Sunday, January 6, 2019

Long Overdue Update

Well, here it is 2019 and lo, I realize I haven’t updated the old writing blog in a looooong while.  The last post was February 2017, and so, since I don’t want anyone to think this blog (or me) is defunct, I thought I’d better update it.  In fact, I think it might be time for a bit of an overall over haul of the entire blog, but we shall see. 

First, I’ll give a brief overview of what I’ve been up to writing-wise for the past two years.

Anyway, when I started this blog way back in 2011, I had just been back into writing for about six months since retiring.  Since I was writing full time, I had plans to make the blog like a lot of other ones by writers—from the famous to the obscure--that I enjoyed reading.  You know, lots of updates on my writing projects, but also amusing little anecdotes about the life of a writer, the Cons I’d attended, my coffee intake, what have you.   

I more or less did this for the first year, but even being semi-retired, I found I have only so much writing in my tank per day, thus taking time to update the blog sort of took away from the writing time.  For that reason, it sort of fell by the wayside.  But, in some ways I sort of miss it, so perhaps 2019 will be the year we resuscitate the old writing blog—at least on a small scale.  Not that it’s getting a ton if eyes on it, but I do like going back to the old posts from time to time as a trip down memory line. 

So, what have I been up to, writing-wise, since the last post?  Well, I’ve been mainly working on novels.  I’ve gone through about four drafts of the European travel novel I wrote in 2016, polishing it up to a point where I hope I can get it out there.  I’ve also worked a bit more on a couple of my older novel projects, the ones listed in the ‘In the Works’ section of this blog.  They’re still in various states of disarray, but hopefully...someday. 

You may have noticed I haven’t mentioned short fiction.  Well, you’re right.  When I got back into writing upon retirement back in 2010, I was writing mainly short fiction.  This went on until about 2012, when I moved over to novels.  The main reason for this is two-fold.  One, I felt I had done about all I could do with short pieces—I found it easy to break into the amateur and semi-pro markets, but the pros really proved a tough nut to crack.  I did make a pro sale, and I figure if I’ve kept at it long enough, I might crack some of the top-level markets, but to work years at this for a short or two just seemed a bit dreadful.  I figured the time was better spent on crafting and marketing novels.  The other part of that two-fold reason is that I find that for a really good short story the amount of would building required takes me almost as much time as it does for the beginnings of a novel.  That’s a lot of work for the ephemeral nature of short fiction. 

Anyway, for better or worse, I’ve thrown my lot in with novel writing.  It has been slow going, but I think I’ll untimely have something more substantial on my hands. 

I have managed a few flash pieces now and then, a form of writing that I do indeed love.  Most have found a home over at Every Day Fiction, a market that has been quite kind to me.  They published three of my flash pieces last year. 

So, that’s about it on the writing front. 

Otherwise it’s life as usual.  Since my last post was a farewell to our cat of almost twenty years, I’ll close with a note that we have two new cats in our lives now, two twin sisters named Gidget and Selina Kyle. 

A few obligatory cute cat pics of them will follow.  And on that note, until next time,



Gidget and Selina the day we brought them home--Ten weeks old.  

Two years later--They're all grown up but sill like to cuddle up together.  

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Farewell to a Tortie Cat

I don’t usually get too personal here; this is a writing blog after all.  But this week I guess you could say I lost a writing partner of sorts.  My little tortie cat girl, Stinky the Cat, left us on Friday, January 27th, 2017.  She was a month shy of twenty years of age, a hell of an age for a cat, but then she was a hell of a cat. 

I didn’t have Stinky all those twenty years; she came to me an adult cat as part of a package deal that included my wife and two cats.  It was a pretty good deal.  My wife and I will celebrate our tenth wedding anniversary in March, and I had thirteen wonderful years with Stinky the Cat in my life.  (and eleven and a half with Miss Piggy, the other cat) 

Miss Piggy and Stinky - 2007

Stinky and I bonded right away—she was partial to men, and to men with beards particularly—she liked to climb in my lap and rub her head against my unshaven chin all the time.  She has pretty much been by my side for the last decade or so while I’ve been writing, a perfect writer’s familiar if there ever was one.  So if you’ve ever read any of my work, know that Stinky was there when it was created.

