Wednesday, April 28, 2010

'Tis Spring

Dear Reader,

Pardon my recent absence. A bad bout of life in its most fundamental broke out, taking me by surprise and forcing me to spend a few weeks in the ward of consumerism. In short everything in the house decided to break at once and I've been fixing, reassembling, and replacing since. I promise to share my views on the sinister nature of appliances on some future date. I'm under doctor's orders to maintain a pleasant disposition until everything heals so I'll purposefully digress.

Finally the first redress of Time of Death is complete. Rogue sentences have been tamed, errant ideas rechanneled, and the clean copy has been sent back to the publishers for its second culling. With spring pressing on the windowpanes I'm reminded of how much writing resembles gardening. There are weeds to pull, rows to hoe, and ideas to furrow into what hopefully is fertile ground. Now, with everything neatly tucked into its bed I'm left to wait for the sprouting. Five Star's tentative release date is September 2011 (mark your calendars). My garden intuition says that is a long time to wait for something to sprout. Maybe that's the flaw in my whole garden metaphor.

The off time won't be wasted, though. I'm in the midst of two science fiction novels, one with the preliminary title The Cinder Girl and another which is still lurking around my desktop without a name. Before old nameless is completed I'll be spending time on the follow-up to Time of Death. If that's not enough, there's a fantasy and a literary novel kicking about in the darker regions of my brain. Evidence suggests spring is a season where ideas and hares frolic madly and multiply.

Friday, April 16, 2010


Dear Reader,

Spring has arrived and with it the sense of renewal everyone's so fond of talking about. I'm a winter person myself. I can't say exactly why. Maybe I enjoy the long, dreaming slumber and the imagining of possibilities before the hard work of manifesting them. It probably would take a psychologist (or maybe a philosopher) to sort out the truth. Still, with all of that said, I'm not totally adverse to the whole renewal, re-growth, and reinvention thing. It would be difficult to be a writer while sticking strictly to imagining your stories without ever revising them and revision is impossible so I embrace the season's growth even if I don't look forward to the mosquitoes.

A few days ago, in the spirit I mentioned, I ventured into the deepest recesses of my closet and brought out a relic. Probably twenty years ago I bought a Canon TL QL 35mm camera from a coworker. It was, at that time, ten years old and had seen many of life's rough patches. I like to imagine it'd ventured across the ocean to Viet Nam where some soldier or civilian used it to document the conflagration that had set fire to east and west. I like thinking that because it helps the winter side of me justify holding on to a thirty-plus year old camera that I haven't used in at least ten years. The writer in me likes believing the story because it's got a romance about it and might make the backbone of a short story if properly parsed. The realistic side of me has to admit that, knowing the guy I bought the camera from, it's unlikely the Canon ever saw anything more daring than taking pictures of buddies water skiing and drinking beer.

None the less, I drug out the battered leather case and pulled out the heavy camera for a dusting off and refurbishing. The batteries were long-since dead and a couple of them had puked their acidic guts up, corroding the battery terminals and requiring a baking soda scrubbing. I had to order a battery for the camera's onboard light meter - shipped from some distant port that the camera itself may or may not have visited. And in the end I found that the light meter which I'd went to the trouble of ordering that battery to power, no longer functions. I debated purchasing an external light meter to replace the onboard one - but then I thought. This is a thirty year old camera. I put all the camera components back in their boxes and stowed them away again. There is a time when renewal fails.

One great thing about writing is that renewal need never meet mechanical failure. Words don't corrode and if they don't work, a bit of mental gymnastics usually will accomplish the necessary repairs. This is something I'm discovering as I go through the first round of edits for Time of Death. Some of the words I stored inside the story have gotten tarnished or failed but they can be renewed and refurbished.