Inspiration: A Long Wait for a Train Don’t Come

It’s 11:40 a.m. I’ve been up since 8:30. Working on my second cup of Earl Grey, waiting for inspiration to give me an idea to write about.

Just kidding. I never wait for inspiration. It never comes.

What works for me every time without fail is really quite mundane: I fire up my laptop, iPhone, or iPad and start writing. I usually have no idea what I’m going to write, but I start anyway.

Sometimes I will have had an idea come to me just as I was falling asleep the night before. And sometimes that idea is so important that I’ll get up and write it down so I can follow up on it the next day.

But most of the time, I just start writing. I don’t wait for an idea but simply start putting pen to paper (but only metaphorically: in my case, it’s pixels to screen).

Like so many other writers, I have a slew of bad habits: I drink, I smoke, and I swear a lot. Far more than I should.

But my drink of choice is tea, and my smoking is limited to a few puffs an hour from the e-cig that I used to get off cigarettes.

Maybe once every other week I’ll have a shot of tequila at our Friday night gathering, or a single glass of wine. But that’s it as far as alcohol goes.

It’s all about habits

Or routines: by developing the habit of writing every morning and incorporating it into my daily routine, I’ve forced myself to write whether or not I want to.

Like a drug habit, the more I do it the more I need to do it. I’m addicted to something I first took up as therapy. But unlike a drug habit, it won’t kill me. And as Nietzsche famously said (or would have, if he had been wise enough), “That which doesn’t kill me gives me a whole lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms and a very dark sense of humor.”

To which I would add, “That which doesn’t kill me had better run pretty damned fast!”

So as Paul Kantner once sang, “So drop your fucking bombs, burn your demon babies. I will be alive!”

Inspiration my ass. I’m gonna write something.

 

E-readers vs. Printed Books

Yes, Virginia, there is a difference

Make no mistake: I love my E-readers. All three of them. I have an iPhone, an iPad, and an Amazon Fire Tablet.Between them I have a library of over 3,000 books. I devour books the way children devour ice cream and cake at birthday parties.But my living space?—and therefore my storage space?—is limited to a single room. Ergo, E-books and E-readers.

Vive le différence?

But lately I’ve discovered a problem, and it has to do with the differences between reading a printed book and an E-book.

When I’m reading a printed book, I can spend hours in my comfortable chair, only stirring to brew a fresh cup of tea or, as a result thereof, heading into the loo to download the same.

I love the smell of printed pages. I love the feel. And I especially love the ability to leaf back to earlier pages to see if I missed something.

But…

I also love being able to carry my entire library in my purse. I love being able to conduct research whilst riding on the bus. And I love being able to finally finish my latest who-done-it sitting in the waiting area of my doctor’s office.

But but but…

Lately I’m finding that reading a mystery, a science text, or any kind of book at all on my iPhone gives me headaches.

My iPod is better, but here’s the really big thing: it’s exhausting to read my E-books. Where I can tear through five or six chapters of the printed page, I can barely get through a half of a chapter of an E-book.

And that’s strange, because I always adjust the text size on my E-readers so that it’s larger than it is on the printed page.

Does it have something to do with the fact that the printed word is reflected into my eyes, while E-text is beamed into them? But even that is questionable: I have no problem bingeing on Netflix for hours at a time.

And I can spend more than half a chapter’s worth of time composing a story for Medium on my iPhone.

It’s a mystery

One that may well fall under the rubric of religion: “There are some mysteries man was not meant to solve.”

But like young Jim Hawkins, I won’t rest until I’ve found the secret treasure. Perhaps then the mystery may be resolved.


NOTE: I’m sure there’s already a scientific or medical answer that I can easily find. But when have any of us let facts get in the way of a good story?

Originally published on Medium.com

I’m Rightly Pissed Off

And here’s why: https://bit.ly/2S9lXwW

Donald Trump, in his eternal ass-licking of the fascist Evangelical Christian movement, seeks to deny my existence. Not content with stripping minorities of their civil rights, he is now attempting to define me out of existence.

What next? Is he going to round us up and put us in ghettoes, as the Nazis did in the 1930s and ‘40s? Or maybe the same detention facilities concentration camps he’s using to house immigrant children?

People have been saying for years that “it can’t happen here.” But it is happening here, and has been, ever since the Great Pumpkin (aka Trumplethinskin) and his cronies stole the election with the help of Russia.

Trump wasn’t elected: he was Putin office.

Who’s next? Atheists? Gays and lesbians? Minority races? And even “minority races” is a joke, since collectively they outnumber the so-called White majority.

I’m so angry right now that I have to save this as a draft and walk away until I can think more clearly.


Much Later

The news keeps getting worse. With the Rethuglican party firmly in control of the Senate, it’s probably going to sanction these new policies. And since they’ve managed to stack the deck in their favor on the Supreme Court, any legal challenges to these unconstitutional policies will also be denied, even the the Constitution plainly states in Article 14:

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

I’m pretty sure that denying people their civil rights by executive dictatorial decree does not constitute “due process,” but I could be wrong. After all, I’m no lawyer: my parents preferred that I pursue an honest career instead.

But it Ain’t Over ‘til it’s Over

As a wise man once said. Perhaps this latest indignity will wake up the sleeping masses and fire them with sufficient zeal to overturn this dictatorship.

But I doubt it. Most likely they’ll just go back to Netflix & Chill.

It’s That Time Again!

nanowrimo

Autumn is upon us, and most serious writers know what that means: It’s time for NaNoWriMo: National Novel Writing Month.

If you haven’t heard of it, it begins in November every year. The goal is to write a novel (at least 50,000 words) in a single month. But don’t wait until November: sign up now to start getting tips, hints, and ideas before then.

It’s ironic that it’s called National Novel Writing Month, since it’s open to people all over the world.

This is my third year for NaNoWriMo, and this time I’m determined to complete a novel—something I’ve yet to do.

That’s the thing about the program: it encourages you to write, but doesn’t nag you about it. And if you don’t complete your book in the time allotted for it, nobody’s going to call you out on it. Some people—like me—take longer to write their stories. But even if you can’t complete it, at least you’ve made a start, and you can continue long after the challenge is over.

If you do finish your novel—either during the month or after—you’ll have the satisfaction that you’ve written a book!  It might not be the next Great American Novel, but at least you wrote it.

And that’s more than most people do.

Well, THIS Certainly Sucks!

I’m 68 years old, and as for as long as I can remember I’ve always come down with a summer cold. And this year is no different.

It started with me not being able to sleep through the night. I was up several times, feeling anxious for some reason. When I finally did manage to get some sleep, I woke up with a sore throat, clogged sinuses, and a massive headache.

There’s something terribly depressing about summer colds–besides the fact that it’s the wrong time of year to get them. Colds are for the winter, when we’re already so miserable that one more thing piled on top of the cold, the damp, the ice and snow, doesn’t make that much of a difference.

But the summer is supposed to be for fun, not misery.

And so sit surrounded by tissues and cough syrup and aspirin, feeling sorry for myself. Hey! Nobody else will do it.

It’s almost 80 degrees out, and here I am, huddled under a blanket, both sweating and shivering, wondering which of the many gods I don’t believe in has it in for me.

And I wonder if I should call my doctor and see about getting this year’s flu shot–or if this is the flu and it’s too late.

I hate being sick.