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Will to Write

In These Times that Try Heart and Soul

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If you were up until three am the night before last you witnessed the historic end of the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump against Hillary Clinton. The inferno of controversy has been overwhelming and no one was too happy with either candidate. Now that the choice has been made, many are furious. Protests have broken out in our streets and tension is reaching a new high. Many say that this is the end of the United States of America.

In these times that try heart and soul, I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what our new president will accomplish in office, what sort of future we’ll have. But, we can’t afford to loose ourselves now. I humbly plead with you America. Do not focus on what was, for that has long gone by. Donald Trump will be the next president of the United States and our question as a nation should now be, how are we to act? In answering there are some points we should keep in mind.

  1. No elected President ever implemented all that he said he would do during the campaign. It’s one thing to shoot your mouth off and have the media paint you in whatever outlandish colors that they see fit,  it’s quite another to actually sit in the chair. So upcoming events may not turn out as bad as we fear.
  2. United we stand, divided we fall. This one here is an oldy but a goody. As I said, the votes have spoken and Trump was chosen. Do not remain locked in what could’ve been. As cringe worthy as this idea sounds we must unite behind our chosen leader. Our support would be of much greater help to our nation as a whole than the continual creation of division.
  3. Pray: “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our savior.”
    1 Timothy 2:1-3      God can use anyone for his purposes, even politicians. The Lord has reasons for even those crazy frightening things that make no sense to us. Stay close to him and pray for His guidance in the Whitehouse. The answers may not be what we expect, but as a believer of Jesus Christ I am confident in this, whatever the circumstances we find ourselves in, there is a wondrous eternity to come. Whatever happens to America, I am still a citizen of His Kingdom. 

I hope this has been of some encouragement.

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Many Methods, One Art

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There is no one set way of writing. If you want to write, the first step should be finding your own method. After all,  what worked for your favorite author might not work for you and you shouldn’t be in the business of mimicry anyway. The methods of others can give you ideas, but be original.

When first getting into writing, I spent a great deal of time figuring myself out. If something didn’t work, I tried something else. After years of trial and error I worked out some basic steps which I revert to even as I continue to evolve. Again, this is not a one size fits all formula, but here’s what’s worked for me.

Step 1: The Idea.

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When inspiration strikes, it’s important to get the ideas in order so that you know where you’re going before you actually start writing. The level of detail you need to work out depends on preference. Some like a full outline mapping out every step in the plot. Others like a little more breathing room. I tried outlines and found that my brain was already four or five steps ahead of it. So instead of coming up with details, I was simply cataloguing what was already there. Instead, I bat the idea around in my head for awhile and when I feel ready, I start writing it down. Usually when I get the title, that’s a sure fire sign that it’s ready to go.

Step Two: The Handwritten Draft

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Once it’s ready I pick out a journal and a utencil. There are definite pros to handwriting your story before taking it through a word processor:

  1. More mobile. We all have busy lives and it’s getting harder to find time to write. Notebooks fit just about anywhere, you don’t have to wait for it to turn on, and you don’t have to plug it in. Let’s face it, waiting to write because there’s no outlet is beyond irritating.
  2. You avoid distractions. Am I the only one who plays with multiple tabs whenever I’m on the computer? I think not. If you’re working on the computer there’s always the temptation to multitask and no matter how good at it you think you are, one task always get’s left behind and in writing vs social network writing gets kicked out. If you’re handwriting, the option isn’t even there. The facebook status can wait!
  3. It feels casual and relaxed. One of the biggest story killers ever is feeling the need to stick to first way you wrote it. A messy handwritten draft can put you at ease, reminding you that this is NOT the finished product. Be flexible and have fun with it.

Step Three: Type and Revise.

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After the handwritten draft, it’s time to smooth out the rough edges and make it into a finished product. Typing gives it a good step up feel, I reconsider wordings, check grammar and spelling, and give the plot final considerations. Of course you should never rely fully on yourself as far as editing is concerned. Even if you’re a grammar expert, there could still be things you’ve missed because you’re concentrating on so many other things. A second pair of eyes always helps. If attempting publication, it’s important to shake out as many flaws as possible and any publisher may still have a lot to point out.

