A Thousand Words A Day

A writing journal _____________________________ PROFESSORBLOG@HOTMAIL.COM

writing: _ Christian Writers _ _ NaNo _

reading: _LibraryThing_ _ BookCrossing _ _ My local library _ _ Another nearby library _

blogs: _ Lorie Rees_ _Itinerant Iconoclast_ _ Rita's Ravings _
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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

Reader, writer, podcast listener, and TV watcher. And real nice guy.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

Wow, here we are, six months into this blog, and I am pretty satisfied. I know that I have not done it every day, like I expected, which is designed to be a chance to write every day, well actually every week day, five days a week, a thousand words a day. I managed to pull it off pretty well, I think. I of course fell into the Na No Wri Mo situation jsut a few days later. Now that was very good fortune, good luck, whatever you want to call it. But it was not five days later that I found out about this. I chose to do this blog first, then separately found out about the Na No Wri Mo, and I had a great combination of things to do. But I am pretty pleased that I have been able to keep up with the writing thing and the wiriting group and the Na No Wri Mo thing and the group and the keeping it up for five months after. I am pretty please with myself and pretty proud of being able to keep up this schedule, albeit imperfectly. But it now six months after the start of my first Na No Wri Mo, and only six months away from my next Na No Wri Mo. Time is certainly flying, and although my discipline has been imperfect, that is for sure, I am proud of what I have done and that I am still on a roll and ready to keep on writing. There is no chance now that I will not make it to next November without a novel ready to be written.

Now I am not saying that i have accomplished ALL of my goals for this year, which included the reviwion and rewrite of WANTED, and the completion of SOUL MATES, but I have acoomplished a few things that were not on my list of goals, such as publishing an exceprt of SAOL MATES, writing some OK short stories, committing to a writers group, and writing an award winning (thank you, M B A A and A of F, and soon to be published academic paper. So all things considered, I am pleased with my 2003 progess. But I am not content to rest on my laurels, I am ready to keep going and getting more and more done and keep on writing and revisnig (I hope on this one, at least) and research and prep and outlining and thinking and . . . yes, and even writing. I am pleased, but I know that I have more to accomplish.

I think the key accomplishment of this year is the fact that I take myself seriously as a writer, and my family knows of my writing. This is a big move, as the seriousness of my work is now part of the mix. I let my wife read WANTED when it was finsihed, but she did not seem excited about it. Another person knew about it, that I was writing, but also kept the secret. I wrote with my daughter some stories and "books" as we called them, but she did not know that it was something that mattered to me, personally. Now they all know that. That is progess. I now do not need to hide my writing magazines and be embarassed and ashamed by my dreams and hopes and wishes, and again all of this is progress. I have written a novel, and about three fourths of another and have started some others. All of this is worth pride, and worth of my esteem. I am proud. I can now even write on the board that schedules things for our families that I am going to a writers group meeting, and next November when the next Na No Wri Mo comes along, this will be OK as part of what I do and my family will support me and give me the space I need and the time I need and the understanding I need. Maybe one day Emily will sign up, too. She will not get very far, but it will be fun for her to try it one day. So I am ready to model and encourage and help her, but of course I need to do a little work myself getting ready and getting credits and getting published. I am proud of myself, but I would not mind at all if my spouse and child and parents and sister would be proud of me one day, too. It is a wild dream, but something that I can look out for. Then comes the C Span and the non fiction and the other writing opportunities with my family and my old church . . . I just want to write and write and write . . . and be respected and respected and respected.

Monday, April 28, 2003

This is an assignment based on Julia Cameron's works that I have referenced over the last month or so. Check out the Feb and Mar archives for my original thoughts on the topics. Her books are based on her workshops and classes, and both include a wide range of subjects. Some are more technical as a writing discipline and some are more on the "spiritual" side if you will, and involve contacting parts of one's personality and flow and dynamism and creativity. I will spend some time in this blog working on a few of the exercises that she has in her two books that I have read. Many involve fill in the blank sentences or lists or similar things. I did not have any interest in some of the exercises and so I did not copy down every exercise and will not do every exercise. But here is one of the ones that I liked, and so I am going to work on it here.

Write 25 things you are proud of.

