Thursday, January 25, 2018


Today is a milestone! Just after Fall began I completed the first draft of my novel, EYES LIKE WALLS. I set it aside for a few weeks to allow the dust to settle and to work on a couple of smaller projects. Well, today I completed a major revision of that novel.

My main concentration was continuity and flow with care and attention given to grammar and spelling. I began work just before the Thanksgiving holiday here in the U.S. Time was, of course, taken for family and friends both then and at Christmas and New Year. (I'm as obsessive as any writer but try to hide my neurosis). Working a schedule of 5 - 8 hours a day, six days a week eventually got the job done.

What's the final output? 320 double spaced pages in standard formatting for a total of 86,290 words, including chapter numbering and headings. I actually reduced the original by over 5200 words which I feel pretty good about.

What's next? As hard as it is I'm going to walk away from the manuscript for a week. During that time I'll be researching agents and editors to make my pitch to. Any suggestions from the viewers of this blog would be appreciated. It's a contemporaneous tale of science fiction tied into some of the more prevalent conspiracy theories and today's cutting edge developments in science and technology (Think DOCTOR STRANGELOVE meets THE X FILES with undertones of FEAR AND LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS). If you've had any experience with agents in this genre and can point out a useful contact I'd love to hear from you. You can shoot me a line in the comment box below. I review all such submissions before they go public, so if you want this to be just between you and me indicate that in your comment. But please leave an email so I can respond to you personally. I will not share it with others without your permission.

Is this next week going to be totally devoid of work? I can't even believe I posed that question. No. I am researching a new novel and have an idea in its rudimentary form for a new short story. I swear - I'm going to buy an old Underwood manual typewriter and have it, along with a ream of paper, buried with me when I finally go. All that time to myself with no phones, commitments, or interruptions! Ah.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018



The heading for today's entry was something I used to see in an art studio I was involved with on the Eastern seaboard of the United States. It's something that turns up from time to time among fine and graphic artists, copywriters, fiction authors, musicians. It's Latin and translates as, "Art for Money". The flip side of this is seen in the banner above the famous MGM lion. There you will find the words, "Ars Gratia Artis", which, in English is, loosely, "Art for Art's Sake". I doubt Louis B. Mayer (The last 'M' in MGM) took that at all seriously. He probably didn't think anyone watching his films in theaters would get past the roaring lion.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of people out there who don't value the artist. I worked in and around advertising photography, film, and video for a while and am more than familiar with hardball negotiations. Everyone wants the fruits of your labor but nobody wants to pay you what that fruit is worth. Even when they are looking to use it to fatten their bottom line.

If you've been around for a while then you know what I mean. If you write then you have been offered 'contributor's copies' over and over. These are fine the first couple of times, the ego swells as we pull it down from a shelf to show a friend, relative, or other writer. After a while though, the shine wears off and it's just another dead end. Especially if you've been paid a few times for your efforts. This alone is reason enough to look at offers of 'exposure' and request being exposed to a little more hard cash.

In the image industries (graphic and fine art, film, photography, digital production, soundtracks and theme music) there's the ubiquitous 'spec' projects. Work done with the understanding that you might get paid if it gets used and the final customer REALLY likes it. I'm not going to go into the details I've heard concerning the number of people who have been screwed like that. If nothing else, if you're still just starting out and are tempted by these type of deals, ask for a copy(ies) of the final product for your book or reel. Payment in kind is okay if it can actually highlight you as a creative personality.

In the end, in a world where the labor of the individual is devalued time and again by the system or corporations, the only way you can be treated fairly is by saying, "No thanks", to deals that are less than thinly veiled con jobs. Your time is worth something. Your education is worth something. Your materials and efforts are worth something. But if you don't stand up and say enough is enough you will be viewed as an easy mark. In the long run, the market only values what it is made to pay for.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018



Okay, the holidays are over. That means that my office is no longer under the dominion of guest lodging and I'm back at the keyboard. Does this mean I haven't been working at all? No, though between the 23rd of December and the 1st of January I was out of my cozy den. Like a wolverine poked out of his lair. So long as you didn't make eye contact I was unlikely to go defense and start slobbering and growling.

In anticipation of being persona non grata in my normal territory, I printed out several chapters of the novel I'm working on so I could at least carry on with the revisions they needed. (Thank technology for the invention of the i-pad. Though I'm still a throwback comfortable with yellow pads and ballpoint pens.) I also wrote a few new pieces of poetry and debuted one in a weekly venue in the next town over. In between I spent some time selecting a couple of paintings for a show at one of the more prestigious public galleries in the area. The image above is one of the two entitled, "Frequency of Persistence". It's an original acrylic on canvas and something of an homage to the Japanese wood block print masters.

