Tag Archives: writing

timeliness

I’ve often wondered what would be the best frequency for posting here. It’s not a news site so daily is a bit much, although I toyed with the idea for a while. In my head, anyway. In fact, long time readers know that I rarely post two days in a row and I don’t think I’ve ever posted three days in a row.

Droughts are more common. I’ve often gone a week without making a post but most months have had at least a half dozen. I’m not going to go back and generate statistics. I’m making a point about the last two months. Well, since March 1st, about 7 weeks. Since then, I’ve only written five posts.

The March 1st post hints at the upheaval in my life that occurred that week. Since then, I have been re-evaluating everything and writing pithy commentary on my life just hasn’t been in the cards. Next week, I’ll be going up to Washington to visit Jeremy and his family. I’ll also be seeing Peter and Nanci in Spokane as well as my cousins Dan and Nettie. I don’t have any high expectations that I’ll be posting from up there but I have hopes of breaking the log jam and being able to post more often when I get back

Rose revised

I wrote a post on Monday about Rose. I thought it celebrated her and my relationship with her. Rose felt otherwise. In fact, Rose was furious with me. Although she was very angry, she told me not to take it off the blog. So I left it. I thought she might leave a comment but she has not. After hearing from other family members that the post was not what I thought it was, I have now removed it.

So everything I thought I knew on Monday is in question. The solid relationship I thought I had with Rose is in tatters. My whole concept of this blog is in disarray. What can I write about? My thoughts?I think about other people. Other people are part of my life and thus my thoughts.

I wrote a post last week based on Zach’s journals. I quoted extensively from his writing. Zach almost certainly never intended his journals to be distributed. Am I trespassing on his rights?

I had a good talk with Sarah today about some of this. She told me she keeps a journal but does not expect anyone else to ever read it. She has asked me before to not be included in this blog. I’ve told her I don’t think that is possible. She is an even bigger part of my life than Rose. How can I not write about her? I certainly would not betray any confidences. I try to be discreet, with Sarah especially but also everyone else I’ve written about. Maybe I should have been more discreet writing about Rose. Everything I thought I knew is in question.

Why am I writing this blog? For me? For Zach? For Rosalie or Noah? For their children or grandchildren? For someone I might meet someday? I told Sarah that I have had great pleasure reading letters and journals of our ancestors and I thought my descendants might enjoy doing the same. Yes, I want to be remembered. I think the only way for humans to continue to survive is to share their experiences with other humans. It’s kind of cool to write and have the potential for a large audience but the same potential can be frightening. There are literally no restrictions on who might read these words. And, although I put a copyright notice at the bottom of every page, the reality is that these words would be ridiculously easy to copy and re-purpose.

I’ve kept a journal sporadically for many years. I have writing from my high school days. Perhaps I should look it over with an eye towards posting it here. Perhaps it would drive the few readers I have away. I thought when I started this blog that I might engender some discussions. That has not happened. I’ve gotten some good comments and other feedback but no discussions. No one has ever gotten angry with me about a post like Rose has.

I have a few days off work. I will be thinking on all this. Everything I thought I knew is in question.

Darkest Hour

Rose and I went to see the move Darkest Hour yesterday afternoon. I seem to remember Sarah telling me she had seen it a couple of weeks ago. I told her then of Herman Wouk’s paragraph about Winston Churchill in his book The Winds of War.

I have a few quibbles about the actual history the movie depicts, but of course the essential story is true and I enjoyed the retelling.

Here is Wouk’s paragraph:

Winston Churchill, today an idealized hero of history, was in his time variously considered a bombastic blunderer, an unstable politician, an intermittently inspired orator, a reckless self-dramatizer, a voluminous able writer in an old-fashioned vein, and a warmongering drunkard. Through most of his long life he cut an antic, brilliant, occasionally absurd figure in British affairs. He never won the trust of the people until 1940, when he was sixty-six years old, and before the war ended they dismissed him. But in his hour he grasped the nature of Hitler, and sensed the way to beat him: that is, by holding fast and pushing him to the assault of the whole world . . . He read his man and he read the strategic situation, and with the words of his mouth he inspired the British people to share his vision. . . . [He] acted toughly, wisely, and ungallantly; and he turned the course of the war to the course that ended five long years later, when Hitler killed himself and Nazi Germany fell apart. This deed put Winston Churchill in the company of the rare saviors of countries and perhaps of civilizations.

writing

Writing is mysterious and beautiful. Good writing is hard. From somewhere I remember a quote from a 18th Century writer of a letter. At the end of a 20+ page letter to a friend he apologized for going on so long. He said he didn’t have time to write a brief letter.

