Posted tagged ‘writing’

Buttface Billy

October 31, 2013

halloween sceneWhen I was I was in fourth grade, we moved to a new neighborhood in East Haven, Connecticut. My Dad had worked two jobs from virtually the day he got out of the Army to scrape together a down payment and would continue doing so to make the mortgage. It was a small nondescript ranch on a wooded lot in a neighborhood of nearly identical homes. Most everyone was the same age and from some degree of what my Mom called middle class. From where I sit now, it was all lower-middle class but back then it was heaven, particularly for 10 year old boy.  Behind our house was a hayfield ideal for pickup baseball or football games and beyond that, several miles of woods. And best of all, there were other kids, mostly boys and mostly my age. Yeah, there were some 12 year olds who liked to push around us younger kids, but back then, nobody talked about bullying unless someone really got hurt. Besides, at the end of the day, we all got along … pushing and shoving one day would be teaming up for a game of football the next. (more…)


October 24, 2013

itsFifteen years ago, when I was taking creative writing courses as Cal State Fullerton, my writing teacher would read two pages of our work a week and provide suggestions.  Having a published author critique your work was, in itself, worth the course tuition.  It was not, however, intended to be editing or proofreading.  Three weeks into the semester, after repeatedly marking in red my misuse of its and it’s, she scrawled this in the margin: The next time I have to correct an its or it’s, I will no longer critique your work.  That night when I got home, taped the page in a place of prominence at my desk where I couldn’t avoid remembering it’s message.  And since then, its very rare that I misuse it’s and its.  I also suffer form a from of local dyslexia … pairs of letters in words routinely switch order as I type, and when the result is still a word … as in form and from … it slips by the spellchecker.  I used to consistently spell beleive incorrectly until someone pointed out the interesting fact that believe … correctly spelled … contained the word lie.  Perfect for politics.  Then there’s your and you’re and their and they’re.  I know the difference but as I’m scrambling to post before the day ends, one sometimes slips by.   You’ve probably noticed.  Hopefully my writing teacher doesn’t follow my blog.  I can see it now.  Comment: If you misuse your or you’re one more time, I’m unfollowing Older Eyes.  And OK, how about commas?  I tend put one, wherever the sentence pauses, in my head.  Hence, my fragmented thinking, makes me a chronic comma overuser.  Although I usually catch my own punctuation and spelling indiscretions immediately after pushing the publish button, I almost never catch them on any of the blogs I read.  That could mean you all are better at this spelling and punctuation game than I am … or that I’m more self-critical than critical.  What are the chances of that? (more…)

Writing Faster

June 26, 2013

forrester1One of my favorite films about writing is Finding Forrester, which stars Sean Connery as William Forrester, a reclusive writer who won the Pulitzer Prize for his one novel then disappeared and Rob Brown as Jamal Wallace, an African-American high school student with a gift for writing.   On dare, Jamal tries to steal something from Forrester’s apartment but leaves his backpack behind when he escapes in a hurry.  Upon recovering his backpack, Jamal discovers that Forrester has read his writing in a notebook that was in the backpack and marked it up with edits.  Forrester becomes Jamal’s reluctant writing teacher, a reluctance that dissipates as he discovers the boy’s talent.  In one of my favorite scenes, Forrester sits Wallace down at an old typewriter to teach him to write from the heart. (more…)

Write Now

May 29, 2013

writing penLast week, a few friends and I were talking about obsessions and compulsions.  I commented that I can be a little obsessive (or is it compulsive?) about posting every day on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog.  OK, I don’t make it every day but I come close, and if morning comes and I haven’t posted, I can get a bit frantic.  Sit down and Write Now, my Inner Obsessive-Compulsive tells me.  Sometimes, the only solution is Forced Writing, sitting down at the keyboard and writing something.  I have a love-hate relationship with Forced Writing, or more correctly, a hate-love relationship.  I hate when I’m sitting there pecking at the keys and getting nothing but I hate it even more when I’ve spent 30 minutes writing a topic that sucks.  Do I start over or … as my business partner likes to say … polish the turd?  Then every now and then, something I really like shows up.  I REALLY love when that happens, enough, even, to tolerate the times I hate it.   Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had writer’s block, especially when I’m working on something long and intricate like a (long) short story or a novel.  There, I can get wrapped around the axle on characterization or plotting.  That’s one of the reasons I like very short pieces and, especially, blogging.  If I bang away on the keyboard for an hour or so, I’m likely to produce something acceptable … and occasionally, exceptional.   When that happens, it doesn’t matter if anyone else thinks it’s exceptional.   It is the best of the creative experience. (more…)

Friday Favorites 5/17/2013

May 17, 2013

writing penIt was bound to happen.  A Friday would come along when I’d sit at my keyboard, searching for a Friday Favorite and find the hopper empty.   After all, I’ve been doing this for a long time.   Looking at my WordPress dashboard, there have been 142 Friday Favorites.   There have been music (lots of music), books, animals and places.  There have been favorite numbers, ice cream flavors and colors.  But today, nothing seemed to be leaping from the almost sixty-nine years of memories that are my life.  Jack London has said, You can’t wait for inspiration.  You have to go after it with a club.  So, I picked up my club, donned my night vision goggles and wandered off into those cobwebbed back rooms of my brain.   It took a while but what I found was perhaps my favorite day as a writer. (more…)

