Monthly Archives: July 2015

Why a writers mind can be a cruel thing

There are many nights I go to bed looking forward to sleeping in, enjoying the warm snuggling blankets in the morning, the cool of the pillow, just letting my mind relax. No place to go, nothing to do, but sleep. On these days, however,  the writers mind plays cruel tricks. And I hate it. Leave me alone I say. No use.

What happens is that an idea for a blog runs through my mind. Sentences and metaphors flow through the small creative part of my brain, over and over, and I can’t turn off the tap, can’t stop the flow. It also happens with short story ideas, or an idea for a novel, or a chapter. This is how I came up with the idea for the end of my e-novel “Loonies in Hollywood.”

The writers mind does not rest. Oh, it might take a break, hiding in the cobwebs waiting for an unsuspecting idea to fly into the web, then to pounce on it and shout its present to you, which for me is always when I awaken-and not when I am ready, damn it.

But what are you going to do. I try to resist, to forget, to turn off the thoughts, but in the end it wins out. I get up reluctantly, turn on the beastly computer and get to work. And doing this without breakfast, without my Chinese tea, without giving in to the mewing cat who demands to be petted. The cat is not my muse, she can wait.

I have no muse anyway. A muse is sweet, encouraging, inspiring; she teases, tickles, aids and abets. I should be so lucky. What I have is a decrepit part of my mind where evil lurks, waiting to strike me when I least expect it; an evil that laughs at me like Satan would if I signed away my soul. Wait a minute. I already did that and he never laughed. Did he laugh when Faust gave in? I can’t remember.

This is what a blog should be about, what social media should be about. Forget writing advice, forget promoting our books, or whatever we have to promote. It should be about sharing our insanity, to see if others are as crazy as we are.

I have to stop as my cat wants her treat. She looks at me with Satanic eyes. Even her mewing is sinister.

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Why do I suck

In response to an article in my Seattle Mariner blog “Balls and Strikes” about class structure at major league baseball parks a comment was made which I did not approve and thus not published was “You suck.”  Naturally I would like to know why I suck, or what specifically am I sucking.

The article I wrote was that the Seattle Mariners have these in-game giveaways and though the scoreboard shows a video with spinning numbers for section and row, invariably they all fall into the lower section of high priced seats. But us poor schlemiels in the third section are always shut out. We also do not get many vendors. I went an entire game without seeing one in my section. In the lower section the gentrified are catered to while we in the third level are the poor unwashed in the class structure of major league parks.

So why did the troll leave the two word comment?

In and of itself the comment means nothing. I suck a milk shake through a straw. Was that what he meant? Or was he referring to what a male of the species does with the breast of a female of the species? I think not, but I prefer this interpretation.

Something you may not know about the word ‘suck.’ In terms of slang it means, according to “The Synonym Finder” by J.I. Rodale,  to deceive, mislead, misinform, cozen, dupe, defraud, gull, hoodwink, bamboozle, hornswoggle. Is this what I was doing? I think not.

My point is that if you are an Internet troll you need to be more specific in your sucking comments. I need to know more. Saying I suck tells me nothing. I would like to know why. Were you offended I was picking on the Mariners? Did you think I was being childish? Did you think I was being serious? Did you think I was being silly?

Social media means we are to engage, discuss, talk. If he told me why I sucked his comment could have been published. But tis person failed. His comment ‘you suck’ just sucks.

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Is “Motivation” is Useless? Are “Opportunities” Overrated?

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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I hear all the time that “motivational stuff” is crap, that cheerleading is useless, that all those books and speeches are there simply to take our money. What is success? Well, I don’t believe that success is worth giving up everything. Life and love are more important than being the best. And, to an extent I will agree.

Motivational Stuff is Crap

I don’t know about you guys, but I love The Container Store. Every year I set my New Year’s Resolution and it always…always includes this phrase. “Be more organized.” This morning I was hunting for the cat food. I’d apparently hidden it from myself. In the bottom of my pantry I spotted one of those white-board weekly organizers…still in the WRAP.

