When I was very young and lived in Glenview, IL, my neighbor had a red 1964 Chevrolet Corvette convertible. I would stare at that car through my grandmother’s split-rail type fence and weeping willows. I have always loved Corvettes especially the Coke Bottle Vettes, those made from 1968-1982 that are now referred to as C3 Corvettes. Every time I got wound up and went out looking for a Corvette to buy I have always ended up with something else, a Porsche, a Mercedes, a full size Ford Bronco for example. I have always wanted a Vette, but I have never owned one. One day I was bopping down highway 99 in Lynwood, WA just looking around at what car dealers had to offer. I spotted a 1974 black Corvette with a big block and a 4 speed wedged into a little rundown car dealer. I parked and asked about the car and the kid said he would get it out for me. We drove across the street to get $5 gas at Texaco. He let me drive from there. Going North he had me turn right onto a suburban side street. We were bombing down a big toboggan sled kind of hill reaching speeds of about 90 when all of a sudden he told me to take a quick right onto a hairpin that dropped away from the road we had just descended on. Down shifting to 2nd and stomping on the gas made the Vette keep level while the road dropped away from us creating the feeling of grabbing a major wheelie. The kid was screaming at the top of his lungs through that corner and down that hill like we were going to die. Back at the dealership he asked what I thought and I said the car needed too much. I should have bought that car cuz I had just made it dance.
A 10 minute writing practice each and every day. The key to writing is to just write, not to edit, think, or change anything you have written down, but to just write. It is in the act of writing that the Muse visits and the real writing can begin. Waiting for the right time to write, writing only after the Muse shows up, and any other procrastination technique will produce exactly nothing. Writing with a deadline, writing with something else to do, and just fitting in some writing time is when writing takes place. The only way to become a writer and a great writer at that is by applying one’s butt to one’s chair. All other methods are just talk. You learn to write by writing and almost any other method of lessons, conferences, writer’s groups that do not involve writing will produce no writing. Joining writing groups, buying writing magazines, working on college degrees will not in and of themselves produce any writing. It’s been estimated that if one wants to become a writer then one must write about a million words of crap just to get it out of the way so that the words will flow. To be a writer one must write. The only magic formula to writing is butt in chair. Maybe one day I will be a writer, but it will only be after I have been writing.
Giving away a boat, for free, is probably the hardest thing I have ever done. I have had 2x boats, gave one away finally after several attempts. But, my first boat still sits here, mounted atop a broken down E-Z Loader trailer. I have put it on Craigslist, the work classifieds, word of mouth, and I have even begged. The ads always list what is good about the boat, but only list what is bad about the trailer. I always list is a FREE, and inform the potential buyers that you cannot move it, you just can’t show up, put it together and tow it away. FREE and you can’t just drive it home. People are deaf. When I have got someone interested and that is willing to drive all the way out to where I live to see it the same scenario happens every time: I need to borrow YOUR/MY tools and where are all of the parts so that I/they can just put it together. It seems that every one thinks they’re a mechanic, if I tell you that you cannot just put the parts back together, well it’s a good bet you will never move the boat and trailer as is. The boat and trailer still sits outside getting wet, just not on the bottom side.
My wife and I drove over to Zayre, a poor-man’s K-mart where I had once worked, and noticed a guy in a Firebird sitting in the Fire Lane. I told him to move his car and he told me to go F-myself, I then said that his mom raised him wrong. I parked against the fence and got out of my car. He was running across the parking lot full tilt, wound up to hit me, and upon reaching me gave it all he had right on my chin. I didn’t go anywhere. Fear crept into his eyes as he realized that I had every right to kill him. His wife came pouring out of the store screaming, “Don’t hit him!” It was the same girl that had sold us our wedding invitations just a few months before. When we left, I went and parked next to him, did a neutral drop and filled his car with tire smoke.
I had already signed up to go in the USAF and was in the Delayed Enlistment program for almost 11 months. If I had gone down to the MEPS station at a different time during the month I wouldn’t have had to wait as long. I tried to get out of my enlistment, but my recruiter put a note in my file saying I was nervous and to disregard. My dad was a draft dodger and I was used as his excuse for not having to serve in Vietnam.
I worked for a company that moved machinery before going active duty and one day we had a job at the VA in North Chicago, Illinois. It was like stepping into a time warp. There were patients there who had been in WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and dozens of incursions in between. The patients were fairly easy to tell apart due to the age gaps of their service. Fierce Eyes and lonely vigils were kept for family members that seemed to never come. We did our job and I spent as much time as I could with these Vets. I think these Vets impacted me for the rest of my life.
If you would like to get into Astronomy start with binoculars. If you have dark skies get Celestron 7 x 50 binoculars, if you have light pollution get Celestron 10 x 50 binoculars. Subscribe to Astronomy magazine or Sky & Telescope magazine and learn to use the sky charts in the magazines. Learn the night sky first, then think about buying a telescope.
When I was young I wrote stories about climbing trees, playing with a friend, and playing with my dog. All of these stories ended the same with my mother walking in and the narrative would just stop. You’d think someone would have noticed this, but no one cared. I never wrote a book report for school, not even one. I graduated high school with no real plans besides becoming a mechanic. Right after high school I had an epiphany and for about a month I though long and hard about writing for car magazines. I had been reading Road & Track for three years and was also reading Hot Rod magazine. A lot of thought and not one word written down about it. In the service I found myself buying lots and lots of books, but only reading sporadically. When I was 25 I read A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway and was inspired to become a writer. Sporadic reading and writing ensued. I pursued a BA and chose the testing out method for various reasons and almost never wrote a paper until the last class. I took three classes that required writing: College Writing; Research Paper; and the final Capstone. After I retired from working on airplanes I wanted to take a certificate course @ UW in Genealogy, but my wife talked me into pursuing a Certificate in Writing. I didn’t feel like writing anymore. Now I have returned to work and the only thing I want to do is to retire again. So here I am, a writer that doesn’t write.
I don’t think my problem is that I do not want to write, but that I have no ambitions.
“Unprovided with original learning, unformed in the habits of thinking, unskilled in the arts of composition, I resolved–to write a book.” Edward Gibbon (1737-1794)
cuddly wedge head, Spin!
Willie war boy / party girl
bully back-up lights
reason rules the day
rose petals through noiseless stream
Scottish monarchs ruled
over the heather and hills
Haggis, Kilts, and Blood
Big climbing mountains
train for Everest, K2
alpine makes its own weather
rain, snow, cold, isolation
is where I’ll soon be going
ice floes breaking up
Wet brown bears fishing
flying meals must be tasty
at play in the falls
amazing flying rage; boom!
–get away from me
feelings will fail you
real love is a decision
heal first, then move on
Kiss me, great beauty
move me hinge-less thru rapture
love me all my days
the world is not enough, dig!
know thyself, and laugh
There seem to be as many books about writing as there are stars in the sky. Here are a few of my favorites:
Writing Down the Bones – Natalie Goldberg
Bird by Bird – Anne Lamott
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft – Stephen King
Fearless Writing – William Kenower
A Natural History of the Senses – Diane Ackerman
Henry Miller on Writing
On Writing Well – William Zinsser
One Writers Beginnings – Eudora Welty
Sin and Syntax – Constance Hale
The Right to Write – Julia Cameron
The Spooky Art: Some Thoughts on Writing – Norman Mailer
Writing is My Drink – Theo Pauline Nestor
A Dangerous Profession – Frederick Busch
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers – Christopher Vogler
Story: Substance, Structure, Style, and the Principles of Screenwriting – Robert McKee