Thoughts from the Fifth Evangelist


So, when I was in seminary, the odds were high that if there was a non-Biblical writer’s text added to a chapel service, it would be Mary Oliver, noted nature poet, and generally poetically brilliant human being. This is a piece from her recent book of essays, Upstream. What do you think?


“Intellectual work sometimes, spiritual work certainly, artistic work always — these are forces that fall within its grasp, forces that must travel beyond the realm of the hour and the restraint of the habit. Nor can the actual work be well separated from the entire life. Like the knights of the Middle Ages, there is little the creatively inclined person can do but to prepare himself, body and spirit, for the labor to come — for his adventures are all unknown. In truth, the work itself is the adventure. And no artist could go about this work, or would want to, with less than extraordinary energy and concentration. The extraordinary is what art is about.” –Mary Oliver

Why the Change is Going to Work


So I woke up this morning realizing why the change to my novel is probably going to work. I had written about one hundred pages in this other point of view, and I like most of it. But then I hit several events that I just didn’t know how to tackle. This morning I realize that that was because they probably need to be written in this other (previously minor) character’s point of view.

This is something I have noticed before, that if you don’t have the right narrator, you can’t really write the scene. People always say that you just write what happens, don’t you? But this goes beyond the Rashomon effect, where how people see the same events makes them interpret (and therefore narrate) them very differently. It’s more like that thing that says the presence of experimenters watching an experiment changes the experiment. As Terry Pratchett would say, It’s quantum.

If I don’t know who is looking at a car crash, I can’t tell you how the car crash happens. It makes no sense, but it’s true. So this might be time to pat myself on the head and find a writer’s mug that says “Damn, I’m good!” or, at the very least, “I’m smarter than I look.”

It must be true. I’ve written 7800 words in three days.

to an old friend who asked why I post so much world literature on my blog

Wow, yes this from Leonard Durso.

Leonard Durso

Recently an old friend of mine from my NYC days in the 1970s who found me through a Google search a while back and who is a facebook friend and an occasional reader of this blog asked me in an email why I post so much literature, especially poetry, of other writers from other countries/centuries even. He knew me as a fledgling novelist and so was even surprised at my own poetry but could understand that. He just didn’t see why, even though he liked some of it, I posted all those other poets/writers. I answered the email, after giving my reply some thought, and then thought there might be other people out there, especially facebook friends from my past who remember me in a different light: teacher, administrator, bookstore owner, boy scout leader, actor, shoe store manager, warehouse supervisor, madman who liked to perform tricks with beer bottles at…

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Social Media as a form of Constructive Procrastination

Social media is not the villain everyone claims it to be. Sometimes social media actually helps us get stuff done. I often have a Word doc open on one side of my computer and some social media site open on the other side. When my brain wanders, it has a place to go for a few minutes to rest and recuperate and do other things that also probably start with the letter R. If I am lonely, I can feel connected briefly. If I feel like what I say doesn’t matter, I can hit the little thumbs-up hand and Like all kinds of stuff.

I mean think about it. Facebook has cat videos (and goat, otter, dog and people videos, but we all know what really matters). My Facebook feed also has groups dedicated to my favorite actors, TV shows, movie franchises, writing and social justice, mostly in that order. You would think that such things would be Inspirational, Moving Me To Write Stuff. I mean, after all, putting up motivational posters in Pinterest helps me to get my sorry little butt to the gym, right?


Of course, the gym is easy. You show up and lift things over and over again. Then you go lift other things over and over again. You don’t need to think, “Yes, sure, but WHY does this 25 lb. weight NEED to be lifted? What is it trying to ACHIEVE? What will be the CONSEQUENCES of my lifting it?”

Is there anybody here, maybe that lady on the elliptical machine or the guy jumping up and down, thinking, “WHY must she lift that? Why can’t she just LEAVE IT ALONE?”

And the chick who takes the laundry basket filled with used towels, she is probably thinking, “I am the PROTAGONIST, dammit, not that 25 lb. weight, which isn’t CHOOSING to be lifted, the way I am CHOOSING to launder the damn towels for the tenth time since Monday!”

And the trainer who is showing some guy the Proper Way to Do Squats, she glances across the gym floor and thinks, “Yes, but HOW WILL IT ALL END?” Or possibly, she is just wishing she had had that second cup of coffee.

I mean, you don’t actually have to PLOT your gym time. The weight might or might not be expecting to get a happy ending, but it’s not telling either way, so you can pretty much tell people, when you get to the end of your workout, that you killed it.

So social media must work, because, no, I haven’t worked on my novel today, but I did just manage to bang out a blogpost.

Apology Not Accepted

Thank you, Dina Honour, for saying what we are all thinking!

Wine and Cheese (Doodles)

trump-1Warning: Explicit language below

I woke this morning to the news of (yet another) Trump scandal. Despite the nastiness he’s been spewing about women on the record for the last 18 months, it took the nastiness he said off the record ten years ago to finally get Donny to apologize. Sort of. Not only him, but many members of his party.

The problem is, it’s not just too little too late, it’s a lot too little, a lot too late.

So sorry, Mr. Trump, your apology is not accepted. Sorry senators and chairpersons and those of you so utterly desperate to garner votes or toe the party line that you’ve sat by like a bunch of wimps and let this person walk all over your human-ness. Your apologies are not accepted either. 

Hey, Reince Priebus, guess what? Women have been telling you for two goddamn years that no woman should be referred…

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Plan B

So, after writing about a hundred pages of a novel in the past three months, I am at a standstill. I’ve tried writing little bits, transitions, etc., but that did not get me very far, so I am instead now taking notes on the next story, which has characters and some action but no clear single plot, so it’s not exactly making me feel any better. Is it productive? Yes, potentially. Does it feel productive? Nope.