There’s so much I could tell you about Stinky, I could go on and on.  That’s what I was going to do when I started this post.  But a little poem I wrote for her last Sunday keeps coming to mind.  I wasn’t going to share it, but it perhaps says what I want to say about her as good as any other writing I could do.  So, here it is, then. 

For Stinky

You're getting ready to go...
All the signs are there
My sweet friend,
You won't eat; you're wont to sleep,
More so than usual
And you're sluggish when you're not

Days like this are trying
And difficult to face
But I find
With the thoughts of the good times
That we have shared
I can get through them. 

I never knew you as a kitten
Though I hear you were a fine one
A palm-sized tortie fur baby
Of epic cute felinity
That pleaded "pick me, pick me"
From the dark depths of the pound
Such were the beginnings of your long
Adventurous life

No, you were a full-grown cat when we met
And a feisty one at that
But we seemed to strike a chord
You and I
And we were soon fast friends
Confidants, co-conspirators
And partners in crime.

You took a place by my side
Or curled at my feet, dreaming your cat dreams
While I worked
My world a great deal better
With your presence
I like to think.

Oh, what times we had
You and I
Good times of sweet and carefree joy
Like watching you stroll the grass of the back yard
In the warm afternoon sun
Or stalk a lizard
Or send wayward cats packing
That dared to breach your territory.

You were always up for a good ear rubbing
Or a nuzzle of your nose against my beard
Or sometimes, just to lie gently in my lap
Your microscopic purr a sign of utter contentment.

I wish I could somehow express to you
How much rich and true happiness
You've brought to my life.
But maybe, just maybe
Through the sound of my voice
And little cat treats
And some catnip here and there
And lots of love...
You've known it all along.

You've walked this world for nigh on
Twenty years
Spreading out your nine lives
With cat-grace and aplomb.
A great and rich life you've had
My sweet friend.

I don't want to say goodbye
Sweet girl
But I guess I'm glad I have the time
To do so.

I can't seem to pet you enough today
Or hold you in my arms time and again
One more time. One more time,
One more stroke of that soft, dark fur.
Not to wax maudlin
You're not that sort of cat
But the unequivocal love you've given me
Will live forever in my soul.

And you'll be with me
My sweet friend, my sweet girl,

                                    --Chris Owen
I’ve always had a fondness for cats.  They are certainly interesting, mysterious yet utterly cute creatures.  I’ve always wanted to write a cat related novel as well, particularly after I came across the following in a book of French paintings. 

It’s called The Apotheosis of Cats, and I was struck by it immediately.  Yes, it is just a bizarre image, but somehow compelling.  What are all those cats doing?  Where are they?  What is that sort of cat-idol thing in the distance?  I don’t know, but I decided I would figure it out.  I would write a novel based on this painting. 

I’ve had that in the back of my head for years, but I’ve never really known what direction to go with it.  I knew I wanted it to be mysterious and magical the way cats are, with some Neil Gaiman/Louis Carroll/Ray Bradbury trappings.  But this project never had really gotten off the ground. 

Then this week happened.  I found I was too distraught to work on my current writing project.  I needed to write something else—something about cats.  And so I started this novel.  Just a page, but it’s begun.  And, I’m glad to think that I got to start this, my cat novel, while Stinky was still around.  And now that she is gone, writing it will certainly help me deal.  I have a feeling she will figure prominently in it—my old writing partner, after all, deserves nothing less.  

Thursday, July 28, 2016

A Long Overdue Update - New Novel Edition

And So, I finished writing a novel last week. 

