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Monthly Archives: February 2020

The Difference Between Writing Blog Posts and Short Stories

To start with the most obvious – blog posts are stream-of-consciousness – fiction is meticulously edited. Here on my blog, I’m just trying to come up with something interesting and cohesive with no pre-meditation. Fiction – if it’s well done – is quite a bit more complex. Big difference.

And yet….

It’s uniquely challenging to attempt to write something that communicates an idea everyday and make it public. I’m now in year four, folks, and I can’t imagine anyone ever reading through even half this stuff. So why do it? Quite simply – discipline – and the challenge of trying to do something difficult.

But it turned out there was an important and surprisingly unexpected benefit. This blog unlocked the door to another channel of creativity – one that I didn’t see coming.

I’m just walking through that door and seeing where it goes.

ER Apocalypse (Part 4)

Nothing left in this gas tank – no food for 11 hours and no bed in the ICU for a very unstable young man dancing with death.

Couple that with a new EMR whose sole purpose seems to be to make my job as difficult as possible. Choosing between the two is a no brainer for me. Taking care of sick people is by far the most rewarding part of my job.

It’s not for the faint of heart or those with a weak constitution. I’m 63 and still up for it, thank you very much. Not bad for someone ten years in and rapidly becoming the oldest person there.

Trying to make a difference here folks. Not sure I always succeed, but it’s not for lack of trying.

The Problem

The problem isn’t that you can’t get what you want in life.

The problem is you run out of time.

I’m Old

Yeah – I said it. So fucking what? It is what it is, and all told, I’m still glad to be alive. I’ve already been introduced to death by cancer and sepsis, and as a result of treatment some rather essential parts of my body have said adios and left the building. But did I mention I’m still alive?

So you might ask what could possibly be good about getting old? Just this: I remember everything, which gives me a lot of shit to write about, and quite frankly, an edge over everyone younger. Well – I guess I don’t remember everything – most of my early childhood is a very dim, very ugly memory. But really, even that’s available if I want dig deeply enough. Which I don’t.

So yeah, I know disease and death are right around the corner, and unfortunately, I have no choice but to be ok with that. I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but neither do you. This little visit on earth doesn’t last forever folks. So for what it’s worth – enjoy the ride.

It’ll be over sooner than you think.

Let the good times roll.

Routine Creates Space for Creativity

So you want to write a book, record an album, paint, create CGI, write code, make shadow boxes, design clothes, make jewelry, start a screenplay, etc. The problem is, you can never seem to find time.

The solution is easier than you think, that is, if you really want it. You just carve out the time for it and then make it a routine. It doesn’t even have to be that much time – but it needs to be consistent.

Because if you find yourself in your workspace with a couple of hours blocked out, something will happen. If you spend the time fucking around not doing anything, there’s your answer right there. You’ve got to actually want it – not just say you want it.

But first you’ve got to give yourself a chance by creating a space for the work to happen, and it can’t be a haphazard thing. It’s got to become a routine, and you’ve got to be committed to it.

Because this is the time where it stops being a dream and starts becoming real.

Learning to Edit (Part 2)

Holy fuck – I’m in the thick of it now. Deep in the weeds. Doing the work, trying to make my writing presentable to the world. See, the creative part of writing isn’t a problem for me, it’s the editing part that’s a killer.

But I’ve got some experience to fall back on, albeit in a different discipline. Music and writing don’t share much, but the editing phase is similar.

See, when you write and record a piece of music, by the time you’re ready to mix you’ve heard it so many times, examining every tiny detail, that it becomes this very dispassionate exercise. You lose all sense of excitement because, quite frankly, it’s a brutal grind to get it to it’s highest level.

In this sense, writing is no different. Flow, overuse of adverbs, sentence structure, correct punctuation, spelling, passive vs active voice, conjunctions, dialog, repetitive words, overuse of pronouns, length… The list just goes on and on.

It’s probably not quite as complex as music, but getting it to its final state is just as hard.

So I’m not really dismayed – I’ve been here before. This is what separates the men from the boys (I mean that in the most none-gender specific way possible).

So I’m overwhelmed but learning, which is a good place to be.

Here’s to realizing you suck, and the brutal hard work it takes to get better. I’m still growing at 63.

It’s pretty fucking cool.


It’s part of life, right? Yes, but remember this: as painful as it can be, it’s both necessary and useful. Necessary because it’s good to be reminded that not everyone is going to like you, and if you create something to express yourself, most people are at best not going to get it, and at worst they’ll downright dislike it. I’ll get to the useful part in a minute.

What makes rejection so hard is that whatever you made is your personal statement, so when people don’t like it, it’s easy to think they’re rejecting you. When you create something and love it enough to share with the world, rejection can feel like confirmation that whatever you made isn’t really very good. To share what you’ve made is to make yourself vulnerable.

But here’s the useful part: You’re going to learn something from each rejection. Like what you’re made of, and how strongly you believe in what you’re doing. Are you crushed or angry? Or maybe indifferent? If comments were given you’ll decide whether they’re useful and act accordingly.

Because here’s the thing: Ultimately only you can judge the worth of both yourself and whatever you’ve made. Everything else is just another person’s opinion.

If you think it’s good and it gives you pleasure, isn’t that enough?

RIP José Mojica Marins, AKA “Coffin Joe”

Oh, and one last favor. If you pass by heaven, give my regards to the angels. But if you end up in hell, give my address to the devil.

