Let's Speak The Same Language

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


After reading the news....
My bucket list item–to get someone other than myself to publish a novel of mine before I kick the bucket—just fell into a low range of my concerns. The biopsy is in. It's cancer for sure, and there's perineural invasion indicated which means it's likely to have spread into other areas of my body.  Sounds like a death sentence to me, but I still haven't talked to the urologist. I got this wonderful news via the internet and The Vancouver Clinic's website. How wonderful is the modern world, eh? A piece of flash fiction follows.

1. Prostate, left base, core biopsy:
Prostatic adenocarcinoma, Gleason score 4+3=7 (Grade Group III),
involving 60% of the smallest core and 40% and 30% of the larger
cores, total three of three cores.
Positive for perineural invasion.
2. Prostate, left mid, core biopsy:
Prostatic adenocarcinoma, Gleason score 4+3=7 (Grade Group III),
involving 50% of the largest core and 60% of the smallest core.
Negative for perineural invasion.

3. Prostate, left apex, core biopsy:
Prostatic adenocarcinoma, Gleason score 4+3=7 (Grade Group III),
involving 20% of one of two cores.
Negative for perineural invasion.
4. Prostate, right base, core biopsy:
Prostatic adenocarcinoma, Gleason score 4+5=9 (Grade Group V),
with necrosis, involving at least 50% of the fragmented core
Negative for perineural invasion.

5. Prostate, right mid, core biopsy:
Prostatic adenocarcinoma, Gleason score 4+5=9 (Grade Group V),
with necrosis, involving 80% of two of two cores.
Positive for perineural invasion.

6. Prostate, right apex, core biopsy:
Prostatic adenocarcinoma, Gleason score 4+5=9 (Grade Group V),
with necrosis, involving 80% and 70% of two of two cores.
Positive for perineural invasion.

Monday, May 16, 2016


The odds shifted in favor of my getting something published by someone other than myself before I die. In our local paper a feature length article appeared about the CyberKnife at PeaceHealth our local hospital. It displays good success at destroying troublesome and moderately aggressive prostate
cancers with little to no side effects. No remissions reported in three years of use. I'm always happy to throw my lot in with science and technology. Well damn, I just realized on rereading that prostate cancers with highly aggressive natures aren't mentioned. Ah, I'll just stay positive until the biopsy results come in on the 25th.

On the writing side of the ledger, I finished the longer than expected rewrite of my story "Haunted By Henry Miller". The story line remains roughly the same but the tone is altered. In the rewrite before this one, I tried to eliminate names for the characters, referring to them by what they did in life or by their age. You'd read a sentence that began "the young teaching assistant". I was going for an anonymity that I thought intensified the cruelty of the main character, but that strategy has changed. For the better I hope. I learned something about me and writing because of the rewrite. I tend to write characters most like me as unsympathetic and cruel. So much for childhood baggage. Now it's back to the rewrite of The Porn Writer   

Another major change is in the title of another novel that I just sent out to an agent in Seattle. The novel has passed through several title alterations. It's gone from Children of God, to The Road To Difference to Angie's Choice. Now it's become A Desperate Decision. I place some emphasis on the effectiveness of titles. The Seattle agent is the first agent I've mentioned the bucket list strategy to. Let's see how that plays out. If at all.

Monday, May 9, 2016


Can't believe how my mind bonks around from one pinball bumper to another. I haven't begun the novel that I foresaw while rewriting the short story, "Personal". That tale, novel or short story, is still dangling in space. Instead, in hopes of preparing a novel more quickly in my effort to get someone other than myself to publish a novel of mine before I kick the bucket, I'm now four chapters into a fourth [or fifth?] rewrite of my novel, The Porn Writer. I realized that I'd buried the first meeting between the two protagonists in chapter three, using the first two chapters to introduce the male of the dynamic duo—I thought cleverly—but in a novel about a relationship, the two "lovers" or "protagonists" ought to be introduced pretty quickly, don't you agree? "Yes, I do agree," I say to myself in a literary aside.  

So much to learn and so little time, I think. You might ask, "Why did you wait so long to learn these lessons?" And I tell you that it wasn't until I was deeply into old age that I grew the maturity to rewrite any long work four or five times to get it right. Thus, I never treated any novel as a process of learning. I was just rushing through, being as "cleverly brilliant" as I thought I was when I was too young to know better.

