I reached that point. I went into the novel, strolled around the forest of words and found the trails I’d marked. One was marked Pram.

What was I to do with Pram? No, that was a flawed position; what will Pram do and what will happen to him? Walking about after writing yesterday, I reviewed what he’d done and what had happened.

Then Pram spoke up. He knew what was to happen, what he was to do, his role in the greater arc. He understood how he’d not understood himself, how he’d sheltered himself and hid, safely in the middle despite his colossal size, happy to be considered above average but just far enough above average to gain some trust and some attention, but not too much. He saw better than me how his personality and quiet choices of non-choices dictated his endpoint, and he saw how others saw him and had recognized, accepted and planned for his inadequacies. That directed his destiny. He saw it as not giving up, but as acquiescing.

He dictated a few thoughts to me. These sentences were the seeds that sowed the scene and grew into a chapter, becoming a turning point.

I compared him to me afterward, seeing the similarities and differences, how much of myself was vested in him. He’d been a good corporate soldier but could not stretch himself enough to seek another beginning. He didn’t fear new beginnings but didn’t care for them. He’d had new beginnings before. They hadn’t worked out. He was tired of trying.

He lived almost one hundred years. His parents remained alive and together, and the latter was unusual in Pram’s era. He’d been born well-to-do and had been comfortable in his role. He thought he loved his work. Turned out he’d been placating himself about what he believed and accepted. But then came an unfolding of his protections, welcoming a new understanding of himself. Gladly he went on, happy to understand who he was.

Today’s Theme Music

This was an intense song. My mind immediately began streaming it during my walks and it stayed lodged in my head for several months. Seeing the video reinforced its effect.

‘Too Close’, by Alex Clare, 2011, captures the essence of a long-term romantic relationship to me. The song sounds like a soliloquy, an emotional epiphany. It feels like you’re going separate ways; it feels like you’re just too close. Matters become combative and intense. Words are said, parry, thrust, circle,  en garde, but sometimes the fencing is done in silent expectation of what could have been said. Then there is always the pondering, what was meant, what was meant, what was meant?

Each of Us

Awake in bed for a while, I considered the day’s agenda. I thought of my coffee shop routine and the other regulars like me the baristas encounter. I hear banter similar to mine with the baristas going on. They have a patter with everyone. I know the regulars’ faces and routines, and some of their surface stories. People who live in vans and come in to buy food and coffee and use the coffee shop’s free computer and Internet. Others with little resources doing the same but reading paperback books. Walkers who use the coffee shop as a rest and turn-around point.

Writers, of course, on computers or with books and notebooks. Students, of course, on computers or with books and notebooks. City council members. Southern Oregon University professors. High school teachers. Old liberals and old conservatives. Conversations, observations and declarations bounce around.

Police officers come by, and firefighters. Professors meet and discuss syllabi and surveys. The French teacher conducts her lessons, the Spanish teacher gives her instructions, the counselor consoles the suicide survivor, the financial adviser discusses bankruptcies with clients, the wedding planner shows people binders, crying people confess their worries and despair, the Christians discuss the Bible and the world, and boyfriends and girlfriends and young couples do what has always been done while old friends and couples visit with memories of one another.

That’s perhaps a third of what I witness happening here, in one coffee shop, in one neighborhood during a typical week. Zoom out with your lens and pick up the neighborhoods and other coffee shops. Expand your field of sight to the whole town, and consider the same scenes in other towns, cities, states and nations.

Look at the pubs and restaurants and include their routines. Widen the angle to consider the Internet, blogs and forums, and how each of us is different together and yet the same, how we’re individuals but also a breathing, thinking organism spreading around the world, burrowing into the Earth and reaching out into space.

Time for some coffee so I can start thinking straight.

Dance, Dance, Dance

Succinct dreams remembered.

I was in the military once again, USAF, wearing my light blue shirt with its salad, dark blue pants, working in the command post. I’m in my mid-thirties.

I’ve acquired an additional duty. Every day at noon, someone comes in and relieves me so I can teach others to dance. I teach two to three people at a time.  don’t know them. They learn their steps and moves quickly. Once they learn, they disappear and others replace them. It’s important to the dream me that the students get in and out quickly, because I’m teaching them to dance to reduce tension and conflict.

The dream logic puzzles the dream me, who points out that I can’t dance in real life. Oddly, I’m not actually dancing in the dream, either; I just offered music and told them to dance. They would dance, laugh, and disappear. I was pleased with the assignment.

