Take My Advice: Skip the Jail, Sleep on the Sub

Ahh…is there anything quite like staying in the cheapest of hotels?

No.  No there is not.

A little word of warning for you: it’s fine to book a cheap hotel in the midst of a cross-country drive, but make sure it’s not the cheapest hotel in town!  Always, always, always go for something towards the middle of the pack, otherwise you end up in a beat-up, dingy place sandwiched between the county jail and a homeless shelter.

Not that I’ve ever made that mistake, mind you.


Err, let’s move on, then…

Look, I know I haven’t blogged in…umm…uhh…

Well, shit.  I’m running out of fingers and toes, so it has been way too long.

That delay, that lack of writing, unfortunately is why I had to leave paradise.  As I wrote previously, I had to break the terrible, immovable stagnation that had taken hold of me in that place.

I can feel it pulling at me already, by the way.  I can feel the call of the mountains; I can just about hear the packs howling; I can feel the bears hunting*; the run of a stream just now filling with melting snow; the frenzied antics of otter families playing as they fish; the foxes and coyotes still torpedoing their heads into the snow to catch field mice…

*Every news story about a moron…err, tourist getting attacked brings some schadenfreude and a nod to Darwin’s immutable wisdom.

Shit, I could continue for a long, long time.

Yesterday I pulled in to a rest stop to have lunch.  It was actually a nice place, with lots of green space neatly maintained around a dense wood.  Do you know what I did the entire time?  I watched the tree line for the grizzly that I just knew could smell my lunch and would come ambling out to investigate at any moment.  Uhh, grizzlies?  In freaking Minnesota?!

Old habits are gonna die hard, I think.

I’m on the water now, however, and that means something.  I can see the expanse in front of me.  If the air doesn’t have the tang and bite of sea air, it is still…refreshing.  Heck, it’s refreshing enough that once I finally extricated myself from my jail-adjacent bed-for-the-night, the urge to write came.  Actually, it came at about three in the morning, when my drunken neighbors woke me with their screaming match, but just this once putting off the writing by a few hours was a good idea.  Ahem.

That urge to write has been a ghostly voice* at the back of my mind for a very long time now.  I didn’t always listen, of course, but it was always there.  Until the inertia took hold.  Until I sank further and further away from the writing, and the voice became more and more silent.  As the sounds of paradise became louder, that little ghost at the back of my mind became quieter.

*Wait…you thought Oz’s voice at the back of Connor’s mind came out of nowhere?  Silly, silly reader — of course that’s a freaking allegory!

I hate to say it, but it is only since I left Yellowstone that I can hear it again.  Of course, I had beer and extra-spicy wings last night, so the voice is pretty mercilessly making fun of me right now, but at least it’s talking again!

Oh, and here’s a bit more unsolicited cheap-hotel wisdom for you: if you want good, cheap food and beer, find the bar by the police station that the cops go to when they get off.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, this town may be — err, not may be, is — a dump, but it’s got a killer submarine museum on the waterfront that I need to go explore…


Wait…you can AirBnB a freaking submarine in this town?  Are you fucking kidding me?!  How the hell did I miss that?  Yeah, it’s expensive as hell, but…you can sleep on a goddamned submarine!!

USS Cobia at the Wisconsin Maritime Museum

{Musical Note — hey, let’s go old school, just for fun}

Feelin’ (Not) Alright

Okay…so you other writers out there…

How do you react when you read or hear a line that kills you because you wish you had written it?  Oh, I’m not talking about passages of perfect prose that will be studied in University programs for a couple of centuries, I’m talking about thoughts and observations that just absolutely hit that *DING! DING!* button in your soul.

It doesn’t have to be serious, by the way.  Oh, God, no.  In fact, the funny ones are what really get to me.

I was listening to a podcast the other day.  Nothing new there, I do that all the time when I’m driving the rather vast distances here in Montana.  Anyway, the guest on this particular ‘cast runs a pig farm.  Now, normally, you wouldn’t look to a pig farmer for lines/observations you wish you had created, but…

…but, when he referred to baby pigs as “bacon seeds,” my writing was ruined for the day!

“It’s so simple,” I berated myself, “how the hell did you never come up with that?!”

I wrote a post a couple of years ago about the easy imagery of a great passage.  How a character can be flat-out nailed with the right description.  I still think the example I cited in that post holds true:

“Richard found himself imagining the earl sixty, eighty, five hundred years ago: a mighty warrior, a cunning strategist, a great lover of women, a fine friend, a terrifying foe. There was still the wreckage of that man in there somewhere. That was what made him so terrible, and so sad.”

It’s the last half that brings the character home, by the way.  The “wreckage” of the man the character had once been still being in there.  Maybe it’s just because I have a birthday coming up — so I’m feeling stinking old — but I love that freakin’ description.

The author’s* description of London was no slouch either, by the way:

“It was a city in which the very old and the awkwardly new jostled each other, not uncomfortably, but without respect; a city of shops and offices and restaurants and homes, of parks and churches, of ignored monuments and remarkably unpalatial palaces…”

*Neil Gaiman, if you’re wondering.

If you’ve ever been to London…yeah, that description nails it.  In just a few words it captures not just the physical reality, but also the feeling.


I don’t get writer’s block all that often…but I’ve got it something fierce today.  All I wanted to do this afternoon was sit down and crank out a couple of thousand words.  So I got out my iPad and my notes/plans, then I sat there…

And I sat there…

And I sat there…

Well, shit.

Okay, I figured, maybe I should just close out Scrivener and open WordPress to try a blog post…

Yeah, that ain’t going too well, either.

Hell, I can’t even find the music I want to listen to!

I hate today.

Here’s a song for today, anyway — it’s kinda fun to keep in mind, as you listen, that the singer was barely seventeen when he wrote and recorded this tune!

Hooray for Microfiction!

images.jpegI sat down to write today, but I didn’t know what to write.  I wanted to put something together for the blog, but the Idea Fairy gifted me with exactly zero ideas for a post…

Hey, wait, I know — I’ll write a microfiction piece!  Yeah, that’s it, a quick-and-dirty little story!

But…wait…what the hell should that story be about?

I still got nothin’!

Well, crap…screw it.  I guess it’s time to throw it all to the wind and just write.  So, here we go…one hour on the clock, please, to conceive and write…

Workin’ Overtime

His mind was working overtime. The ideas were there, the characters were there. Most importantly, the words were there.

They were there, like a class of sugared-up fifth graders are there. The ideas and characters, the words themselves, were jumping and falling all over themselves. The big words were beating up the little words, while the cute words were causing havoc among the ugly ones…

The cursor blinked at him and the blank screen stared accusingly. He had to write something.

For all the emotion and thought pent up inside, the blinking and staring continued.

“It was a dark and stormy night…”

Okay, that’s no way to start a story. Even he knew that. Almost as bad as starting with your character waking from a deep sleep.

“Call me Ishmael..”


Type…delete. Type…delete. Type…delete.

He stared back, thinking “Fuck you, screen!” On his feet, then, and he didn’t sit again until he had a full drink in his hand. Maybe the whiskey would help.


He searched his past, his present and his future. He thought of all the words he had written over the years…and of all the words yet to come. He wrestled and fought his thoughts even as he forced his fingers once again onto the keys.

This time…this time the words would come. He would make them come!

“His mind was working overtime…”

By the way, I succeeded(ish).  42 minutes.

Wait…shit…should I edit it?!?!