A New Year

I raise a glass and toast

To an end and a new beginning

The closing of a chapter lost

A new page though I’m turning


For whether the last was good

Or whether it was unpleasant

It always understood

That life is in the present


Leave behind extra burdens

It’s better to travel light

While nothing is ever certain

One can always enjoy tonight

The Magic of Words

One of my sons has been oddly interested in how language began. He’s asked me a few times over the last week and each time we’ve had an interesting conversation about it. Of course, we don’t exactly know do we? Did we start out making random sounds, grunts or groans that eventually correlated with various objects? Then somehow advanced to develop verbs, adjectives, pronouns, proper nouns? Language is complex. Language is dynamic. But regardless, it is truly remarkable. Language sets us apart from other organisms in this world and is probably our greatest tool or weapons.

Imagine that mere words can motivate entire nations of people to war. Just forming sounds in a particular manner can inspire mass groups and move them emotionally to anger or joy or determination. Words have lifted people from despair or lowered them there depending on their usage. Word are magical.

So it is when writing. Each and every word choice makes a difference. Each one affects the reader differently. Each one has power. Together they can be forged into something tremendous. That can make magic.

This reminds me to review the words I choose. I should look at all of them as part of a greater magic of language and each has value but some mix better with others to form a unique magic that can enchant the reader and enhance the experience for her.

Now excuse me while I go and make some more magic. Cheers.

When Darkness Falls

Warmth of friendship and love drifted peacefully through the air
The world was free and open and we could live without care

That bullets would rain down and bombs would rip life from us
Stealing away life, stealing away peace and stealing away trust

Some chose to burn the thin curtains that shield our kind eyes
From the horrors of the world filled with death, disease, flies

Our illusion was shattered like a mirror reflecting our beauty
And death was brought to us as if it was their duty

To smash to pieces the fine statues of liberty and freedom
Breaking the hearts of hundreds of innocent victims

And the ones who love them who may never hold them again
Or hear the soft words of “I love you” with joy spoken

Instead sirens screamed out deep into the night
And we held on to each other, not in love, but in fright

Quickly we offer our own freedom and liberty for security and safety
But as Franklin said we receive neither the safety we want but lost liberty

Like the great terror brought to the streets of Paris long before
The guillotine erected in the center of Paris may fall once more

If we frightened specks of nothingness demand action and guarantee
That no harm with come to the lives we cling to feebly

And cower under the covers while spiting hate akin to the hate that killed
Never finding a solution but pouring more into the hateful cup over filled

Until more blood is spilt and more hatred built and more bile coughed
On the streets, in the neighborhood, in the churches and mosques

When darkness falls and fear takes hold there is not end to the madness
Hatred and violence in the name of safety only create more darkness

Only by standing brave and tall in face of hateful words and angry eyes
Can we last until morning and enjoy the bright rays of the sunrise

Keep Sailing

“This is what you should teach me, how to be like Odysseus–how to love my country, wife, and father, and how, even after suffering shipwreck, I might keep sailing on course to those honorable ends.”

-Seneca, Moral Letters, 88.7b

In a time when everything seems to be on fire; when there are literal biblical events like war, pestilence and plague; the lesson from the Odyssey is to keep going. In one of the earliest and greatest Epics of all time, one of the main lessons was perseverance. I strive to write epics as fantastic as the one Homer penned and I strive to live life with the courage Odysseus showed.

Cheers!

Back at it

Perhaps you noticed but I’ve been busy writing lately. It feels great. I’m on my way back up to around 5000 words a day which represents my most productive level. It’s my goal. At that level of writing I can crank out all sorts of pieces. I have plenty of projects to work on and I am feeling better than ever about writing. What changed?

To begin with a pattern and a habit is key. I was laying in bed too late, being too lazy and lacking all motivation to do what I know I need to do. Now, I get up, have coffee outside with my girlfriend, listen to a ten minute motivational compilation and then get to writing. I hit the keyboard ready to go and I’ve been very productive.

