Many thanks to Amy at Insights from the Edge for nominating Down Many Roads for the Versatile Blogger Award. I am flattered and happy to participate in this event.
These are the rules:
Thank the person that nominated you and include a link to their blog.
Nominate at least 15 bloggers of your choice. When considering a fellow blogger for the Versatile Blogger Award, keep in mind the quality of their writing, the uniqueness of their subject matter, and the level of love displayed on the virtual page.
Link your nominees and let them know about their nomination.
Share seven facts about yourself.
7 Facts About Me:
I have been retired from teaching middle school language arts for eight years.
Today’s task: pick a blogging event from the Community Event Listings, and participate in the next round.
With that in mind, I have spent a good part of the day looking in the Community Event Listings trying to find a fun and worthwhile blogging event in which to participate. Despite my efforts, I couldn’t seem to find one with which I would feel comfortable.
After a while, I took a break from my search and spent nearly two hours with Scrivener rewriting another chapter of my ongoing novel–Birchwood’s Secret. As a result, I avoided frittering away the day and not accomplishing some writing. And I was pleased with how that chapter turned out, by the way. Can I repeat the same tomorrow morning?
Then there was the thirty-minute walk on the treadmill while I watched yesterday’s Jeopardy! just before noon. (Love that new fifty-eight inch flat screen with the nice sound bar). Good heavens, it’s only taken us a hundred years to realize that it’s easier to hear when the sound is directed toward us rather than out the back of the TV!
Are we really two old fogeys after all? At any rate, the walking time seemed to fly right on by as I competed with the contestants and listened to Alex scold and/or cajol the players.
As a result, I killed two birds with one stone: 1.) I exercised my mind in answering the clues; 2.) I exercised my body and got the heart working, after which I was ready to get back to finishing the Blogging 101 assignment. Besides, Jeopardy! was over and I needed a shower.
Soon after I was cleaned up and back in a writing frame of mind, I resumed my search for the perfect blogging event. Back to the Community Event Listings I trekked.
And then it hit me!
Right there in front of me, in the Community Event Listings, was one titled Write Anything Wednesday. Now that sounded exactly what I have been looking for.
It’s located on a blog named WRITERISH RAMBLINGS, to which I immediately journeyed. In reading the details of how the event would work, I was at once taken by the low-key flexibility of the event. It definitely seemed to be a place that encouraged having fun with writing: No pressure. No word counts. No deadlines. What I liked best, though, were the words that follow:
Make Wednesday your weekly no-matter-what writing day. If this isn’t a good day then pick another. The important thing is to simply write.
In other words, we are to write anything! With that in mind, and feeling much better about how today’s assignment was going, it was very easy to create this post. Better still, I didn’t have to wait around to jump right in, either.
When is it time to give up on writing a novel that just doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, especially one that was begun several years before and has drawn my attention only in lackluster spurts ever since.
The book is to be a sort of sequel to my first novel, Black Wolf Lodge, featuring the same husband and wife main characters. And since the publication of Black Wolf Lodge in 2010 (was it that long ago?), I have had many people inquire as to when the next one is coming out because they really enjoyed the first.
That, in itself, has been an inspirational motivator—usually—to prod me into getting my butt in the chair and seriously working on the thing. It’s not as though I haven’t done so previously. I have well over 80,000 words in the Scrivener bank, but I find it very difficult to do the rewriting, revising, and editing on a regular, disciplined basis. And that, my friends, bothers me.
In my previous two novels, I was excited and eager each morning (when I do my writing) to get at it and pick up from the previous day’s efforts. Watching the stories develop and come together was fun and fulfilling, leaving me with feelings of having accomplished what I’d set out to do.
Now, though, I sometimes get distressed just thinking of the tatters in which the thing currently rests! My plot seems strong one moment, weak and crappy the next. I can’t help but wonder if this lack of enthusiasm to delve into finishing the story with my best efforts is telling me something: Put the thing away and move along to write other things I have been mulling over. (I wrote about this previously.)