1. I am proud that I have finished writing my first novel.
2. I am proud that I have m l to a w to whom I have deep a. This is a quote from Special Agent Dale Cooper, Kyle McLachlan's FBI character, a statement of his life regrets that he goes through to his "Diane" the tape recorder after being shot, when he thinks he is about to die. A nice statement that I was able to fulfill a few years later.
3. I am proud that my only child is a responsible, mature, smart, well behaved, young person who seems like quite a cool kid.
4. I am proud that I stepped down from a position of authority when the situation warranted my stepping from from a position of authority, before I had to.
5. I am proud that I accomplished the Na No Wri Mo challenge last Novemeber in a way that did not alienate, irritate, or otherwise negatively affect my family and friends and others I know well and hang with.
6. I am proud that I wrote an academic paper that won an award from a national meeting of an organizational affiliated with a regional conference of quality.
7. I am proud that I have had two academic papers accepted for publicatoin, one which has been published and one which will be published in the summer of this year.
8. I am proud that I have a short story (really an excerpt from the Na No Wri Mo competition) that has been accepted for publication from an actual literary magazine.
9. I am proud that I have never had a bad experience in the work force, wither with a co worker or a boss or anyone else in that setting.
10. I am proud that I get extremely good course evaluations from my students in almost every class that I teach.
11. I am proud that I wrote a story with my child and that we actually bound it and even submitted it for contests and publications.
12. I am proud of the close relationship I have with my child and the positive feeleing we have for each other and the strength of the bond between us.
13. I am proud that I stayed.
14. I am proud of all the things I do around the house for my family, and that I hardly ever complain about them and yet I do them anyway, even with only a little appreciaiton from people.
15. I am proud that I go to libraries a lot, and that I have instilled a love for reading in my child.
16. I am proud that I have been able to successfully integrate my faith into my analysitcal and mental and mind and intelligence life.
17. I am proud that I figured out how to look pretty good for my age and my past and my personality and my job.
18. I am proud of the people who love or have loved me.
19. I am proud that I passed the exam the first time I tried.
20. I am proud that the lowest grade I ever got in college was a C+, and that I still consider that the best professor I ever had.
21. I am proud that I have read so so so many books in so so so many series.
22. I am proud that I have a relationship with my parents.
23. I am proud that I present myself well in public.
24. I am proud that I cook well.
25. I am proud that I can make people laugh, and make them comfortable in me presence.

Thursday, April 24, 2003

I am in the midst of very nice burst of productivity. That is to say, that I hope that I am in the middle of this burst of productivity. It would a complete and total bummer of the highest and most epic proportions to find myself at the end of this burst of productivity. I have written the story that I put on the site a few days ago. I liked that one, that topic at least, because it does relate to one of the novels I am working on. This would be L O L, although I am considering the name A S L like the story, or maybe some other type of computer or internet or chat room sort of lingo. None of these characters or exact scenes will appear in the novel, at least not in the version that I have started and that is in my head now and in the outline that I have worked on a little bit by now. But I think that that scene or that type of scene may appear in the novel at some point or in same manner. This is one my little strategies for the whole Na No Wri Mo short story writing thing. To write short stories, whenever possible, that relate in one way or another to one novel or another that I am working on. I need to keep in my mind that fact that I am a prospective novelist, not a prospective short story writer. Even the "short story" that I am having published this year is not really a short story, but a novel excerpt. And this was a short story that relates in topic matter and feel and situation to the novel . . . or at least to one novel. And it is a publishing opportunity, too, so that is an added benefit. It is practice, it is a possible source of much needed clips to set up myself as publishable for an agent to look at me and consider me and certainly for a publisher of novels to be willing to take a second look at me.

Other work I have done the last few days is a scene of my novel "Country Church," which was important. As always, I do my first draft of writing on note cards, so I do not have anything to put in this blog yet. That will happen when I am ready to trascribe my work onto the computer, which is not yet ready yet. I need to get back into C C as a novel, and get my head back around where it is supposed to be and get it updated and then do a little work getting the next ten scenes or so outlined, so I can get it back on track. I need to do a little review of who lived where and where the story takes place and is the college THERE and did the Atholtons live in that town or did they just move to the town. Based on thinking about whe the characters are based on, I think I know the answer, but I want to check that out because it makes a bit of a difference on that scene. I know that I should just ignore this and get on with the writing of this and not worry about every little detail and then worry about all of those little things afterwards in the revision phase. But I can not get to that place in my own mind yet, so I have to do what I do, and do it the way I have to do it. I have no other choice but to be me and write in my style. At least until I work myself into that kind of habit. I am not there yet, but maybe I will get there, and if I do not, I will do it my way.