Again, this is not a one size fits all method and not all of my works fit perfectly into these neat little slots. Stories are individuals, sometimes challenging the status quo and as writers it’s good to keep reaching for the next level. But, this still my main methodology for plotting and execution.

What works for you? Why does it work? What steps do you go through to get a story written?

thinking-guy

 

 

 

Web of Thieves Part 4

The following day I found myself in the slums of Edwaren Port. The houses, if they could even have that distinction, stood in clusters along filthy streets bulging with trash and other waste. The houses were four wood walls with sheets of medal on top. Doors had no hinges. You moved it to one side, stepped out, then moved back again. A bit better off were places of business. Not great, but not as bad. There were multiple floors, it leaked only half the time, and the gas heat was preferable to the draft flying through unimpeded.

I strolled along, not noticing the smell or the filth I was wading in. It was a place not unlike this one where I spent most of my childhood. Then, upon reaching the age of ten crime held out it’s hand to me. A hand that carried wads of green, crisp cash. Now, it was nothing like burglary or assassination. Oh no, just little easy to justify things. Play around on a computer for awhile, get to the information on the desired screen, and get paid. No one get’s hurt. But, that was yesterday’s news. Today, there was a different sort of information I sought. Anything and everything about Milly Jonison.

At the local newspaper office I learned that her old work place had burned down four years earlier and the workers had long dispersed. That was the first drawback, but those were to be expected when digging backward through the pilings of time. I asked if they had moved to another building. If they had there was the possibility of company records.

“Indeed,” the newspaper man said, “They’ve moved the operation to one of the upper districts. Now let me see, which one was it.”

I stood nearby, waiting patiently. When investigating, one get’s the best results with patience and nonchalance. The less intense you are, the more casual your suspect will be. Make them more a friend than an enemy and ask a series of more indirect questions, sort of glorified beating around the bush. And above all, never underestimate people or cling tightly to any preconceived notions, for things are almost never what they appear. At last he said.

“That’s it. Gershamore district. Some relatives of the original manager took on the business when he died and they didn’t see it making them any money by rebuilding here.”

“Did the original manager die in the fire?” I asked.

“Did I say that?”

“No, but from what you told me the events sounded closely linked.”

“Ah. Yes, he died in the fire or better put of the fire. Smoke inhalation. Horrible.”

“Did they have any idea what started it?”

“No sir. But if you ask me, I think it was vandals. Gangs of wretched young punks who terrorizing the neighborhood.”

This guy was great. With just a little prod I had him pouring out all sorts of information and what a memory! He could prove useful later. No where in this conversation did I mention Milly. All I asked, on an off chance, was if there were any extra copies of the paper for the week of her death.

“No, no. We’d joined the computer age by then. It’s all online. http://www.wegotnewsthatbruises.com.”

“News that bruises?” I asked, one eyebrow raised.

“Yeah, you know, sort of our take on the truth hurts. Catchy isn’t it.”

“I’ll certainly remember it. Thank you for your time. Mr…”

“Rockey. Sam Rockey. Pronounced row as in row your boat.”

I chuckled and left. Yup, I had a feeling we’d talk again later on in this investigation.

 

A Relationship’s Intricacies

“SUBMIT TO ONE ANOTHER out of reverence for Christ:
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.”
Ephesians 5:21-24
“So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib…” Genesis 2:21-22a
What do ribs do? Ribs protect the heart and lungs, some of the most vital organs in the human body. In this way, a woman ought to protect the heart of the man she loves. This is a kind of submission, making him such a priority and giving him respect. Don’t stop here. There’s more than one side to this.
“Husbands, love your wives, JUST AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH and GAVE himself up for her” Ephesians 5:25
How did Christ love the Church?
“so he got up from the meal , took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into basin and began to wash his disciple’s feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.” John 13:4-5
Jesus Christ also died in order to start a new life for believers, the Church.
Love is service, love is sacrifice, the laying down of pride on both sides. The Lord’s arrangement is beautiful.

