in their own times.

I try to keep my mind fixed on the good days. On good days, the words are golden. On good days, the magic works. One good day pays for a hundred bad ones, and my faith is renewed once again. I live for the good days, few though they may be. When they happen, life is worth the struggle.

This hit the spot

Just ran across this article--On Faith and the Difficulty of Writing. I'm going to keep this one handy for those gray days.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Writing is an act of faith. The written words are the substance of the writer's hopes and the evidence of the things the writer sees but others don't. It takes a lot of faith to put words on paper, mostly faith in yourself. That is what makes writing such hard work. To believe in your ability to tell your stories in a way that will engage the reader is a real leap of faith. Who knows how other people think? Everyone is just as strange as I am, in their own ways. What makes me think I have anything to say to them?

Faith in my vision and faith in my ability are the touchstones of my writing passion. Without these, I might as well just stop. I have days when my faith wavers, when I wonder why I do this, why I torture myself and pour my heart and soul out on the page. Will anyone ever appreciate this? Does anybody even care? Those are bad days. But those days pass. As the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes: "Nothing is new under the sun." All things pass in their own times.

I try to keep my mind fixed on the good days. On good days, the words are golden. On good days, the magic works. One good day pays for a hundred bad ones, and my faith is renewed once again. I live for the good days, few though they may be. When they happen, life is worth the struggle.

This hit the spot

Just ran across this article--On Faith and the Difficulty of Writing. I'm going to keep this one handy for those gray days.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Writing is an act of faith. The written words are the substance of the writer's hopes and the evidence of the things the writer sees but others don't. It takes a lot of faith to put words on paper, mostly faith in yourself. That is what makes writing such hard work. To believe in your ability to tell your stories in a way that will engage the reader is a real leap of faith. Who knows how other people think? Everyone is just as strange as I am, in their own ways. What makes me think I have anything to say to them?

Faith in my vision and faith in my ability are the touchstones of my writing passion. Without these, I might as well just stop. I have days when my faith wavers, when I wonder why I do this, why I torture myself and pour my heart and soul out on the page. Will anyone ever appreciate this? Does anybody even care? Those are bad days. But those days pass. As the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes: "Nothing is new under the sun." All things pass in their own times.

I try to keep my mind fixed on the good days. On good days, the words are golden. On good days, the magic works. One good day pays for a hundred bad ones, and my faith is renewed once again. I live for the good days, few though they may be. When they happen, life is worth the struggle.

This hit the spot

Just ran across this article--On Faith and the Difficulty of Writing. I'm going to keep this one handy for those gray days.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Writing is an act of faith. The written words are the substance of the writer's hopes and the evidence of the things the writer sees but others don't. It takes a lot of faith to put words on paper, mostly faith in yourself. That is what makes writing such hard work. To believe in your ability to tell your stories in a way that will engage the reader is a real leap of faith. Who knows how other people think? Everyone is just as strange as I am, in their own ways. What makes me think I have anything to say to them?

Faith in my vision and faith in my ability are the touchstones of my writing passion. Without these, I might as well just stop. I have days when my faith wavers, when I wonder why I do this, why I torture myself and pour my heart and soul out on the page. Will anyone ever appreciate this? Does anybody even care? Those are bad days. But those days pass. As the Preacher says in Ecclesiastes: "Nothing is new under the sun." All things pass in their own times.

I try to keep my mind fixed on the good days. On good days, the words are golden. On good days, the magic works. One good day pays for a hundred bad ones, and my faith is renewed once again. I live for the good days, few though they may be. When they happen, life is worth the struggle.

Gettin' Down to the Wire

It's February 15th, and I have three short sotires in various stages of revision. I am trying to get them out the door before the end of the month to finish the Dare I signed up for at Forward Motion. As usual, the closer I get to finishing, the harder things get. Still pushing forward, though. I spent the weekend thinking about "Wolf Moon" and decided to take Creative License with the Vikings. This story is not really about them, anyway. It's more of a myth, and there are a couple of minor issues that will just have to stay not quite true to life in order to preserve the integrity of the story. I'm considering sending this one to the Writers of the Future. Do I dare? Do I dare disturb the Universe? Is there no balm in Gilead? Stay tuned.

Next up is some revision work on "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet". It's still on track to out to Cemetary Dance. Revisions should not take more than a couple of days.

The final one is "Carrion Comfort". I'm not entirely sure where to send this one yet. It's very dark literary or mainstream, I guess. I may try Chattahoochee Review. I think it just needs some minor touch-up, so it shouldn't be a problem.

"Wolf Moon remains my major hang-up at this point. I keep finding ways to avoid fooling with it. It only needs two scenes rewritten and 2, possibly 3 scenes added. One thing is that I'm still scared of this story. It originally came out in such a rush of white heat that it feels Holy to me somehow, like it's the true voice of the Muse. I feel like I should take my shoes from off my feet for I stand on Holy ground.

Come on! It's a short story! Quit making up reasons to delay and get going! I'm hoping we get some more rain soon, so I won't have any excuse to go work in the yard or garden.

So What about Washed in the Blood?

It's still rattling around in there. After this Dare is over, I'll take the next couple of months away from short stories, except as a distraction, and put some more development into it. I really need to go ahead and finish this first draft, even though I know it's flawed in some major ways. It's not permanently broken, but I have to get over my perfectionistic tendencies and move.

Hmmmmm....sounds like a theme of some sort here. :)

Monday, February 14, 2005

Gray, drizzly day

And Monday to boot. Ack. Been dragging all day. Headachy, too. Then my wife called from work to say "Come get me". She had a reaction to something. Turned bright red, hot, boils all over, and itching like mad. No trouble breathing, though, which is a relief. Anaphylaxis is not good. Antihistamine, prednisone and something I never heard of for the itching is setting her back straight. Scary.

Time to get dirty

Looks like I'll have some time to devote to gardening this year. Now that I'm down to one "real" job, and that one's evening shift, I can put the daylight hours to good use. Yesterday, I got some perennial herbs set out and planted a dogwood tree in memory of my nephew who died on December 26, 2003 (Muscular Dystrophy and pneumonia). Got some broccoli and bok choi waiting in the wings. Spring platning is always a gamble down here. It gets so hot so quick that things either bolt or die. Still, hope springs eternal...

Update on "Real Monsters"

Signed the contract (e-signed it, actually) and sent it in this morning. This afternoon, the money was in my Paypal account (Thanks, Dru!). Gotta love the Electronic Age. Should be able to proof the galleys (online, of course) in the next week or so. Maybe it'll be up by March. I'm still walking tall. Nothing like a whiff of success to stir up the confidence.

Speaking of confidence, I think I'm going to shoot for the Moon with "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet". Cemetary Dance. The only problem is that TYSBAS is at 5550 words right now, and their upper limit is 5000. Got to trim 11%. According to Stephen King, that's a good goal to shoot for in revision, anyway. This will help me focus on writing tighter.

Happy Valentine's Day to everybody!

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Trust your vision

The Harrow has accepted "Real Monsters" pending revisions. This story is one I have been working on sporadically for nearly ten years. In that time, it has been through around a dozen major revisions and three radically different versions, though the base story has remained the same. Though my faith has wavered from time to time, I always came back to it with the belief that this story was worth telling. As Holly says: "Never give up on your dreams." In spite of all my faults, I can be a persistent SOB.

The other side

The Vintage Moon anthology has closed, leaving "Wolf Moon" temporarily orphaned. Oh well, back to the market research. "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet" and :Carrion Comfort" both await revisions as well. Need to get my butt in gear so I can get them out the door before the end of the month. Only two weeks left.