The morning of the second day, we are deposited at the mouth of a dark jungle tunnel. Boards are nailed together on stilts, raising the walkway four feet off the ground to keep tourists’ feet dry when the river floods during rainy season. The boards are as slick as ice,
By the time you read this, I will either be on the way, or actually at, the Romance Writers of America conference in Denver. It is just north of Civic Center, at the Sheraton. I lived in the Denver area for 17 years, and liked it pretty well. Raised a family there, and two out of three of them still live there. One near downtown, one just outside the City and County. Really, just outside. You could maybe throw a rock into Denver. So it’s a dual-purpose trip.
No writing advice this week, but I suppose that it would be good of me to share whatever new and exciting information I’ve gained with all six or so of you readers when I come back, so that’s what I’ll do next week. This week, I’m too busy with getting ready for the conference, plus preparing for some major interior renovation and relocation in our home, to say anything useful about writing. Except that you should do it. Remember, you haven’t failed until you quit. Nobody wanted to sign the Beatles. Casablanca didn’t find any takers in Hollywood a few years ago. You know the drill. Keep on keeping on!
It’s pitch black, only in the occasional canopy clearing can I peek up and see stars pricking the mist of humidity, Jupiter burning above us. Fireflies float lazily past my face, then climb a zigging path through layers of sandalwood, mahogany, cedar, and a variety of other jungle leaves t
Have you ever found yourself day dreaming about how you might survive marooned on a deserted Island in the South Pacific or floating in a life raft at sea? Your first concern should always be fresh water, then you might think food will be no problem. At worst, you can just eat fis
Everything has its limits. Probably even human stupidity, Professor Einstein. There is no perpetual motion machine. Even if you fall off of a cliff, you won’t go faster than 120 miles-per-hour before you splat. This blog is limited, because in maybe five to ten years, I’ll probably move away from Las Vegas. Can’t call it “Live from Las Vegas” if I’m writing it in Bordeaux, can I? But what about your writing? Does it have limits?
Well, of course it does. You can only sit and push keys for so long before you either go insane or pass out. And you can only write the stories you make up, which is probably just as well, as Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn have already been done pretty well. But what about some of the other limits you put on yourself? Genre, for instance. Are you absolutely committed to only writing one type of literature? And why is that? Seriously, you need to answer that question, because you might have the next great gothic novel churning around inside your mind and not even know it, because you only write contemporary romance. Are you, that is, limiting yourself without any good reason?
I know that James Patterson is a weird person to use as an example. And, yes, he provides outlines to ghost writers, and stuff like that. I know. But he writes in multiple genres. He has a series of chapter books about Middle School that are both funny and informative. This is in addition to his usual stuff. Is Patterson successful because he doesn’t limit himself? Hell, I don’t know, but it’s worth considering. Closer to home, maybe, consider Edgar Allen Poe. He wrote classic horror. But some of his stories, such as The Gold Bug and The Purloined Letter, are actually pretty funny. Even The Murders on the Rue Morgue, horrible enough on its face, has a bit of a forehead-slapping twist at the end.
I tried a thriller. Bought a how-to book, outlined a novel, drafted a lot of it. Then I started it anew as a chapter book. So, maybe I’m wrong? Or maybe not, again, I don’t know. But if the worse thing that happens is that you end up with a new idea for your usual genre, might it not be worth it to try something new? If only for the exercise?
Everything has limits, but it’s often a good idea to push on them a bit, don’t you think?
I don’t know about you, but I am endlessly curious about the differences between myself and the other people around me. Every human is exotic in his or her own way, and I love to explore how and why we do what we do. The only problem is, sometimes, I’m not sure how to go about it
Yesterday was a holiday, so I took the day off. Also yesterday I published the following on Facebook:
It amazes me that we, as a nation, have gotten away with the incredible nerve shown 242 years ago, and continue to do so! I think that those poor, overheated souls in Philly would be absolutely amazed to see what the place has become!