The biopsy of my prostate takes place Wednesday morning. If you've a mind to keep me in your thoughts as I lie face down while yet another thing is put behind me. I've had several days of moping about the possible cancer. Today is a little better. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Find this photo here....
I hope this is short. A biopsy is scheduled for the 11th this merry month of May. Then two weeks following we'll see how aggressive the cancer is. However, more importantly, as it comes to this blog about a writer who is trying to get someone other than himself to publish a novel of his before he kicks the bucket, I'm suddenly smacked between the eyes with a potentially new novel. As you know, I've been rewriting some of my short stories lately with the purpose of putting a collection together to self-publish and to send out individually to see if I can find markets to publish one or two of them and, thus, strengthen the bio that goes out with query letters to potential agents for my novels. Well, I came across this 10,000 word incomplete tale of mine, "Personal", about a frustrated religious woman who responds to a personal ad in a tabloid. The writing is probably some of the best writing I've produced, and, as I've worked through it to get to an ending not yet imagined, I realize it's a potential novel. A novel with rewrites is a two year process, one if rushed. My father had two years from the time his prostate cancer was discovered before he died. I've got to work faster or achieve a better cancer result than my father got. I don't know what to make of my teasing myself about death. I really don't. I'm hoping that under it all is the motive to beat this damn thing and find more time to do the writing I so love to do. And get published to boot!

Monday, April 25, 2016


The odds have just increased "against" achieving my oft stated goal to get someone other than myself to publish a novel of mine before I kick the bucket. At age 78, my father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Early into his 80th year, it killed him. As he told me, sad regret in his voice, "I guess I got the aggressive kind." I'm 78 myself and on Monday April 18th, 2016, my primary doc felt a prostate nodule. Today, Monday April 25th, a urologist confirmed the lump on my prostate. He said, "I can always be wrong, but if I was a betting man, I'd say it's cancerous." After a stool sample is checked, I'm to go in for a biopsy. Going to be a lot of probing and sticking of things up my butt.

I don't understand all my emotions, but, driving away from the clinic, I was in some way energized by the thought of facing my own death. Don't know if inspiration will continue, but I've begun a book of poetry, called "Up Your Ass".  Here's the first poem in the series.


Your doctor feels something,
Then you feel something.
After that, you and the grim reaper
Exchange cell phone numbers.
While your insurance company
Stands by for consultation, you
Hear your digital Timex ticking.

I can't help wondering how much more interested an agent and book publisher might be if I tell them they're racing against time to get me into print and the fact that more than 250 people—maybe more once the news gets out—are following my anticipated death? Will they race against my prostate cancer to see who wins? Will I have the balls to include this new fact in all my query letters to agents? After my publication and death, will all my fellow writers mourn, "Damn, I wish I had prostate cancer."

Tuesday, April 12, 2016


Time as they say, whoever they are, flies, but I've never seen it fly nor, for that matter, have I seen a doggone dog. Still working away on my short fiction piece "The Acceptance of Jane". New things are happening to Jane and her friend during the rewrite, specially when he shoves Jane's wheelchair across the street while a drunken driver is.... 

Currently I'm alternating between the short stories of Henry James and F. Scott Fitzgerald, the Library of America editions. The Fitzgerald volume is much more care worm than the volume of James's stories. You can imagine what an exercise in contrast those stories are in my imagination. I've never felt better about my writing than I have in the past month. I don't know how I got here, finally, at age 78, but my new attitude is "this is the way I write and how I see the world. If others don't like it, that's okay with me." I'm doing it my way.  

Made big mistake tonight. I sent off a query and sample of a novel to an agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. only to discover I'd already sent a query to another of their agents a month and a half ago. Sent immediate retraction of query. Ah, well ... shucks.

Friday, April 8, 2016


Currently rewriting  a short story I first put on paper—yes, lined paper and pen—sometime during Fall of 1964 through February 1966 while floundering as a teaching assistant on the campus of Southern Illinois University—The Acceptance of Jane. The first version is very simplistic, almost childish, written in an emotional burst of high energy, and I more or less set it aside for 50 years. Now I'm trying to give it some depth. It's original impetus was okay, but I tried to make an image carry the story and the narrator lacks sufficient depth. Of course, the narrator is an older man, looking back on a moment in his high school life. Such a narrative offers technical difficulties. How much does any adult narrator truly know about his past life, eh?

On a good note, I received an immediate rejection of a story I sent off last week, BUT the editor said the story was well done but too long for her magazine. Could I send a shorty piece of writing, she asked. You bet I could, and the turn around time was less than 24 hours. The magazine is located in Philadelphia, and I forgot to say, "Go Philanova". Basketball fans will recognize the reference.