A nice accomplishment, certainly, but at this point it is only a first draft; a rough hewn thing at best, held together in some places by bailing wire and duct tape.  But, as a writer who has struggled with the novel form over the years, with so many false starts and burnouts, it feels good to have a novel-length manuscript in my hands that is more or less a complete story arc. 

I cut my teeth as a writer on short stories, and while I can’t say I’ve mastered that form either (my dearth of pro-sales speaks to that), they are at least something I’ve managed to churn out on a regular basis.  But becoming a novelist has always been my ultimate goal, and thus one has to attempt such efforts even if they (me) find it a struggle.  In the last five years, the time period in which I’ve been pursuing a writing career full time, I’ve started several novels, got quite far with a few, but ultimately, all have either bogged down or been unsatisfying to me.  Now, five years might seem like a long time to pursue something with the only success being a few short story sales, but—I’m nothing if not determined, and I’m in it for the long haul.  Some of the pro-writers I’ve met on my journey have informed me that in their experience, up to ten years is a time frame that one can expect for it to take to ‘break in’ or have a modicum of success in the field.  I’m sure a lot of that is learning craft along the way to learning the business. 

So, what have I been up to in those five years?  Well, I wrote a few hundred short stories, about five novels in various stages of in-completion, and blog posts and journal entries and writing practice and whatnot, all totaling over a million words of writing.  (I think I hit the one million mark last year—yep, I track my daily word count)  There’s an old writing maxim that’d been attributed to several different writers that when you’ve written a million words, you can throw those out and start over, for by then you’ve maybe learned something about how to write.  I don’t know if this is the case or not, but I do feel I have certainly improved over the last few years. 

The novels I’ve written, or partially written, are all dear to me, but it may very well be the case that these will end up being mere training experiences on the way to other things.  I sort of hope not, as I like some of them, so I hope I’ll gain the skills to go back and hammer them into shape.  Some of them are listed in the ‘In the Works’ section of this blog, if you want a summary of them.  I’d been sort of alternating between working on two of them for most of this year, and was feeling very bogged down.  So, come mid-June I was just finishing up a reread of Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, which is one of my favorite books.  As I read the last pages, I sort of reflected how this Roman à Clef novel was really just a fictionalization of many of Hemingway’s own experiences from the summers before he wrote it.  That got me to thinking that it might be fun to attempt something like this of my own, but what to do—I hadn’t run with the bulls of pursued a British aristocrat’s wife recently—what personal life experience would I mine for fodder?

Well, the first thing that came to mind was my travels.  I’ve made almost twenty overseas trips over the years, most when I was in my twenties and thirties, though I’m still making some now, just at a slower pace.  Most were to Europe, a place of fascination for me, but there were a couple to Oceania, and one each to South America and Africa.  Now, I’ve read some travel writing over the years and enjoyed it, people like Paul Theroux and Bill Bryson, so I figured this might be an intriguing project—to take some of the places I’ve visited and events I experienced and the people I met and distill them down into a work of fiction.  I don’t know why, but this got me very excited.  That very afternoon (June 13) I sat down and wrote up a plan of action, and the next day I started writing the novel itself, just taking the plunge of letting myself go and see where I ended up. 

Five weeks and 83,000 words later, I had that aforementioned first draft of a novel on my hands, and I also had something that I felt very good about.  Sure, it needs lots of work—but I’m excited to begin that work.  Now, five weeks is an awful short time to write a novel in, especially since I’ve worked for years on some of the others, but of course it is not unheard of.  Once I began this project, I had a real passion for it, and the muse really seemed to be singing for the first time in a great while, so I just went with it and tore it up at a blistering pace, sometimes writing long into the night.  I usually write in the afternoons, and try to do a thousand words a day of whatever, so I guess in the case of this work I averaged about 2,300 words a day, so a little over double my output.  Anyway, it was some of the most joyous writing I’ve done in a long while, joyous anyway for the writer himself as he was creating it.  I think this stems from the fact that I was writing about something I dearly love, travel, and revisiting some of those ‘first time’ events that I experienced when I was traveling to new places way back when. 