What does that have to do with revising a novel or writing poetry? A long time ago, a good friend and early mentor told me, "If you do something long enough, some notable will be fool enough to call you a master based strictly on longevity." In other words, if you PERSIST, you can succeed. Conversely, if you sit around on your ass waiting for inspiration and acclaim all you're likely to do is wear out the seat of your pants. The train you're waiting for probably already left the station, so your best bet is to shoulder your pack and get walking.

I could have waited for the holidays to pass while taking a vacation from my work - But why? We've all had the experience of setting something aside for a while only to return and find that those half-a-dozen ideas we were thinking of incorporating have either fled or staled. I don't tolerate that kind of sloth in myself. Which is one of the reasons I've enjoyed the success I have. Not because I'm brilliant or gifted. I just won't allow myself to stop.

Last night I was relaxing and watching a movie. Well, I thought I was relaxing. In the beginning of the film something tripped the synapses and made a connection to something I'd seen and heard the night before. This all chained into a thought that would make a great subplot in the next long work of fiction I've begun outlining. (Yes, outlining one while revising the other). This all bubbled to the surface through many years study in Zen Buddhism.

Confusing enough yet? In Zen we are taught that the path most people envision is the straightest route to the top of the mountain. (When you get there take a good look around. The wise old holy man you were expecting? Uh-uh.) Life has a habit of throwing insurmountable obstacles up right where we least expect them. The route we take is really determined by the forks we find in our road. We may even find that we never reach the summit. Who cares? If you're paying close attention to the trip, you'll find everything you ever sought. That's why we say in Buddhism that there are 84,000 gates (or doors) on the path to enlightenment. If the path you're trudging doesn't work, change course. Open a new gate and walk through.  Realize though that everything is interconnected to a degree as unfathomable as the neurological paths of the human brain.

The glory of the brain and the creativity it harbors is that they are both boundless. However, if you don't stoke the furnace, if you don't run the machine on a regular basis, like any other device, it will rust and freeze up. Is every destination on the journey worthwhile? No. In fact, a lot of them are dead ends. But that doesn't mean that all you encounter on that particular branch is worthless. Like any pioneer on foreign soil, it's up to you to select things of possible meaning or utility and pack them away for when they're needed. This requires sorting and classifying and, sometimes, discarding or squirreling away some of your horde when it has no immediate obvious use. Notebooks, photos, audio recordings, video, your library and the libraries and museums of the world are the cache's of human fruition and knowledge.

But for any of it to work you have to PERSIST. Otherwise no one will ever know you were here or call you a master. Deserved or not. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

It's All About You!

If You Don't Believe In Yourself, Who Will?

The images at the top of the page are the front and back of my business cards. Simple, clear, and a statement of one thing - My belief in myself and what I'm doing. They are an introduction to people who don't know me and a statement of what I do. More than that, they are a reinforcement of my own self-image. I never leave the house without my card holder and at any opportunity I take it out of my pocket and present one of my cards to someone who has been kind enough to allow me a moment of their time.

Why? Is it about ego? Is it about putting on airs? Is it about striking a pose? Not at all! It's about letting the world know that I take what I do seriously enough to want to present a professional appearance at all times. It's letting that person on the other side of the conversation know that I'm willing to invest more in my craft and artistry than vague desire.

It also is a chance to deepen the conversation. What type of art do I produce? I'm a painter and print maker. What medium? Mostly acrylic on canvas. What do I write? Poetry and short fiction and I'm currently working on the advanced stages of a novel. Where have I shown or published? I've been in several venues in the Santa Barbara County/Ventura County region of Southern California and have placed work in a number of private collections in the US. I've been published in a number of smaller literary journals and am always working on expanding my recognition.

It's mostly about that catch phrase you hear everywhere today. Self-talk. Those words that originate in your thoughts and enter into conversation that validate who you believe you are. When people ask me who I am or what I do I have no hesitation - I'm an Author and Artist. Why capitalized? Because these are worthy occupations and something I have invested a lot of time in. 

But does anyone else think that way about me? Well, this past year I've received several awards for my art, had photographs published online, and there's a shelf of books in my office that all have my written works of one form or another in them. Has any of that made me rich or famous? Hardly - At least not yet. But I have garnered recognition, I've been invited to present my work and opinions, and I've been asked to share my process and thoughts with other artists and writers.

Gee, if I'm not making bundles of cash - Why keep at it? Because it beats the hell out of television and video games. It takes time and research that gets me out of my own dome. It exposes me to other people's thoughts, ideas, and emotions and makes the world a much more interesting place. It teaches me that there are giants to be followed and emulated and some of them you've never heard of either. The belief that you have something to say is the spark. Someone else's belief in what you've said is the fire. But if you don't fan the flame who will ever know it was there?