But the stories and the novel and thinking about revising others and doing a number of other projects here and there have gotten me so psyched. I am really excited about where I am no in my writing, and hope to be sharing some of this with this blog A S A P. I think this is going to be the start of something good for me. Maybe it is just that is pretty much six months from the end of the last Na No Wri Mo and only six months away from the start of the next Na No Wri Mo, maybe this is just the next natural step in the ebb and flow of creativity. If it is, I need to get into the practice and habit of taking advantage of those moments, and surfing the creativity wave, the burst. But I know that it is not at all something that just comes upon one, it is something that one can help gin up, as it were. My muse is an odd thing, in that she rarely comes upon m eunbidden, just at her own whim. She comes when I start writing. I start in the natural, and end up in the spiritual. I start uninspired, and in the midst of writing uninspired words, inspiration comes. There is a lot about creativity that eludes me, and much that I have no hope of ever "getting," I understand that, but I like experiencing it, and I even like reflecting upon it. But the best moments are those when it just happens, when opportunity meets preparation meets inspiration. That is when my best writing occurs. I have always been fascinated by creatvity and creative people, and have always ben intrigued by the how and when and where of their work. Maybe I have taken solace in the fact that all creative people are different and that all have their own ways of working. If there is no one right way, there are probably no wrong ways, too. Therefore . . . my way must not be wrong.

Monday, April 21, 2003

I know that my work in this blog has not always lived up to its name. I do not know if I have done a consistent thousand words a day, but I am trying to get back into the swing of this blog and into the true spirit of it, which is to write anything, five days a week, and not focus so much on the thousand words. So I am going to work on that a bit, write about what I am doing, writing or not writing, etc . . . And not focus so much on the thousand words. But I like the thousand words, and of course that is the name of the blog and that is the motivation of both the blog and the Na No Wri Mo concept . . . the timing of the thouand words a day decision and the Na No Wri Mo event and the Na No Wri Mo success and the Na No Wri Mo writing group and the variety of things that I have wirtten since then and the many successes that I have had in writing since I started this, I in no way want to blow off the spirit of this blog. But the legalism of the blog is a problem for me. I am a man of grace more than a man of law, so I need to focus on the spirit of this, which is to write anything, wrtie anything, write anything, and not be so concerned about what is being written.

First of all, let me say that I actually probably do write a thousand new words a day, even if they are not words in this blog. When it comes to including the other blogs that I write, I probalby get pretty close to it. For purposes of anonymity, I keep all of my blogs separate. One is this blog, the creative bolg, the writing blog, the expressive blog, that is all this one. It is multi purpose, I am multi tasking, just by writing in this exact blog. The second is the spiritual blog, where I explore things of faith and the world, and the intersection thereof. I do not write that noe every day, maybe it works out to being three times per week, so that comes adds to the total per day. And the other is academic blog, where I explore things about my job as a professor and my university and my striving for tenure and promotion and the schmoozing that has to take place and the work and the writing and the other things that occur there, as well as basic things about academics and the academic life. That is written every day, and adds a couple of hundred words to the total. So if you include all of the blogs under this "username," I get pretty close, even if they are not all in this blog. I am sure that that was not the intent of the writer of the book on which I based this blog and got the idea from, but I am living in grace rather than law, so I think it is not too too too much of a stretch to include it. But what do I know? Another thing is the original memos, emails, tests, notes, handouts, quizzes, and tests. Those have got to count somehow, too, right? So now I may be stretching, but not so much. I say that because I actually got complimented for my writing a fe times a decade or so ago on the basis of my memos. I had written memos and gotten good reviews of them ,and that was one of the way sI thought that I might be a good writer. I showed a facility with language and a good turn of the phrase and word choice and all of those sort of things, so it looked like maybe I was a good writer. So in light of all of that and the history of my own writing life, such as it is, I think I need to count it as good for my blog counting. Not that I am living under law but rather under grace, I think if it helps my conscience, I will count it as words. Just to prove to myself how I am not walking in law, I am not going to stretch this entry to a thousand words, but I will cut it off at this point. With this sentence, I am done, even though I am only at 763 words.

Saturday, April 19, 2003

This is the story I wrote for the April assignment of the Na No Wri Mo group.

