Compassion, Prejudice, Judgment

Sometimes, the most unexpected emotions com from equally unexpected places. I'd like to tell you a story about the last 7 days in my house, a snake, and an unexpected lesson from my son, Jefferson (he's 10 years old). As a kid, reptiles always fascinated me. Cold-blooded creatures are strange, no doubt, and there's such a stigma around lizards and snakes that it's hard to get past feelings of anxiety around them if there's an ingrained feeling that these critters are dangerous, or terrifying. Truth is, they're scared of humans because they see us as giant predators that could eat them. That can make them defensive until they get used to you (I don't blame them). They don't eat people, dogs, or cats, unless you're in…

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Wakes in the Water

February of 2019, while on my honeymoon in Las Vegas, I received a phone call that my brother had passed away suddenly due to heart failure coming out of general anesthesia during a simple, routine surgery. Today, memories are flooding back into me. Right now, I'm on vacation in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in the exact space where last August my wife and I were married, and also where my brother and I spent what would end up being our last moments in each other's presence. My wedding day was wonderful - simple and small (perfect for an introvert), with some friends and family, and my brother Joe. He brought a present for me on my wedding day. A bottle of Blueberry wine from a New…

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Writing a Book Foreword

I was fortunate enough recently to be asked to write a Foreword in my friend Eric's book, "A Green Winter in Mosul, Iraq." http://www.lulu.com/shop/eric-mcnail/a-green-winter-in-mosul-iraq/paperback/product-24137030.html The process of writing something like a Foreword was quite alien to me. It's a very personal piece of writing. And while I feel like I do fine coming up with, I don't know, zombie jokes and ridiculous scenarios in short stories. Giving something as serious as someone's memories from the Iraq Invasion the attention it deserves from a perspective of personally knowing that individual ... ... well that's difficult for a very internal INFJ like yours truly. Still, I'm very proud of the man for writing his memories down, and I feel that what he shares is a very important…

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Goals, and Reaching Them

If you would've told me last year that I'd get to writing a story, and that it would make sense, and flow, and I'd hit 30,000 words, I would've thought it crazy. Well, boom. Would I like to make more progress? Yes. Is that a 3 or 4 week take in words for people who write, write, write? Sure is. And it took me months. Don't. Give. A. Shit. Their journey is not my journey. That's something worth keeping in mind. Every journey is different, all that matters is you getting to whatever finish line you've set up for yourself, and that's exactly where I'm headed. Today, I celebrate, then I keep writing. Next goal, 40K.

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Sometimes You Can’t Word Good

I don't believe in "Writer's Block" because I don't think there's some mythical force preventing you from throwing words up onto a screen. I DO believe that sometimes, your brain is not able to function in a creative way - maybe that's what you'd call writer's block, I just call it, "Having a shit-ass day." There's nothing blocky about it. So what I end up doing when I'm having shit-ass writing days is to find a way to occupy my typical writing time with other things. Editing (a soul-sucking chore, to be sure), or writing anything OTHER than my current work in progress, or polishing up some outlining, maybe a little research, etc. All of these things help the project move along in secondary ways…

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A Spud-Like Short Story

Because sometimes, you just have to write a noir scene about a detective and potatoes... ********** I pressed the red circular button on my small audio recording device, set it down on the detective’s desk, and looked up at him. The street lights outside were mostly blocked by the drawn shades in his dank charcoal-grey office, and a slow trail of cigarette smoke was curling it’s way from his bandaged left hand, past his square jaw, until it finally stretched out and blanketed across the paint-peeled tin ceiling above us. Private Detective Poe Tatum looked as if though he’d been run over by a delivery truck with an Idaho license plate. Twice. He brought his bandaged hand to his mouth and took a long drag…

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Writing Exercise – Something’s Missing

So I'm in a small local writer's group (when I mean small, I mean small - most weeks it's 2 or 3 of us, the max is 4), and we decided to issue a kind of "homework" assignment week to week to stretch our writing brain. It's nothing terribly burdensome, so it doesn't affect the WIP (Work In Progress, for those of you who are bad at acronyms OMGWTFLOLBBQ). This week's assignment - write a scene in which there is a character focused on something that is missing. For me, I decided to focus it on loss (eh, I'm an oft-downtrodden INFJ, it's a thing). Here, without any further explanation, I give you my 500-ish-word scene featuring poor Sam ... ********** The screen door creaked…

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Back to Life, Back to Reality

You know, that title should be in a song. Anyway. I'm six-ish weeks removed from family tragedy, and as I'd anticipated (for myself at least), acceptance has settled in, and the day by day is going by well enough. I'm still having these moments where something small and largely inconsequential hits me and I just break down, but for the most part, I'm back to moving forward, though with some periodic somberness attached. I'm a firm believer that your objective reality (oh here he goes, preaching Ayn Rand again), is what should guide you day to day. Aligning your principles with that objective reality, and rocking your truth, so to speak. So I've been trying to do that. Health considerations have been at the fore…

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Death. Loss. Heartbreak.

I had a writing project two weeks ago that had nothing to do with the Big Damn Book I've been working on. This was neither a project I desired or particularly enjoyed. It was my big brother's eulogy. It centered around him as my hero, my friend, and my brother. That's a 7-year-old me, touching my brother's football helmet when he was a High School Senior. To say I always looked up to him would be a gross understatement. 54 years old, and he passed away due to cardiac failure while having a routine medical procedure on his shoulder which had him under anesthesia. One moment, fine, fun, cheerful, laughing. The next moment gently slipping into sleep, his body relaxed for all of maybe 20…

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The Current Struggle

Two posts in one day? Not really, because while I'm writing this the same day as my previous post, I'm going to set it to post later, but man it would TOTALLY count if I published it right now! Anyway. I'm having an internal struggle, and I need to write some things down to hash it out. My struggle has to do with the awful INFJ thing of "get yourself out there." I consider myself a healthy INFJ - I'm creative, and yes I have my bouts of anxiety and such, but I do understand what it takes to get me on the right path again (basically, everyone go away I need solitude). Part of being an INFJ is having near constant conflict in your…

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