Anyway, what I’ve got on my hands now is something quite different from anything I’ve written before.  I usually write speculative fiction—science fiction and fantasy—though I have done some mainstream before.  I guess what this novel could be called is travel fiction-- I don’t know if such is considered a genre unto itself, but that’s what comes to mind.  I think it’s quite a unique piece of work, and in searching out similar novels I can’t seem to find one that is close or very similar to it.  It is a novel about travel, certainly, but also about new adulthood and romance and laughter and the rare thing that it is to be surprised by joy when you least expect it. 

So, I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me.  One of the realities of writing something this long in such a short time is one often has to gloss over some things or whatnot, build rickety bridges between the parts that you know are working.  So now I’ve got to go back and shore up those bridges, and make the whole thing sound, and this, I figure, will take a whole lot longer than five weeks.  But, I’ve got time, and patience, and I’m looking forward to it.

I'll let you know how things come out.    

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Chronological Controversies in Fiction

I was reading Neil Gaiman's new novel, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, today.  In the book Neil referenced C. S. Lewis's Narnia series of books, and as often happens when I read, this sent my mind off on thoughts of my first experiences of reading those books.  This led to additional thoughts on the internal chronology of book series versus the order of their writing/publication. 

For some reason, I never got around to reading Narnia as a child or teen, which is surprising for several reasons.  The foremost reason is that I was (and still am) a great lover of Tolkien, and I knew that he and Lewis were friends and often shared their works in progress with one another.  So I'd obviously heard of Narnia, but for whatever reason, I didn't get around to checking it out until I was an adult, and was making the attempt to read a broad swash of fantasy literature to broaden my own knowledge of the genre.

When I decided to start the Narnia series, I didn't really think much about the chronology of the series, I simply went to the bookstore and bought the Narnia book that had a large number one on the cover, which surely was the book one should start with, no?  This was of course the one called "The Magician's Nephew."

I read the book and found myself a bit disappointed.  It really didn't do much for me, and thus I didn’t follow up with reading the other books for quite a while.  My experience with TMN led me to believe the Narnia books just weren't all they were cracked up to be.  There was also the strange feeling I had while reading TMN that the author assumed I knew more than I did about the world of Narnia. 

A few years later the first of the Narnia films was released:  The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.  I saw the film and quite enjoyed it, but I wondered why this one was made first, and not TMN.  My thought at the time was that perhaps they'd taken what was the best of the books and made that movie first.  Of course, this wasn't the case.  What they'd done is taken the first book that was written and published in the series and made that the first film.  I acquired that book and read it, finding it much better, in my opinion, than TMN.  I almost felt I had been ripped off by the publisher listing TMN as the first book.  Sure, the events of that book took place at an earlier time than TLTW&TW, but it was actually the sixth book written.  Not only does this sixth book seem to assume the reader has some knowledge of the first five, but reading it first takes away some of the charm and delight of reading TLTW&TW first, when we have no idea what the wardrobe does, and we discover Narnia slowly and with subtlety. 

I've since learned that there is something of a controversy among Lewis's fans over the order in which the books should be read.  Well, put me firmly in the camp of original writing order.  I find this applies to most if not all other series of books and films that I've enjoyed.  Take for example the Star Wars films.  I believe that now that six of them have been made, George Lucas has stated that viewing them from one to six is appropriate, as he as somehow retconned the whole of the story into something he calls "The Tragedy of Darth Vader."  To me, and to the nine-year-old me that watched Star Wars many times in the theater in the summer of 1977, this is utter bullshit.  Introducing a new viewer to the series with that god-awful mess of a film called The Phantom Menace not only risks turning them off with a far lesser product, but it takes away the power of the earlier (though chronologically later) films as they slowly reveal facts (Such as Darth's relationship to Luke) that are the ultimate moments of those films. 