Another thing I began doing recently, and this is huge, is avoiding social media and news in the morning. The world is on fire and there are a ton of things to be upset about but I am trying to ignore them because they cloud my thoughts and bring down my mood. I try to stay away from my phone in the mornings until I can get some work done. It has helped a ton.

I also decided to move my work space to our spare bedroom. I have many literal children and I love them more than anything but they also love to talk to me and ask my questions or show me the progress on their games or whatever it is they are doing and they distract me constantly. Now they have to come upstairs to distract me while I’m writing and this has proved an obstacle to their goals. I’m getting far more done.

A couple more minor things to add and I’ll be the best writer I can be. I am adding exercise because I firmly believe that a healthy body contributes to a productive mind. I am also getting back to tracking my daily productivity. If I have to be real with myself about how much I got done in a day then I can hold myself accountable. It isn’t necessarily fun to see that I was lazy and didn’t get much done in a day, but it is important.

All together this is a recipe for success and I’ve been very successful lately. If you are looking to improve in an area perhaps some of these things will help you as well. Cheers to being the best we can be!

Storytelling

Storytelling through writing is such an amazing process. I literally make up stories that I hope will entertain and even inspire the reader but I have to transfer them from my mind to page and then fix them up in a way that makes them the most appealing. This process is sometimes slow and painful but necessary.

Then, once all the work of putting to paper what I built in my mind is completed, I offer up the story to the reader and sit back and wait for the reader to let me know if they enjoyed the story.

It creates in me a deep anticipation because I want the reader to enjoy my work and I have no one to blame if the work is not good except myself. I am entirely responsible for the words on the page and the story they tell. I could have chosen any words to make any story but these are the ones I selected. They are entirely mine even more so than a child who begins to make things theirs very early in their development. No, my stories are entirely of my creation and a direct reflection on me as their creator. I formed them and breathed life into them.

Writing is a wonderful craft that invites people to see into your heart and soul and allows them to make a judgment.

Excerpt: Sureshot the King

Some of the new words I’ve put down for Sureshot the King…coming soon.

Meanwhile, Vorfar and Makler began making a plan to get into the city once more. This time it would be more difficult as there had just done so. The decided they would travel to the northern end of the city and attempt to gain entry posing as woodsmen helping to bring lumber and supplies into the city. It was the least trafficked area of the wall because there were no well traveled roads there, only a few trappers, loggers and miners entered that area. Besides, it was on the opposite side from their position and so less likely that any search parties would be looking for them there.

When they were satisfied with their plan, they wondered where the prince had gone.

“He is struggling,” Makler suggested.

“Aye, he is,” Vorfar agreed. “It isn’t an easy thing. He’s torn between his loyalty to his father and his friend. In those situations, one’s heart aches because it wants to hold both but you cannot hold both fire and ice in the same hand. He must drop one of them and he does not want to.”

“But I don’t believe Durbar killed his father,” Makler added.

“Perhaps not, but it does not matter. Either Durbar did so because Duke Orthan had to be killed, or someone else killed the Duke and is letting Durbar take the blame. Either way, the young prince is mourning. Not only for his father but for his friend. It is a lot of weight on him. Try to be patient. He does not necessarily mean what he says right now. It is the pain speaking through him.”

”But if Durbar didn’t kill the duke then who did?”

“I surely don’t know. But I do know that his family is cursed with treachery. Never were they fond of loyalty.”

“Are you saying it is possible that Warren killed his father?”

”Many things are possible. In the case of Orthan and his sons, suffice it to say that there is a history of such things. Betrayal runs in their blood.”

Makler looked towards the woods into which Rothan retreated, but he, like the truth, was hidden.

Review: Bird Box

Ok, Ok, so I don’t normally do this because reviewing things is not really my deal, but maybe it should be. It can be hilarious (I’m trying to translate my humor into writing) and useful for developing as a story teller. Besides, it’s also fun to see people react over someone else’s opinion. I’m not looking to be a professional troll or anything, just trying out something new.