“So, all of it was just a lie?”
I could see disappointment and anger fight for control of her eyes. “No, of course not,” I answered. “Not all.”
I knew it was the wrong thing to say as soon as those last two words slipped out my mouth. Silence fell like a guillotine between us, severing the connection between us. Brynn stared at me for seconds that seemed like eons. She closed her eyes and was breathing deeply. I was on pins and needles, awaiting her next reaction.
Then she reacted. She spun and began stomping away across the field toward the parking lot. I dropped the blanket and basket on the grass and followed right after her.
“Brynn,” I called out from close behind her. “Let me explain.”
Still moving with dispatch, she said, “There is no explanation.”
“Please,” I begged. I reached out to touch her shoulder. “Please.”
She stopped, but did not turn to face me. Okay, so I would have a chance to explain. To the back of her head.
Either way, I’d have a chance to explain. But how would I explain in a way that Brynn would accept? What I had done I thought was fairly standard. I shaved a few years and a few pounds, and I added a few inches. To my height, I added a few inches to my height. How would I know that the woman who described herself online as a five foot, five inch, one hundred and twenty-eight pound, twenty-three year-old blond would turn out in real life to be a five foot, five inch, one hundred and twenty-eight pound, twenty-three year-old blond.
I walked around Brynn and stood directly before her. Certainly invading her personal space, I said softly, “I had no idea that I would actually meet a real person. I did not know it would get this serious.”
“The picture,” she said softly. Clearly she was disappointed. And frankly I would not blame her.
“I sucked in my stomach,” I admitted. “And took of my glasses.”
She laughed at her shoes and shook her head. I felt my own shoulders slump. It was over. She was going to keep on walking. She raised her head slowly, and I found her eyeing me carefully. She leaned in, her bright green eyes boring into mine. “Is it really you in there?”
I nodded slowly. “It’s me, Brynn.”
“And your name really is Mitch?”
I nodded. “And you really are an architect?”
I nodded again.
She set her face firm. “Is there anything else you need to explain?”
“No,” I replied adamantly. I did not think there was, but who could remember every chat? “I am so sorry. I just never thought--”
“I think I understand,” she said, her eyes softening. “I am a little hurt, truth be told, but I think I understand.”
“Thank you,” I said, hoping I sounded as sincere as I was.
“So, do you want to have a picnic?” she asked with a smile.
I put my arms on her shoulders and spun her back the direction we had come from. “I think there’s a basket and a blanket up this way.”

“Come un, come on,” I muttered to my computer. I watched the messages roll past on my monitor. Too many, way too many. And they rolled by way too slowly.

Would this damn thing ever boot up? If there was any chance that slapping my computer upside its head would have sped up its processor, I would have done so. But no, I had to be patient. My forehead had already patiently broken out in a rolling sweat. My toe was patiently tapping a card core punk beat into the hardwood floor of my bedroom. My heart was patiently pounding away at one hundred and seventy-three beats per minute. And my mind was patiently replaying every nanosecond of my time with Brynn in super fast forward mode.
Okay, the main screen was finally up. God, don’t let the cable be down tonight. Please. I was on fire and sped to my email program. It beeped a happy beep. “You have seven new messages,” the computer synthesized voice reported. My heart leapt. No, it was too soon for her to be home. But I checked anyway. Junk, junk, junk, junk, my mom, junk and junk. Let’s be honest – mom’s message could wait. I took a deep breath, then took a second. Then I started composing.
“Brynn,” I typed, “I cannot thank you enough for showing up today. That act alone spoke volumes about your faith in me, and your trust in me. I can’t express how sorry I am that I fell short of your faith and trust. But you stayed. I owe you so much for staying. I do not know how to repay that faith you showed in me. But I hope to earn that faith, to grow into it. I know that I began today by disappointing you, and I hope that the rest of the day alleviated those feelings. I con only say that I had a great day with you at the park. You are a wonderful human being, Brynn, and I want to keep on knowing you. I want to keep on knowing you. Mitch.”
I sat back and closed my eyes tightly against the strain. I was beat. It was a long, draining, exhausting day. I re-read the note. Of course it was not as good as the ten messages I had composed in my head on the way back into town. But wasn’t that the way it always was? I held my breath and clicked on “send.”
I stumbled into the bathroom and splashed water on my face. As late as it was and as beaten as I was, this was the closest thing I would get to “getting ready” for bed. I flopped onto my bed and felt myself starting to drift. Damn, I left the desk light on. Eventually that would bother me, but I was too dog-tired to get out of bed now. And in the midnight silence I heard the fan on the computer whirr and the monitor hum. I should turn that off, too. In three or four hours, those noises would really annoy me. But they were not even close to keeping me up now. Nothing could keep me awake now. Nothing could keep me from drifting into sleep. It felt so good to feel the waves of calm and overwhelm me.
Then I heard the tone and the computer voice. “You have one new message.”
I jumped from the bed, wide awake.