Or something like that. The point is that it takes a lot of time to arrange the chaotic ideas running through one’s head into organized sentences that someone else has a chance of understanding. In this blog, I try to think before writing, thus most of my entries are relatively brief. 20 page letters will not be read by 21st Century readers. Now in the forums sometimes I see ‘tl;dr’. Too long, didn’t read.

I found one previous reference in this blog to the American writer James Gleick. His book Chaos has been a long time favorite of mine. At Mom and Dad’s the other day, I spotted another Gleick book: Genius, The Life and Science of Richard Feynman, and filched it. I had read it before, some years ago, but I thought it was worth another reading.

This morning I opened it and almost immediately I was struck by the quality of the writing. In the Prologue, Gleick tells of a meeting in 1948 of the world’s best physicists:

In the annals of science it was the last time but one that these men would meet in such circumstances, without ceremony or publicity. They were indulging a fantasy, that their work could remain a small, personal, academic exercise, invisible to most of the public, as it had been a decade before, when a modest building in Copenhagen served as the hub of their science. They were not yet conscious of how effectively they had persuaded the public and the military to make physics a mission of high technology and expense.  . . . Next year most of these men would meet once more . . . but by then the modern era of physics had begun in earnest, science conducted on a scale the world had not seen, and never again would its chiefs come together privately, just to work.

family communication

I haven’t written here in almost a week. As usual, there are many reasons, but one big reason this past week is that I’ve spent a lot of my writing impetus writing emails to my siblings. Last year I wanted to get a new car for my mother. I thought my reasons were good, and I talked it over with both her and Dad. We did some car shopping but it got put on the back burner sometime last fall.

Word of this car shopping got out – it was never a secret – and soon questions were being asked, help was being offered etc etc by my siblings. At some point, I decided the best way to keep everyone informed was to send out a blast email after I got back from a visit with Mom and Dad.

I think it’s been quite successful. Lots of discussion has been engendered that otherwise would have taken place over months, if at all. In fact, one comment I made in an email got back to Mom in a way she didn’t expect and now there’s blowback. Not from Mom, but from another sibling, who feels we are going behind the backs of Mom and Dad.

So, I’ve been spending a lot of time explaining this or that or defending myself. Now I’m trying leverage all of that into a blog post!

The six of us are lucky that both of our parents are still living and living by themselves in their own house. The problem, if you want to call it that, is that all good things must come to an end. Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. No one knows how that will progress except that he will continue to decline. Mom is in good health now and takes care of Dad with few problems but she is nearly the same age as him so the margin for error is razor thin. All of us help as we can but there are more and more issues that crop up that concern all of us as a group.

For me, the solution is easy. I like to write. I write about my time with Mom and Dad and send it out in a blast to my siblings. This gets everyone the same information at the same time and allows (assuming consistent reply alls) a good discussion of the issues.

I don’t know. Nothing is perfect. Not all of my siblings like to write like I do so it’s harder for them to chime in. If we were to try to do group Skype conversations (for example) it would be agony trying to find a time that would be good for everyone.

The best news is that all of us respect and like each other. I’ve heard stories of other families . . .

diaries

At the risk of incurring Sarah’s wrath, I’m going to confess I saw some of her diaries yesterday. Honestly, I didn’t look at them except to determine what they were. I was transferring some of her things stored at my apartment from old boxes into a nicer plastic tub.

The reason this is blog-worthy is that it struck me that all of my kids are writers and that makes me happy. On my front page I make reference to Zach’s prodigious writing being an inspiration. Now I realize that Sarah has written a lot as well. I haven’t seen anything of Jeremy’s writing but I know he’s done a lot.

