Monday, December 16, 2002

It has been awhile since I posted anything here. The end of the semester got very hectic and now I'm into the second day of Wintermester. I have done some reading and writing in my personal journal. A couple of poems have also been written. I can't remember what I've posted on the web site lately.

I started a new novel a couple of weeks ago and have not been able to get back to it lately. Perhaps I will post the first chapter when it is written. The central character is a college professor (okay, so that's not orginal...give me a break). The case involves an adjunct professor and the student he's sleeping with who is murdered. I have a brief outline of what I want to do. I really thought this might be a story, but already, I think it is going to shape up to be much longer. Probably a short novel.

Problem is finding time to write. Can't do it even at the times I'm alone. Most of my alone time is in the car. Besides, I've been pretty busy with classes. But a couple of times (last Monday, for example) I have had time, but no motivation. Ack!

Today -- for the time being -- I have both. We shall see.

Thursday, November 07, 2002

Last weekend I wrote two poems, "Lamp," and "A prayer for focus." I have posted the first, but not the second. I probably will not post the prayer. I guess I like it as, but I fear it is a bit too cliched for publication, except maybe in a religious magazine. Also, it came directly from a quiet time, and so I'm not sure of its literary value. It may be just fine, but I need more distance to get perspective.

Also last weekend, I did not take any school work home. Mostly read. I think I came back from the weekend a bit more refreshed and ready to tackle my students' papers. I'm sure most of them would like to get work back faster, but I want to do a good job reading and responding to them.

I read a Lawerence Block novel, A Dance At The Slaughterhouse, one from his Scudder series. I had read Eight Million Ways To Die a couple days before. Both are very brutal. When I finished Slaughterhouse, I walked around and had to start a new book right away. The book was fine, but its brutality was so great, I didn't want to leave it with me long. Started Tanner On Ice, my first reading from that series. Of course now it is the middle of the week, when reading goes a bit more slowly.

Got my C-PAP machine a couple days ago and already it seems to have had an effect on my reading. I can't see through the dang thing and so reading in bed is nearly impossible. I do think it will help my reading in the long run because I will be more alert and awake. That much I can feel already. Hopefully this will also go a long way into improving me as a writer. Too often I am unable to write or focus clearly because of fatigue. I hope I can look back a year from now and see that my output is greater and better, not only because I can write more, but because I can better concentrate and judge what I do write. This is necessary if I am to revise well at all.

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Well, this is a pickle. My kids are disappointed because I am not going trick-or-treating with them. But I got called to sub in the Writing Center at CCCCD and I really need the money. Sure they'll probably understand, if they remember, when they are older. But in the meantime....

Tuesday, October 29, 2002

Posted a new poem, tentatively titled "Packing Up," a couple of days ago. Still working on the essay. I think with some grace I might finish a draft and post it in a few days. Hopefully before the weekend.

Brad came to visit me at work last night and after chatting with him decided that I have to use my "other" work time to read and write. That means I'll have to work twice as hard at work to make sure I don't bring much home. (Of course tonight I need to finish making a test and I'm doing this instead...go figure.)

When I will find time and energy to try to get my work published, I just don't know.

Need to go for now...duty calls.

Friday, October 25, 2002

Typed and posted the two poems I mentioned yesterday. Titled the sonnet "A Maturing Rain" though I said yesterday that I didn't want to use the word rain in the title. The other poem is called "Through The Drizzle." I'm not too fond of that title either, but it is okay for now. Before the shine of newness wears off, I better try to find a place for them this weekend.

Thursday, October 24, 2002

Well, I finally finished the sonnet I started two weeks ago. That is, I finished a draft of it. Don't have a title yet. I started it when I was sitting on the porch a couple of weeks ago watching the rain and waiting for my wife to come home from something. It was raining today and some last weekend, so I guess I kept adding lines as I mused on it. I don't want to put "sonnet" or "rain" in the title. I'm afraid the latter word will keep it from being read because it might seem too cliche, and I don't like to announce when I write a sonnet (or any form piece). I prefer to have the reader discover that as she/he goes along, if at all. I figure if I have written well, it won't matter that the poem is anything but what it is.

