Friday, July 29, 2016


Affirming yourself and your work

Writing requires many skills: creativity, patience, craft, conviction and dedication. When done correctly, it brings the rare satisfaction of knowing that you have not only communicated effectively with your audience, but have entertained them and sometime even altered how they feel about themselves and the universe at large.

I enjoy writing both fiction and nonfiction, but there is something especially satisfying about telling tales that compel people to laugh or cry or ponder imaginary people exploring non-existent, but believable worlds.

Writers usually labor at their tasks in isolation. They also must reveal intimate glimpses of the human condition by drawing on their own experiences. They tend to suffer from many of the same insecurities as other artists or lovers, never quite sure if they have succeeded in reaching another soul or have simply embarrassed themselves with fumbled intimacies.

So, to endure in the process of writing, when any accolades from devoted fans are still in some imagined future, writers often resort to reviewing affirmations to keep their fingers on the keyboard. Below are some affirmations I’ve compiled to keep me on task with A Groupie Genius in the Kennel of Morticue Ambergrand. Feel free to affirm your own impulses to write with any of these that appeal to you.

Writing is one of the ways I show love to others by sharing my knowledge, insights, and wisdom.

I have a unique voice that is expressed through my writing.

My story matters. 

All I can do is all I can do, but all I can do is enough.

My story is one that only I can tell.

I love the creative process of writing.

Time spent writing is productive time.

Sharing journeys expands what it means to be human.

Our stories tell the lies that reveal universal truths.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Building worlds, imagining futures with science fiction

Building worlds, imagining futures
I’m doing it again: writing a science fiction novel. I wish I could fully explain why. It’s difficult and time consuming. It can be frustrating—not just the act of creation, but the process of sharing and dissemination. Creating something new and elegant is a great pleasure. The rest of the process—especially marketing—becomes a chore. It involves negotiating the increasingly complex social networks of fellow humans. And, as some wag said, the more humans I come to know, the more I like my dog. But that observation has become the nucleus of my next tale: What if humans were the pets and more complicated aliens—let’s call them Jadderbadians—felt that spending time with humans was preferable to dealing with other Jadderbadians?
The title of my novel is “A Groupie Genius in the Kennel of Master Morticue Ambergrand, a tale of alien invasion and companionship in Earth’s distant future.” I’m hoping the title conjures thoughts of A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and other titles where the author explores the human condition with tongue firmly placed in cheek.
As I see it now, the purpose of these blog entries shall be to:
1.                    Share the process of creation so that others with similar inclinations can benefit
2.                    Talk out the details of my tale as I proceed to clarify them in my own mind
3.                    Explore the development of my characters
4.                    Build a community of interested readers that may also serve as a painless form of advertising
5.                    Introduce myself to those who might be interested in exploring my writing, illustrating and graphic design efforts
6.                    Test my story line and premises
Why science fiction?
            Some have asked me: why use the vehicle of science fiction to tell this story? Couldn’t I reach a more general audience without resorting to an exotic future and even more exotic aliens? Perhaps I could.  But science fiction appeals to me in many ways:
1.     Science fiction has always sparked my sense of wonder by making me imagine all the “what ifs?” of possible futures. Furthermore, science fiction builds futures consistent with what we know about nature through the study of science—a powerful tool for solving problems and answering questions using nature as the final arbiter—the stage on which experiments prove or disprove how we think the universe operates.
2.     Science fiction allows writers to explore the human condition as naïve outsiders with new perspectives. Gene Roddenberry used the original Star Trek to address questions of gender and race because there was no other way to do it in a public forum during the sixties. Let Klingons, Vulcans and tribbles show us the error of our ways by entertaining rather than preaching.
3.     Science fiction tends to address the BIG QUESTIONS we all ask ourselves: Why are we here? Why does the universe exist? Does our personal consciousness survive death in some way? Why does our universe support life and how common is it? Do supernatural forces exist and, if so, how do they operate? Do our individual lives have purpose beyond mere survival? Is conscious intelligence limited to life or can we create it? To what extent can we build the futures we want and to what extent is our behavior limited by evolutionary accidents?
Science fiction provides a powerful way to dream with your eyes open. Colorful stories, in general, allow humans to tell the lies that reveal universal truths. In the deep past we sat around campfires and mesmerized our comrades with the tale of how we stole dinner from that dangerous cave lion. Today I want to tell a story about how an alien and his human pet find their way to a future filled with promise because of the dreams they share and the mysteries of life they can only solve together.
Pull up a log if you want to join my tribe around the campfire.