Last year Mom brought out – I don’t remember why – a diary that my grandfather had written in 1915 of a train trip he took from Denver to southern California. Very little philosophizing, just the gritty details of travel. Great stuff!

It’s an arguable point as to whether pencil or pen on paper has more value than these electronic squiggles. I’m the first to agree that handling the actual paper that my grandfather held had value more than the words themselves. Paper can be free form in a way that is more difficult in e-writing.

It’s all valuable. I treasure those glimpses of my ancestors as I hope my descendants will enjoy a look into my mind, whether it’s this blog or some moldy spiral notebooks. Write on!

Stephen King on writing

Following my sister’s suggestion, I got a copy of Stephen King’s On Writing at the library. I’m only a little way into it but there’s already been a couple of worthwhile nuggets. Not enough so far to make me want to buy it, but enough to generate this post.

His first few chapters are what he calls C. V. It’s his own story about growing up with a single mother and writing stories at an early age. He seems to be focused from the very beginning on selling his work. To that end, he emphasizes the importance of rewriting.

I get that, but I’m writing a blog. Isn’t it supposed to be raw? When I start to write a blog post, I usually have the first couple of sentences in my head. I’ve mulled and rewritten, if you will, for a while before sitting down at the keyboard. Once it’s on the screen, though, it doesn’t change much. Every once in a while I read over what I’ve written and decide it’s BS and delete it. Most of the time if it’s on the screen it’s going out to the wide world.

For some reason, even though I’ve been a science fiction fan since I was in junior high school, I’ve never been interested in King’s work. Maybe because I typecast him as a horror writer due to the gory movies made from his books. Honestly, though, I’ve never seen any of his movies so I really don’t know what I’m talking about. Well, I know that his book on writing is the first work of his that I’ve read. Stay tuned.

computers

I’ve been a computer guy for a long time. I actually took a computer class in my first quarter in college in 1971. I was part of a group of stagehands who pooled money to buy a Radio Shack TRS-80 in 1982. I always had the ability to understand how to relate to the machine in such a way as to get productive work out of it. When other people had trouble, I was often the guy who was brought in to figure it out.

So, a couple of minutes ago, I was typing up a post when all the text disappeared. So many times I’ve been on the troubleshooting side and I ask, ‘What did you do?’ and the answer was. ‘I don’t know.’ I always was a little incredulous. How could you not know what you just did?

Well, I just found a key combination that erased 10 minutes of typing and I have no idea what it was. I couldn’t find any key combination that brought it back so I guess it wasn’t too important!

(If it wasn’t a key combination then my mental powers are greater than I thought. I wasn’t really happy with what I was writing. Now I’ve written this instead.)

writing this blog

I think about writing in this blog all the time. Pretty much any time I have a few minutes to think, I think in terms of what I might write here. I believe I’ve commented before about what percentage of what I’m thinking shows up here. It’s pretty small.

Today I want to write but first I have to get my laundry done. I can’t concentrate on writing while I’m back and forth to the laundry room. I’ve pretty much promised family members in Santa Clara that I’d go back down there today to visit. Most people will be leaving tomorrow.

The orchestra (and the stage crew) came back from their Far East tour Tuesday and production people are facing up to the reality of the December schedule. It’s going to be difficult. I’ve tried to set myself up in a niche that won’t be quite as crazy but the prevailing mood is one of dread. Perhaps some of that has rubbed off on me. I’ve still got four more days off so I will write more tomorrow or the next day. There’s much to tell . . .

writing

This morning I was excited to see I needed to approve a comment. (This happens when someone new makes a comment. Once your source email has been approved, you can continue to make comments without my approval. Well, I’m the admin so I can remove comments any time, but I will not do that to real people making real comments on the posts.)

Sadly, it was not really a comment but a spam post. It said, in part, ‘I see your blog needs some fresh & unique articles. Writing manually is time consuming, but there is tool for this task . . .’ hit this link.

Uh, no thanks. I don’t post as often as I’d like, but I don’t want any automated tools to wrote for me.

That said, I’ve got to go now. I’ll try to post something real later today.