Web of Thieves Part 3

The face that looked back at me from inside the folder was thrilling. No, she was no heiress nor anyone important. In fact, she was quite plain, clothed in a dress of tatters and patches. Her cheeks were stained with soot, her hands calloused from hard work. Oh, but that smile, those deep-set eyes with a mischievous glimmer. This was a person who hadn’t shied away from hardship, didn’t fear getting her hands dirty if it meant helping. Such a woman had much more to her than substantial beauty. In life she had been Milly Jonison, a laundry lady in the Edwaren Port, the fifth sector of our city. More of a slum than anything else. Theft and murder was relatively commonplace. If you have nothing just take, and as for the murder, brawls were typically to blame.

“What’s special about this?” I asked the Inspector.

He gave me a disgusted look for that statement. I hadn’t intended it the way it sounded, but saw no need to rephrase the question.

“Just keep reading. I’m sorry you feel like this insignificant event is a waste of your precious time, Clive.”

I turned to next page in the file which had on it the course of events before and after the death of Milly Jonison. It was all quite sudden. She was a widow who’d recently moved into worker housing. I knew about such places. Poor people crammed into tiny, empty rooms just above their work place and given two meals a day at the most. Utilities were nonexistent. Just a roof and chances are, it was a leaking one. She’d been there barely a month and then one morning she came screaming out a window, falling to her death. The police flooded the area, questioning anyone there who knew her. As far as most of them were concerned, she hadn’t an enemy in the world. Very dry reading, but one account stood out from the bland quagmire. One of the other laundry ladies suggestion that the Inspector talk to Shadow Man.

“I hope this Shadow Man isn’t the heart of this riddle you brought. Can’t find him?” I taunted.

“What do you think I am, stupid?”

I gave him a cheeky smirk.

“You said it, I didn’t”

His lips tightened, his eyes narrowed. I was getting to him, but he needed my help more than he needed to punch me in the face.

“Shadow Man is a musician whose real name was Larry Stubbie.”

I flinched,

“I can see why he prefers Shadow Man.”

“Yes, yes, yes weirdo name. Not important. What is important is that while lovely Milly was dropping he was on a table top in the local bar dancing around like an idiot. On questioning him, all I got was that he and Milly were more than casually acquainted.”

“So he loved her?” The Inspector shook his head. I nodded, understandingly, “Reeled in?”

“Like a fish. Poor woman. She thought they really had something and he just laughed in her face.”

I stroked my chin,

“Wait, if he just dumped her off what makes you think she wasn’t broken up enough to jump out the window.”

“Because, there was no hint of the possibility at all. According to her laundry lady friends, that very day she was laughing and smiling without a care in the world. She’d even made plans with a friend to chat over lunch.” Now it was his turn to grin, “Did that sound suicidal to you or did you skip that part?”

“No I didn’t skip that part. I just happened to note that the time of death was three thirty. By then must people have already had lunch. Maybe something before that time pushed her over the edge. No pun intended.”

“All right, how about this? She was a headstrong woman, not particularly pessimistic, and Catholic. Now, I know she might not have been devout, but suicide still would’ve been a pretty unpleasant idea. Also, no note and no sign of any attempt to get her last affairs in order. Keep reading, there’s more.”

Why was I here at Benbows? Nonetheless I continued and read a sinister piece of work. A letter which she had received a year earlier.

I know you have it. Heaven help you.

Now that got my attention. What was it Milly had?

