Today is a writing day. Just finished working on a review of my friend Susan’s new book (which will be posted tomorrow) and I have recently been getting back to working on a long-stalled pseudonym that I am kind of thinking may be the best thing I ever write. I’ve been toying with the idea in my mind for years and I did finally set up a blog and made an all to brief start. And then I cycled down or the moon changed or whatever it is compels me. And then the other day I got notice that it was time to renew the domain. And I went back and took a long critical look at the writing I had done on that project.
It seems to me that I have achieved some success on social media and with my blogs. On Facebook and on my blogs and such I use my wallet name and am happy to chat about almost anything, occasionally excepting religion and politics and never ever talking about my sex life. I have been so much happier since I changed my primary focus from my book review blog to this personal essay site. Unlike Susan, I don’t believe I will ever be great novelist. But I do believe I can aspire to becoming a great essayist. I hope those long time friends and fans who’ve been following along, however erratically, since my first blog post have come to see real improvement in my writing and presentation. This blog is almost ideal for me. Except of course that sometimes what I most want to write about is my sex life. And now that I have finally realized that what I really need to do on my “sex” site is to write with the same kind of directness and intimacy I’ve tried so hard to achieve on this site, on that site. Whether the topic is Poking Straight Guys On Facebook or….oh….no….I don’t even want to hint at one of my sex post titles here.
The point is the blog really is a great medium for me as a writer. And all of those book reviews and all of these essays really have been a kind of warming up for the writing that I most want to do. And so my pen name has been busy gadding about the countryside, living it up so that I can come home and write it down. All of this activity under a pen name I don’t ever plan to share with anyone who reads me under this name, really has taken a lot away from the time I used to spend on Facebook and Empire Avenue. I continue to hang out with the folks I think of as my social media guru friends, in their top secret hideaway I’d have to kill you if I told you about it. Oops. I will try hard to keep up with my Monday and Thursday schedule over here, especially after a very long weekend of play leaves me not wanting to get up off this couch today.
I believe with all of my heart that I am luckiest man alive. I have all my basic needs met. I have family and friends who love me and take care of me. And I get to spend my days doing what I what to do and then when I am feeling done I come home and write about it and try to create something that maybe some day may be considered art out of nothing more than my crazy ideas and a vocabulary that is actually bigger than my err wick. I’m now re-reading on my tablet Jack Fritscher’s iconic Some Dance To Remember. I sometimes wish I had the camera skills of protagonist Ryan Stephen O’Hara. Most times I think I’m going to be able to persuade my best friend to do the graphics to make the site ready for prime time. Here’s hoping it’s as good a Thursday in your world as it is in mine.
My face is not especially florid this Monday morning, though my pen name did have a busy weekend of living it up that I may write it down. (A nod here to Jack Fritscher– the cop with the body of an NFL linebacker could easily play Kick if they ever do a movie of Some Dance To Remember.) I find myself today feeling grateful that I am retired and have the week off to recover from the weekend, which was at times so pleasurable and euphoric that I was almost afraid I might lose all sense of gravity and float away into the welkin in a state of pure bliss.
I fear whatever I put down here today will be a yawp that fails to reach comprehensibility let alone eloquence. Sometimes it seems as though there is just so much noise in the world. And today I find myself thinking about sounds that are so totally human but do not involve words. From a newborn babe’s first cry to a dying old woman’s last gasp it occurs to me that there are a great many non-verbal noises we can make over the course of our lives. These non-verbal sounds can at times be much more eloquent than words and may in fact convey meanings that are somehow beyond that which can be conveyed with mere syllables of grammar. Perhaps those sounds of great passion or great pain have an eloquence of their own that is also beyond words.
In the album Pyramid, The Alan Parsons Project famously sang the old maxim that ‘what goes up, must come down’, and having spent the weekend way up there I begin the week feeling as though I have come way down from those heights I scaled on Friday and Saturday. I’m reading my friend Susan Wells Bennett’s new novel Just One Note (it’s fantastic by the way) and trying to get my tablet to download the copy of Some Dance To Remember I bought on a whim when I looked it up to put in the link above. I find myself looking forward to Fritscher’s magical version of San Francisco once I finish Susan’s wonderfully imaginative tale about the many ways one woman’s life can turn out. These three words were among the oldest in my drafts folder and I’m afraid I haven’t a clue who suggested them to me. But whomever you are, I do thank you.
Gomer Pyle got married. The Seattle Times reports that Jim Nabors, the actor and singer best known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle USMC, recently visited Seattle where he and his long time male partner took advantage of Washington’s new gay marriage law to legally wed. I don’t believe that I had ever heard before that Nabors is gay. Having come of age in an era when the only gay men most folks encountered were drag queens (rather the antithesis of the big butch Marine) the news of Nabors’ gay wedding struck a chord with me. A bit of Googling revealed that Nabors is an honorary Marine. He is pictured at ceremony in Hawaii in 2007 when the U.S. Marines promoted him to the rank of honorary corporal. I can’t help but wonder if the Marines, who praised Nabors for his lifetime of service and embodiment of Marine Corps ideals, were aware of his sexuality.