Another series of books that I was quite fond of as a child, and still continue to revisit from time to time, is Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series.  These books now number more than twenty, with more coming, as her son Todd has taken over the helm of writing them.  I read the first six books when I was a kid in the early '80s, then additional ones as they were published.  Since the books jump back and forth through Pern's several thousand year history over the course of many volumes, I could see that a potential controversy similar to the Narnia series could develop.  Does one start reading with the later volume Dragonsdawn, when the colonists first settled Pern, or with the first book in the series that McCaffrey published, Dragonflight?  The author herself weighs in on the matter.  On some of the cover pages of the later novels a blub by McCaffrey states:  The author respectfully suggests that the books in the Pern series be read in the order in which they were published

I couldn't agree more.  Readers deserve to discover the wonders of a rich speculative world by way of the same path that the writer did.    

Friday, February 14, 2014

Finally, A New Post

Just checked my writing blog and realized it was painfully in need of updating.  Last entry: back in March!  Sorry, I’ve been quite remiss in keeping it up. 

I have been writing.  Mostly work on a novel, hence the dearth of short stories this year, though I did manage a few pieces of flash, most of which are up over at Every Day Fiction.

Update for 2013.  My word totals were a little under my goals (which is 1K words a day).  I ended up with 259,000 words for twenty thirteen.  Not bad, but I should be able to manage more.  But, with the novel writing, I’m doing a lot of revising, so that kept the word totals down. 

The biggest thing on the writing front for Two-Ought-Thirteen was I got the chance to attend the Summer Writing Program at Yale last June.  Not only was it quite a cool experience to spend a week attending Yale, but the program was taught by my favorite writer, John Crowley.  Getting to meet John and work with him one-on-one on my writing was quite a thrill for me.  I can’t tell you how much I am in awe of this man and his writing ability.  I hope just a little bit rubbed off. 

The little town of New Haven, CT was the locale of the program, and it was a cool little town.  The Yale campus was interesting, as it isn’t cordoned off by itself like a lot of universities, but it sort of just permeates the town, with lecture halls and student residences mixed in on the streets with restaurants and other businesses. 

My favorite of these other places was a little cigar bar called the Owl Shop.  It’s an old guard cigar store that’s been around since the ‘30s, and it’s the only place where you can get a drink AND a smoke in town.  Smoking, outlawed everywhere else, is allowed in the Owl Shop as their license is grandfathered, or whatever you call it.  Anyway, it was pleasant after class and meetings each day to stop by and have a beer and a nice cigar in a cool old environment. 

So, to sum up, Yale was cool.  I met some cool new writing friends, got to know John Crowley, and enjoyed staying in the rather castle-y student dorms and eating in the Hogwarts-y Yale dining hall. 

The novel I’ve been working on is a new one, different from the ones I’ve got in my ‘in the works’ section here on the blog.   I still work on those from time to time, but this new one is an expansion of the short story I wrote for the Yale Workshop, called ‘The Fairies of Maine.’  (Since I was working with John Crowley, I couldn’t resist writing a fairy story of my own)

TFOM takes place during a single week in June in the fictional town of Brandywine, Maine.  (The week of Midsummer’s Eve, no less)  It follows the varied and diverse lives of five people who stay at the Brandywine Inn for that week, and their subtle interactions with the world of Faerie. 

So, that’s about all for now.  Hopefully, I’ll have some interesting little tidbits to keep the blog fresh this year.  For now, back to the writing grindstone.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

Impressions: Hawaiian Dawn

An excerpt from my journal, March 23, 2013.

It is early on a Saturday morning in Waikiki, Hawaii.  I’ve come out on the balcony while night still holds sway, the ocean and starless, cloud-filled sky black as squid ink, blacker still when contrasted by the gentle, incoming breakers that almost seem to glow a spectral white in the lights of the many hotels.  I’ve been lulled by the sound of those breaking waves all night, and have slept well for it.  It is a calm, placid sound, a distant whisper from the world ocean. 