So, Bird Box. Sandra Bullock was amazing. She always is so that isn’t a surprise. She was almost the only good thing about the movie. Yes some of the cinematography was good. Some of the other acting was good (I could watch John Malkovich all day). The main initiating conflict was very compelling. But after that, the story does not hold up and really just didn’t work. My biggest problems with the movie were that the character development was almost non existent except for Bullock’s character, the climax created more questions than provided answers and besides that they did not explain a lot of things along the way.

Before I spew hatred of the movie no doubt swelling from some deep wound I carry, let me say that the whole not naming the kids thing was kinda clever and her issue over whether to have a kid or not was interesting. I liked the juxtaposition of her considering giving up her own baby to now carrying for two children. Ok, now to being petty.

My first issue was the clear lack of character development. They literally introduced characters that just disappeared and no one said anything about it. We never knew who they were or what they were about and then they were gone. Even Bullock’s character could have been deeper. But her man? Who was he and what was his motivation besides sleeping with Bullock during an apocalyptic event. If you’re character is going to hit on a pregnant woman surrounded by chaos and death, you need to explain why. It was strange. Multiple characters just vanished. In a thriller it is probably more difficult than in other genres but it is still important. I literally recall watching From Dusk till Dawn and in the middle of an apocalyptic event we got background on characters who remained. The screen writers may have written those scenes in and perhaps they were cut but regardless of the excuse, there was a huge hole when it came to characters.

Another problem was the number of unanswered questions along the way. We never really got a sense of what the hell they saw except that there was some sort of hallucination or something that caused people to harm themselves. Who were “they?” You could get away with leaving that a mystery as sometimes the unknown is more frightening but why were there people who weren’t affected exactly? They were crazy? But why would that matter? And why would they serve “them?” And where were the other blind people the whole time? Blind people don’t all live in one remote location away from everyone else. They could have been super helpful the entire time. Where was Daredevil when you need him!?!?

The climax. I’m not sure if the end of Bird Box is anything like faking an orgasm just to end the event but it sure felt unsatisfying. They are safe? But how? It appeared that “they” were still there but somehow the blind people helped the non blind people not get tricked into looking? And how are they sustaining the entire compound? And everyone knows that in an apocalyptic event it will get very violent and the search for supplies will become life and death, but a community of mostly blind people are guarding all their supplies from predatory survivors? It’s a stretch. And why the hell would someone build a blind school in the middle of no-where accessible only by traversing rapids? Did the blind people row down the rapids to get there? It just didn’t add up and I was personally left with a ton of questions (obviously).

So the movie was a bit weak. I’m curious why it is crushing it so hard on Netflix. Maybe it is the Furby effect or something and the hype is generating the popularity in the first place because I was personally disappointed and based on memes and other posts I’ve seen I wasn’t the only one.

Again, Sandra Bullock was great but she was basically carrying the movie alone. That said, I’m really glad they made this movie because the meme’s have been fantastic and since that basically all we (myself included) value in 2019, it was basically a masterpiece for that reason alone.

Other things about the movie that bothered me:

Bullocks hair looked great in the apocalypse.

Her man was still in fantastic shape five years after the collapse of the world.

How did you keep infants from looking? Did you keep a bag over their heads the whole time from ages 0-5?

Why didn’t John Malcovich manage to break out of the room he was locked in?

The other pregnant chick was super annoying.

Machine Gun Kelly was in it but said basically the same line over and over, smashed then disappeared.

How did she row a boat for 2 days? It’s exhausting.

How were those crazy fools surviving? They didn’t seem to do anything except chase non crazy people, even in the middle of a river.

Never mind…I have to stop, I’m getting mad all over again. I’m going to watch Bio Dome, a real cinematic work of art and go to bed. Goodnight.