Were Nabors canine rather than human, I feel certain he would be not a tiny chihuahua but a huge St. Bernard–clumsy and goofy and very friendly and lovable. I do remember watching Gomer Pyle on television as a child, and I was aware of Nabors’ prolific career as a recording artist, although I can’t honestly claim to have ever been a big fan of his singing. (He does have a beautiful deep voice, but I was much more into rock and pop styles that became popular well after his hey day.) It appears as though Nabors (who is 82 years old) has been retired from show business for some time. It sounds as though he and his husband have lived quietly in Hawaii for many years now, no longer monitored by the paparazzi and gossip mongers who so relentlessly track celebrities.
I started working on a new short story. I was reading the newspaper and getting very agitated. Ron remarked that my distress was painful to watch and gently reminded me of the advice I’ve previously given him– to write about what’s bothering you. It’s good advice, even given back. I strongly suspect the finished product will not be worthy of a gold star, though I suspect I will probably publish it in this space. And who knows but that someone may read it. And agree. Or disagree. Or be pleased. Or pissed. Finally today my thanks to A A Tech who suggested today’s words.
Okay. I can accept that a fruitcake which has been soaked in brandy for two months may qualify as an indulgence. Yet I was most surprised when my image search for these terms led me to reading syllabub’s eloquent musings on the fruit cake. It really was noteworthy how wonderful he made fruitcake sound. After all fruitcake is a famously inedible holiday delicacy. There is even one town that has contests each year to see how far contestants can hurl hunks of fruitcake using catapults and such. Jokes and stories about inedible fruit cakes being endlessly passed around as gifts abound. Though I have to confess that I actually love holiday fruit cake, and try to enjoy some every year.
I myself feel little or no vehemence regarding fruitcake. Unlike perhaps the folks who hurl the fruitcakes great distances. Although one wonders if the hurled fruitcakes are then eaten or if they are discarded like trash. Given how expensive most fruits and nuts that go into a fruitcake are, it seems a particularly appalling indulgence if they throw away the cake after they throw it. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever encountered a cake that was nearly bad enough to warrant throwing. Though perhaps I’ve merely been blessed by access to good bakers. I remember my mother used to make fruit cake when I was little. She used a lot of fruit, a lot of nuts, very little flour and a fair number of eggs. The fruitcakes had to bake on low, like 200 or 250 for five or six hours. They were so good.
I can’t really think of a darned thing to say about aquamarine. It feels like a bit of a cheat that I am again today using the background image to display the color word. That sort of feels like cheating, but I am going to let it go. I note that this post is going out well before the 4pm deadline and is dated exactly one day after the last post. As we enter the last six weeks of the year I am trying once again to buckle down and crank out the daily posts. Knowing that in just six weeks, the post every day marathon will finally be over. And I suspect that I will never again make so rash a public vow. And finally today, my sincerest thanks to my friend Charles Slang who suggested today’s words.
Perhaps it shows me to be of a certain age. But I have to admit that the first thing that came to mind on seeing today’s three words is of course Cat Stevens’ immortal song Moon Shadow. To me this song, by this artist is as perfect a take on these three words as any I could ever hope to produce. And yet, here I am trying.
It does seem to me, that while NaNoWriMo may help me to improve my final score (the last I checked I had blogged on 78.6% of the days in 2012. I am hoping to raise that into the mid-eighty percents by the end of the year, just because I will be more comfortable having achieved a solid B in my goal. Even though one of the biggest lessons I will take away from the ‘blog every day in 2012′ experiment is that publishing a new post every day is not in most bloggers’ best interest. While it is possible that you will build a fan base that is both large enough and insatiable enough to follow your daily posts, in most cases you will end up with more readers, more visibility and more impact by publishing less frequently than once a day.
I also think that a collaborative blog could be really successful. Three or four bloggers alternating days might be able to create a very compelling site, although it could be very stressful I think, if the collaborators had different priorities and different levels of commitment to the project. Part of me thinks that it is just ‘negative thinking’ to speculate about such problems….when I am speaking only theoretically and am not in fact planning any collaborative project as I describe. (The part of me that has been dealing with people online for years knows how difficult it can be to bet a hobbyist writer to meet any deadline, and one that recurred once or twice each week…..well let’s just say that there are a lot of folks out there who would never keep up with that level of commitment, however enthusiastically they might embrace it going in. In my own personal experience, collaborating on a blog was much better in theory than in practice.
