Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Dear Reader,

Wonderful news today, my first novel Time of Death has found a home! On January 19th I received word from Five Star Publishing that they would be purchasing my manuscript.

Writing is a funny business. You spend your time laboring away over the keyboard – pounding away at the keys and burning up synapses to create what you believe is a great story, you edit heartily to prune everything up into a presentable shape, and then you send your work off firmly believing you will be rejected. In no other business is the performer so convinced that all their efforts will come to naught. Yet we keep going.

Perhaps being a writer is a form of insanity – it’s worth considering. Unfortunately, as soon as you’ve come to the decision that you’re crazy you sell a piece and the whole cycle of insanity is revived.

Now I wait for contact from the publisher. Probably an editor who will help me with further pruning and shaping – it’s the hard part of the job, the part that isn’t fun. In the end, though, what comes out will be tighter, better written, and more pleasurable to read. I once attended a writer’s conference where Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid’s Tale. She said something at that conference that has stuck with me, “If you sell a novel you’ll start editing – by the time you finish editing you will hate your novel.”

I hope I don’t wind up hating it – I put a lot of work into it to hate what I created!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

More Airports, More Transition

Dear Reader,

Traveling seems to be my obsession lately. Maybe it’s a part of the general unrest that’s become my work life lately. With insecurity surely must come unrest and there’s nothing more restless than the modern airport. It’s a place of transience, a hallway between two states.

The first state is physical – you are traveling and that, reasonably, entails moving from one place to another. As I sit at the terminal, waiting for my flight, I watch dusty travelers bound for destinations across the country and around the world. There are the vanquished fans of the visiting football team, the road-weary business travelers heading for the next corporate call, and then there is the endless stream of bleary-eyed refugees. Even the flight crews are just passing through – either on their way to their next plane or home for a little sleep before taking off again.

The transition is more than physical, though. When I step through the doors and walk into the ticketing level of IND, my mental attitude changes. I’ve long lauded the ‘old fashion’ concept of air travel – the days when boarding a plane and was part of the enjoyment of traveling. There’s something lovely and nostalgic about pictures of stewardesses with little airline hats pushing carts of complementary comfort items down the broad aisle between rows of seats and travelers who dressed (jacket and tie and a nice dress for the ladies) to travel. Merely going from ticketing area to terminal destroys that image – the process is something like passing through a Star Trek transporter where you are disassembled molecule by molecule and reassembled on the other side of the x-ray machines. No amount of nostalgia can survive such a trip – its hard enough to maintain your dignity.

Security isn’t the problem. I don’t think you could find a single person who’d like to reduce airport security to the level that would allow crazies with exploding underwear to board of their own volition. Personally, I believe the blame for the death of pleasurable air travel on a variety of factors. Airports have become ticket kiosks attached to low quality, over priced strip malls. Airlines no longer have to provide service. Unless flying first class and on a luxury carrier the traveler is considered an irritating inconvenience instead of a customer. The airlines have strangled the service they provide down to the utter minimum and shoehorned as many travelers as possible into the smallest amount of space. And, unfortunately, I’m sure that it only will get worse until the air travel industry is forced to reinvent itself.

So, I sit here at terminal B7 waiting for my flight to Dallas. It isn’t dawn outside and when I look out the cantilevered windows I only see the lights of the waking city, the blinking indicators of the runways, and my own reflection. Everything else is uncertainty, a dark canvas to be filled in by the light that time will bring. After tomorrow I may have a secure future, a great new job, and an assurance that my life can move forward in some trajectory that resembles what I’d hoped for before the Great Economic Decline. Then again, maybe there’s only more uncertainty out there – another airport and more waiting and wondering.