Saturday, August 27, 2011


Photo: Boy hiding from Hurricane Earl  (This is me, hoping Irene doesn't damage the cars, the deck, or all of my belongings.)

Batten down the hatches!  All hands on deck! 

Getting both homes ready for you-know-who.  No room in the garage for our cars, so we're rolling the dice with them in the driveway.  I hope NOT to have pictures to show.  Stay tuned.

Other home almost completely empty.  Job starts Monday.  I'm exhausted every day.  Over a grand already spent (or agreed to) on chimney, fireplace and central air repairs, and on (severe) landscaping.  Deck is next.

No reading or writing done lately.  Ditto on sleeping and eating.  And breathing.

Very rewarding, but also very...Just, very.  Very very.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Moved In

Mostly moved in to new home.  Great place.  Needs lots of work.  More stuff is in the garage than where it should be in the house.  Lots of work to do--plus I have to totally vacate and clean the other place for the new tenants.  Lots of work, but new space to create.  Looking forward to it.  Work starts in 10 days.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Writing and Moving

Well, actually, it's moving and writing, but I've had a few better ideas lately, and I don't feel that all is lost like I have been for awhile.  I've written a short nonfiction piece that I think I'll send out after I move--which is Thursday and Friday.  Yup, two days.  I'll be setting up an office, clearing a ton of space, and I'll be sticking to a few self-imposed rules.  (I'm very excited about setting up this creative environment and writing more.)  Among them:

--I'll write for at least one hour every day.  After X amount of time, that'll grow to two; then three.  I may hope to grow to four, especially on weekends, vacations and summers, but we'll see.  Stephen King said in a video for his latest book that he writes for three hours a day now; I just finished reading a Writers Digest interview with him where he said he wrote for four to four and a half hours--in March 1992.  I'll be happy with one, and ecstatic with two or three.

--I'll read for at least an hour every day.  This reading time won't count into my writing time.  In other words, editing my work won't count as reading time.  I especially will read books and magazines.  I have tons of Writers Digests and Times (just saw Susan Smith); reading those again would be cool--and it'll fire me up.

--I'll write a lot longhand again, and on something that doesn't have the internet.  Too much of a distraction!  I have an Epson Expert 2000 that'll do the trick.  Also a typewriter from the 30s.  And I think I have another word processor somewhere.  But a notebook--both paper and electronic--will work.  Looking forward to that.

--I'll keep track of my ideas, my submissions, and my rejections better.  I often go long lengths of time in which I don't write anything or send out anything.  Then something comes back and I don't remember sending it out to begin with.  Now I'll keep a ledger of submissions.  Keeping an Excel spreadsheet and a Word table about them just didn't work for me.  I'm a write-it-down kind of guy.

--I'll work out, or walk, or run, or bike more.  As reading gets my gears going, so does physically moving.  I read an article recently that said that watching an hour of tv every day, on average, takes over 22 minutes off your life.  It's not the TV, they say--though that's debatable considering much of what is on--but the slothful lifestyle of those who watch that much TV.  It occurs to me that reading can do much the same thing.  Some people--not me!  not me!--are such vicious readers when they're on a roll, that they're not very active.

--I won't stop writing or reading when I go back to work.  This is much easier said than done.

Well, that's it for now.  I might not be around for awhile as I move out and move in, and then set up.  And then return to work 10 days after I move in.  But I hope to produce more writing, here and elsewhere.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Flashback--Dan Simmons

The good thing to say about this book is that I bought it about a week ago and read the whole thing in about three days.  So it (mostly) moves swiftly, or I read well and swiftly, or both.

Otherwise it is very disappointing.  Not a bad read, exactly, especially for these rainy days; but you hope more from the author of The Terror.  Flashback certainly isn't more.  The plot is okay, not great; the characters are not fully drawn.  Worse, though, is that the atmosphere and detail don't inspire--really bad for a dystopian novel set 20 years from now.  Where The Terror excelled in its description, mood and feeling, Flashback falls flat.

Worse still is the political and social commentary.  Simmons is smart enough not to make these comments an author intrusion, but that's what they are, even when he's making other characters say them.  So Simmons very clearly distrusts liberal agendas and Islam, and he doesn't seem keen on the Japanese, either.  There's a little too much verbal pandering for my taste, and there are also just too many tropes to deal with--including the flashback addiction itself.

So, overall, very readable, but disappointing on a few levels.  He can do much better.