11 February 2018

When I Want Your Advice I'll Research It

Writing involves a lot of other books than the one you're trying to start. Or finish.

A drawback to being a writer is having way too many how-to writing books. As if the books could impart a template that would enable you to sail forth and write prodigiously. The smarter books call themselves simply, 'Guides". The ones I give side eye to are the ones that proclaim they are, "The Ultimate Guide". I'm not sure anything is the ultimate guide to writing.

Part of the problem is people are different. How many times have you seen the argument about writing by the seat of your pants as opposed to being an outliner? Both have their strong points, and I get irritated with books that tell me I have to be one or the other or I'm doing it wrong. Their method is best because…. Maybe it's because I hate being told what to do, but these books never sit well with me.I started out a pantser, but have seen the value in some outlining. Compromise. It's not just for toddlers anymore.

Here's a little secret. I'm not a fan of writing prompts. I know some people swear by them, but I have enough ideas rattling around in my brain that doing something else seems counterproductive. So naturally, I force myself to do one now and then. I don't want the ideas in my head to get complacent. This is the same reason I make myself write poetry forms occasionally. Or a short story – and I hate writing short stories. All my ideas want to be books. Except when they want to be poems. It gets confusing, but that's part of the cat herding process of writing.

It's good for a writer to embrace opposites. I'm not the most organized person in the world, so I read organizational tips in books with interest. I'm looking for the magic bullet that will organize me out of chaos. Hasn't happened yet, but still I keep looking. Every new writing book might hold the key to keeping myself on track – and knowing what version of a poem is where. On the other hand, working in disarray often leads to some exciting discoveries. "I wrote that? Huh. It's not bad."

I'm not discounting all advice, I just like to be selective. So I sit with my highlighter and cherry pick what I need or what applies to me. Or what I want to try. I have a vague notion I should rip those pages out of the books and put them in a binder. Once I get over my horror of deliberately defacing a book, I might just do that.

29 January 2018

Old Dog, New Tricks

Merlin with his faithful outdoor companion. The Ball.

It’s been six weeks since we lost Max, Corgi Extraordinaire. We are slowly adjusting to his lack of presence. Our other Corgi, Merlin, is slowly adjusting to being the only dog. It took him a while to learn he could come up on the bed, sleep on the bed, use the dog stairs to clamber up on once forbidden territory. The bedroom used to be Max’s domain, a place for an old dog to relax and escape from his snarky younger brother. Max would nap, watch a little TV, (he liked the cooking channel and Bloomberg news) and contemplate dog things. Merlin contemplates dog things from his comfy bed in his crate, and now listens to music during the day. He likes light jazz, the 80's station, fetch, and long walks in the park on a sunny day.

Merlin still wanders sometimes, searching for Max, we think. There is less wandering than the first two weeks, but still, it’s hard to remove someone who was there your whole life and not miss them. To combat boredom, we bought Merlin a dog puzzle. One of those that has hidden compartments you place treats in and hide under fake plastic bones fitted into the slots. He figured it out quickly, but that doesn’t seem to take the enjoyment out of doing it. More puzzles are in the offing.

We also bought him a puzzle cube, where you put treats in and the dog rolls it around the floor while treats fall out at random. He didn’t seem to like it that much, even with enticing liver treats in it. We gave it to him one day, by the next day, it disappeared. Where did he roll it to? We’ve checked every nook and cranny upstairs, including behind the couch. Nothing. It’s bright yellow, how can we miss it? Unless he figured out a way to get it through his dog door and hide it in the snow, we’re stumped.

Then there are the chewy busy bone-like things we got him. Everyone said their dog loved them, chewed them right up. Merlin has carried his around for weeks, burying it in a dog bed one minute, the couch cushions the next. But not chewing it. He never was much of a chewer but surely something beef tasting could be a little bit tempting?