I was awakened by the sound of laughter.  Some women were frolicking in the night surf, shouting, ‘Oh, that’s cold,’ their voices mischievous and teasing.  My mind’s eye visualizes them, and this is enough for curiosity to drag me from bed to the balcony window.  I look for them, but they are gone.  Oh well, they’re probably better as an unseen memory anyway, for in my dreams they were beautiful Polynesian maidens, out for a late night skinny dip. 

As I sit out here, dawn slowly begins to blue the sky and sea with subtle temerity.  It is as if she slowly shaves away onion-thin layers of the blackness, revealing at first only the darkest of blues and grays, which grow a little bit lighter with each passing second.  At first the sea and sky are indistinguishable, a single dark nothingness.  But as the light grows, slowly, ever so slowly, the horizon resolves itself into that razor-straight line of reckoning that has called to the hearts of travelers and explorers since time immemorial.   

A few minutes pass.  Dawn comes more quickly now; she adds subtle complexity to her empyrean palette, colors an artist might call cerulean, celeste, Prussian blue, cobalt, ultramarine, lapis lazuli, Davy’s grey.  Between this mottled, sea and cloud-formed canvas is the air; the rich, clean, fresh morning air--an air which almost seems to resonate with a faint electricity in a way that can only be found in the morning, before the sun fully rises.    

Dawn and dusk are both times of great beauty, and they are similar in that they are a transition between two states, a thing that exists only in passing, a realm that can be chased, but alas, never caught.  Both dawn and dusk are subtly different incarnations of twilight, each with their own job to do, and each with their own effect on me.  I see dusk every day, and always cherish the feeling it inspires in me.  Dawn is a much rarer thing for me, not being much of an early riser.  So for today, this morning, it is a pleasant thing to be greeted by dawn, and in her tropical livery to boot!  For dawn is a time filled with promise, and it is like a promise both long held and diurnally fulfilled.   

More time passes, and the world is fully awake now.  The beach is filling with strollers, combers, joggers, and a few fishermen who have set up shop at the end of a small jetty.  My little private dance with dawn has come to an end.  But, as promised, I know I’ll meet her for many more, and each will have their own unique beauty.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Vonnegut and the Future of Books

I’ve been reading a lot more lately--a thing which I challenged myself to do when I got back from Worldcon last September.  Any good writer will tell you that a writer needs to read as much as they write, for it is in this manner that the brain feeds itself so that it can then regurgitate that input into what one hopes will be wholly better output. 

It was of course reading during childhood that fueled my interest in writing, so I’m glad to be back going at it whole hog again.  Reading is one of the genuine pleasures of life, and it rounds one out in so many ways.  Since the new year, I’ve been managing to read about two novels or collections a week, which is a better pace than I’ve ever managed, and I hope to keep it up throughout the year. 

One aspect of this ‘great pleasure’ is the discovery of the little bits of insight that an author has woven into their work.  Some do this more than others, but there is almost always a little of it there.  One of the best writers in this capacity is Kurt Vonnegut.  It’s hard to read one of his works without having little delightful ‘ah ha’ moments over and over again.  I came across a (for me) particularly good one in the current novel of his that I’m reading:  Bluebeard

It deals with the status of the ‘average quality’ artist and their place now in a world ruled by mass media and global communication.  I’ll let Mr. Vonnegut take it from here:

“I was obviously born to draw better than most people, just as the widow Berman and Paul Slazinger were obviously born to tell stories better than most people can. Other people are obviously born to sing and dance or explain the stars in the sky or do magic tricks or be great leaders or athletes, and so on.
I think that could go back to the time when people had to live in small groups of relatives -- maybe fifty or a hundred people at the most. And evolution or God or whatever arranged things genetically to keep the little families going, to cheer them up, so that they could all have somebody to tell stories around the campfire at night, and somebody else to paint pictures on the walls of the caves, and somebody else who wasn't afraid of anything and so on.