As of this writing, that’s my dilemma. On one hand, I want the story to work and have the protagonist come through once again and have the readers hoping there’ll be a third book in the series. On the other hand, I’m just not sure if the story merits any more hemming and hawing on my part. Of course, I’ll never really know until I decide one way or the other. Which voice should I be listening to?
“Blessed are they, who have nothing to say, and who cannot be persuaded to say it!” (James Russell Lowell)
American poet James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) penned these words a long time ago, and they still ring true today. As I was scrambling for a blog topic the past couple of days, his words kept popping back into my head, and I began to realize that perhaps I really have nothing to say. And until I actually do have something to say, maybe I should stop trying to force the issue.
Yet, I could write about the mess that the world finds itself in, particularly the evil that is ISIS and how our government is attempting to deal with it. But even though I have very strong concerns about this latest threat to our precious way of life here, I don’t want to come off as just another reactionary, spouting that “we should have done this…we should have done that!” As always, I leave it to those folks—our leaders—to make sense of it all and stow the politics long enough to protect our country and all of us in it!
Of course, I could devote hundreds of words to the current sordid state of affairs in the NFL, with its rampant, out-of-control domestic/child abuse, but what really more can anyone say to make much sense of a league gone mad, featuring massive humans—wealthy beyond reason—operating in a world that places them way up on pedestals and adorns them with crowns for being so good at what they do—on the field of play, that is.
I could throw out several paragraphs detailing my continued struggles to get much writing done on my next novel, the one in which I’ve been becalmed and landlocked for such a long time. However, I really don’t like to whine and complain, beating a dead horse over and over again. I’m sure readers don’t deserve having to read any more about it, either.
Amidst all of the sadness, sickness, and horror that swirls about in this world of ours, I’ll keep it to a couple of pleasant and good things. Yesterday, my one grandson, Jack, turned nine. We celebrated with one of his favorite dishes—Grandma’s lasagna, salad, and cake and ice cream. Before we ate, he and his younger brother spent an hour or so out in our back yard having a terrific time playing whiffle ball and laughing and running and sweating.
They knew nothing about the tragedies that surround them or the growing evil over in Syria and its neighboring countries. They couldn’t care less about professional football players who don’t know how to behave in a civilized manner. And they most certainly couldn’t give a rat’s patooty about Grandpa’s writing issues!
In their own beautiful world, life is still very good. They have a mom and dad who care and provide for them. They have warm beds to sleep in—safely—each night and a good school to get to every morning to learn and grow and try to be good citizens of the world.
As we all sat down to dinner and enjoyed the delicious offerings from my wife, I couldn’t help but feel a real sense of pride in my son sitting across from me and my two grandsons, one on each side of me—my legacy!
I do hope the world will turn out OK for them in the years ahead.
So I guess I really didn’t have anything to say after all!
I was back home in Illinois for the better part of this past week, and the air conditioning nearly spoiled
me. Our air conditioning here at the ancient cottages consists of open windows, window fans, and the breezes that mercifully waft our way most days. So, not having been home for several weeks this summer, I was overjoyed to have the house always in a constant state of comfort for the hot and humid conditions lurking outside.
Now, back at the lake in Michigan,I’m writing once again from the cottage porch this morning, and the forecast is calling for warm and humid conditions for the next several days, and I have the cottage “air conditioning” turned up full right now. The windows fans are whirring right along, and I must say, it’s rather pleasant at the moment, and a pontoon cruise and immersion in the lake will hit the spot a bit later this afternoon. Ah, summer!
That time of year…
Driving back home the other day, I passed many schools whose signs welcomed everyone back for a new school year and that Open House or Curriculum Night was scheduled for the very near future. Oh, boy!
Retiring from my teaching career in 2007, I immediately told everyone who cared to listen (or not!) that I would certainly not miss those Open Houses or Curriculum Nights or whatever glowing name they have been given. Early on, they were exciting and fun and positive, but as the years wore on and attitudes shifted in so many ways, those special evenings became tedious and more negative than positive. And the fact that teachers had little say as to how these evenings should be run—dictated to what should be covered, etc.—drove my lack of enthusiasm for such events.