The song in the dream was Justin Timberlake’s ‘Can’t Stop the Feeling, from ‘Trolls’. 

The second dream was as succinct. Living on some land I’d fixed up, I was now feeding the cats. I measured out food into bowls and then go find the cats and give them the food.

Then I awoke and fed the cats.


“Here we go, beast.”

Writing a novel is often an exploration for me, a visit to new, uncharted realms. Sometimes I get a little lost.

I completed three chapters yesterday. They’d been written in parallel. One of them was part of the five chapters being written in parallel.

That’s how it is. The novel in progress reminds me of math involving nonlinear equations that I once briefly encountered. They involved solving simultaneous equations and polynomials. I don’t remember much more except it struck me as a fascinating way to encounter and express relationships and awareness.

Besides being nonlinear, the novel is asynchronous, part of the idea of asynchronous epiphanies that evolve throughout the novel, something borrowed from asynchronous learning and asynchronous computer functions. This sometimes gives me a headache. The novel is and is not chronological, an apparent paradox that adds a challenge to writing it, because it may appear chronological, and I naturally revert to thinking about it in terms of a chronological approach. (I imagine readers reading it, and asking themselves, “What?” And I laugh….)

All of this was born out of the ideas that something is possible until it’s proven impossible, the alienation and isolation that develops with technology and how it affects our personalities and thinking, colonization of other planets, and how often our thinking mirrors computer operations (or is it the converse?) and work on asynchronous levels. That gave a rise to thinking about how reality works, and the creation of the chi-particles. Chi-particles have imaginary energy and mass and travel faster than light. I also throw in some soap opera, just to keep it interesting.

Along the way with all of this, I keep playing with the ideas behind reality, as to whether we create it, or it creates us, or if it’s a symbiotic process that depends upon one another. Symbiotic may not be the right term. That’s supposed to apply to biological entities, but then I think, can reality as we experience actually be a biological creature, but then that diverts me back into notions of God and creative intelligence.

Anyway, finishing those three chapters brought me back up to a specific intersection of storylines that required me to bring other chapters and storylines up to date so all may proceed. That necessitated delving back into what has been written to re-calibrate and orientate myself and my characters. I needed to read what had already been written in specific areas and review notes.

Reading what was written turned out to be a surprising and rewarding journey. My writing and its characters, setting, and stories surprised me. They distracted me from my main task of figuring out what happens next, yes, but it was enjoyable to read material written months ago and find out that it’s decent writing. Of course, it’s my child; what else would I think?

Here I am now, re-calibrated and re-oriented, quad shot mocha in hand. “Here we go, beast,” I tell my computer. “Time to write like crazy, at least one more time.”

Five hundred pages done; how many more remain?

Ragged Dream

Leaving a business conference. Get in my car to drive away. My wife is with me and my car is a silver sports car. I start driving down the road when I notice someone not in their lane off my right rear quarter panel. Concerned they’ll hit me, I accelerate and move to the left. The road is rough and bumpy, with many cracks and potholes, but eventually, with some drama, I get clear of the other car, a large silver SUV.

We come upon a little truck stop. We’re to pause there to meet up with others. They’re already there, including several friends from my life. We purchase food and coffee. Some of my co-workers are there. We gather around a guy who’s explaining what we need to do to collect expenses and be reimbursed. A co-worker asks for an expense slip. I realize I need the same and request it. I’m also given some additional travel money. Pleased, I go off to join my friends.

I’m ready to hit the road; they’re not. I try to complete paperwork but realize a few things are missing so I can’t complete it. Then I worry about my car from something I see through the truck stop window. I go out and check on the car and find it’s fine. Back inside, I hang around a cashier counter, idling at racks of food, map and magazines, waiting for my friends. They come out. “Ready to go?” I ask.

“No, not yet, just a little while longer,” one female friend answers. “I want another cup of coffee.”

“Ten minutes?” I reply.

“No, twenty.”

I accept that but I’m not happy. Returning to the counter, I press a button on a small device and discover I’ve inadvertently purchased three lottery tickers. The smarmy, greasy, toothless cashier demands payment, and I fork over ten dollars. Inexplicably, I return to the device. I think I’m doing something else and hit the button to buy lottery tickets again. I’m so exasperated. The same cashier demands payment, and I do it. And then, I hit the same button one more time.

This time, I can’t find the money to pay him. I thought I had more money. The cashier crows, “Then I’m just going to have to take these lottery tickets back. No money, no tickets. That’s how it’s played.”

