Somewhere around a million years ago, I received a gift from a fellow writer, a book called Walking on Alligators by Susan Shaughnessy. I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Shaughnessy, but the book is subtitled A Book of Meditations for Writers, and it has a format similar to a lot of self-help/meditation books: each page features an interesting provocative quote from a well-known writer, a section about how and what we writers do, and then a kind of affirmation, e.g., Today I will write as honestly as I can, or Today I will honor my writing time, and so on.

I’ve never been big on the whole idea of writer’s block (do dentists get dentist block?), but I’ve had periods where I felt uninspired, and other periods where I got “stuck” in a story I was working on and had to go work on something else for a while. This book is a good resource for writers when they need a little inspiration, or even a good kick in the seat of the pants. Some of the readings are great, some aren’t so great, and a few are just plain weird. Of late I have used the book as a source of quotes for various social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

Today’s quote comes from Neil Postman, an author I should probably have read by now, but admittedly haven’t. I see from Amazon that he has a book called Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business. I like the quote, and decided to use it for an image post on Facebook. Without giving it much thought, I decided to use a mandala for the image in the background, and I posted it and moved on to start this blog post for the day.

Like a lot of provocative (and evocative) quotes, this one led me to muse about culture and politics, about the sacred and the profane. I started to go down a rabbit hole that I honestly don’t have time for today, but I still wanted to get the post out there and have it available for comment. I guess the most important thing it led me to, in my short musing time, is the notion that we need great stories. I’ve written about this before, and will probably write about it again, but “narratives of transcendent origin and power” like those that drove so much of Native American culture are difficult to find in current American culture, at least in popular culture. I hope my own efforts – Brothers’ Hand, Jana, and Miles of Files – have some of that much-needed transcendence.

What about you? What do you think about the need for transcendence, and where are you finding it today?



Book Projects: The Sausage-Making

Lately I've been writing a few blog posts about my background and life experiences, some of which may be of interest to my readers. Today I'm going back to talking about books a bit, but I think this topic may interest both fellow writers and non-writers. Of course,...

Nobody Likes Being Sick—But The Coronavirus Is Making People Scared Of Even Getting Sick

​Readers of this blog undoubtedly know I sometimes create Monday posts geared toward providing helpful info, but also sometimes use it as my personal ranting space. Today's post is the latter, but it's going to be a short one. No, I don't have the coronavirus, but...

Feeling Wiped Out? Get Up and Out!

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Are Stories Inevitably Autobiographical?

Recently, I’ve been writing quite a bit about writing, providing some explanations about why I write what I write. I’ve even got an upcoming podcast appearance talking a lot about my background and history in relation to my works of fiction. In the case of my short...

Is It Important to Be Part of a Community of Writers?

I just returned from a meeting of the Bay Area Professional Writers Guild, a terrific organization that brings together writers of all types to network, share resources, and provide education. It made me realize what a small world this is, as the guest speaker was...

Racism In The Time Of Corona

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Would You Like A Side Order of Misogyny, Prejudice, or Homophobia With That?

I didn’t intentionally set out to write a new novel addressing the rampant intolerance, Islamophobia, and racism in America today. I really didn’t. My novels always start with a character, or characters. Sometimes their actions get pretty hectic right out of the gate;...

You Can’t Do It All—And You Don’t Have To!

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago called What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. One of the points ran as follows: Even if you're traditionally published, you still have to do a lot of the heavy marketing lifting. As an indie, be prepared...

How Do You Write About Sex—Seriously, Irreverently, or Not At All?

“Writing about sex is like engaging in sex: it’s hard. Or, it should be.” —Sean Murphy   Today I want to talk about fictional scenes where characters either discuss sex or engage in sexual activity. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit, because I’m working...