That's what I think. And of course a scheme like that doesn't make sense anymore, because simply moderate giftedness has been made worthless by the printing press and radio and television and satellites and all that. A moderately gifted person who would have been a community treasure a thousand years ago has to give up, has to go into some other line of work, since modern communications put him or her into daily competition with nothing but the world's champions. [italics mine]

The entire planet can get along nicely now with maybe a dozen champion performers in each area of human giftedness. A moderately gifted person has to keep his or her gifts all bottled up until, in a manner of speaking, he or she gets drunk at a wedding and tapdances on the coffee table like Fred Astair or Ginger Rogers. We have a name for him or her. We call him or her an 'exhibitionist.'
How do we reward such an exhibitionist? We say to him or her the next morning, 'Wow! Were you ever drunk last night!”
                                                                   -Kurt Vonnegut, Bluebeard, Page 76

This brought to mind a feeling that I’ve had ever since I first put pen to page many years ago and aspired.  There are so many others out there, so many voices in the worldwide fugue of art, all crying out their tales, their songs, their brushstrokes, their unabashed creativity--how will one insignificant little voice be heard?  Does it deserve to be heard?

On the surface, that can be a little depressing.  But I also find solace in this situation.  Yes, for the bulk of the five and a half centuries since the printing press was invented, only the greats have risen to the top.  (Well, mostly greats...there is certainly pulp in those bestseller lists as well).  But this is a wonderful thing.  It’s a wonderful thing for me, as a reader, because I get to be exposed to those works that in any other era of human history I wouldn’t have been.  It’s also great for me as a writer, and for the same reason.   Having the opportunity to read these ‘champions’ is the best of all possible schools for a writer.  One can learn a lot from Mr. Vonnegut, or Mr. Shakespeare, or Misters Hemingway, Steinbeck or Faulkner.  If I had been born in the dark ages or earlier, the best I could have hoped for was whatever grade of tales the local village teller was telling, or perhaps the Latinate ramblings of a half-illiterate parishioner.  So yes, this is the best of all possible times to be a reader, but also a writer as well.  Thank you, printing press.  Thank you, mass communication.  And yes, thank you, internet.
Ah, the internet.  A two-faced beast if there ever was one.  In some ways liberating, giving a voice to all, yet in others, perhaps, the death-knell to traditional publishing.  This has many writers, both well-established and would-be, shaking in their Birkenstocks. 

We are liberated in many ways because we can blog, we can self-publish, we can even give away our hard-fought words for pennies, or even nothing.  But this strikes many, including me, as a dismal way to do business.  Because writing is one of those strange beasts that is both art and a business, at least if one wants to be a published, working author.  Borders is gone.  Barnes and Noble is on life support.  Mom and Pop booksellers are dropping like flies in a cloud of internet DDT. 

But, somehow, the art survives.  These things have all happened before.  They said television would be the death of movies.  They were wrong.  They said the VCR would kill the whole industry, but it merely created a new market for the material.  So, will the internet and digital publishing kill that wonderful avenue that has existed for centuries for writers to survive and profit from their work?  In some ways, it will, and it has.  Midlist authors are having trouble making ends meet, and their plans to retire on their back catalogues have gone by the wayside.  But I believe books, traditional books, will always survive.  I think we are merely in a great transition in this industry, and whatever shakes out will ultimately form itself into something that is sustainable. 

So, where does that leave the one little voice crying out into the worldwide fugue?  Well, I’ll answer that by stating that I believe that there are more writers working now than at any time in human history.  And I chose to believe that this is a good thing.  For the writer that works hard and never gives up, there are still many avenues available to success.  The important things are, like I just said, to work hard and never give up.  And the most important thing is to write.  If you truly love doing this--if you truly love putting butt on chair each day and weaving words into something you find beautiful, they you are already a success, for a love of your art is the most essential of all things an artist must possess.  The rest will work itself out in the end.  It always does.