So whenever I pass by a school in these first weeks of a new school year and read that Open House and/or Curriculum Night is fast approaching, I wonder if the teachers inside that building are experiencing feelings of dread or worse: helplessness. Of course, I’m speaking only from my point of view, as I know many teachers whose favorite part of the year were those special nights. For what it’s worth, it’s all necessary, and we teachers always found a way to get through it, for better or worse.
The Writing Life…
It seems as though I’ve done more reading than writing this summer, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. Of course, I’d love nothing better than to have finished my current draft of my WIP (Sandbar’s Secret), but for one reason or another I have been quite unmotivated and/or uninspired to get myself in front of my MacBook and work on the story. I know it’s there, but I just have come up short when it’s time to get going and pull the laptop out of its case and do it.
So to rationalize my lack of output, I’m using the excuse that I have important books to read for a couple of book clubs I’m in, and I’ll be closing out the cottage and lake season in a matter of weeks, so once I’m back in my home environment, and have my computer always out and atop my desk in my writing room, Sandbar’s Secret will get finished!
There, I’ve said it! Now, whether or not it makes any realistic sense I’m not sure. Everyone experiences that period when words don’t come or the story doesn’t go the way we want it or we lose faith in what it is we’re writing. Yes, I am eager to finish the story, but it just doesn’t seem right to attack it now. Am I lazy or just too into the peace and quiet of life here at the lake? Suggestions, anyone?
All that said, it’s time to give it some more thought and close out this post. Besides, I have to get back to reading a terrific book about the Great Migration in America titled The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s a huge book, but an enjoyable and easy read.
Following the wonderful 4th of July weekend that was filled with kids and grandkids and plenty of
fun in the lake and in and around the cottage, I decided it was time to venture back home for a few days to attend to those persistent “calls of necessity.” Those, of course, include taking the recycling containers to the drop-off place at the nearby landfill, shopping to re-supply the essentials for the cottage, doing the laundry, and mowing, trimming, and edging the yard that is healthier than it’s ever been!
Regardless, it was time to come home. I was last home in early June, and today I feel kind of like a stranger in my own house. My routines in the kitchen, which are pretty automatic in the morning making coffee, taking care of clean dishes in the dishwasher, etc., aren’t so automatic at the moment. I find myself pausing to remember exactly where things go and the gentle order of operation when I’m here on a regular basis.
So, today I did the various shopping “runs” to Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart for those items I will take back to the cottage two days from now. I also put back on my bookshelves those books I finished reading during the past few weeks up at the cottage.
One of them, Pigeon Feathers and Other Stories by John Updike, re-affirmed my desire to get back to writing those short stories I keep meaning to finish. It was very good to read those stories I’d first discovered in my American Lit courses at Kent State, back about 1970 or thereabouts, and I saw things this time through that I failed to do then. Could it be that I’m older and wiser now? (Well, older anyway!)
I had two very good–uninterrupted–weeks of working on my novel, Sandbar’s Secret, but I had to shut things down with company and the festive weekend that was the 4th of July celebration.
And I didn’t mind shutting the old MacBook down one bit. Dragging the grandsons around the lake on a tube, dodging the insane “Weekend Warriors” on our lake, was fun, to say the least. The old 90-horse Yamaha outboard ran as smooth as ever, propelling our Tahoe pontoon around and through the waters without a hitch.
Now, with today’s “chores” finished, I can settle in and finish catching up on other e-mail and reading posts from my blog friends and offer a comment where appropriate. Tomorrow’s plan is to do the yard work early in the morning and take care of any other household duties which I haven’t gotten to as yet.
Before I know it, Thursday morning will roll around, and I will be packing the Chevy Equinox once again to return to the cottage on the lake. It’s good to know that there’s still plenty of summer left for writing and reading, and I am most anxious to get back into my novel WIP, Sandbar’s Secret, and find time to read the new biography, Updike, by Adam Begley. We have no company coming this weekend, so that is a good thing! I love friends and family when they come spend a few days and nights with us, but I also savor those weekends when there are no such visitors!
