Let's Speak The Same Language

Monday, August 25, 2014


Grandma (left) and Grandpa Thomas and his mother
Aargh! That's right ... aargh! This morning, I realized, for the sake of plausibility, I had to make a change in the novel. It had to do with Irishers and wild humans. That change led to another change. By using the search and change function, the changes were easy to make, but, now, uncertainty and doubt arise. I'm not sure that my changes aren't creating other implausible situations. I try to think through the novel, but can't think clearly enough. I could start at the beginning again and read through the first 200+ pages just to make sure the alterations haven't made the pants too short for the legs ... OR ... I can plow ahead and complete the suit, wait for the first read through that follows the completion of the whole novel. But, I think, alarmed, waiting might allow other plot complications to build up until the entire novel is distorted. The situation is complicated by the fact I took several days off to drive up to Seattle to practice dancing with my daughter for her upcoming wedding. I'm starting this morning with a cold sewing machine motor. Which reminds me of my grandmother who had a Singer that had a foot pedal. When I lived with her and Grandpa Thomas, I recall her toiling away, pumping that foot pedal and sewing complete novels of suits and dresses. Sneakily, I hope my mention of Irishers and wild humans gets your attention about the novel.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


One of the most difficult aspects of writing at my age is getting enough sleep each night to bring a fresh mind to the task. Yawning my way through a manuscript doesn't lend itself to creative leaps of insight. 

Aspects ... that's a word that rings a synapse or two. I clearly recall, while I was failing to get my master's degree at Southern Illinois University, reading somewhere about teaching English 101 that the word "aspects" was being used way too frequently in scholarly papers and other essays. Don't recall who wrote the article in which that appeared or the rest of the article at all. All I recall is that one idea about that one word ... aspects.
source of photo found here

I'm doing a final rewrite of The Man In the Mirror, a final polish. Wife Mertie, seeing what I was doing as she headed off to bed and come to my side for our goodnight kiss, asked me what I was up to. She couldn't imagine I would be going through the novel again. Made me realize just how difficult and time consuming the writing of a novel is.

Another thing I realize as I go red-penciling through the first novel I ever wrote, and initially wrote in 11 weeks—I always work better on a hard copy rather than a computer screen when it comes to a final polish. Of course, a book is never completely finished in my mind. I don't care how often my brain rewrites, it will come up with another way to say almost anything it's tried to say another way. 

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I looked into what they need at the Red & Black Cafe in an owner/associate. Damn! I see it would require a greater investment of time than I want to give, and, also, a physical stamina that's beyond my capacity though I'm healthy enough. My ambitions saw all the upside and overlooked the cliff of the downside. Thanks to Olin Unterwegner for following through and coming up with the information about the Cafe's needs. He writes they are also fund raising and pursuing a crowd funding option. For more info, see link to Cafe above. Any contributions to the worker-owned business would be appreciated, I'm sure.  

see photo source
As for moime's boy, I haven't written on The Last Days of Planet Earth (aka Manning) but one day out of the last six. Political nonsense has wakened me at all hours of the night and early morn. Yawningly tired and distracted, I've not been able to find the vitality that leads to good writing. However—CELEBRATION—I did finish entering the last pages of The Man In The Mirror into editable files. Will print it up and give to Mertie to proofread and make suggestions, if she has any. I wouldn't have made this effort had she not said she liked the novel when she read it, and she's an avid mystery reader. Frankly, I see some problematic writing in it, but I've polished as best I could while I typed it into computer files. No major revision. Mertie said, as I typed the last sentence, that she was amazed that a person could take on a typing task like that and complete it. She hates the paper work part of the job she now has.  

Now I have two novels to send around while I finish Manning, and I have two other novels that need rewriting.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Writerly things! An automatic mental jump shift occurs in my approach to Manning, the character, when I write the words "Charley Manning" in a sentence and when I write only "Manning". In the first instance, I experience a jump shift of POV from the interior Manning into my roll as the omniscient observer. This shift encourages me to look around at the scene Manning's entering, to give some details that aren't attached to Manning's stream of consciousness. I believe it adds realistic pieces that Manning might miss because of his intentions in the scene and that I might miss because of how I intend to advance the plot.

