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Illness Again…

I tested positive for Covid 19 this morning, My highest fever was 102.3 F. But I took Ibuprofin and my fever broke, Still, I could not not write more than this.

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Not Treading Water Well

I am not a leper, but parts are wearing out and falling off.

I am thinking more and more about death and dying and the end of the world often enough to become a depressing person to be around.

The only novel I seem to be able to make regular progress on is The Haunted Toy Store. And it’s full of ghosts.

My books are beginning to sell occasionally on Amazon. But my blog views, Twitter followers, and author friends willing to talk about writing have all gone downhill.

I have an overall sinking feeling, and it is getting worse.

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Of Hatred…

Another mass shooting is in the news again. This time against LGBTQ people. But recently against Jewish people, black people, trans people, and liberal people.

Love makes the world go round.

Hate tears it down.

Hate and fear make politics go.

I know people who are offended if you ask them if they are racist. But if they are asked to say that black lives matter, they will only say, “ALL lives matter.” And that doesn’t adequately explain why they can’t say the words, “Black lives matter.”

Fox News tells people what they must never say.

“Socialism can be good.”

“Gay people are born that way.”

“Liberals don’t eat babies.”

“All people, including the ones you don’t think are good people, have rights and should be treated fairly.”

Think for a moment… what are you unable to say? Who controls your puppet strings?

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Solving the World’s Problems

When I was in college I had the idea that a writer could change the world through his or her writing. There is precedent. William Shakespeare (or whoever actually wrote his plays and poetry) forever altered how literature in English is carried out, adding words and phrases to everything that comes after and changing how we understand the depths of character and dialogue. Charles Dickens and Sinclair Lewis and John Steinbeck all wrote fiction that exposed the horrors and crimes against the common man, and all three caused changes to their society to at least be begun. Albert Camus and Eugene Ionesco both wrote fiction that changed fundamental understanding in the worlds of philosophy and religion. J.R.R. Tolkein and C.S. Lewis established Fantasy Fiction as a thing worthy of having its name in capital letters.

It was always my hope to become a writer who did similar things with my fictional abilities to tell a good story with a good lesson for life embedded within it.

But when I was young and most capable of establishing my writer’s life as something other people would see and recognize for what it was supposed to be, I decided to teach writing to a next generation of writers instead of doing the thing myself.

So, have I given up the dream?

Never!!!

But, realistically, there are barriers to my success in this endeavor that constitute a mountain range of unclimbable mountains.

  1. The publishing industry has devolved into a massive self-publishing ocean of writers who think they can actually write without editors and with practically no remaining Aquaman or Prince Namor to rule the oceans as the gatekeepers of good published writing. Major publishers now rely mostly on established writers like Stephen King, James Patterson, and other aging fiction-factories who guarantee their profits, occasionally skimming popular stuff off the top of the ocean waves to republish and make money on, though not investing much in promotion because that investment takes away from profits.
  2. I am no good at self-promotion and marketing, so no matter how good my writing is…
  3. I am nearing the end of my own life with seven incurable diseases and conditions. I don’t imagine myself lasting more than a couple more years.
  4. Climate change is coming for us all. The societal collapse will come first during waves of climate-caused disasters, waves of climate refugees, and the inevitable loss of the means to feed eight billion people. And after most human beings are dead, the out-of-control warming processes will cook to death everything else that lives on the planet as it turns into the twin of Venus.

I hope I am wrong, but it is probably impossible to change the world now. But there will be no problems when there is no longer anyone left to have problems.

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Blogging Advice

The only advice I am actually qualified to give here is… don’t take any blogging advice from me as worth more than diddly-squoot.

Life is like moose bowling because… In order to knock down all the pins, you have to learn how to throw a moose.

That being said, my blog views are gradually going up year after year.  I am followed by readers all over the world, and some of them actually read my blog regularly, rather than just looking at the pictures and occasionally hitting the like button.

I have not yet, however, learned to throw the moose.  I started this blog in order to promote my published writing.  I now have seven published books available on Amazon.  I made $2.60 in royalties during 2018 so far.  So, as a marketing ploy, it has been a total failure.

But as a tool in my writing life, here are some things I definitely count as benefits;

Writing a blog post every day makes the ideas flow more easily and does away with any threat of writer’s block. 

Writing every day is practice and it makes me a better writer.

I have learned how to engage with an actual audience.

I am able to try out various writing ideas without worrying about success or failure.

So, all of these things add value and keep me at this blogging thing which didn’t exist in my early life when I was planning for becoming a writer when I left teaching.

