Technical writers or non fiction writers scribble to pay the bills and for the love of the analytical or the exercise of truth or deception.

Fiction authors write to illuminate their world or escape it.

Whichever kind of writer, it's all about staying alive and helping or entertaining others.

The Writing Life

Like most writers, I have a love of reading and the power of words. When I was younger, I read everything I could get my hands on, but I don’t consider myself well read. I consumed books like a starved person, so quickly I hardly knew what I had read. By some strange process of osmosis, I learned from everything I read, but I cannot give you an erudite discussion of characters, plots, or authors. I can only tell you it’s lodged some where in the core of my being and informs my writing.

In addition to reading, I’ve spent a life time writing---from that first elementary school composition to my college days when I studied French literature and wrote explications de texte. Along the way, I fell into technical writing--to put food on the table and pay bills. In the 90s, I had the good fortune to take a dialog class with Sol Stein, former owner of Stein & Day publishers in New York and a prolific author. That led to his California-based writers’ group, Chapter One. It was a rigorous, ego-bruising experience, but I was intent on learning everything I could about fiction writing. A few years ago, I also had the good fortune to study with another writer, Louella Nelson, an experienced romance writer and teacher of fiction writing. She provided a different perspective and balance to my writing.

My novel, DREAMING OF LAUGHING HAWK, a mainstream, Sixties era novel, is available on Amazon in print and ebook (also available in Canada, Europe, Japan, and Brazil). Download a free sample. If you like it, I hope you'll download the book and post a review on Amazon.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Curmudgeon

The story goes when my brother Scottie was born, the nurses held my mother's legs together to prevent his birth until the doctor arrived. As a result, he was born rather blue and cranky. His life did not get off to a good start. He quickly disproved my parents' proud theories about child rearing. Their theories may have worked on me, but they were a failure where my brother was concerned. When he was born, I was three years old so I was not too interested in his arrival. He was a curiosity and soon considered a pest. He broke my toys and had terrible temper tantrums. He would hold his breath until he turned blue and my mother would plant a cold wash cloth on his face to make him breath.

Three years later, I got another brother, Lance. This one was not so obnoxious. In fact, he was a great play thing. I didn't mind dressing him up and enrolling him in my daylong dramas. He was easy-going and rarely complained about anything. But Scottie remained a constant source of irritation in my life, and my parents fretted over his lack of social skills, his shyness, and his difficult adjustment to school. He didn't lack for intelligence, just confidence and a basic inability to deal with the normal stages of growing up. Life was somehow more difficult for him and, well, he wasn't that much fun to be around. He whined, he fought with my brother Lance, and he was always getting in trouble for something because he wasn't clever enough to manipulate parents and other grownups.

Things didn't get much better between us when we entered our high school years. Scottie frequently threatened to beat the shit out of me. I just laughed it off, and when that didn't work, we had a few knock-down, drag-out fights. I never lost a fight, which made him even more resentful. Sometimes he started the fight; sometimes I invited it by teasing him. Once he came after me with a butcher knife. Another time he wrapped his arm around my neck and tried to throttle me. I bit him pretty hard on the arm and he complained to my father. My father was FURIOUS with me. I have to say I was unrepentant and proud of my skills as a brawler.

Now that we are "mature" adults, the fights still go on even though he lives on the East Coast and I live on the West Coast. He recently called me a zombie for voting for Obama. He said I would probably vote for Satan too. I listen to all his bizarre opinions based on an almost complete absence of facts and I think I'm being confronted by Satan or at least a close friend of his. His view of the world is dark and dreary and he likes it that way. He claims to be a good Christian, but he thinks half of the population are unworthy leeches on the government. Yeah, and he likes his guns too.

I wonder how it is that we had the same parents yet developed such different attitudes toward life. I never witnessed this kind of anger or resentment in either of my parents. So I guess I am going to have to reconcile myself to the fact that my brother is a curmudgeon and that at least there is a whole continent between us.

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