A Letter to Yourself

April 24, 2013

writing penIt has been a long couple of weeks.  You’ve been working fourteen hours a day, Saturdays, too, trying to get a proposal out the door.  Your boss, Gunther, seems perfectly oblivious to the amount of time you’re putting in and the engineers whose stilted prose you’re editing into a polished document want to argue about every change.  You’ve been slipping out of work at 5:00 three days a week so you can go to Jeremy’s soccer practice then going back afterwards.  When you tried to give him a little help from the sidelines … Pass the ball, Jer, don’t dribble so much … he gave you one of his looks then pouted for the rest of practice.  When your wife, Suzie, said, He’s had a long day.  Go easy on him, you snapped at her.  Today, you went off to work without a goodbye from either one of them and Gunther’s waiting in your office with a list of mandatory suggestions for your proposal.  If someone doesn’t appreciate you soon, you may do something worse than snap at your wife.   So, let me ask you.  Who knows better how hard you’ve been working or all the extra things you’ve been doing to make this proposal a winner?   Who knows how exhausting it is to go to that soccer field then trudge back into work at night?  Who knows exactly what you need to hear?  It ain’t Gunther, that’s for sure, although he usually comes through at raise time.  And once she gets over being mad, Suzie will probably apologize and say something like, I know you’re working hard … but it’s not enough.  Nope.  Only one person knows exactly what to say.  It’s time for A Letter to Yourself. (more…)

Best Thinking

March 6, 2013

usefulIt is a little embarrassing to admit that approximately two times a month, I wonder why the hell I put in the time I do to post (almost) every day on Older Eyes – Bud’s Blog.  Sometimes it happens when I’m pounding the keyboard at midnight, trying to create a post out of nothing.  It’s even more likely if that post created out of nothing turns out to be mediocre.  And even more likely if I really like the post that I created out of nothing and it gets only a few views … no comments … no Likes … particularly if, on that day, I visit a blogger on my Blogs I Read list and they’ve had 46 comments and 55 Likes.  Envy is not pretty.  Yes, I know that I am prolific on only one side of the blogging equation … I post a lot but don’t read (or Like and comment) as much as I could.  Should.  Would if I wasn’t so busy. And, of course, the chief editor of Random House hasn’t showed up here on Bud’s Blog to request a book proposal. (more…)


February 13, 2013

hookedOn Monday night, after struggling to stay with Alice Hoffmann’s The Dovekeepers for two months, I finally gave up.  Oh, yeah, I can tell myself I’ll try it again some day but it’s unlikely to happen.  As I said in Not Just Talking, the book is historical fiction told in a narrative style with no dialog, both strikes against it given my taste in reading.  But perhaps more importantly, the story never Hooked me.  I never came to care very much about the characters and there was never an uncertain future that I just had to know about.  I’m no historian but I do know that the siege of the Masada by the Romans, which The Dovekeepers fictionalizes, ends in the mass suicide of the 960 Jews living there.  Nothing in the 299 pages I read made me anxious to know anything more.   So, last night, I started 11/22/63, Stephen King’s novel centered about the assassination of John F. Kennedy.  You might say taking on another piece of historical fiction would be a mistake, but I’ve never read a King novel that hasn’t Hooked me in the first few pages.  He has a way of quickly introducing me to likeable but flawed characters that remind me of people I know … or of myself … then subtly letting me know they are in harm’s way.   He’s also fond of killing off those characters part way through the book and knowing his good guys don’t always survive adds to the sense of dread. (more…)

Not Just Talking

January 30, 2013

dialogIn 1959, I was a Freshman at East Haven High School, taking English in the college course.   The major project in Freshman English was a term paper.  If you can believe it, I chose to write on The Basic Characteristics of Nobel Prize Winning Literature.  I based my paper on four books: Earnest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises; The Stranger by Albert Camus; Boris Pasternak’s Dr. Zhivago; and Halldor Laxness’ Independent People.  Miss Miller gave me an A+, mostly, I think for ambition and organization, making her my favorite teacher (she wore tight skirts and liked my writing, what more could a boy ask for in a teacher?).  I actually read three of the books … I couldn’t make it through Independent People.  Halldor Laxness was given to pages-long descriptive passages that renewed the great narrative art of Iceland … but left no room for dialog.   Sorry Miss Miller. (more…)


December 2, 2012

park sunrise.
Have you heard about the Dial-A-Prayer for atheists?  You call 1-800-xxx-xxx and it rings but no one answers
Well traveled anonymous joke

I find this near one-liner to be extremely funny, even though it describes my relationship with God for about 80% of my life.  I never really wanted to be an atheist so I called myself an agnostic.  Guess what?  God never answered the Dial-A-Prayer for Agnostics either.   After all, who would remain an agnostic if God actually picked up the phone?  So, after a while, I pretty much stopped calling.  All my life, I’ve known people who have a firm belief in God and the power of prayer.   They would say God answers their calls, although to my eyes, their prayers weren’t answered any more often than mine.  It’s often seemed to me that this is where believers get to be apologists for God.  When terrible things happen, we let God off by suggesting God has a Greater Plan that we aren’t privy to or let our relationship with God be about the Next Life, not this one.  We attribute the evils to the influences of God’s Fall Guy, Satan, on poor, weak mankind.  But didn’t God make mankind weak … and create Satan, for that matter?  I know people who say they hear God when they pray or meditate.  I try to give them the benefit of the doubt, even though they make me a little nervous.  People who are sure they know what God wants have done some serious damage in this world. (more…)