Wednesday, April 16, 2003

Hey, the Na No Wri Mo group is doing some work. There have been some crits posted on the site, even one of a story that I wrote. And I did a crit on another work. So I will speak about both of those experiences here. Amy posted a crit of my Cockburn story to our site. This was the story about Bryce Burns, who is trying to live the great Bruce Cockburn song, "Child of the Wind." It is a great song, it is a terrific song, it is the one osng that I pretty much refer to as "my song." It sums up some of my own feelings and thougts, and is one of my "theme songs." The song goes (this is off the top of my head, not the official lyrics, so take that for what it is worth, which may or may not be much: I love the pounding of hooves, I love engines that roar, I love the wild music of waves on the shore. And the spiral perfection of the hawk as it soars I love my sweet woman down to the core. There roads and there roads and they call, can't you hear it, roads of the world and roads of the spirit. The best roads of all are the ones that aren't certain. One of those is where you'll find me till they drop the big curtain. Hear the wind moan on the bright diamond sky, these mountains are waiting, green, brown, and dry. I am too old for the term, but I'll use it anyway . . . I'll be a child of the wind till the end of my days . . . " It is very possible that I left out a few words, as a matter of fact I am pretty sure that I left out an entire verse. Anyway, Amy did a crit on this work and pionted out some interesting things. I knew that this was a short piece, almost a full page . . . single spaced . . . but still almost a full page. And not any more. Basically, I had Bryce Burns (my combo of Bruce Cockburn and myself) looking out over an expanse of Canadian land, reflecting on his life and the struggles that he has had and the resolution he has found in his love and his life and his faith. So what Amy pointed out was that this was not exactly a story. A story is of course supposed to have a beginning, a middle, and an ending. She pointed out that htis was just an ending. An interersting crit, actually. Given the fact that some people have trouble writing endings, and that some stories just osmetimes peter out . . . at least I did not do that. I did a little better than that, in that I at least wrote the hardest part, the ending! She encouraged me to write the beginning and the middle, in order to find the back story behind the resolution. What was the struggle, what was overcome, which of those roads of the earth did he actually walk down, and what were the results of that? So there is certainly stuff there, but I do not think that I am going to re visit that particular story. It was just practice, and if she found nothing more fundamental than that, I am satisfied. And I certainyl appreciate the crit.

I then returned the favor and wrote a crit of one of her stories, based on a Norah Jones song. I had never heard the song, and I had not read a previous version of this story that she had posted before, but nonetheless I took a whack at it. This is one of the skills I am looking to develop, the ability to rightly critique and pull out needs in other people's writing. I need to revise my own writing, which I have never done before, so I need to figure out how other people can better revise their work. This is a skill that I need to get, so I appreciate my Na No Wri Mo group comrades being guinea pigs for me test out me nascent skills on. What I wrote back to her was that I thought I understood the motivations of her characters, which was pretty much what she was looking for. I do not quite know how to crit well, whether we are looking at line edits . . . .i.e., my basic type fo work that I do when I am grading papers . . . or overall crits or guided crits, which was what Amy was specifically asking for. I like the nice feel of this group, and that the folks in it are not being tough and not being nasty, which I understand is not uncommon for writing groups. These folks had some bad experiences in previous writing groups, and wanted to get away from that type of history in this new gorup, so they may be not willing to crit too harshly on the grounds that they have seen that go horribly awry in the pasty. That is okay, we do not know each other well yet, so we do need to gain a level of confidence with each other before we start going too hard ball on each other. I should say, on each other's work. That has probably been the problem in the past. You are to crit the person's work, not the person. This is what people are supposed to do, but maybe has not been the past history of some of these folks. So I guess that some of these people in the group are a little bit on the gun shy side about both giving and receiving criticism, which is understandable. So I need to model good crits, and model a good positive attitude about receiving crits. Is this one of those cases where it is better to give than to receive?