I do seem to be in a mood to write more. I published a second piece in just a few days on my largely ignored politics blog. I also re-published that new piece on Broowaha, a citizen journalism newspaper that I sometimes contribute to. I don’t ever expect that I will be a top contributor on Broowaha, but in most cases the pieces I publish there get a great many more page views than I am mostly ever able to achieve on this blog. And one nice thing about that site is that I have inserted my own AdSense code and I do receive paid AdSense page views and rewards for ad clicks on those pieces. I’ve mentioned before that I am just one of zillions of web publishers who worked for years before ever realizing that what I was doing would probably never accumulate the 100 dollars in earnings Google requires you to accrue before they will deign to cut a check. But if your articles can fit into any of the newspaper’s categories, it is not a bad place to seed some articles and earn a few pennies for your work.
And finally today, my thanks to Kamal Bennani who suggested today’s words.
It’s not that often, going through the three word suggestions from my readers that I come across a word that is quite unfamiliar to me. But I honestly had no idea at all what the word dolmathes means until I looked it up. Dolmathes it turns out are a Greek delicacy, grape leaves stuffed with rice and pine nuts. Click the word to see a recipe for this dish. I am not really all that familiar with Greek cuisine, though I love moussaka– an eggplant casserole traditionally made with lamb but also delicious prepared with beef instead. I have a time or two had occasion to eat in a Greek restaurant, but have never widely sought out this cuisine. Honestly? I don’t think I will try to make dolmathes. I feel pretty sure none of us in this house would eat them. (That makes me a little sad.)
My friend the novelist Susan Wells Bennett recently finished her latest installment in the Brass Monkey series. New Life continues the stories of Milo, Claire, Sax and Sondra all older retired people in Pheonix, Arizona whose lives are kind of a cross between a good soap opera and a ‘drama-dey’. I was so thrilled that Susan allowed me to be a beta reader for the new book, which I will tell you right up front is Wonderful. I am going to be publishing reviews of all of the titles in the Brass Monkey series, in addition to the review I’ve already published of Susan’s earlier novel Circle City Blues I’ve also recently read Susan’s novel The Thief Of Todays And Tomorrows and will be publishing a review of that novel as well. I am setting up author pages for Susan both on my books blog and in my Amazon aStore. Thief was VERY different from Bennett’s Brass Monkey series and I just found myself agog at what a wonderful novelist Susan is. If I ever interview her again, I will be sure to ask her why orangutans at the zoo seem to figure so prominently in her fiction.
It was Susan in fact who suggested these three words, and I am so very pleased to have an excuse to brag some more about Susan’s wonderful books. I am only allowing myself to purchase one book per month (I get lots of eBooks from the library, completely free of charge. When the three week loan period ends, the copy’s become un-openable and I just delete them from tablet). The last couple of months I have bought nothing but Susan’s books, and when New Life is released I definitely plan to buy it. And finally today, on the subject of forgiveness, I’m please to report that only a few hours after I arrived home and found my huzband very hurt, he was over it and forgave me. The fact is we both forgive a great deal with each other. Which is I think a big part of why our relationship works and endures for us.
Words are where I live. I know lots of the words. And with my years of Latin classes, I am often able to decipher medical and legal expressions. Although I resoundingly flunked Introduction To Anatomy and Physiology when I made an ill-considered stab at preparing to apply to nursing school. (Nursing is definitely a profession for which I would be spectacularly ill-suited.) One of the very few other classes I ever failed was high school geometry. While I’m great with words and can converse with most anyone, I am so not good at math and science. And despite the years of voice lessons that I took back in high school, I’m afraid that my voice has never been especially mellifluous. While I speak well and can wax eloquent at times my voice seems only ordinary to me.
I would certainly have been a maladroit had I gone into nursing. And honestly, I understand so little math that the definition of meromorphic was more or less meaningless to me. I feel so fortunate to have finally realized that writing is what I do best and what I should focus most of my efforts upon doing. As I type this, I have five posts already written and scheduled, as well as 17 additional three word titles still to be written about. I am most certainly in a manic phase as I crank out these blog posts. After thinking about it for a while I decided that what I should do about #definethis is to continue blogging a word of the day each day, and put up missons that are open to anyone with no community or shareholder requirements that drive traffic to the #definethis blog and ASK missionaries to play the word game on Twitter but make clear that everyone is welcome to the eaves just for stopping by.
The more I have worked with missions and experimented with different eligibility criteria, I’ve come to believe that the best approach is to let absolutely everyone take the eaves. With simple re-tweet missions I’ve found that I get a 90-99% completion rate. More complex missions will I believe always have lower completion rates, though I got a pretty great response rate on a mission asking folks to leave a three word comment for my Just 3 Words project. Pretty much every player on Empire Avenue has a Twitter account, so I am thinking that if there is no community to join and no hoops to jump through, maybe I will attract more players than my somewhat convoluted two communities to join previous approach.
