Latest: Lotus




Sleeping Lie

shirtsleeve wipe the window grime
your bark weaker all the time
don’t see you but you’re out there I can tell
shaggy coat too far away to smell

back and forth, closer every pass
you think you see me looking through the glass
shadow of coal pacing hot
you think you’re gonna take me but you’re not

hand on the doorknob, I know

I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
for you
today

I don’t pace I don’t shake I don’t freak out
once in a while I can’t help but peek out
you’re not close enough to bite
you’re still there prowling my night

I lean against the door, I know

I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
for you
today

I hit the light your eyes glow red
you whimper and cower and duck your head
thought you’d come to me to get fed
I’ll laugh out loud when I know you’re dead

you used to knock me down, get on my back
work your fangs to hear my spine crack
worry my neck like you were killing a rat
you and I we’re way past that

kick that door open, now I know

I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
I won’t turn my back
for you
today


Imposter Syndrome

The group of mad songwriters I’m hanging with this month have a thread with 100+ posts about imposter syndrome.

Every artist who’s ever created something they feel strongly about has also felt like a fraud. Who am I to pretend to be an author? Who am I to pretend my songs are worth your trouble to spend 3 minutes listening?

John Lennon anguished about his lyrics. Stephen King is, to this day, ashamed of his subject matter, still smarting from a teacher’s disdain for the junk he wrote.

I have reached a point where I’m confident about my song lyrics, and getting there about my books. Every smart writer I trust has said they learn to ignore feedback except from very specific people in very specific ways. Not the 1-star haters on Amazon. Not their Best Beloved (though mine is my first audience, but her one and only job is to smile and pat me on the head; we both know her job doesn’t involve anything like honest criticism, that comes later.)

I don’t believe in the anguished lamenting artist who must bleed and die to create. We choose to do this. On some level we’re driven to it; I don’t think I’d be happy if I stopped writing novels. But no one makes me do it, and a lot of folks never feel the joy of publishing a book or performing a song they wrote. I get to make art, and I’m happy about it. It takes work, though, to focus on the positives when Imposter Syndrome and Resistance strike.

Next time you see someone doing something creative, whether it’s performing in public or just sketching a doodle in the park, thank them for daring. They can always use the boost.


This Story is Beneath You

A confused fan searches for one of my books
Almost two years ago I started my 6th novel. Plotting and planning, then writing like mad. Research, plot adjustments, pondering, and more writing like mad.

Somewhere along the way, it crashed.

More precisely, I crashed.

Flashback to Success

On November 11th of 2011 I released 6 books simultaneously. (11/11/11, get it?) In the previous 6 months I’d written (or compiled) 4 books and co-authored 2 more, all books about business philosophy and process.

I switched to fiction. Finally followed up my first Irish adventure novel with a second, then started another series, and a third.

It was like driving a Lamborghini steamroller.

Then, I got some professional advice.

Continue reading “This Story is Beneath You”



On the Eve of My Daughter’s Wedding

Five weeks ago, I was one of the most important people in her life. Now, a near stranger is the most important person in her life, and I’m barely a part of it.

It feels like death. It feels, inside, exactly the way it felt when my father died.

I know that, one month ago, she left, and she’s never coming back. She’ll go away and be part of someone else’s life, and we’ll see her now and then, but she’ll never really be back.

After all the years of stress and frustration and countless hours of worry and talk and tears, someone else gets to have the almost adult we created, and we get an empty hole.

It’s not fair and it hurts, and all anyone else sees is the angry whining selfish old man. Someone is taking one of my most precious possessions, and doesn’t even seem to care how I feel.

I’m scared and sad and lonely. I’m heart-broken over the projects we’ll never finish because she’ll go away and be part of someone else’s life instead of mine.

It’s not anger. It’s pain. That sound in my voice; the look on my face.

That’s my heart breaking.

bride


Write Drunk. Edit Sober. Is That Right?

Apparently Wednesday comes a day late this week. Still sorting this new posting schedule. Glad you’re here.

Papa H famously said, “Write drunk. Edit sober.”

Just to be totally clear that I’m not advocating alcohol abuse, the point is that made by Gustave Flaubert in a letter to Gertrude Tennant (her daughter Dorothy married the explorer Henry Stanley.)

Flaubert wrote Soyez réglé dans votre vie et ordinaire comme un bourgeois, afin d’être violent et original dans vos œuvres.

Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.

solid old tree in the wild weather

There is a natural balance between order and chaos. You will have a certain amount of each in life, in your personality, in your art. Continue reading “Write Drunk. Edit Sober. Is That Right?”


Willpower Won’t Power Emotional Writing

pick that shovelEmotional writing connects with readers. But you’re not going to produce it simply by trying harder or longer. You can’t will yourself to an emotional outpouring. I’d like to chat more about ways to increase the amperage in our writing, but I’d like to be sure you understand that “trying harder” isn’t one of them.

Here’s your homework: read any or all of these fine articles on the limitations of willpower, and understand that this is how your brain is wired, not some failure on your part. While these articles are, in general, talking about persistence, problem-solving, and self-control, the principles affect your efforts to produce emotionally evocative prose.

Continue reading “Willpower Won’t Power Emotional Writing”


Why Do You Write?

A Long, Hard Look - a Chandleresque cozyPressfield nails it again. Today’s post is about finding why, about asking yourself why you write, what you expect to happen.

And it’s about letting go of the stuff you simply cannot control.

He suggests asking yourself these questions:

  • Was this a worthy effort?
  • Did it call upon you to give more than you believed you had in you?
  • Did you conduct yourself honorably in the enterprise?
  • Did you give it all you had?
  • Did you succeed according to your own standards, the measures that only you know and only you can define?

I intend to market A Long, Hard Look as well as I can.

I intend to accept whatever level of commercial success it achieves, because I can answer “yes” to those 5 questions, and that’s what matters.


Why You Need a $2 Wooden Pencil

Palomino Blackwing 602.

Can you imagine a pencil so glorious it has a first, middle, and last name? For $2 each, I guess they should.

To put that price into perspective, for those of you who think hey that’s half as much as a cup of coffee, the dozen yellow Dixon Ticonderoga pencils you shoved into your kid’s backpack at the start of the school year cost fourteen cents each. That dozen cost less than a single Blackwing 602.

But read the reviews.

Continue reading “Why You Need a $2 Wooden Pencil”


Quashing the Need for Approval

Yes, we all need approval, and even if I try to quash it, it will live on.

But when I find myself slanting my writing specifically to elicit a response, I need to adjust my settings.

As of January 1st, I’m turning off comments on this blog. I want to free up some emotional energy for writing. This will help.

You already know where to find me if you want to chat. It’s not about turning off the conversation.