If you are tempted to make the huge mistake of following my advice and emulating me, I would warn you, I do not make a living as a writer, and I never will.  I am a writer in the same way I am a diabetic.  I can’t help it.  I wouldn’t change it even if it were possible.  I have a body of work that I intend to continue to build on until I am no more.  The creation of it is a necessity of my existence.  And I certainly don’t regret a single syllable, though what happens to it when I am gone is not important to me in any way that matters.  I hope my children will keep it as a legacy, but I only do it because it shapes the story of my life.

And so, I continue to throw meese (or mooses… or moosi… or whatever the hell the funniest plural of “moose” is) and continue not to knock down any pins.

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The Endless Road to the End of the Story

Yesterday I gave myself a birthday present by taking my daughter to Black Panther : Wakanda Forever. I have never cried so hard in a movie. (Spoiler alert,) not only do we have to say goodbye to Chadwick Boseman, the actor who portrayed the Black Panther, but in the story, his other parent dies. Boseman died in 2020, followed by my father who died on my birthday in 2020. My mother did not last a full year after I lost my father, dying in September 2021. So, I was watching a movie that boiled my own sense of loss to the surface and left me completely drained by the end of the movie. But the Black Panther is not gone from our lives. Shuri, his little sister becomes the new Black Panther. And the next generation to follow was introduced at the very end. The story will continue.

This is a portrait of my great-grandmother, Nellie Hinckley, who died in 1980 in her 90s.

My family story is similarly not ended yet. Though my personal chapters in the Great Comedy of Existence may be drawing to a close, the story continues through my children, my former students just as much as my biological children. There are many people in this world that I personally had something to do with the making of or nurturing of. And if climate crisis brings an end to all of that, the universe will go on without us. The universe is alive and conscious… through my existence, my children’s existence, and even the three-eyed green archeologist who digs up and decodes this post in the ruins of 6977 A.D. Ugna Whorleehee will become responsible for the continuation of the story in the distant future.

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My Natal Anniversary

On this day in the year 1456, I hatched with a unique purpose in this silly universe.

I was meant to be a teacher.

The fireworks to celebrate my birth were launched from a flying carpet by my father’s friend, a trained pyromancer with a flame-finger spell.

Now, I am claiming that I was born 566 years ago. And I may indeed be exaggerating unconsciously by a few hundred years. But this is the way I always explained it to my seventh-grade English classes. They tended to believe me because… well, seventh graders.

I remember having young Willy Shakspar in my class. You know, the one who was so stupid he never learned to correctly spell his last name. He was a glove-maker’s son from Stratford on the river Avon. He was a terrible student but loved to be the classroom clown. I heard he later would become a successful theater owner. He also took credit for a series of very successful plays that he probably didn’t really write himself. I think his friend Eddie DeVere, a noble by birth, used Willy’s name as a pen name. I base this on the fact that I read Willy’s early attempt at writing a story. It was called Hamlet and Eggs on Toast. It had ghosts, witches, and kings in it. But the actors were given lines written mostly about ham.

Of course, by the early 1500s, teaching had already become a really hard job that didn’t pay very well. Especially when you taught in public schools taught mostly by monks who had taken a vow of poverty. This would become an unfortunate trend that stuck to education to this very day.

You could do better if you taught the children of a king. But they often expected you to sing the information. And if they didn’t like everything you taught their kids, they might cut your head off. Teaching is particularly hard without a head.

Over the centuries the career I chose as an English teacher only seemed to get worse. As public education became available to more and more of the public, teachers lost prestige, to the point that even the peasant’s children could cause your head to be cut off. Those of us who couldn’t grow the head back were really out of luck.

Soon I believe the world will be pitched back into the stone age. We will have to start all over again… unless we actually go extinct. In that case, the lizard people and the cockroaches will have to reinvent public schools. That will be fun. I think I will propose for matters of discipline that if a student misbehaves, or fails to laugh at the teacher’s jokes, you can cook them and eat them.

So, today is my birthday. I have reached the age of 566 years. (The margin of error is only 500.)

Think about it. A hundred years from today will be my 666th… the sign of the beast.

So much to look forward to in old age!

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Born in a Blizzard

I was born in a November snowstorm in the middle of the 1950s. I am a child of the snow.

My best novel, Snow Babies, is based on a pair of week-long blizzards, one from childhood, and the other from when I was in high school. I endured both and learned that survival often depends on adaptability and a willingness to accept help from a close-knit community.