I meant that to be optimistic. After all, we are a nation where weight loss is a major industry. Think about that: if your biggest problem is that you’re too fat, you’re doing okay, you know? I also saw a post of a list of various milestones of progress for the United States, which said in each case that conservatives had opposed it, but that liberals had won. This, I believe, is probably true. Over the long haul, politics is cyclical, with waves of conservativism and liberalism alternating, and, amazingly, reasonably predictable patterns of zeitgeist. This means that those patterns can be predicted with a fair amount of certainty, even if the exact timing varies from cycle to cycle. One cycle, by the way, runs roughly eighty years. Roughly. Put all that together, and count decades, and it won’t be long, it seems, before there is quite the overwhelming wave of progressivism in America. Because that’s what’s due up next.
One of the comments that post received was of a sad emoji. I don’t see anything sad in that post, and in fact I am quite upbeat about the next ten years. In the end. It is going to be difficult. People may die. But, in the end, the liberals will win again, because that’s how the cycle goes. Every. Single. Time.
So, what does all of this political rambling have to do with writing? Are you pessimistic about your work? Do you imagine yourself dying completely unpublished, forgotten by the entire literary world? Alone? Sad? Deprived of companionship other than a few insects who live on the crumbs of gruel you spill during your daily meagre meal? You know you do. But, so did Hemmingway. So did Twain. So did Shakespeare. So did Bob Freaking Dylan, to name a recent Nobel laureate. But the truth is, if you persevere, and continue to learn from your mistakes, you will not die in that way at all (probably — I have to hedge my bet just a little here.) There is, not liberalism, not progressivism, nothing political at all, but a successful career publishing your books(!) at the other end of what is, for certain, a struggle. That is what all of this political rambling has to do with writing!
There’s an old philosophical division (really) about whether it is “as above, so below,” or “as below, so above.” It provides quite the schism between Eastern and Western traditions of religious belief. Politically, it results in top-down or bottom-up power distribution. (Don’t strain this metaphor too far, or you’ll hurt something.) In writing, this amounts to whether your writing will reflect the current zeitgeist, or contribute to developing the next one. It actually makes no difference to sales, unless it does. In the end, it’s up to you which you choose to believe. But, as I like to say about many things, you can laugh at it or you can cry about it, and laughing feels a lot better!
This post is a comment on the post from Leslie Godfrey which should appear just below, if I do this right. The picture above is just to show that, indeed, we have been at sea. I took it, but I’m afraid that I have no idea who those people were. Still, that is the genuine Pacific Ocean just off the starboard rail. You should read Leslie’s post first for this post to make the best sense.
Leslie, I feel like I’ve gotten to know you pretty well in the past couple of years. I’ve always wanted to vicariously sail around the world! 🙂 But, seriously, your post reminds me of something from The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge, by Carlos Casteneda. Overall, that book, and the series of books that followed, proved to be a great way to capitalize on a master’s thesis by appealing to hippies, but there is at least one very wise thing in the book. Attributed to Don Juan (who was most likely real) it happened when Carlos C. asked Don Juan what path he should follow through life. Don Juan’s answer was, and I can only paraphrase at this point, but the paraphrase is accurate, that every path in life leads to the same end. Therefore, the important thing in choosing your path is to choose the path with heart. In the end, we are all in that same place. What is important is how much heart you put into getting there.
Anyone reading this blog is no doubt smart enough to see what Don Juan was getting at. And, in this at least, he and I completely agree.
Which is to say, Leslie, that you are following what is for you the path with heart. I can’t imagine any way that doing so could possibly go wrong. Sail on, sister!
Our Indonesian Visa came through right on time, and we were able to catch our 6:30 a.m. flight from Darwin to Singapore. We wait out our 10 hour layover in what has to be the cleanest airport in the world. There is nary a speck of paper, food, or other detritus on any carpeted fl