His attitude annoys me but I’m more annoyed that I don’t have the money I thought I did. And people around me now think I don’t have money, and that bothers me. Going through my wads of papers I’m holding, though, I uncovered a fifty dollar bill. “There,” I say, trying to show it to others. “I do have money.”

The end.

A Random Stream

‘Hey Ya’ is playing in my head but otherwise, thoughts are normalized streams of randomness.

  • Eva Lesko Natiello posted a blog about not quitting. I was happy to read it and read it again today because her words summarizes my writing process. Here’s one paragraph.
    • “Yesterday my manuscript was torturing me. I couldn’t move forward. Stuck in my puzzle. I was having trouble with the order of disclosure and who’s POV it should be. Should the dialogue contradict what the character was really thinking? Maybe she wasn’t thinking that at all. What was she thinking? Maybe it wasn’t her place to reveal it. Perhaps we should find out some other way.”
    • I like how she captured this process. Later, she mentions that she becomes frustrated and pushes herself to sit it in her chair and squirm it out. I don’t squirm; I close my eyes and bow my head. But’s it’s the same thing.
  • Earlier in February, Barbara Froman published an interview she conducted with Dr. Harrison Solow in 2013. I read it again this week. I recommend it. I like what Harrison said in this paragraph:
    • “And someone has had the great good sense to leave this book alone. Or if altered, respectfully tuned to perfect pitch by an invisible hand, so that each word has the unmistakable ring of authenticity. The reader perceives nothing enharmonic. A true book and a beautiful one. But although there is no false note, neither is the entire composition a universal symphony. There is vision here — intensely personal, internally arranged.”
    • There is the difficulty, finding the notes so no false notes are played in the novel.
  • Gray, cold air cups the buildings and trees this morning. Walking past a row of apartments, I smell…laundry detergents and fabric softeners being vented out. Nostalgia strikes a chime. This is a day like my Pittsburgh childhood. Smells often transport me.
  • Striding past the cemetery, I acknowledge, again, I like cemeteries but I don’ t like them. The history they represent touches me and prompts questions about the lives beneath the headstones. But I think the land where cemeteries reside could be better used for other things. I’ve never had the interest in visiting them to talk to people who passed on; I just speak to them in my head. But it matters much to others. I guess I’m an unsentimental jerk.
  • Watched  ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ on Friday night. Wasn’t impressed. It seems like, as my wife called it, a movie war, dated and hackneyed. Others obviously think differently, as they nominated it for the Best Picture. Again, it must be me. I do admire Desmond Doss, the conscientious objector (cooperator, he calls himself) at the story’s center. I thought Garfield did a good job, but overall, Mel Gibson as a director seemed heavy handed. I found Hollywood vs History’s details about the differences between the movie and the facts very interesting.
  • Many smart houses, with their smart thermostats, are actually connected to apps that allow you to call it from your phone and change the temperature or turn the lights on or off. That’s not a smart house, but a remote control. A smart house, to me, is one that I don’t have to program and set reminders other than to provide it with some basic operating instructions. For instance, my system is programmed for fifty-eight degrees at night. But if the temperature is dropping into the mid twenties Fahrenheit, like this week, I turn it up to sixty-four at night. Part of this is because the house design; the furnace is mounted on its side in the attic space. It’s not insulated, and the drip line runs through it and down inside a garage wall that also isn’t insulated. That sometimes allows the drip line to freeze. It’s a shortcoming that I’m working on to fix, but meanwhile, a smarter house would be helpful.
  • ‘Nocturnal Animals’ was last night’s household viewing feature. Well done and everything, but not my style of movie.
    • During the movie, my wife turned to me and asked, “Have you ever killed me in a novel?” No, I haven’t.
    • Jake Gyllenhaal’s character, Tony Hastings, is a writer. During a conversation, he states, “All writers write about themselves.” I kind of agree; I am the baseline from which I begin, but then it changes according to the character and story’s needs and expectations. Often, though, I model a character on another person and use how I would expect them to behave as my guide.
    • My wife also wondered what I thought of Tony’s revenge. While it’s not something that I would have done, I can see how a writer can end up going there.
    • If you don’t know what I’m writing about, sorry. I don’t mean to be obtuse but didn’t want to reveal too much of the plot.
  • Now time to dip myself back in the imaginary world of an imaginary future, technology and people. In other words, I’m going to write like crazy, at least one more time. I’ll probably do a little squirming, too.

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