Web of Thieves Part 2

The door squealed a second time. At last, the Inspector had arrived. Every one of my muscles tensed as if preparing to run for it, but there was no need. Just an old instinct. It had been awhile since we’d seen each other so I took note of any changes. He was still quite tall but had gained a considerable amount of weight. I smirked as the comparison of a bowling pin wearing a uniform with its buttons popping off leaped to mind. His hair had been thinning last time, which explained the sizeable hat sitting at an awkward slant atop his head. Nope, no hair. Vain as a peacock, graceful as a rhino. He hadn’t changed a bit. He waved one meaty hand over his head and called out,
“Clive you devil you! Better drink the last of that whiskey before I get over there or I’ll be drinking it for you.”
I pressed my cigarette into the ashtray then lit another, trying to look occupied so that no one would assume that I had anything to do with him. He yanked out the chair across from me with a resounding clatter and plopped himself down, the chair groaned under his jellowy girth. He snatched my glass and downed the last of the whiskey in one unseemly gulp and smacked his lips appreciatively.
“Hey, I warned you, Clive. Should’ve drunk it down when you had the chance. But how about some dinner? What’ll you have? I hear the stew and bread be good.”
My gaze flicked up irritably and I hissed smoke from my cigarette in his direction. He suppressed a cough or two then the joy and jokes withered, slain by the disgust I had for this meeting.
“Right,” he mumbled, now equally serious. “You know, when I came in here tonight I didn’t think you’d be waiting. It’s to your credit that you are. Glad to see there are no hard feelings.”
“Poison isn’t hard.” I leaned forward, spewing the smoke right into his face now, “You got what you wanted, I don’t owe you anything.”
“You did right” he protested. Trying to, as he often did, appeal to my supposed redeeming qualities. Of course, there were none.
“What difference does that really make? I went all-in and you know what—I lost.”
“In the eye of the beholder. But I didn’t come in here to reminisce. I came become, like it or not, I need you.” He brought out a folder from the inside pocket of his coat and slapped it onto the table. “Murder of the worst kind my friend.”
I glanced down at it with mild interest. Nowhere near enough of course.
“Why not put your own people on it? That’s what they do best isn’t it?”
He fidgeted with the menu. His nose twitched as if recently bloodied as he mumbled an admittance.
“It’s a cold one and it got me in some hot water at the station when I stuck my nose where it didn’t belong. They can’t be trusted anymore. That’s why I need an outsider. I need you, Clive.”
I grinned,
“No.”
“This is a problem for us all and I’m at the end of my rope!”
He seemed to think of me as some sort of sappy humanitarian. Or worse, that I cared about his precious, mediocre career. Ha!
“I hope you like swinging.”
I got up, tossing the money on the table, and started to leave. Then the inspector jumped up, sending the chair tumbling to one said,
“Blast it, Clive, what will it take to convince you?”
“You speak my language.”
He rolled his eyes to the ceiling, his lips curling in disgust.
“Fine. Fine. Out of the goodness of my heart,” meaning his personal income, “I offer you a thousand.”
And so the haggling began.”
“One-thousand five-hundred,” I demanded.
“One-thousand two-hundred,” he replied
I shook my head,  “One-thousand four-hundred.”
“Done. Here.”
He held out the folder and that’s when it all began.

The Painter

The water churned and bubbled around rocks and bends. Its foam churned thick and white like cream. Fish flew through clear avenues in between, their scales adding momentary glimmer. Above the water, weeping willows draped themselves, from a distance would have imagined them as giants, kneeling to wash their hair. At least that was how Abigail Anderson thought.  People often told her she had a special converter in her head or that she saw the world through different lenses. At a glance, she could take in a place and remake it, into the last thing people expected to see, all with the just her paints.
Those who saw her day after day saw nothing extraordinary at first. Her short stature, plain brown hair, and dull blue eyes gave her an almost generic appearance. Nothing caused her to stand out in a crowd and she had no fondness for drawing much attention. The thing she wanted most was to be left alone. Hence, she spent a great deal of time outdoors. Be it in rainy or shiny weather, warm or cold. She could always find shelter if necessary and enjoy true privacy.
It was a chilly day in late November when she chose to walk along that churning river. The ground was crystalizing, allowing her booted feet to give off a satisfying crunch, and the lighting was just the way she liked it. A dreary gray that always hinted to the mysterious yet the sky was bright. A perfect day for painting. Abigail assembled the easel then laid out the colors, the brushes, and the water. She sat on the rock and studied the river. Inside her heart began to race, her breathing hastened. Rivers always did that and for the first time in the vaguest of ways she began to work, putting an age-old fear into view. In a few strokes, she began with the river’s banks. She whipped the trees out of the pigment ground and punched their leaves into place. Not willows, but maples on fire. She hesitated a moment before slowly, deliberately she began painting the water. Her quivering hand brought a certain authenticity to the way the painted water moved. Maybe a bit too much authenticity. Abigail twitched the brush around in the water as she contemplated her next move.  I want it faker, she thought to herself, You know like those nineteen whatever’s movies with the crummy special effects. She chose a series of new colors and added spring. Whole blossoms floating in mid-air from a cheery tree she spliced onto a distant shore. Also, sunflowers and cat tales in the river’s shallows. With different shades of yellow, she scrambled to add warmth to the lighting. Like those gone by days of summer with pool parties and sunbathing. Abigail sighed and pulled her scarf tighter around her neck. That’s better. See? It’s not real.
Only then did she dare confront events. With tears beginning to stream from her eyes, she painted the glowing winged creatures over the water and the strange grayish form they’d lifted. It was so sad, that little gray thing being all that remained of something once so vibrant. All that remained of laughter, crying, likes, dislikes, the favorite color blue, peanut butter and jelly, and chicken noodle casserole. All that remained of the little blue bicycle, the C- in geography and the freedom of recess. All that remained of everything packed away in that unsightly little gray figure being lifted to the sky. She clenched the brush tight in her fist and began sobbing.
“Is that it? That can be all there is to it? There’s got to be something more, anything more. Oh please God, give me something.”
When she finally mustered the courage to look at her painting again the recreation of her recreation became clear. Yes, the little gray figure was dismal, but he was rising into that summer sunshine and without realizing it, those blossoms she’d painted were encircling them in a ring of color and life. All at once, the truth hit her. Even though summer departs, the time that follows needn’t be deprived of its own joys. Life is made of those seasons and their divisions aren’t always clean, but if there’s one without the other, life cannot truly be. For the first time, that ugly thing she’d kept locked inside was beautiful.
No one else knew the story behind the odd picture as it hung in the student art exhibit. So, it got its share of raised eyebrows and head shakes. What place did cherry blossoms have in autumn? What were sunflowers doing there? Perhaps it was just a playful little abstract. Either way, most found it fun to look at and for Abigail Anderson, the title said it all:
The Collision of Seasons

