Tag Archives: Writing

The Flame

This is a short story coming in the collection for the holidays. I seldom post stories here; they belong on John Maberry’s Writing. I’m making an exception this time. All the writers out there will understand. Plus it’s a break from politics–hurray!

The Flame

Carson sipped Irish coffee, bundled against the chill wind of a late October day on the Outer Banks. He sat on the third floor deck for its view beyond the barrier dune, rising 15 feet above the sand. The swimmers and sunbathers had gone. Only the beachcombers and solitude seekers remained this late in the season. He was among the latter. With the kids away at college and Sharon at her sister’s to “think about us,” he couldn’t face the empty house in Alexandria. Reading the backlog of beach books almost kept thoughts of Sharon’s surprise announcement away. He had just put down a thriller when he looked out to see a fiery column rising above the waves. It must have been a mile or two offshore. Only the bright yellow plume could be seen, even with the high-powered binoculars. No ship. No people. Nothing. What the hell is that? There’s no gas line out there. The sight had him baffled.

He called the Coast Guard at Hatteras Inlet. “Coast Guard, Petty Officer Harris speaking. Is this a boating emergency call?”

“No, I don’t think so. I’m looking offshore from Buxton, seeing a bright flame coming up from the water.”

“How far out is it? Have you seen any ships in the area?”

“A mile and a half, maybe more. Hard to tell from the shore with no landmarks to go by. No ships out there or anything else that I can see. The plume looks about the size of a power pole from here and goes up fifty or sixty feet from the surface.”

“Ok, we’ll send a boat to check it out. Thank you for letting us know. Please give us a call if anything changes.”

“Sure. Oh, and I didn’t hear any explosions or anything. One more thing—the flame isn’t bending much in the wind; looks like it’s under pressure. It’s yellow, by the way.”

 

Carson figured at least 45 minutes, more like an hour before they showed up. They’d have to come around the inlet to the oceanside and through Diamond Shoals, also known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic for all the ships that sank there over the centuries.

While waiting for the Coast Guard, Carson refreshed his Irish coffee. Barely three PM and he was on his third drink. The caffeine kept him up enough and the whiskey dulled the pain. The pain of not selling a book in ten years. Sharon’s billable hours at the DC law firm kept them financially flush. She’d made partner just after his last book sold. No coincidence his writing suffered after that. It took a toll on the marriage.

“So you think the booze will help the stories along, Carson?” That’s what she said, more than once, when she found him staring at a blank monitor slurping a drink.

“Hey, it worked for some of the greats,” he’d laugh before slamming down the glass. “I don’t know what will help. I’m trying; the ideas aren’t there—the words won’t appear without them.” That’s when the blowups came. Hurricane force words flying between them, loud as a storm screaming through the room. She once was his muse. No more.

Continue reading The Flame

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Who Do You Write For?

An answer by Hemingway quoted by  Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress, among other things) is this:

I believe that basically you write for two people; yourself to try to make it absolutely perfect; or if not that then wonderful. Then you write for who you love whether she can read or write or not and whether she is alive or dead.

— Ernest Hemingway to Arthur Mizener, 1950 Selected Letters, p. 694.

I, too, do write for myself and her but as much or more for the rest of the world–who I want to share my thoughts, my life, my experiences and my philosophy with.

What’s Old Is New, Again–Returning to the Path, the Writing Mission

I have been putting a lot of effort into attracting interest through social media this spring, in preparation for recommencing serious writing. A cross-country move, a new home, a daughter’s wedding and other events kept me occupied for years longer than I wished after publishing Waiting for Westmoreland and the essay in TODAY. The essay is here, on Views from Eagle Peak, in the form of a static page, but in commemoration of the renewed push to write, here is that essay in the form of a post.

Reprinted courtesy of TODAY at Minnesota State, May 2008 edition.

Path Lost, and Found

          For many years listening to classic rock, watching movies made by fellow boomers or reading their books, I sometimes felt pangs of regret. I had missed realizing my own creative potential. Why couldn’t I have been like Crosby, Stills and Nash? They were a commercial success and spokespersons of sorts for antiwar sentiments that I held dear. Why could I not have been at least as much a literary success as Donald Fagen was a musical success? Fagen, my unimpressive classmate from South Brunswick High School in New Jersey, had gone on to found and co-lead the very successful Steely Dan.

          For years, I felt somehow cheated by the politicians who’d engineered the war in Vietnam and by the generals who had conducted it. Their actions had forever altered my college and career trajectory.

          Since the second grade, when I received my first rejection slip from Scholastic, I cherished the goal of being a writer. I expected college to provide me with the tools of the writing trade, essential for fulfilling my childhood dream. Not only that, college would lead me to that all-important day job, providing food and shelter to otherwise starving authors.

Continue reading What’s Old Is New, Again–Returning to the Path, the Writing Mission

Making decisions 2

I promised an update on priorities within a week in the recent post, Making decisions. So here it is: I am focusing on writing a sci-fi book next. The story will be about the withering away of the military industrial complex and its replacement by the multinational Entertainment-Food-Cosmetic Consortium–sponsors of extreme reality TV. Which will lead to an unexpected peril to Earth from what initially seems like a much needed injection of more extreme programming but actually is a conspiracy to take over the planet.

More decisions: We have determined that Silver City is indeed the place for us; we will make a concerted effort to buy some land in the next couple weeks. Also, I have decided to start buying some ads from Google Adwords for my book website, Waiting for Westmoreland. Since I will be out of pocket for that, I am also going to start running some ads from Google and Amazon on this site. Look for ads and a privacy policy soon. Decisions! Ah, the power of the mystic law (Nam-myoho-renge-kyo) is indeed limitless.

Yes, You Can Write and Publish a Book

Not to steal too much of Barack Obama’s verbage here, but translating we to you or I will fairly adjust his message to the self-empowerment topic that is so popular among writers of a certain type inspirational book. It also correlates well with the self-empowerment that I find through the practice of Buddhism. Regardless of whether you find that religious practice to your liking or you find one or another of the various self-help gurus appealing, the fact is that generically it is will and determination overcoming doubt and procrastination that makes all the difference. A little (OK, a lot) research and persistence are also required. There is a lot to be said about writing and publishing a book; so I will dribble it out a little bit at a time. There is also a lot more to be said about the topic generally–Yes, You Can; so I plan on hitting it some more, with no more apologies to Obama. For now, let me just leave you with a link to building an author platform (now an abandoned book idea) at Morris Rosenthal’s website. Check out his blog as well. You won’t be disappointed.

Still Changing the View–of the Views from Eagle Peak

I liked Talian, but I think I like this one better. Still have to get a couple bugs out, but it is mostly there. The poll, which I had on the left in Talian is now on the right–as you can see. So do let me know what you think. Also, for those of you who happened to buy Waiting for  Westmoreland from Amazon, I am now finally all hooked up with AmazonConnect. That means you should see this blog there as well as messages to readers on your Amazon page (you do have one, right?)