In the ink well

Dog Ear

December 13, 2012

One year later (DOG EAR)

Hard to imagine, but its been a year. I was sorting through the knotted Christmas lights, wondering when they’d last been untangled. What, a year? No, wait. Last Christmas, we took a break from all that, spending the Christmas week in London. It was the year before. But as I teetered on the edge of the ladder, stringing the now-untangled lights, my thoughts went back to that last year. No, Christmas wasn’t a worry, nor the trip (we’ve done bunches of those). No, it was getting Early Retyrement between covers, as they say. If you’d have told be way back […]
December 6, 2012

Three Cups (DOG EAR)

I remember reading Three Cups of Tea and enjoying it – good book, and nice to know that good things occasionally happen. Except to people involved in this story. There came the allegations of fiction, that Mortenson, the adventurer whom the story centers on, had a “fluid sense of time” that “made pinning down the exact sequence of many events in this book almost impossible”. And class-action suits against him and his Central Asia Institute, with claims that he perhaps profited from his charity and that investors were swindled. And now the co-author (who parted with the hero in a […]
November 29, 2012

Dung sellers (DOG EAR)

This always happens. It’s my birthday and I’m driving to Home Depot to pick up some caulk and tar to patch our roof (what a birthday!). NPR’s media show is talking about publishing and I’m getting more and more depressed. It’s all about how writers really need to market themselves, to find a niche and strategy, to come up with clever ways to gain notice, fans, and bandwidth. Shit, that’s marketing. It’s not writing. So trust me, I’m not going to make a comment that publishing should go back to the way it was, that as a writer, I should […]
November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving (DOG EAR)

It’s Thanksgiving, that day we all give thanks for what we have. As families, we can give thanks for those who can share our meals. As citizens of the Great Republic, we can be thankful that we still have peace and law and order and a working society. That the lights are still on and bullets aren’t plinking off the gutters is something to be so very thankful for. But as a writer, what can I be thankful for? Well, for one, I’m thankful for my lunch setup, that our workplace cafe has a patio that looks over a lake, […]
October 25, 2012

Unlikely Heroes (DOG EAR)

The wife and I had ridden our bikes to dinner, then to yogurt over at the village center of Baldwin Park. Understand that Baldwin is a neo-community, one built on a perfectly good naval training center. It’s smart and clever and cute and as plastic as, well, plastic. It’s fake from end to end. But they have the only yogurt shop within wife-cycling range, so there you go. While there, I saw a couple of Goths hanging out on the benches amid the manufactured quaintness, desperately seeking an identity. Like Illinois Nazis, it’s hard to take Baldwin Park Goths seriously. […]
October 18, 2012

Straw men (DOG EAR)

You’ve carefully considered your hero, his background, driving factors and idiosyncrasies. You’ve come up with your world, be it an isolated Turkish village on a volatile border, the hold of a star-bound colony ship, or perhaps a Brooklyn slum of 1923. You’ve given it life, made it real. You’ve developed your plot, the twists, surprises and mysteries. And with all that, suddenly you decide that your antagonist can be cut out of cardboard and propped up. After all, what more do you need than some frothing villain shouting “Seize them!” or “Throw every resource into their downfall” or whatever? You’ve […]
October 11, 2012

Digging a Ditch (DOG EAR)

I‘m reading The Merry Men by Robert Louis Stephenson. In it, a bible-thumping Christian stands on a high Scottish ledge in a gale, baying laughter as a poor schooner tries to tack out of a bay surrounded by murderous rocky reefs (the “Merry Men” of the title). And why is he doing this? Pride? Nationalism? Personal animosity? Salvage. When you think about it, it comes down to the fact that this weasel wants the ship’s cargo on the beach, where he can pick through it and make it his (he might even loot the bodies of the dead sailors should […]
October 5, 2012

Book of Agentical Lore (DOG EAR)

We’ll assume you have a sharp cover letter, a synopsis and chapter samples at the ready (but if not, we’ll be discussing these in future). But the big question people ask a lot is “How do you find an agent?” The best method I’ve found is to trot down to your local bookstore (don’t buy online – you gotta do this “live”) and find the “Publishing” section – usually it’s in the back, just past “sexual help”. Ignore all the writing guide books – if you are ready to publish, you are beyond that. You need the thicker books – […]
October 4, 2012

Are writers better drivers (DOG EAR)

I was driving home after dropping Ark off at the library. Two lane road, and over on the opposite side, riding against the flow, a cyclist on a yellow bike. No gearing, upright stance, big retro fenders. No real branding or effort to conform to “road” or “mountain”. A K-mart bike. And the rider, a guy with flip flops, a ball cap, no gloves, in street shorts and a shirt. And, as mentioned, he’s on the wrong side of the road. A casual cyclist. To the right side, the Hideaway bar. I’m looking at him, placing him as just the […]
September 27, 2012

It don’t come easy (DOG EAR)

(This was orignally supposed to run on Sept 20th but I wanted to touch on the movie The Words. Wonder if my life is better in the future…) There is the common thought that a writer is only a writer if he is a suffering writer. If you have a big house and kids and everything paid for, you aren’t wired to angst and can’t capture human existence. And that might be true – certainly people who know the crush of personal loss or the humiliations of modern society can ‘write what they know’. But sometimes it comes in so […]