*hides head in shame*

Exactly how well is that weekly organizer working for me tucked in the back of a pantry? Yes, The Container Store…

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My secret identity revealed

I have written nearly two hundred blogs about writing and far more in my baseball blog about the Mariners. The articles about the Mariners are the same every year because there is only so much you can write about those wayward sailors. The same is true of writing. Unless of course you read JA Konrath’s blog “Newbies Guide to Publishing” who seemingly writes his blog and books simultaneously.

So I pause today to reveal who I am, my secret identity behind my e-books and blogs. It is nice to know about each other, don’t you think. I grew up in a Wonder Bread nuclear family. That deliciously soft doughy bread is responsible for my soft doughy paunch. It is impossible to find in grocery stores in this state anymore. I am thinking of tracking it down and smuggling it in from another state. I use the word ‘nuclear ‘in both senses of the word as I grew up in an age in which we were instructed in case of nuclear attack to hide under our school desk. It sounded good then.

I moved a lot in my peripatetic youth. My favorite travels were bedroom to kitchen to bathroom; the journey of life. Stops were also made in England, Sweden, Denmark-but not in Stockholm or Copenhagen-and Canada, along with assorted states west of the Mississippi. I currently live in the Pacific Northwest.

There is a cat that lives in the house I reside. It showed up here one day over a decade ago and has not aged. Not only that but it will sometimes walk onto my lap and stare at me like a lioness stares at a gazelle shortly before chomping down on lunch. I can only post pictures of her on Facebook at her request. She can sleep in 79 different positions.

I have the usual phobias; snakes, height, dentists, hospitals, flying, clowns, penguins and girls named Becky. I have never broken a bone, nor had major surgery, but nearly lost the tip of my finger by way of a butcher knife (long story, but someone set a trap in a cupboard over the sink) and nearly severed a major artery on the back of my hand while washing dishes at a friends apartment in Sweden. Severely broken dish, don’t ask. I do take medication, however, for depression. I find depression comforting. I have had it so long I would be afraid without it.

What are your interests Terry?

 What is this, a dating site?

But since you asked, I love books, all kinds as long as the writing is engaging. Other exciting interests are baseball-Mariners and Dodgers; football-Seahawks in the NFL. College football-Roll Tide; Go Navy, beat Army, and Go Dawgs. NBA-I used to like the Seattle Supersonics, but David Stern, the ex-commissioner, and Clay Bennett carpetbagged the team to Oklahoma. I went to Louisiana and found a gypsy who put a curse on those two evil warlords. 

What kind of work do you do?

Oh God, really? Who Cares?

But if you must know, I managed theatres, owned a bookstore, wrote film reviews for a decade, and worked for two major corporations whose names I will not reveal because they are big business, therefore economic terrorists and I was their slave. The bookstore was fun though.

Most of us have met famous people in our lives, but I will not name drop because I doubt many of you, much younger than myself, probably have never heard of Milton Berle, Michael Landon, David Jansen, Bill Bixby, James Hampton, the lovely Yvonne Craig, Pat Boone, John Agar, Robert Morris, or athletes like Rick Barry, Dizzy Dean, Jimmy Piersall, or Keith Lincoln. So I will spare you that. Nor will I tell you  my cousin was an All-American football player who played in the NFL. No one likes  name droppers.

I am allergic to all vegetables, so under doctors order I am only allowed to eat potato chips, ice cream, cakes, pies, cookies, pizza and sodas. I have enough preservatives in me that I am nearly mummified.

I like females of our species, having, in the summer before third grade, answered the door at my friends house where he was having a birthday and saw a girl standing there with a dimply smile, dark curly hair, a white taffeta dress, and black shoes, and I instantaneously realized for someone mysterious reason that girls now held an important part of my being, supplanting baseball. It is still a mystery, but baseball has thankfully resumed the number one slot. As a side note, the girl at that door turned out to have the same name as myself and was born in the same hospital on the same day as yours truly. And she later would receive my first kiss. It was fun for me, nothing for her. Turns out she kissed lots of boys. And often. Throughout her school years.

In my youth I grew bored listening to men at family gatherings talk about business, politics and all those boring things that kids don’t care about. So I gravitated to the females in another room who talked agouti people. It was kind of gossipy, but far more interesting. They were the storytellers and I the audience.

