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Monthly Archives: November 2021

Remember This

“Submitting your work fifty times or revising it as many times as you have to may be what separates the sung from the unsung.”

– Betsy Lerner

Thanksgiving (Part 3)

Looking back in my blog, apparently there was no Thanksgiving in 2020.

No surprise there.

Let’s pick things up again in 2021, shall we? So what am I thankful for? Quite a lot, actually…

  1. I’m not dead yet.
  2. My beautiful wife of 35 glorious years.
  3. All things considered, I’m reasonably healthy.
  4. My brain still seems to be firing on all cylinders.
  5. I have a job with health insurance.
  6. There are people I love who seem to love me back.
  7. My little girl pup that everyone thinks is a boy.
  8. Being able to write.
  9. The editors who have seen fit to publish my work.
  10. See number one.

Plot (Part 1)

There is no plot in real life.

I remember hearing Ethan Hawke discuss this idea in an interview, and it really stuck with me. He postulated that people aren’t interested in plots — they’re interested in other people. Therefore, as an actor, his mission was to create a character who was complicated and messy. You know, the way people behave in real life.

It’s only in retrospect that we can make any sense out of what happens to us — only in hindsight do the events we experience lead to what might resemble a coherent story. In real-time, it’s all a jumbled, confusing mess.

So why plot a novel? Or a short story, for that matter? Why not just let the story unfold in real-time, then look back and find the plot afterward?

Maybe the characters trump plot — and if they’re real enough, maybe they’ll tell you what’s going to happen.

Food for thought.

Hanging on by a Thread

“Health-care workers aren’t quitting because they can’t handle their jobs. They’re quitting because they can’t handle being unable to do their jobs.”

– Ed Yong, “Why Health-Care Workers are Quitting in Droves,” The Atlantic Magazine

The Last Day

Time is promise,
But uninvited circumstance
And wounded souls
Eventually barter it away.
The owner of my borrowed time
Will arrive at random to insist
All what remains of me vanish . . . .
A shadow of a shadow
Passing into mist.

So, I and my last day
Will take a journey together
When we both are spent,
That leaves the familiar
Once infused in all the days,
To stand at the edge of night,
And wonder in the dying light
Exactly where we went.

– Jim Gallagher

Transitioning (Part 2)

Transition: A change from one state or condition to another.

The current cultural zeitgeist suggests the word relates to issues of gender, but the truth is we are all in a constant state of flux, moving from one state to another.

Sometimes we’re aware of it; sometimes we’re not. Sometimes it’s a choice, and sometimes life thrusts us from one state to another whether we want to or not.

Note: I am transitioning from who I was to who I will be. I have some agency in the matter, or at least I think I do.

But perhaps not.

“I’m Sorry, I did the Best I Could”

Barbara Lock is an emergency physician and writer I’ve been fortunate enough to work with for eleven years. Today her essay on COVID, “Insect Music,” is published in The Forge Literary Magazine.

This is an important piece of non-fiction that beautifully gives voice to something that is almost impossible to put into words.

Do yourself a favor and take a few minutes to read about what it felt like to be a vulnerable human working in a NYC ER during the first wave.

It’s unforgettable.

Smaller Outside, Bigger Inside

As I turn my back on the chaotic hatred of the world that America has become, my inner world has become richer and more alive.

It’s not good.

I feel like I should be more engaged with all this hostility — like somehow I should be part of the solution, whatever that is.

But then I think, Maybe my part in this mess is just to create more art, followed quickly by, Really? That seems kind of silly and self-indulgent, doesn’t it?

Well, here’s the thing: I’m afraid that’s the best I can do.

It may not be much, but it’s something.