I have never had an easy relationship with cold and snow. I developed osteoarthritis at the age of eighteen. Iowa winters were hard on me from that point on. One of the key reasons my teaching career took place in Texas, not Iowa, was the fact that I was able to free myself from the crippling winter cold. Milder winters in Texas helped me a lot. I did, however, get lucky in the February Freeze of 2021. Our power company was not one of those whose natural-gas supplies froze. So, we never lost power, and our pitiful little space heaters kept us from freezing to death and becoming snow babies ourselves. Too many people died needlessly by freezing simply because Texas didn’t bother to prepare for the worst of winter. I could easily have left this life in a blizzard just as I came into it.

I have been particularly up against it the last couple of days. Temperatures in the 30s and 40s have frozen my knees and lower back to a state of stiffness that nearly makes me bedridden. Even my ribcage is aching every time I breathe. Ah, the joys of arthritic living. It is still possible that one day soon I will fall to the blinding white and be able to move no more. There is a symmetry to going out the same way you came in. But knowing me, I will probably die of heat stroke. At least, then, I will have irony on my side.

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Small Favors from a Angry God

The Tempest … the last play of William Shakespeare (if that is who really wrote the plays)

After the usurpation of the government by Don Cheetoh Trumpaloney and his Russian Trolls, I thought Prospero, in the form of Grandpa Joe Biden, had used some magic borrowed from Ariel to overcome the usurper’s evil plan. But, alas, there seems to be no magical weapon to fight off the monsters that the Republican Party have become. At this point, they haven’t actually won back control of the House and the Senate. But, the election now over, possibility remains that they will wrest control of both Houses away from Democrats and eliminate all progress for the rest of Biden’s first term.

It did not, however turn out as badly as it might have. Many election-denying candidates lost their races and the power they will have to subvert the 2024 election has been a bit mitigated. We will still probably all eventually succumb to death from catastrophic climate change because it is not profitable to the fossil-fuel overlords to save ourselves. They will pay gobs of money, possibly in the billions, to prevent Democrats from helping the majority of people in any way.

I try to be a humorist in my writing. Not a comedian-type joke-maker, but rather someone who portrays life in subtly amusing ways. But it is hard to be funny when the stakes are so high and consequences so serious. I will have to try harder. I will have to do better.

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A Meditation on Procrastination

Perhaps I should’ve called this “Meditation while Procrastinating,” because I am having a hard time settling in to write down the words.

Or maybe I should have called it, “Procrastinating about Meditating,” because I am having a hard time even starting to think.

But, by thinking about how I am thinking and then writing about how I am writing, I have mostly stopped procrastinating, and the words are landing on paper… or, rather, they are being typed into the word processor.

The ideas are beginning to take shape.


Or, they would if my computer was kinder to arthritic fingers. Three typos so far as well as one new window opened accidentally as I sneexed… make that four typos. The correct word is “sneezed.”

But the harder it becomes to write something due to health problems, the more important it is to get it written. And the more I struggle with it, the better and more poignant the writing becomes.

I recently watched a YouTube video in which a screenwriting “expert” was saying that main characters in a work of fiction have a wound that they have to heal or overcome… or fail to overcome to make the story worth writing.

He also suggested that the wound has to reflect the author’s own reason for telling stories… the author’s own wounds.

This, of course, is utter nonsense. But it is also TRUE.

My most critical wound, the trauma I’ve taken a lifetime to overcome, was the sexual assault on my ten-year-old self. It robbed me of so many important things in my youth and later adulthood. And if I have overcome it, I did so mostly by myself, having kept my terrible secret a complete secret until I was in my thirties.

It is the reason that most of the characters in my stories are searching to overcome the difficulties of feeling loved and loveable, the heartache of dealing with irreplaceable loss and devastating trauma, and the fear of being nakedly honest in front of the judgemental eyes of the world.

I believe in facing the most fearsome things in life without armor.

Hence the reluctance to get started. The hesitation to make myself naked before the reading public, and the inability to even think of some of the most fearsome demons hidden in the land we must meditate on to get into.

Are there demons in the caverns of the mind? How will you know if you never go there to find out?

So, now I have hemmed and hawed and eventually said what I came to say. You are seeing the naked me, even though no picture of my naked body appears here anywhere. It is my inner self I have shown you. The self I have meditated on deeply for many years. And it is only with reluctance that I expose my true self with my deepest thoughts and secrets. If I am going to get writing done… it has to be like this. I don’t struggle with writer’s block, whatever that is. Rather, it is the fear of the hidden monsters of self that force me to endlessly delay getting started on the archeological dig that is writing an essay like this.

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