Now I am the storyteller and I like telling stories. And now you know more about me than you wanted and wondering why you read this far. But I thank you.

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What happens to your blog and e-books when you die

It is something in the back of my deteriating brain. What happens to my royalties when I depart into Never Neverland? Anne R. Allen answers that and more in her recent blog. She also talks about what happens to your blog. This is a must for all writers. You can read her detailed account here

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Why a writers life is about lunch

I don’t have writers block, but I do have writers procrastination. What I do is palm it off on my fictional character Chet Koski a screenwriter for Paramount in the 1920’s. He solved the murder of William Desmond Taylor in my e-mystery “Loonies in Hollywood.” Now he is about to solve another big Hollywood murder.

So I take my terrible character traits and give them to Chet, hoping they will disappear from my psyche.

Here is an example from his upcoming adventure of writers procrastination. I love this guy.

“Back in my closet-office the next day I sat down to work on a new story. I had not heard from Matt Hobby, my supposed writing partner; his supposition, not mine, so was glad to delve into a story in the privacy of my own imagination. The problem is that the first hour my fingers never touched my typewriter. The blank piece of bright white paper glared at me, challenging me, no it was taunting me, saying, you think you’re so smart, here I am, fill me with words, with ideas, with action, with, oh my God, dialogue. You can’t do it can you Bud? Go ahead; soil my whiteness with dark ink splattering my purity.

There is a fine line between writing, or any artistic endeavor, and madness. It is a side effect of the creative mind. Not wanting to go mad, I decided to rip out the insidious white sheet, crumble it into a ball and toss it in the waste basket. At least if anyone comes in they will think I had been working. Then I stared at the wall trying to regain my sanity, to stay clear of the madness of listening to an imaginary conversation with a piece of paper. Then I realized I am a screenwriter, therefore I am not artistic, and so my madness must come from another source. I crumbled up more paper and filled the basket halfway. I found it stimulating. Just look at the trash. I have been busy writing, rewriting, not satisfied with what I had been doing, but striving for perfection, the best scene, the best dialogue.

I went to lunch.”

The life of a writer is a wondrous thing. It is all about the lunch. Chet and I will get back to you.

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Ray Bradbury’s Zen exercise for writers

In his book “Zen and the Art of Writing” Ray Bradbury wrote that at one time in his career he began to make a list of titles. They were simply nouns done without thinking, trusting his subconscious. For example he used this list: The Lake. The Night. The Crickets. The Ravine. The Attic. The Basement. The Trapdoor. The Baby. The Crowd. The Night Train. The Fog. The Horn. The Scythe. The Carnival. The Carousel. The Dwarf. The Mirror Maze. The Skeleton.

He did this to discover who he was as a writer. He learned about himself from these lists because they came out of his subconscious, reminding himself of things from his childhood. And some of them were scary.

What he would do was to take one of the titles and begin to write a long prose poem based on the chosen title. He said about the second page, the poem changed into a story as a character would inject himself into the poem-story and a story grew out of the poem. In the last title listed above-The Skeleton-he remembered as a child drawing skeletons and showing them to his female cousins to scare them. He then goes on to say how he came to write a short story in a few hours.

The point is that his unconscious writing of lists would reveal hidden memories within them and his stories flowed out of the exercise. And many times he did not need to begin with a prose poem.

Just as you can’t be being who you are, you can’t help writing what you write. Unless you are Elmore Leonard and can write in every genre with equanimity, but few of us are that adept. Lets me use The Baby as an example. Some may write a story about a baby dying in infancy and how the family copes  with the tragedy. Can the family stay together? Some may write a suspense story about a kidnapping of a baby. Others might write a comic novel wherein the baby is narrating about how he sees the new world around him. For me, being an old-time baseball fan, I see a story about a bonus baby player who does not live up to expectations, his career spiraling downward, rejected by the game, by friends, and what the player does to redeem himself.

Even if you know what type of writer you are, it is a good exercise to find story ideas. And after you  make a list-done without thinking-and examine what each word mean to you-you may open doors into yourself, doors that open to something unexpected about yourself. I hope it doesn’t scare you. If it does, then write horror stories.

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