Monthly Archives: April 2014

Typically, I Strive for Mediocrity Unless the Mediocrity I’m Striving for Is too Average

scalesAs I look back through the pieces I have written, I find numerous short stories, several novellas and a number of novels. I tend to write within certain genres including fantasy/science-fiction, action/adventure or a combination of anyone of the four.

It also bears saying that just because I wrote’em, doesn’t mean you can read’em. Even though I have had some success being published, by no means do I want to imply a string of New York Times bestsellers–for that matter, a string of anything. As you well know, it’s tough out there.

My writing as an individual is exclusive, yet typical, to me. So, therefore, I would have to conclude…… Typical…… Typical…….Typical…….Why is that word stuck in my head?…….Nothing of late that would bring upon an obsession with that…… Typical…….Typical….Wait a minute, it was a commercial.

Please, humor me for just a moment. These things get stuck in my craw and unless I’m able to vent I’m fearful my head may explode.

The national craze, (which has probably been the national craze for decades) weight loss, is inundating television. There are many different options. The plan where you count what you eat each day and once you reach that magic number you must discontinue any and all ingestion of food until the next day. They use celebrities and average Joe’s to depict their weight loss–30 pounds, 40 pounds 80 pounds and even 100 pounds plus. What they keep tucked away in the bottom corner of your screen are three little words, “Results not typical”.

Then there are other companies that ship neatly packaged meals that you’re supposed to eat for an entire month. They, also, use celebrities along with average Joe’s. I have seen weight loss claims beginning in the 20’s and topping out at well over 200 pounds. I also still see, “Results not typical”.

Now it seems to me that we should be able to hear from the people that experienced results that would be deemed typical.

The interview would go something like this:

(Lively music playing in the background) subject dances in front of camera wearing a designer moo moo. “My name as Luna Clod Roundhouse and I lost 2 ½ pounds in just six months on “The Systematic Food Chunkin Experience.” It has changed my life. I’m no longer self-conscious when I go to the beach. People can’t keep their eyes off me in my bikini and I can finally wear that swanky little black dress. Made it myself. Just goes to show you what you can do with a little know-how and 8 yards of material.” (Luna begins dance and shout as the camera fades to black.)
Or how about this:

(Man standing sideways with thumb stuck into the front of his pants showing the astounding 1/8th inch he has dropped from his waist. Somber piano music plays as he begins his testimonial)

I’m Hank and I once weighed 649 pounds. (He begins to tear up and his voice becomes shaky) but now thanks to the “Agnes J. Cheekwaister Butt Loss Bonanza Plan, I’m down to a sleek 632 pounds in just a year and a half. “Thank you, Agnes J. Cheekwaister!” (Camera fades as Hank begins to sob.)

Please don’t take this as a slam toward overweight people. I recently dropped close to 50 myself and my heart goes out to all who are trying. My only advice is don’t give up.

I, also, feel that it’s very important to…….Ridiculous…….Ridiculous…….Ridiculous…….Oh no, what’s coming now……… Ridiculous…….Ridiculous…….See ya next week………….

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If Pollen Could Talk, What Would it Say? Aw, C’mon I’m Snot Gonna Hurt Ya

Did I mention during my last post that I was in the middle of rewrites and edits?sneeze Now this is a rhetorical question because I did more than just mention that fact. I drove it into the ground, dug it up and like a bottle of shampoo instructs one to rinse and repeat, I did the same. Seems to me I may have even rented a backhoe.

Anywho, enough of that… I ran across a section where my protagonist and his entourage were a bit out of sorts due to the deadly desert heat they were forging through. It just so happened that on the very same day, we were experiencing temperatures that had climbed into the 70s and, complements of a cold front, dropped 30° in just a few hours. This sudden drop on the Fahrenheit scale signaled the rusty cogs in my brain to commence turning again–we’re now in the middle of the seasonal change from winter into spring.

You remember the old saying, “April showers bring May flowers,” along with severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, pollen, watery eyes, sneezing, boat loads of snot and gallons of phlegm. The difference in the two, by my reckoning, is snot emanates from the honker and phlegm from the pie hole. (I hope I didn’t get too technical in describing the two medical facts of life. If so, I apologize, but…there you have it.)

Pollen, watery eyes, sneezing and the bodily fluids that flow during this seasonal change remain the one constant, prevalent in all four seasons that we experience.

Having already described winter to spring (the vernal equinox), next in line is spring to summer. (The estival solstice)

Once again we’re plagued with severe thunderstorms and tornadoes, but this time pollen morphs from the trees to the ground in the form of grass. Alas, the snot still flows; albeit, much thinner than its springtime counterpart. There is also one small tidbit of information that bears mentioning. Those along the Gulf and East coast of the United States now have the additional threat of hurricanes.

Moving along we turn our attention to what most people refer to as their favorite time of year, the autumnal equinox, or fall. By now, thunderstorms have calmed somewhat, but hurricane season is at its peak and snot levels are off the charts, all because of my friend and yours, Mr. and Mrs. Ragweed. This time of year slow down and pay attention to your surroundings. Are not the colors dazzling (God’s silent fireworks) and the crisp air such a relief from the heat and humidity of summer? Take a deep breath, you’ll see……Achoo!!…… Excuse me please.

And now, we have come full circle. The circle of life, around the bend, back to the beginning, pass “GO” collect $200. We have reached the hibernal solstice (winter). It is during these few months that the river of snot is        more tolerable than any other time of year. The beauty of the snow, the wonder of the Christmas season, and the new year, when we hopefully try to better ourselves.