So we are on to teaching an old(er) dog new tricks. Merlin is not impressed with learning to shake. I guess he figures Corgis are short enough without giving up a paw. We’re reinforcing sit, down, stay, and don’t rip the treat out of my hand. He is a bit of a Land Shark. Twice a day there is a rousing game of fetch. Rousing for us, since we have to go get the ball when he decides he’s done and it’s our turn. We are also trying car rides that don’t end at the vet, or groomer. A wandering ride that sometimes ends up at McDonalds for a doggie cheeseburger.

It’s been a tough adjustment for all of us. Merlin is settling in as only dog and all the spoiling that entails. Every time we go out somewhere and come back in the house later, Merlin is at the top of the stairs to greet us, perhaps waiting a few beats longer in anticipation of his big brother returning.

15 January 2018

Now Available - Gyroscope Review Winter Issue

The first issue of 2018 of Gyroscope Review is now available, featuring a hand drawn cover done by me, Constance Brewer. Pen and ink drawings that were popped into the computer for some touch up and a few groundhog hole details. The Gyroscope groundhog wants you to go forth and protest for what you believe in, or at least come up for air and see what's going on around you. Take part, a little or a lot. Groundhogs don't judge.

Get your Gyroscope Review 2018 Winter issue today.

Print copies are available for purchase HERE.
Kindle copies are available for purchase HERE.
As always, our PDF version is available HERE.

01 January 2018

So Now It's 2018

So it's 2018. What are you going to do?

Welcome to the New Year. I'm not sure it's going to be much different than the old year, but I'd like it to be. I generally don't do resolutions—I might make an exception this time. I resolve to quit obsessively reading the news like some train wreck caught out of the corner of my eye. It's demoralizing and I can't shake the feeling of dread it brings. So here's to a news diet. I'm sure any bad news will make its way to me anyhow.

I'd like to do a better job reviewing books. I read enough. Time to pay back all those authors whose work I enjoyed, be it bestseller or self-published. I read a lot of self-published books this year, and many of them were damn good. (Another advantage to reading on Kindle is if the book is bad, I won't throw the Kindle against the wall.) A little bit of encouragement to authors goes a long way. Let them know their book hasn't just dropped into the endless void that is publishing now days.

More poetry, both reading and writing. I did good writing this year, partially stoked by the collaboration I'm doing with poet Kathleen Cassen Mickelson. Pushing each other is a good thing. I haven't been as pro-active about submitting my work. I mean to, but it takes so damn much time to research journals, adhere to the guidelines, and pick poems that might fit the journal. Of course second guessing the editors is a futile endeavor. They like what they like. Same thing with editing Gyroscope Review. In the end, we like what we like, nothing wrong about that. I don't even take offense at those that call me 'sir', and I read their work the same as any other. (Is 'Constance' a gender neutral name?)

I like to knit. But I'm caught in a spiral of doing easy projects, not advancing for fear of trying a new technique. I'll try and break that habit. I started doing that last year with a Fair Isle project and colorwork. This year I need to learn different things. Maybe even listen to some new music. I like the same artists I liked 20 years ago. But new isn't necessarily scary. Edging out on the limb here.

Finally, I want to spoil my remaining Corgi. Not that he isn't already spoiled, but I'm sure there's more I can do to make his life an excellent Corgi life. Isn't that what it's all about? Making other's lives a bit better? Start with animals, move on to people. Maybe that will make the paper. And then I'll start reading them again. 

Picture - Pixabay

23 December 2017

Max - Saying Goodbye

Max 3/22/04 to 12/22/17

It is with great sadness we must announce the passing of Max, our Corgi. It was rather sudden and we are heartbroken. Max was the best Corgi anyone could ask for, a credit to his breed and a prince of a fellow.

My son summed up Max's lifetime eloquently:

"It makes it easier knowing his life was a spectacular dog life every day he was with us. Though a dog's life is brief, I'm glad his was the best. If only we could all be so lucky as to have each and every moment we are alive be as good as his."

Goodbye Max - Maxie Doodle - Maximus Minimus – Little Prince.

Cross the Rainbow Bridge and leave old age behind.

Frap Free, Max!

We love you.