In the ink well

Dog Ear

March 17, 2016

Wet Shoes (DOG EAR)

verybody thinks that writing is about sitting behind a huge desk with a scholarly air, sliding paper into a typewriter and rattling off clever prose. I’ve said this before. And I’ve told you it isn’t. Another story of wretched writing! So we had a model train operation session at the club the other night. I mentioned this on the train blog HERE, but really, it comes down to me to get everything ready, from cleaning track to setting up the dispatcher computer to getting jobs finalized. It was raining so our attendance was down, and we were packed with guests, […]
March 10, 2016

Near miss at 40,000 feet! (DOG EAR)

found myself off a quiet little street in noisy big Delhi last week, inside a nookish bookshop. I was looking for a fashion magazine for a friend, not thinking I’d find something for myself. But there on the shelf was a  used copy of Gods of War, Indian sci-fi by Ashok Banker. The woman shop owner was letting her daughter (she must have been all of twelve, cute-as-a-button, and giving us bold loud Yankees sidelong glances) work the transaction. She counted my change back very precisely, unlike the stores stateside where they just dump it into your palm, unable to […]
February 4, 2016

Writing Fast (DOG EAR)

‘ve been distracted by a coming trip, halfway round the world. Came in to work today thinking of air travel, of winter storms, of all the things yet to get, of packing, of preparation. But it’s Thursday and time for a pre-written version of DOG EAR, crafted weeks before, to pop up. Logged in to check the update and found there wasn’t any. I’d run out. I know I have a couple I’ve posted from various coffee shops and eateries, things I thought about and wrote at the moment. Presumably they are all sitting in my in-box, still waiting for […]
January 28, 2016

Word choice (DOG EAR)

veryone says something accidently. You’ll be telling a joke and only afterwards find out that someone in your group is in AA, or Jewish, or something. That’s the problem with the spoken word – once the jaw-gate is open, words are off like a shot. For writing, we have a lot more time to consider our dialog. We might come back and read something we’d written and rethink it. Things might be over-the-top vulgar (requiring dilution) or they might be overly PC (requiring backbone). But unlike the spoken word, with writing we have time to be pithy, clever, shrewd, and […]
January 21, 2016

Cotton Candy (DOG EAR)

gain, what’s a movie-reference-laced blog doing in a writing column? Well, it’s all about storytelling. For the record, I like the movie How to Train your Dragon. I love the cat references in particular. And the flying. And even though the symbolism about missing body parts and the links they forge is a little over the top, yeah, it’s okay. I even own a copy. The other day, I took Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress to my mom’s place. I’d mentioned to my niece that this is where Lucas got the idea of the two robots as the central theme of […]
January 14, 2016

Take two. Take three. (DOG EAR)

he mood-setting scene takes place in a volcanic dome on the moon (which is populated billions of years ago in Tubitz and Mergenstein, my steam-punk fantasy). So this port I’ve mentioned earlier, Kedgewater Deep, is inside this half-dome, the floor smooth as ice, the town built around the inner edge. Overhead through the crater, the stars shimmer. And there stands the Earth, named ‘Tellus’ (a way of concealing the obvious here – it’s Latin). I wanted my “moon” to contribute to the scene. The first idea was to make it a “Harvest Tellus”, swollen and angry, glowing into the crater […]
January 7, 2016

Polishing (DOG EAR)

art of writing is improving. Writing can always be improved. Trust me on this – I look at old blogs and short stories I’ve written and see where things can get better. So I’m at a break in Tubitz and Mergenstein. I’ve got the third section done and am gathering myself for the fourth. I’ve got other projects I’m attending to (trains, stars, work, reading, everything). But I’ll get back to it. This morning I found myself in Juniors, our little round-the-corner diner where my wife and I read through our brunch and chat about our stories on the way […]
December 31, 2015

Making it darker (DOG EAR)

really almost blew it. To explain – I wrote a short chapter for my steam-punk fantasy where, inside a huge scrap pile, a mysterious legendary gunship has been discovered. Operating under anonymous orders, the woman who manages the yard winches the gunship out with a crane, depositing it on the ground ready for use. I hardly gave the section a thought. Just a description of her winching it up with the tin sheeting covering its hole sliding aide. There is a bit where she sets it down (gently, like a falling rose petal). But that’s where I left it. The […]
December 24, 2015

Heft (DOG EAR)

nother entry in the “paper vs. plastic” debate – what type of books do you prefer? My own experience involves the classic hero of screen and page, the cowboy. Everyone remembers the scene when the cowboy rides up to the foot of a mesa. Somewhere around here are renegade Indians/rustlers/banditos/whatever. He’s got to get some high ground beneath him for a look-see. With that, he slides easily out of his dusty saddle yet before scrambling upslope, he does what? He grabs his trusty Winchester out of his rifle boot, ratchets in a shell and treads up the scree. Yeah, we […]
December 16, 2015

Star Wars Objector (DOG EAR)

or the record, I love Star Wars. Originally. Back then, it was a wondrous storytelling with interesting characters, mixtures of magic and technology, just a fun story. I liked it so much I reffed a Star Wars role playing game that went on for fifteen years. We watched the movies intently for clues about how things worked, what things did. And when I finally got my own VCR, the first movie I bought was Star Wars for $80 (which, in the mid 80’s, was a lot of money). And I watched it over and over again. So what changed (and […]