While waiting for my World Lit students to finish a group project today, I wrote another poem, a short, so far untitled piece. Part of it is about rain also, but some is about the groping and struggling we do in life. I used some rhyme in this, but it is not a form piece. I guess I am hoping it is a bit jazzy, though it may be too short for that. I am hoping that the rhyme will make it musical, like jazz, but without a sing-songy effect.

Would have posted them to my website tonight, but I forgot the bring home the notepad I wrote them on, so they are not typed up yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Still reading the Block novel. Can't get as much reading done during the week, but if I have to work this weekend, I'm sure I'll finish it then. Trying to keep things I have to grade at work when I can. Maybe that will help me to write a bit more of my own stuff at night. That is, if I can keep away from all the other things that distract me. Go Stars!

We'll see.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002

Starting to wonder about this writing thing. Been praying that it won't have to be a hobby for the rest of my life. Problem is I can't get to writing consistently. And I am not sure why that is. I could blame it on lots of things: too little energy at the end of the day; too often behind at school; too many hockey games and football games to watch. But the reality is that I just haven't made it enough of a habit as it has been at a few times in my past. Ok, a couple. But it is my life. I need to do this.

Finished reading a pretty good memoir on Monday. It is The Way Home by Henry Dunow. Much of it is about him coaching his son's Little League Baseball team. Much is about his relationship to his own father. I found the story quite interesting and moving in parts. I was struck by the growth he had over the course of the season and by the pain expressed about his father. Maybe I'll write a review of it or maybe just more about it here later.

Started a Lawrence Block book, Eight Million Ways to Die, a Matt Scudder mystery. I'm about 85 or so pages in. Maybe I'll write more about it later.

Back to writing about writing. I have about a half dozen projects in my head and I just can't seem to get going on any of them, even though some are already started. What I need is consistency. That is, I need to consistently write every day. A set amount of time or a set number of words or pages. Something that tells all the doubting little voices in me that this is something I DO, something I AM, not just something I think about and teach when I have the time.

Problem is, I can find the time, but not the same time everyday. And I think that may be what I'll have to do if I want any fruit to come from this.

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Have been so behind that I have not been able to do much writing except in my personal journal. And now my home pc is acting up, making it hard to type.

Started a sonnet over 10 days ago. It may take more days to finish than it will have lines.

Thursday, September 12, 2002

Yesterday, I was starting to go to the bathroom and once again, at an institution primarily made up of adults, I found myself looking at a toilet that some damn morons had peed all over. All over and all around. This really really upsets me (dare I say, "pisses me off"?). Every time this happens, I want to shout obscenities and write a letter to the editor of the school paper or shoot off an email to the entire school. But I have to be reasonably good.

I did start thinking, "People who do this should be forced to wear a &%^)$#! diaper. And publicly!" Then I decided this was a good idea for an essay. So last night, I started to write. Nothing really organized, but that recommendation and a couple other things. Mostly ramblings to get me started. Got about 250 words. With a bit of grace, I'll do some prewriting and maybe flesh out a bit of a plan today, and if all goes really well, I'll write a real draft.

Would like to write some poetry. Lately every time I have an idea for something, I never get to it. Want also to write a couple of humorous songs. Have an idea about one tentatively titled, "It's not you, It's me" with the speaker using that common phrase to break up with someone, but twisting it around. Maybe a line like, "How were you to know I prefer women with hair?" or "I should have told you that bitching doesn't turn me on." Where is that dang guitar?

Tuesday, September 10, 2002

There is just not enough time for the cup of coffee in front of me and the Keith Jarrett tape behind me. Well, there is, but I seem to have spent too much of it goofing off. You'd think I'd learn my lesson by now, especially when I'm trying to encourage my own students to avoid things that get in the way of a good, working writing process. Oh well.