And so, here’s hoping things are well in your world. I send you good wishes from a beautiful day here in northern Illinois, where today’s list has been checked off, and I prepare for tomorrow’s…CortlandWriter
Hello, friends and fellow writers! Just a quick post this morning from my self-imposed exile here in the southwest Michigan hinterlands. It’s a very unique morning, in that the sun is shining, the lake down below is calm and inviting, and the overhead skies are not one massive gray ceiling, promising rain.
Most days and nights during this past week (since my last post) have been chock full of rain, punctuated with thunder and lightning. Thankfully, there has been little wind to contend with. However, yesterday’s early morning “monsoon” not only created little ponds and lakes out on the back lane behind the cottages, it also caused some damage to one of our neighboring cottages just down the way a bit.
Situated under these old and tired oaks and maples and ashes, the cottages–and everything else–is in constant peril when storms decide to do their thing. And it’s those stately ancient trees that get the brunt of the storm’s fury. It’s truly amazing how fortunate these 101-year-old cottages are to have withstood the ravages of nature.
I have been busily at work on my next book–Sandbar’s Secret–and I have taken advantage of the stormy weather to make wonderful progress, particularly since it’s the perfect kind of “indoor” weather for doing so.
I hope that your week is moving along well and there are no storms with which to contend….CortlandWriter
So far in the two weeks that I’ve been up here at my summer place of exile, in the land of southwest Michigan, I’ve read a number of fun and interesting pieces of writing. And though I should be devoting more time at this point to doing my own writing and working on my next project, I have found the reading life much more beneficial at this point. I know, as in summers past, I’ll get the writing juices flowing about this time next week. And there’s a good reason for this. But first, my thoughts about what I’ve managed to read up here on the shores of Magician Lake.
I began my summer reading with Philip Caputo’s delightful book The Longest Road: Overland in Search of America, from Key West to the Arctic Ocean. It’s an easy and pleasurable read, mainly because I love stories of folks who have “hit the road,” and it is one that makes one wish to pack up and join up with Caputo and his wife and their two English setters as they roll along, mile after mile, in their pickup truck with a vintage Airstream in tow.
Of course there is much more than a simple reporting of the various places they pass through. More important, there are the people whose lives, for one reason or another, are forged in the towns—dying or thriving—where they live in today’s America. It’s this very thing that is the force behind Caputo’s purpose of making the long trip in the first place. As he travels along, the question, what holds us all together, surfaces at every turn, in a light and humorous voice every mile of the trip. It’s a wonderful read!
My other is A Study in Sherlock, a collection of short stories based on the Sherlock Holmes Canon, and I found each story therein to be well written and equally as fun to read as Caputo’s book.
Being a longtime Holmes fan, I enjoyed the offerings of featured writers such as Lee Child, Jerry
Margolin, S.J. Rozan, and Dana Stabenow, to name a few whose work makes up the contents of the book. I was familiar with Lee Child from his Jack Reacher books, but most of the others were new to me. I must say, that their stories in this collection have whetted my appetite to read more by each of them. I suppose that’s how we increase our reading wealth.
Now, as for my own writing efforts to finally get kickstarted next week is simple: Our cottage is busy with our two grandkids for a few days, followed by our annual NASCAR “Race Weekend” beginning this coming Thursday.
For many years, several relatives and friends gather here for a multi-day party leading up to our trek over to Michigan International Speedway very early Sunday morning for the race. We’ll return that night and everyone will filter out for their homes in Illinois, Ohio, and various other points on the map on Monday. After a brief recovery period, I’ll be ready to get my writing routine in full gear when it will be just me during the weekdays.
And so this will probably be the last post until that time. I’m sure I’ll have some cogent points to make about “Race Weekend,” so come on back next week. It’s sure to be worth the effort. Until then…CortlandWriter
Up at 6 a.m., having my first cup of morning coffee (not out on the porch, however, ‘cause it’s damp and chilly out there), and knocking the cobwebs from my dear, old MacBook. And it’s the first morning that I don’t have anything that needs doing at any certain time today.