Once again it is time to bid you, “ado.” Thank you for listening to me whine about my yearly sinus problems. Of course, we know there are wondrous things to enjoy each and every day of the year and take time to say a prayer for those in harm’s way during tumultuous times embedded in each season.

Until next week!

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One more time and that’s it… Well maybe two… No more than ten, I promise!… We’ll just leave it open.

Well it’s that time again. Rewrites, rewrites, rewrites!torn jeans I’m in the process of finishing my latest novel so, now it’s time to go back to the beginning and start all over again rewriting what I have already written.

After the first wave of rewrites, revisions and edits are complete, I get to do it all over again. In fact, my second novel took four months to write and three years to rewrite. Each time I would go through the book, I wasn’t happy when I finished. This in turn set the stage for another revamping of the manuscript… Just between you and me, I’m still not satisfied with good ole number two… Guess that means another set of rewrites. Please don’t tell anyone or they’ll kick me out of the “I got my second novel right in less than four years” club; at which point, I will be automatically inducted into the “perhaps you should consider another vocation” club.

How strange we are as human beings that some things must be perfect and then again other things are okay just as they are or we even go to great lengths to turn what is satisfactory into what most would consider substandard.

Case in point:

It seems that in this day and age, advertisers feel that we should whiten our teeth to the point of needing sunglasses whenever we open our mouth. By the same token, we are encouraged to purchase designer jeans, mangled with holes and slits. Thankfully, there’s enough material left to cover our naughty bits.

Of course, these same effects may be achieved at a substantially reduced cost to the consumer.  There’s every reason to practice good dental hygiene and achieve a nice bright smile while avoiding the “supernova mouth.” Brush and floss daily, see your dentist regularly, and stop eating charcoal and other things that stain your teeth.

As far as denim fashion statements go, this one is easy and requires nothing more than normal blue jean maintenance. I can remember embracing the notion that jeans never wear out. I would purchase my favorite brand of jeans. From that point on it was a simple cycle of wash and wear. The first to go were the knees. No surprise there; this was always expected. As the years passed, chinks in the armor would develop in the form of small holes between the pockets and knees. Here was my first experience with the breakaway belt loop where at least one belt loop would become detached, but only on one end.

The knee or what used to be referred to as such, had by now morphed into an irregular shaped cavern with a small flap. After an undetermined amount of time had passed, the holes along what I like to call the quadriceptual vortex would begin to connect forming larger rips, tears, and holes in the space time conjeanuim.  This signaled preselected cotton strands to snap eventually causing a catastrophic failure. The unsuspecting wearer (that being me) oblivious to the true appearance of the most comfortable jeans in the world usually would not come to terms with this life-changing enigma until marriage opened his (once again me) eyes to what truly remained of his (yeah, it’s me) favorite pair of jeans.

As I sink into the depths of despair, I suddenly realized, this isn’t the end. My damage denim is primed for resale.

Ah, but alas, it’s back to the real world… Rewrite….Rewrite…… Rewrite.

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Boy! That’s a Lot of Words!

Ah, the written word. I spring from my bedbooks each day, eager to finish the morning’s necessities so that I can continue writing where I left off the night before. I press the computer’s on button with trepidation, fearful that my characters may have become a bit miffed with me for leaving them hanging or in dire straits while I comfortably slept the night away.

Before we go any further I would like to state for the record that I am not psychotic–that’s my other personality, Bob, and he’s afraid of what everyone thinks of him. Me, I don’t care if the little book boogers have an ax to grind or not. Right now, it’s time to get to work.

As I reach for the first key, I glance at the lower left-hand corner of my monitor to check the word count. I pause. Why would I do such a thing? I am confounded at my own thoughts; not to mention, the heckling I receive from my book-bound characters who are now threatening union violations possibly leading to a strike.

“Just try it,” I say. “You’ll never work in this book again.” There, that’ll keep’em quiet for a while.

Now, back to my original question–why such interest in the word count? Could it be that the commercial entities who control the business demand that it be so? I answer my own question with an emphatic, “yes.”

Amidst the grunts and grumbles of my pint-sized page walkers, I delve deeper into the word count conspiracy.

It seems that first and foremost the novel stands alone. Word count can vary anywhere between 55,000 to 125,000 depending on which genre you are writing. War and Peace was an astounding 561,304 words. I’m surprised Tolstoy’s not still writing.

Next the novella will range from 20,000 words to 55,000 words. “Excuse me one moment please.”

“Shut up, you little comic book rejects! Keep it up and I’ll see to it that you end up at the bottom of a slush pile on some editor’s desk in outer Mongolia.”

Sorry about that, my precious little ones are now demanding a raise.

We now have the novelette or long story, if you prefer. We’re talking 7,500 to 20,000 words.

The short story; 2, 500 to 7, 500 words.

The short, short story; up to 2, 500 words.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, up pops another category–flash fiction. This class of literature contains as few as 2 words or as many as 150.
I can’t resist looking in the lower left-hand corner of my monitor. The number tells me that if I were writing this newcomer to the literary stage, I would have nearly completed 230 pieces by now.

“Uh oh, here comes Bob and he’s lookin’ some kinda mad. Now you’re in for it you little pulpwood ingrates.”

“See you next week; I’m outta here.”

 

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