Ripples in the Pond of Time

If you’re a writer or always wanted to be, what do you hope to get out of it? Some do it purely for money. Others in the hopes of gaining fame. Still others do it just because they love it. But there is one universal desire for all writers of all backgrounds and intents. To be read. 

   This is the center of my need to write, only I take it a step further. There are, every so often, certain writers who go further. Writers who’s flame is constantly being reignited regardless of the passage of time. A writer who’s heart, message, and spirit sends ripples through the pond of time. Some day, I hope that the message I share rings loud and clear. 

Web of Thieves Part 1

No setting could be better suited than this. Even the weather appeared to follow the script. Black clouds had piled themselves as a glum background for the dingy buildings lining the sidewalk at varying heights. The jagged, brightly colored graffiti watched me as I passed, each a disciple calling out some intense, obscure message which I had no time to study.

            Icy drops of rain were just pounding my cheeks by the time I reached the cozy little pub on the corner of Smart and Martial street. The sign swayed as the ever changing winds shoved it about. Its letters were hard to follow, but I didn’t even need to look. Benbell’s it said, much to my dismay. Yes, I was here, against every ounce of better judgment. I was here.

            The door squealed, not oiled once since the pub opened. Such a disgrace, along with the rest of the quote on quote up upkeep of the place. Dust was left lying at any low traffic point, the floor was scratched beyond hope and covered with could say what sort of filth. But it was warm, the light golden and low, and its worn nature had a perplexing charm I could never define. Benbell’s knew me and welcomed me as a prodigal son.

            After ordering my usual whiskey I sat in the same place I always had since it was where he’d be expecting me. I slid a cigarette out of my shirt pocket and the lighter from my jean pocket. I let the cigarette rest between my fingers, no more than an inch from my lips. Then, with a flick from the lighter the little flame jumped up to catch the end. Once lit I inhaled the earthy vapor, breathing it out in a narrowly controlled plume until the end when I opened my mouth wider, releasing the last bit in a wider puff.

            It was quiet aside from the din of music and merry chit chat from a few of the other tables. The waiters and barkeepers would’ve called it a slow night. A pretty young lady brought me the whiskey, I nodded in thanks. The rich curled blond hair, fawnlike eyes, and sweet smile alone were worth a hefty tip. I held the cigarette to one side and flicked ash as I took a sip of the amber liquid. Just a little to soften the coming blow. As I waited I continued sipping and smoking. My eyes remained locked on the window. Objects and people outdoors were blurred by the streams of water flowing over the glass. Currents of color, like that painting by Van Gogh. If only life were like paintings on the wall. One could visit anytime and stay in that captured moment forever. If only.

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