Tag Archives: Writing

Blank male Facebook profile

Through the Looking Glass

(A three-minute read)

I’m not the first person to duck out of the social media sphere, and I won’t be the last.

It’s not about Lent, really, although I’m observing it. It’s about a larger need to withdraw from the relentless shallowness of my life online. I’ve been there since 1996 and a quarter-century is quite long enough.

Besides, you and I can pull off a meaningful relationship without instant access to each other’s opinions, moods and outbursts. Can’t we?

If we’re connected, we’ll stay connected.

With some people I love, once a year is enough to keep the flame burning. Not because I dislike them, but because I know them and I trust them.

If you and I can only connect through social media, were we really that connected in the first place? If not, why continue the fiction? This isn’t meant to be harsh, just an honest, loving question for myself.

If I read every rant, meaningfully responded to every prayer request, or dove down every rabbit-hole I run across daily online, I’d do nothing else. My life would be full, but my spirit would be empty. My time would be used up, but I’d have nothing to show for it, really.

Meanwhile, the invisible algorithms push me more and more toward thoughts and ideas they think most represent me. Or at least the digital avatar they have built of me. They push me further and further down a narrowing tunnel. I’m suffocating.

It’s time to emerge. If I stayed, I’d remain connected with hundreds of you all the time, but only by a digital thread. These two-dimensional relationships are truly looking through a glass, darkly.

If I leave, I’m more free to choose and to think and to believe, and to seek meaning. I’ll have more time to stop for the one who’s in front of me.

So, it’s time for me to step back. If you want to stay in touch by subscribing here – great. I love you and always will. If it’s too much bother – I understand; I’ve felt that way too. Meanwhile, I love you and always will.

Pleasant Lines is not about building a dynasty, or an edifice, or a career, or something worthy of promotion. I merely write because I’m called to write. You can read if you are called to read.

So – even though you won’t see links to my pieces on Facebook any more, the pieces themselves will still be here, every week, usually on Thursdays. Sometimes on Fridays when I get busy with other stuff.

Like right now, I’m working on a novel. Well, a series of books really. It began as a novel, then expanded into a set of four as the story grew. Now the outline looks like six books. The outline for Book Five is almost complete. I have 8,113 words down in Book One, as of this writing. There’s a long road ahead.

Fortunate Child began as a simple coming-of-age story set in the 1970s. It has now grown to have a strong romance sub-plot as well, and some serious multi-generational conflicts. If you subscribe here, you’ll eventually get some samples, after I get farther along in Book One.

I have a collection of poetry that’s slowly coming to completion. Some of what’s already on the site may be included, perhaps in a different form.

The other thing I’ve been researching is a series of historical novels about Iron Age life in Britain. Why not? It lies all around me here. The pre-Roman period is largely unknown, but recent archeological finds and theories of the last quarter-century make for a vivid backdrop against which to set a sweeping saga.

Braveheart it ain’t. No woad-painted bodies. I hope to begin writing that before the end of this year.

So that’s what I’m up to.

What are you up to? Write me and let me know. Comment here, or use the contact form found on this site. You might even know my email address or telephone number.

I’m not hard to find, when you choose to find me.

Cystoscope - photo by Michael Reeve via Wikimedia Commons

My Story’s Far From Over

The Lie Called Cancer is now on sale in paperback; Kindle comes Monday.

(A three minute read)

If you haven’t yet read TLCC, some of this may get past you, but that’s okay. And, in all my generosity, you can read a free sample to fully know how wonderful it is before you order cases and cases of what is surely destined to be given as The Best Christmas Gift Of The Year.

Even as TLCC bursts onto the scene, humorously detailing my 2019 cancer treatment, my story continues.

Those doctors can be a suspicious and unconfident lot, but I love them for all that. I’ve healed 100% but they still want to poke around inside me in case they missed something. 

I had another one of those lovely cystoscopies in September. You know – the 14 mile journey with the big probe up into my bladder. Only one way to get there! However, now that this has been done many times, it’s not as frightening as it once was.

While the probe goes in and knocks around, I can now sit relaxed as one might while having a limb removed with a bone saw, cigarette and highball in hand, chatting with the medic. 

Seriously, it has actually backed off to the discomfort level predicted by NHS, as compared to the screaming-level pain I enjoyed the first time round.

Here’s the travelogue: ‘Normal urethra, non-obstructive prostate, meticulous examination of the bladder done without any recurrences masses or lesions detected.’

Meticulous indeed. 

So, What’s Next For Me?

I have contracted a case of NaNoWriMo. No, that’s not a medical condition. It’s short for National Novel Writing Month. The goal is to produce a 50,000 word draft by 30 November. That breaks down to 1,667 words per day.

For you non-writers, 1,667 words is about five times as many words as in this post. it’s 340 words more than in the US Declaration of Independence. 20 of the 66 books in the Bible are shorter than that.

Plus there’s the added challenge of inventing compelling characters, penning witty dialogue and devising cracking good cliffhangers to keep you reading through.

The conventional wisdom is to ‘write what you know’, which lends itself well to a novel about coming-of-age in the American Midwest during the 1970s (since I did that). For now it’s called Fortunate Son, which may or may not be an accurate outline of the life lived by the protagonist. You get to wait and see.

To stay on top of this new book, and get other updates on what else I’m writing, you can subscribe to Pleasant Lines here.

If you wish to join the happy throng, you can buy Masterpiece (A Love Story) and The Lie Called Cancer in paperback or for Kindle, or read them free through Kindle Unlimited. Using the ‘Look Inside’ feature you can get a free taster.

Happy reading and Happy Christmas shopping!

Photo: Michael Reeve via Wikimedia Commons

Pile of construction trash

Cleaning The Idea Closet

(A five-minute read, if you mull these over properly)

I’m trying something completely different this week. Here are things I hauled out of the writer’s junk drawer…

“Gosh, where to start?” The writer’s dilemma, the correspondent’s nightmare, and the friend’s angst.

I love the phrase “no creditability.” As a poet, I have to note that this says it all.

Sometimes as a writer, I’m actually a short order crook.

An author on deadline is nothing less than someone strapped down on the writer’s block.

It is most embarrassing to be caught naked from the neck up.

I don’t analyze things. I Alanyze them.

It takes fast footwork to remain slow in a world built for speed.

If activists try to change the status quo and I disagree, does that make me a passivist?

Crypticism: A helpful suggestion that is too obscure to be understood.

Download a free sample of The Lie Called Cancer now