Saturday, April 12, 2003

We talked about doing our next meeting as a social event, and not just as much as a writing group meeting. We are thinking about going ot two meetings a month. We had talked about this before in terms of Sep and Oct, in prep for the next go round of the Na No Wri Mo thing. I thought that this made a lot of sense, in terms of preparation and plotting and outlinning and all of those things that can accomplised before the fact. I like the whole super hero thing, and the thing about invisibility and flying and which would be better. But I think that I am rambling now, and so I think I need to go back to the original subject of this blog. As I said, we had already spoken of having two meetings a month . . . eventually . . . but this is different. Now we are thinking about adding a second meeting from now on, so we can have a meeting about writing and all of that sort of thing and a meeting this is a little more broadeneing, either on a social level or maybe even a discussion of writing books and writing tips, that sort of thing. I am looking forward to it, I think. We have also had some problems with Borders and the reservations of the group in the cafe and other groups being in the cafe and the noise of other groups and not having enough seats for out groups and even with the discounts we are supposed to get, both from the cafe and on books. None of that has gone quite as well as we had hoped when we selected Borders as our location for the regulr meetings of the group. There was some paperwork and a discount card and we got free drinks for the first meeting, but since then it has gone a little bit down the old proverbial hill. So we are looking for alternative places to meet. The next meeting will probably be at a members' home . . . there were a few volunteers and we can do a pot luch for food, that sort of thing. This is good, I suppose, although we will not be meeting at my house any time soon. I suggested a park, or the meeting room of a public library. The local libraries in this town are excellent, and probably would offer their meeting rooms for a regularly scheduled writers group. We would probably have to be open to new members if we met at a library, though. So that is why maybe a different kind of place, such as a park or a house becomes an option. If we end up with two meetings, then maybe one is a more traditional location, and one is at a location like a home or some type of alternative spot. I think this is a good move for us, as we have always had a good relationship with in the group and it has always been a pretty social event. They are nice folks . . . writers. Pretty normal types of people . . . for writers. It is certainly a kind effort to open one's house up to the group and I do not want to diminish that, so I think we will definitely do that. Part of the agenda for that meeting is figuring out what we are going to do from this moment onward. Both in terms of location and in terms of what we will be doing. I like the fact that this gorup has led me to write more short stoires than I ever would and keep me on track . .. except for that one month that I missed the assignment. But all things considered I am pretty close to where I want to get. I am satisfied that I have publicly (to my wife and my daughter) my desire to write. This by itself was a big commitment. I figured there was no way I could accomplish the Na No Wri Mo without them knowing about it and even to the extent that they can, support it. My daughter is by far the more supportive of the two. I get the feeling that my wife just does not get the writing life or the creative life or the published life or the authorial life. She understands the academic life, and it is not too far of a leap from there to here, but she has not yet made the leap with me. I am not holding my breath waiting for her to do so. But she is her and I am me, and together we stumble forward and walk into the future. So although I do miss having a spouse as a first reader, I do have a group who can fill in that little gap for me. I like having a writing group and saying that I have a writing group and writing it on the calendar and scheduling other things around my meetings with the writers group. I wonder if I can expand myself to two meetings a month without the raised spousal eyebrows, but we will get to that moment when . . . or if . . . I have to. I am not sure what the reaction would be to joining a second group or at least a second meeting per month, but I think the reaction to me being published would at least be positivie. As long as no one in my family feels compelled to actually read my work. That would be a bad move, especially for the missus. In a few years, my daughter could maybe read some of what I have written, and maybe my parents would read it, and maybe even my mom would even like it. I can not say that the in-laws would be big fans either. But I could live with that if I could only get something published, and published by a responsible, respectable publisher. Well, we can all dream, can we not?

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

I have been giving Na No Wri Mo some thought lately. Not last year's Na No Wri Mo novel, however, which is still unfinished and will have an excerpt published this summer. Let me not blow by that, because it is really exciting of course to have anything published. And of course it is important to put the finishing touches on the novel that I started last November. I was planning on knocking that out in January . . . whoops! Now that it is April and I have added very little to it, I know that it is probably way way way way too early to start thinking about next years' Na No Wri Mo event. I completely lucked into being prepared for last years', I must admit, by having a novel already outlined. So I was pretty ready to get that one written. That was very exciting, I have to admit. So I was incredibly fortunate in finding the link and having a book ready. I am a spiritual person, and the coincidences of Last November are enough to make me think that something was going on there beyond the natural. how that works and what exactly that owuld have been I of course have no idea. I am just saying that I was prepared for last year, and the key is that I am not prepared for next year. One of the things I like about the Na No Wri Mo group here that I have gotten to get to know, is that we are going to keep our focus on the Na No Wri Mo event. That is when we will open our ranks up to new members. Not until then, because we are not JUST a writing group, we are a writing group with a shared experience of trying to write fifty thousand words of a novel in one month. Incredible, is it not? I can hardly believe that I accomplished the feat that I just referenced. Of course I did not finish the book that I wrote, but I am fifty thousand words closer (okay, okay, it is closer to fifty three thousand words) to finishing Soul Mates than I was six months ago. Anyway, we have a shared experience, and are not losing focus on that as next November continues to loom out there. anyway, we are planning to spend our Sept and Oct meeting in preparation for the Nov Na No Wri Mo event of 2003. Not writing of course, but plotting and planning, character development issues, descriptions, back stories, and the like. So anyway, I want to get some idea of what I am going to srite before that, so I can really focus on writing in November. I liked being prepared in Nov 2002, and hope to be as prepared . . . or maybe even more prepared . . . or maybe even less prepared . . . in 2003. We will have to see.