Yep. “Move-in weekend” has come and gone, and it couldn’t have been better, either. To say that the weather was outstanding would be understating things immensely! Plenty of sunshine filled each day, beginning with our arrival here early Friday right on through Memorial Day on Monday.
There was not the slightest hint of a storm until late Monday evening. By that time, everything was in its place, Carolyn’s annual planting complete, and the pontoon all covered and moored in its usual spot down the slope below our 101-year-old cottage.
When the season’s first storm did roll in late Monday night, it had its normal share of wind as well as a drenching rain. It was no big thing to roll down the porch blinds that keeps things somewhat dry, and I remembered the visqueen, that polyethylene sheeting, that we always use to cover the futon when a storm is near.
So when I crawled into bed, tired, achy, and worn out from all of the weekend’s tasks and physical challenges, I felt pretty good about having everything buttoned up and secure against the thunderstorm that was now hitting us with pretty good force. Let it rain!
I’m not sure exactly when it was—around 3 a.m., perhaps—that I remembered that I had done nothing to secure our pier furniture, consisting of a few plastic chairs, a couple of footstools, and a small table. I’d forgotten all about them as they sat right where I’d placed them the day before after a much-needed bath in the lake.
Whenever there’s wind of any sort, the chairs and table are not going to win out. Instead, they’ll be blown off the pier and end up along the shore, which—thankfully—is close and in very shallow water. As I lay there remembering my failure to bungee cord the pier furniture, I knew I’d be getting in the water for an early morning “search and rescue” mission in a few hours. With that it mind, I rolled over and went back to sleep and listened to the rain on the roof.
A few hours later, as the dawn of a new day arrived and the storm from the night gone, I came down and got the morning coffee going and put on my water shoes. In the early light of the morning, I could see that a couple of chairs that had been stacked together had remained in place, as well as the two low footstools, but the three other chairs and the little round table were gone.
And so I went down to see what I could see. Sure enough, the three chairs were resting against the shoreline not far from where I was standing on our pier, and I could see that the little table had traveled farther, to the end of the pier two cottages down. No problem at all. I stepped off into the shallow water and retrieved our chairs and table and returned them to the pier and tied them down with a cord I’d brought along.
A few minutes later, I was back in the cottage and having a wonderful cup of hot coffee. The day ahead promised to be a good one for getting some reading done and to get things going for my writing routine for the summer. This post is the first effort along those lines.
There are a few little tweaks and adjustments needed to finish the move-in process, and I’ll be attending to them today. In the meantime, another cup of coffee is in order….CortlandWriter
For the past week, I have been firmly ensconced in this year’s NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and in my last post I wrote about all of the trials and tribulations that the month of November offers, causing me to claw and scrape to reach my target of 50,000 words by month’s end.
I am happy to report that as of now, I have nearly 21,000 words in the hopper, and I’m having fun firing up the MacBook very early each morning and wondering exactly in which direction my story is going to go.
I love the freedom that NaNoWriMo provides in not having to be concerned with editing and revising. Since I’m a stickler for correcting and editing and revising whenever I see a need in my writing, ignoring the inclination to do so is probably the toughest aspect of the month’s writing challenge for me. But this year, I’m finding it much easier to do so.
I think, too, that this year’s effort is enhanced by that wonderful program known as Scrivener. Not only does it allow me to write in large chunks, and then break them up into smaller chunks as needed, but it is ideal for keeping track of the Word Count for each writing session and the overall count for the entire project. I love writing in Composition Mode, without any other distractions, and having the Project Target indicator showing at the lower left-hand corner of the screen. As I crank out those words, the progress bar grows slowly and steadily, and the word totals click off, higher and higher. It was never this easy or relaxing using Word.
So, unless I hit that proverbial “wall” and simply fail to pound out the rest of the story by the deadline, I am pretty sure that I’m on course to exceed the 50,000 words by the end of the month, even though I will be cramped for regular writing time the last couple of weeks. That’s why I’m making a concerted effort in these first weeks of November to harvest as many words as I can. And, of course, it helps when I have a pretty good idea where I want my story to end up–even though just how it will do so is every day’s adventure!…CortlandWriter