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?

 

genre writer

The Challenge of Writing in a Different Genre for the First Time

I’ve never been what you’d call a genre writer. In fact, I’ve said this for years: “I’m not a genre writer.” Problem is, we live in an age where everything must be classified. It’s weird. I’m a guy who grew up listening to a lot of rock (the genre formerly known as...
phooey

Hong Kong Phooey and The Casual Racism of the 70s

As kids, my brother and I used to love The Rocky & Bullwinkle Show, which ran from the late 50s to the early 70s. The cartoon featured Boris & Natasha, a.k.a., Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, as in “bad enough” and “femme fatale.” The former was a pun on the...

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

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attorney

The Power of an Attorney

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isolation

New “Writer Problems” Series, Topic #4: Isolation vs. Solitude

I’m a loner With a loner’s point of view —Bruce Cockburn, “Loner”   Writing a novel is a solitary activity. We all know this. And while there are some exceptions to the rule—screenwriters who work on a team in a “writer’s room,” partners who write a book...
coming-of-age

Dreams, Memories, And Growing Up One Day At A Time

We use up too much artistry in our dreams—and therefore often are impoverished during the day. - Friedrich Nietzsche, The Wanderer and His Shadow   Boy, ole Nietzsche really had it right, didn’t he? Last night I went through mental movies that ranged from being...

But What If I’m Sick?

Last month my wife and I went to Thailand for a two-week vacation. This was my first real vacation in over two years, and my wife Sunny’s first visit back to her family in her country of origin in even longer. So we really needed and, I think, deserved it. And...
technophobe

The Technophobe Part 2: Why I Wish I Was Better At Some Of This Stuff

The last few weeks have been all about pros and cons. In June, I wrote several blog posts about my biggest strengths, and now I’m writing about some of my greatest challenges. So the two categories are, roughly, “Stuff I’m Good At” and “Stuff I Wish I Was Better At.”...
department

Yes, I’m The Head of My Company’s Marketing Department

A few months ago, I wrote a post called What I’ve Learned In Six Years of Growing An Indie Author Business. The idea was to provide six bullet points, one for each year I’ve run my publishing company. Ultimately, I realized that each of those six points could use some...
mask

COVID-19, Discipline, and an Uncomfortable Freedom

Last week, my wife and I did something we hadn’t done since March of 2020: we walked into a supermarket without wearing masks. This might not seem radical, but a word of explanation is in order here. My mother, who turns 86 this coming May, lives up the road from us...