Anywho, I thnk I have come up with or found a novel topic for next year. I was listening to the very intriguing NPR program "This American Life," hosted by Ira Glass, a few weeks ago, when they did an episode (that is not the right word . . . how about issue? I gues I am looking for the word program) . . . a program . . . about super heroes and super powers. A trio of stories that were connected only in that they were in some way about super heroes or super powers. The one that struck me was the segment about the two fundamental human desires in terms of superheroes, invisibility and the ability to fly. Humans fantasy about a lot of things, certainly, super strength, x-ray vision, super speed, etc . . . but the ones that seem to be most closely to being universal in fantasy and stories across generations and civilizations are the ability to fly and the ability to turn invisible. The interviewer in this segment asked people across the country which of these super powers they would prefer. And they got serious answers. This is what I like about the show, it takes all of its topics seriously. There is no sense of humor, of irony, of looking down on the subjects. So this producer asked a variety of people which of these they would prefer, and got a range of answers, and then dug into those answers with intellignet follow ups and insightful replies. As I was listening to this, it struck me how fundamental this question was and how many different attitudes there would be about the choice. So it struck me that a novel about this choice and the implications of the choice (both the one you take and the one you reject) could be really really really interesting. My own knowledge of comic books could certainly add depth to the topic. So I think that that is the type of novel I am thinkg about. Of course all I have now is an idea, I don't even really have characters, except that there will be a character who is given this choice. I envision this being a first person story, where the person who has made the choice and lived with the consequences is spinning the tale of the choice and its consequences. This character has no meat on his skinny bones, and there are no supporting characters, and certainly no events or issues. All I know is the choice he will make. So I need to think more about this, and I am hoping that the group in Sep and Oct will help me with this. First things, of course, is that I have to find the web site for "This American Life" and re-listen to that super hero episode, to do my research. I suppose I will have to credit them when the book gets published, right? Maybe just a mention in the acknowledgements. I think that would be a good idea. But I don't need to share the royalties, do I?

Saturday, April 05, 2003

And then there was the Gateway Arch. I failed to mention that in my rundown of the trip to Saint Louis I offered up in the blog a few entries ago, but it may have very well been the absolute highlight of the trip. I had never seen the structure before, save from an airline once a few years. I think I wrote about that a few days ago, re: my prior trip for a church related conference with friends and wife. We left the young one with grands for the trip and brought her back Tom Tom, still one of her favorite stuffed animals, even to this day.

But the Arch. The Gateway Arch. I guess the fact that i could make it out so well from an airplane eight years ago should have clued me in to the size of the structure, for some reason it did not strike me as an impressive structure, a "must see" of any kind. And then I saw it. Now I recommend to anyone in the surrouding states to visit it. And certainly if anyone else is heading ot hat town, swing downtown to see it. It is pretty impressive. The hotel I was at was downtown, and unknown to me at the time of reservation, it was a few hundred yards from the Arch. I remember being in the taxi cab watching the Arch loom over the horizon, and I was thnking, "Man that is big," and "man, the hotel is close to the Arch." What a surprise when I got out of the taxi and saw it. I kept looking for the pot of gold and the leprechaun. Another ultra cool moment came when I checked into my hotel room and wandered over to the window. And voila! There was the Arch and the mighty Mississippi. Very nice view, all things considered.

Of course I had no idea that i would be so close to the Arch when I knew I was going to the Gateway City. So of course I had no idea that packing a camera was a necessity. So I had to hit the hideously expensive gift shop at the Hotel and purchase a disposable camera. I walkeddown to the Arch, which was an impressive structure any way you look at it. I took a picture from across the little park that sits in front of the Arch, then a couple of side angle shots from the park on the South side of the Arch . . . another park sits on that side on the Arch, along the mighty river itself. I was able to take a couple ofshots then from the window of the hotel. Sadly, some of the night shots did not come out. But I did get about ten or twelve really nice shots of the Arch. I was not able to get out to take the tour of the Arch, which supposedly has a very nice tour and elevator ride. The elevator . . . . going up as it has to in a curved fashion . . . is supposedly quite an interesting ride. I am not a big fan of roller coasters, so I wonder how I would feel about riding in a lock step manner in the narrow confines of the gateway Arch. But if I ever get back, I will make a point of it to actually look into the tours and reservations. It takes a few days ahead to get a reservation for the tour, and I may have to look into it. Maybe. Maybe not. It is nice to look at, but . . . oh, well, I will drive over that bridge when I get to it.

But as a tourist site I was blown away, and I may very well add it to my list of family sites to try to get to. The Grand Canyon is on the list, I am personally interested in getting to the W T C site, although I have never been to N Y C and really do not want to . . . other than that, I would add the District of Columbia sites and then the Grand Canyon. I enjoyed it, and would like to share that enjoyment with others.