– Coffin Joe in “This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse,” 1967, Brazil

If you don’t know who this is, shame on you. Ok – that might be a bit strong since his films weren’t available in North America until the last ten years or so, but you should know who he is. This guy was a one-of-a-kind auteur whose low budget films seemed to exist in a weird alternate reality that had to be seen to be believed. Imagine grainy black and white explorations of existential themes masquerading as a grind house horror movie – in Portuguese.

I wrote an earlier post about him here, so I won’t recap except to say that after a lifetime of watching movies, the first time I saw “This Night I’ll Possess Your Corpse,” I thought I was either hallucinating or dreaming. After seeing untold thousands of films, this isn’t something that happens very often.

So I just want to take a moment to honor this mind-blowing artist. He inspired me and was a shining example of the power of following your personal vision and aesthetic, no matter how unconventional.

He made living just a little more interesting.

Bon Voyage

This post has departed on a long journey and perhaps will return in another form in the future.

Godspeed my friend, I send you on your way with the best of intentions.

Hang On to This Like Grim Death

What am I talking about? Jeopardy answer: What is your health

This is one of those realizations that you often don’t understand until it’s too late – so on the off chance that anyone younger comes across this, pay close fucking attention!

When I was young I was motivated to exercise because I wanted to look good. Fair enough.

Then as I became older I started to understand the health benefits, as a result this became my primary motivator.

But once I began to see health, vigor, and function start to go in people in my age group, it really hit me – I don’t care how much pain I have to suffer to hold on to what I’ve got, I’m not stopping moving and pushing myself until I’m dead.

So yeah, I’m hanging onto my current state of health like grim death.

BTW – fun fact: Who coined the term? Why, Shakespeare of course!

It’s Complicated

(Caught off-guard) If you’re reading this right now, what would I say to you?

I guess for starters – I never meant to hurt you, and yes, I’m aware I can be harsh. I’ve got a good side too – unfortunately you didn’t bring it out. Or perhaps I should say we both had a knack for bringing out the worst in each other. Either way, it wasn’t good.

Because it’s my nature, I solved the problem for both of us. It wasn’t pretty, but hey – it was effective. And truth be told, we’re both better off for it.

See, in life there are the things we wish for, and then there’s what is. I live in the land of what is, and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty attempting to fix it however I can.

Which is to say by any means necessary, with, of course, as little collateral damage as possible. Unfortunately someone always gets hurt, don’t they?

Anyway, whether you believe it or not, I really do wish you well.

Just don’t get in touch.

Art is a Subjective Experience

Ok, let me see if I can articulate this…

The impact a particular piece of art has on us is inextricably tied to the time in our lives when we were first moved by it. How we were feeling at the moment, our emotional state (probably the most important), the weather, our age, our understanding of of the culture in which the artist created, whether or not we were in a relationship, where we were when we experienced it, the questions we were asking ourselves about about life at the time.

So even if we want to turn our friends onto it, hoping they’ll love it as much as we do, they can never experience it quite the same way.

One of the interesting things about this phenomenon is that even a large scale “event” like a movie release or an anticipated record or book by a major artist will be experienced completely differently by any two people.

This is why we can feel so personally connected to a particular artifact, even one meant for mass consumption – and wonder why someone else who shares our sensibilities doesn’t get it.

It’s also what allows these things to become seminal parts of our mythology – they both influence and become inseparable from the stories we tell ourselves about our lives.

Three Years

That’s how long I’ve been writing this blog, dutifully posting every day, trying to articulate something I’m thinking about and writing it down coherently. But when I hit these milestones, it seems pertinent to ask some questions, to wit:

Why? And has it been worth it?

Before I answer that, let’s get this out of the way – it’s not fucking easy, and although I can go through long stretches where I don’t seem to run out of ideas, there are many days where it’s work and I feel like I’ve got nothing. I’m sure anyone who might come across it when I’m struggling would move on without hesitation, and that’s understandable. I made a commitment to myself to write something everyday, so by god that’s what I’m going to do. If you can’t keep promises you made to yourself, how are you going to keep them with everyone else?

Right now is unfortunately one of those difficult periods, but there’s a reason… At the moment I’m kind of obsessed with writing fiction, and most of my time and energy are spent working on that. As a consequence, writing blog posts cuts into time I could be spending writing my other stuff. It’s never a good idea to spread yourself too thin.

But here’s the thing: I still think I’m getting enough out of this for it to be worth the time and trouble. Why? Well, let’s see:

  • Writing this blog forces me to look closely at the world and think about what I see, if only to give me something to write about.
  • Practicing discipline and keeping commitments you’ve made to yourself is important.
  • In order to write anything, you have to translate your thoughts into sentences. This can’t help but make you a better writer.
  • It helps clarify your thinking and understanding of how the world works, i.e. what is important and what isn’t.
  • If your thinking is weak, it becomes embarrassingly obvious when you write it down.
  • And, probably more important than anything else: It’s good for my brain.

So here we go into my fourth year – let’s see where this thing takes me.

Nothing ventured nothing gained.


Take away your daily commitments and what do you have? Or let’s be more specific – what would you do if you didn’t have to work to make a living?

The answer to this question would heavily depend on how much meaning your work job (the one that pays your bills) added to your life – and what interests you had beyond that.

So we must constantly ask ourselves the question: What is important and what isn’t? How you answer will dictate how you’ll spend your time…