For a' that, writing went damn well this morning down at the Torque in the heart of Vancouver. Most of the afternoon, I've been in Portland, walking around, preparing to meet a couple of cronies at Bob's Red Mill for dinner. I briefly visited Powell's Books. Right now, I'm eating chips and drinking a Sprite at the Lucky Lab on Hawthorne. I tried to go up 12th to the worker owned Red & Black Cafe only to discover that no one was working at the moment, even though the hours posted say someone is there. Talking to a couple of young men sitting at an outside table, I learned that only three workers currently own the joint. If someone's got some cash and a lot of energy, there's a chance at the Red & Black to make something happen. They recently bought the building so there's a mortgage. You know? When I finish my damn novel, I can see myself working there and making it happen. Another place for poetry readings and talk of revolution. The Portland Wolf Pack was meeting there last time Mertie and I visited. What couldn't be accomplished with some imagination and a little cash? Huh?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


A new working title for the Manning novel may be, Last Chance For the Human Race. Dramatic, eh? Writing it is still going swimmingly. That other novel, the first I ever wrote, The Man In The Mirror, the one I'm typing from hard copy into editable files? It's down to 20 pp. At one or two pages a day, I'll be done in 10 to 20 days. A whole 'nother George wrote that crazy thing. A murderous high school teacher? I would soon after be a sinister [according to the principal] high school teacher for one year.

Speaking of old guys still performing, I caught Kirk Douglas's one man show, "Before I Forget", on the Turner Classic Movies Channel. He was sweetly entertaining. I used to think something like that ought to be easy to do, then I saw how much cleverness goes into pacing a performance like his!

Living in a lively town like Portland, you rub elbows with talent all day long. Went to St. John's Booksellers this morning to buy a copy of Chris Luna's Brutal Glints of Moonlight, style inspired, I believe, by Jack Kerouac's school of disembodied poetics. Never visited that neighborhood before.  Afterwards, I took my hour walk there and discovered Pier Park: softball fields, b-ball courts, swimming pool, walking trails, picnic shelters. It features a huge disc golf course. Suddenly a young man stepped from behind a pine to call out, "Sir?" "Yes," I said. "We're shooting a scene for Grim right now," he said. "Can you stay to the left of that basketball court so you won't be in the shot?" "Of course," I said. Two brief summers ago, Mertie had to skirt her usual lunch hour walk in a Vancouver cemetery because "Leverage" was being shot there. Add those encounters to the time we had brunch with Timothy Hutton and his girlfriend ... well ... you get the picture. Actually, we were seated at a table right next to theirs, but...?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014


The writing goes well. As I continue my pursuit after a best selling novel, published by someone other than myself before my ashes are cast to the winds, I'm reminded of a friend I made in Cheney WA, a member of that quickly fading Greatest Generation. We were members in a local club. Chuck was ten years my senior, had made his living as a railroad telegrapher, a blue collar profession just as mine had been. He was one of the last at his profession. 

another old man's dream
Well over six feet, Chuck was rugged, round cheeked and nicely proportioned, handsome into his sixties and beyond. He'd been a writer too, often publishing humorous pieces in whatever local paper he was reading in whatever town he found himself working.

His retirement dream was to spend his time traveling the American back roads like a Charles Kuralt, then came the blow old timers fear—a crippling illness. Within months of his retirement, my friend came down with Ménière's disease, aka endolymphatic hydrops.
Ménière's attacks the inner ear and leads to dizziness so severe that one can't stand upright and suffers nausea much like seasickness. Driving was impossible. Chuck's dream was dead, but he decided to try new operations that did reduce the severity of his attacks and took up painting, and he was good at it too. One of the things I most recall that Chuck told me was, "When I was in my 60s, I could still kid myself I was relatively young. In my 70s that's no longer possible." Approaching 77 myself, on some better days, I might argue with him about that.

Friday, July 18, 2014


Today I wrote a note to myself about something I needed to remember later on after I went in to make an alteration in a previous chapter when I got around to it. That moment of frantic scribbling to remember because I'm old and my memory can fail me at any time made Leonard Pearce leap into mind, him and all his notes to himself. Remember him? Sometimes, when I hurriedly scribble messages to myself on notepads, post it notes, napkins and lined papers, I feel like the protagonist, Leonard Pearce, of the 2000 movie, MementoI kid you not. Wait a minute. Who am I writing this note to? Is anyone listening out there, beyond this page? This feeling I’m having right now must have been why I was so much drawn to Sounds of Silence when I first heard it back in January, 1966 when my world was crumbling. I was one month away from walking out of graduate school at Southern Illinois University. Ten years away from having my last drink.