Thursday, April 03, 2003

Very nice meeting on Tuesday of the Na No Wri Mo group that I am a part of. Despite being late (as I explained to the group beforehand and explained in this blog a few entries ago) and not finishing the assignment (as I explained to the grou pbeforehand and explained in this blog a few entries ago), it was a pleasant time. They did go over their assignments, which of course I had not completed. Then they did an assignment that they had just completed when I got there . . . so I got a chance to do it with almost no time. The assignment was to come up five first lines, then discuss them and present them, as well as chatting about great first lines in history. Some of our favorites in history: "It was the best of times, it was the worst of time," and "Call me Ishmael." Others talked about theirs, many of which I did not recognize. Although "first lines" is a category on Jeopardy! The one I presented is from Robert A Heinlein, which I think comes from "The Cat Who Walked Through Walls." The line is (or is very close to) "We need you to kill a man." I stretched my mind for others, and did not find any others that I could recognize, other than "There were once four children whose names were Lucy, Peter, Susan, and Edmund." Or very close to it. I am not sure that my favorite novels, "Tess of the Dubervilles" by Thomas Hardy, or the novels of Sherlock Holmes) have dramatic opening lines. But I do recognize that the opening line and paragraph and page and chapter . . . are important. The ones that I came up on the spur of the moment were ones that i have used or have considered using before . . . they are:
Excuse me, but have we had sex before?
She just did not look like an FBI agent should look.
I said, up against the wall, punk!
I noticed the redhead as soon as I entered the conference room and placed the audit bag at my feet (this is the opening line of the Na No Wri Mo novel . . . or is very close to it)
I probably came up with another but can't remember it now. It was probably really good Evidently not very memorable, but I am sure that it was real real real real good. Our assignment for the next meeting (which I will complete, by the way . . . ) is to use these lines and then write a short story of one thousand to five thousand words using one of these lines. I like the community feel of this, that we are free to pick each others' lines if we want to. We will post all of the these to the group site. Well many already are, and I will list here the choices. I also went to the web site for the magazine The First Words, which is a journal that published short stories based on a common first line. I missed the first line of the quarter, but am intrigued by a few of the others. So the lines that I put up on the site are (in addition to the ones I have referenced above):
I never thought you could have too much of a good thing until I met Marie.
If he had ever known he was going to be in this predicament, Brett would have paid more attention in algebra class.
When I screamed out God's name in anger, I never expected Him to answer.
Maurice never seriously considered answering the personal ad until the moment that he picked up the phone to do so.
I kind of liked these, and I think they are not bad. I also added one from "The First Word" . . . or whatever that magazineis called: "In quotations, 'so, all of it was just a lie?'"
Ones that are on the site, contributed by other members of the group are:A person who claims to be innocent and naive is most assuredly neither.
Fortunately, I remembered to bring the peanut butter, else all might have been lost.
"No!" she bellowed. "I am fundamentally opposed to cucumbers."
Something about the color orange disturbed her to the core.
'I really don't think that you should call him,' Harley said to Julia, as she pondered the cell phone flipped open in her hand.
Bandit sat howling on the roof of our house, and the little neighborhood brats laughed at my tears.
She never knew that a match and a can of bug spray could create a powerful bomb until it was too late.
She wondered how long it could last -- this cameraderie, the delicious feeling that she was part of the group -- even though she was sure she'd scored points by getting them lost just at the estate with its lush gardens, and just happening to have a deck of cards so they could play on the front lawn for an afternoon.
Christian wanted to give up on ever finding a wife, but almost daily his thoughts returned to the Elvis Chapel in Tupelo and how perfect it would be for a proposal.
Despite the girl's snide remarks about his "pod" design for the school, Traynor feel in love with his protoge' between their first wedding and their second.
Though Isolde had fought to stay awake, exhaustion and the motion of the train overcame her, and she fell asleep against the rattling window as the train ran past autumn-painted hillsides, through dreams of praying the sinner's prayer and leading teens to the Lord--dreams so sweet that, when she woke and remembered herself married, her heart sank.
Ruben Alvirez is having problems keeping up with the other children, and I want desperately to pick him up and carry him the rest of the way through the sun-dappled birch woods.
Grant was disappointed; he had been so sure that the last time he died was really going to be the last.
If it wasn't for Donna, I'd be hopelessly ensorcelled right now

Some pretty good choices -- I like the one about "last time he died" and "hopelessly ensorcelled." But I have not decided which one I will use for a story. And I certainly will write one . . . this time.

By the way, I did not get anything to eat at Borders' this time. It just did not work out.