Today’s words were submitted by my friend Diana Lewis, who is the Community Manager for ResumeBear
First, be assured that my verbosity has not in any way whatsoever abated. But yesterday I had So much fun cranking out a blog post based on three random words my friend Lindy suggested. And I had something of an epiphany. I’ve long been settling into writing one three paragraph post of 300 to 500 words. And I’m realizing it would be rather cool to write this blog about anything, everything and nothing about trios of words suggested by readers. So have at it. Give me your three favorite words. Or three random words. Or unusual words. Just give me three words and I will give you a blog post.
I need to make clear up front that I am not promising to crank out something for every single trio that comes over the transom. But the better I like the words the more likely I will get around to writing your post. If you leave a link to your blog, I will be sure to give you a link when I write your post. I will also visit your blog and comment. If you can choose three random words from a dictionary and leave them for me in less than a minute or two, it could be a pretty easy way to get one more visitor to your blog. Building relationships with other bloggers is the best way to create organic back links. (If you are still so naive as to be purchasing back links or paying some guru to get them for you….let’s just say you are still at the snake oil buying newbie stage of the blogosphere.)
I find myself wondering what words my readers will throw at me. I suspect Holly will come up with something. And I look forward to writing about whichever words Laura throws out. And what about you? Will you please leave me three words in a comment below. Be sure to include your blog link. Come on. Give me just three words.
Some days just seemed turned around. Upside down or perhaps inside out.
In a weird way I AM working on the new mission book today. Although what I am actually doing is not writing the book but talking to a friend about how she uses missions. She’s giving me some fantastic insights and great information that I will certainly rely on in writing the book. Part of me is certain this is just good old fashioned procrastination, yet another part of me is even more certain that the book has not jelled in my mind yet and that I still need to talk more and learn more before I can write it. And I still think I will be able to make my July 1st deadline.
I know that later this week I absolutely must break open a manuscript and start writing. And that makes me just a tiny bit nervous. Though I am in some ways very much looking forward to having written again, I don’t much want to write. (And yes, I know how utterly crazy that sounds.) Honestly, I feel a bit guilty about cranking out yet another blog posts about writer’s angst. So to give this post just a bit of another focus, I invite you to comment with any questions or observations you have about Empire Avenue missions. Missions can be great for achieving a number of different objectives. And the more eaves you can devote to missions the more things you can get your social media contacts to do. I also will try to make clear some of the many things that missions don’t work well for, in hopes of saving players’ time and eaves from being spent on strategies that have little or no chance of success.
So how about it? Do you have any questions about Empire Avenue missions? Have you picked up any eaves by participating in missions? Have you offered any missions? How did they go? Please leave a comment with your answers to any or all of these questions. And be sure to look for Libdrone’s Guide To Empire Avenue missions coming this summer.
“….sometimes a fantasy, is all you need.”
I often say that I live so much of my life inside of my head. I think I have a healthy respect and appreciation for fantasy. Though some times you definitely need real life things too. I went and got my insulin today. I was thrilled that with my new insurance the co-pay was only three dollars and thirty cents. Given that Walmart charges $120 (the cheapest regular retail price I know of) this alone makes the insurance a great value. I will have to make an appointment and go back and see my doctor. I am going to insist he refer me to a shrink to manage my psych meds. I am a happy camper to be getting most of my meds at this point and look forward to having them all in the not too distant future.
I’m honestly not sure where I am at the moment on the manic-depressive scale. I seem to have backed off the major mania and have been sleeping more or less regularly for several days now. And I am definitely finding it difficult and a struggle to write much of anything at all. I am doing some socializing and some game playing (I continue to really enjoy The Sims on Facebook. I was sad to find that my current lappy just isn’t up to playing the current version of The Sims 2 (the CD Rom game.) But I haven’t been able to bring myself to touch the manuscript for the Missions Guide I have been planning to release on July 1st, on the one year anniversary of the initial publication of Walking Down The Avenue. And after putting up a web site and writing some introductory bally hoo, I haven’t really worked on the pseudonymous project at all either. (Sighs.)
I know that if I am going to have the new book ready for release July 1st I need to start writing it in earnest like yesterday. Yet as I gain more experience with Empire Avenue missions each day, I find my perspective shifting so rapidly that I’m honestly not sure what I am going to write. I try to comfort myself with the thought that when I am quite certain what I want my guide to using Empire Avenue missions to say I will be able to knock it out in no time at all, and aren’t I wise not to try to force a book that just isn’t there yet. I find this small comfort compared to my serious writer friends (who aren’t collecting disability) who set themselves a budget of so many words or so many pages and force themselves to work at it each day until the day’s budget has been produced. Writing on a drop dead line really is so much harder than writing when the inspiration strikes.