Category Archives: Writing and Publishing

Who I Am, March 2019

I had to write a very brief intro to myself for a group describing who I “really” am at my core, “beyond your resume, awards, or accolades.” This is what I finally read to them:

I like people; crowds energize me. But I’m also inordinately self-contained (some might say self-absorbed) and feel nervous and stressed when I can’t spend a high percentage of each day completely alone. My wife is, if anything, even more self-contained. We don’t get out to socialize much.

I’ve written 15 books and published 10. I’ve written hundreds of poems and had dozens of them published in magazines and journals in virtually every state. Sometimes I try to pay my experience forward. Before we moved here, I had a specific area in my personal library for autographed books authors gave me as thanks for my help. Those books filled about ten feet of shelf space.

I’ve written over 200 songs and can still perform maybe 50 of them without looking at the words. I paid for college by performing music and giving 40 guitar lessons every week. These days I mostly play for the Egan Warming Centers (homeless shelters).

I think language is the fabric of civilization. People who devalue language — who use words carelessly or deceptively — pose an existential threat to civilization.  Being a fan of civilization, I oppose those people.

I value curiosity, creativity, persistence, and humor. I believe in education, science, and logic. My tribe is people who read. I have very little patience for sloppy thinking, intentional ignorance, and uninformed opinion. On the other hand, as my own brain, hearing, and memory decline and I make more and more dumb mistakes, I realize I can no longer mock the foolish with impunity. Therefore, I’m trying to develop tolerance for people who say things that seem to me to be patently and egregiously stupid. Developing that tolerance has been a slow process for me.

I love science, but I also believe in magic. Mysterious forces swirl around us, forces too strange and powerful for humans to understand or control. They exist outside the laws of cause and effect and beyond language but have some sort of symbiotic relationship with beauty, music, and love.  I call it magic; you may call it God. When I am cheerfully receptive to magic, I notice happy coincidences in my life. If I respond to those with wonder and gratitude, I am rewarded with more happy coincidences. That’s my religion. That’s who I am.

Casting Jumper and the Bones

I’ve about given up on Angelina Jolie playing any role in Jumper and the Bones: the Movie, mostly because there isn’t a role for someone of her age and glamour. But also because no one is threatening to make a movie of it yet. That’s disappointing to many of you, of course, but I haven’t given up on AJ’s family.  For example, Brad could play Jim, the one-legged buddy who works at the thrift store and has a pretty heroic and unexpected role that I won’t give away in case you haven’t read the book. Or in the unlikely case that Brad hasn’t. Angelina’s father, Jon Voight, could play Officer Mike if he’d stop saying mean things about Obama. We would not want that vibe on the set. Continue reading →

The Writing Loft

I’ve been cleaning up my “loft area” with the intent of spending more time there. I call it my “loft area” but it’s really  a tiny corner of a back room/shipping area in a very old metal warehouse building that I’ve owned for a long time. Most of the building is rented out, but I keep that one area (the least desirable corner of the building) to store and ship books. Several years ago I built a raised platform out of used lumber so I could sit near the only window to write. The narrow window is near the ceiling, designed to let in light, not because anyone would ever want to savor the view of the parking lot. That platform is my “loft.”  I feel comfortable there, but haven’t used it in a long time. It turns out that crappy little spaces built of crude materials by unskilled guys do not improve with years of neglect. 

Writing Characters and Candidates

To the casual observer, I was staring out the window. But, for writers, there’s a fine line between “loafing” and “research.” I was actually working very hard pondering how to improve some characters I created decades ago. That led me to think about how characters in a book or play are different from humans we meet in life, or from ourselves for that matter. Which led me briefly into politics, of course. Obviously, writing a blog about such a daydream is much easier than rewriting a novel, so here you go. Continue reading →

The Leader

The recent events in Libya reminded me of a poem I wrote years ago, so I dug it out. I think I wrote it when the ayatollahs came to power in Iran and they captured some Americans and paraded them through the streets blindfolded. But I’m not sure. It could have been about other leaders in other places and times. It may have been published first in a literary journal, in which case I should give credit to them, but I had a lot of poems published during this period (I submitted three a day, every day, for a long time) and I didn’t keep careful track. That’s one reason I haven’t released a book of my poems– it would require some work to give proper credit, and I’m not a big fan of work. Continue reading →