Yesterday, I gave up on Merton. Well, sort of. A couple days ago, I was reading the book I had and I realized that despite how wonderfully it edifies me, I wasn't getting anything in, and worse, I didn't really care. I spent all that time and energy on the book and I just gave up. Finally, I turned it in. I did check out another book by Merton, Contemplation in a World of Action, and I read the introduction and the first essay. I hope that I can be a bit more consistent with reading. Reading Merton gives me a strong sense that a kind of solitary, contemplative life is possible even for a guy with five kids and all the other "things" in my life that would seem to pull it apart. I suppose this is where that concept of time comes in. I may have much to do, but I do have more time than I take advantage of.

Of course, I sometimes don't have the energy. Or the will power. I had it, to some degree, in college. And even after college, I could write with some consistency. But lately, I find myself writing and talking about writing (and reading, damn it!) than actually doing it. This has got to stop.

More later. I have to go to class.

Thursday, September 05, 2002

Well, I went to two doctors yesterday. One was a sleep specialist. I'll be doing one of those damn sleep studies soon and probably have to wear a freakin' machine on my head. But I am trying to be positive about it. Certainly there is something in all this to write about. An essay? A story? Don't know. I have a lot of anger about this (What else is new?, and much of it is at myself, but I still have some for the medical community in general.

The other visit was to my regular doctor. We seem to agree that I feel better than I did a couple weeks ago and that the sleep study is going to be a good thing. Then I had the blood test. The woman who does this is very good. One hardly feels the prick of the needle. I sat in the chair and looked at a painting on the wall. It was a lake scene. There was a house with a large porch going all the way to the lake. Closer to the viewer was a little bench. Why it was at a lake I don't know, but I don't suppose it matters. I thought about how nice it would be to sit on that bench and look at the water, listening to its soft sounds and to the insects and creatures all around. All this, I think, helped me relax as the nurse drew my blood. I told her that everyone should look at that picture when getting blood, and she replied that most people don't care about paintings when that needle goes in. Oh well.

Classes seem to be going fine. I'm keeping up okay and I really like my students. They seem more energized than ever before. I wonder if that is because I took the summer off and come back much more refreshed (in some senses). Anyway, we have not had any major assignments, so I don't know how well I will keep up. I seem to do some things to reduce my work each semester and then add a couple more. Oh well, I need to get to the library.

Thursday, August 29, 2002

Getting through the first week of classes. Very tired. I really like my students and I think this is going to be a good semester teaching-wise. But all the stuff of the first week is wearing me down.

Haven't written. Have submitted some work and even collected a couple rejections (via email). I suspect things will settle down soon. I think the first project I will work on is the children's story. But I need to get back to my novel. I hope I can be more disciplined this semester. My goal is to take little school work home so I can concentrate on writing (or at least publishing) at home. Maybe then I can write at night and/or in the mornings at work.

Ack! Even now I'm confused.

Monday, August 19, 2002

Back to school. Have written only a little in the past few weeks, trying to focus some of my energy on publishing. Did post some stories that are not really new, but new to the site.

Have been to the doctor and have run tests. Yippee.

New things starting. Trying to begin with some hope.

Finally finished reading The Ghostway. Was quite satisfying, but obvious I should not try to read more than one book at a time. Still working my way through Merton. Probably should give up, but everytime I started reading, I find myself drawn to his thoughts and I feel that I must finish the book. Am also reading Practical Gods by Carl Dennis. So far okay. My main reason for looking at it is that it won the most recent Pulitzer for poetry. I think it will be a good experience, though I think I like that last couple of Pulitzer winners a bit more so far.

Speaking of publishing, and I was a few moments ago, I thought that I might have more success and perhaps more satisfaction by looking at the web pages of some journals and maybe submit to some online places. This way I might be more likely to send work that seems to work for a particular publication. This is pretty long and tedious, though I do get to read a bit more this way. I also figured I could easily increase the amount of submissions I had going at any time, thus increasing my possibilities for publication. It has only been a few days. I have found how quickly one can get rejected. I submitted about six poems to an online journal late Friday and last night read of their non-acceptance. But I'll keep a happy thought.

Was asked this morning to read a poem at the division retreat this Friday. Not sure I have anything appropriate but will look. Maybe I'll write something new. We shall see.

Wednesday, August 07, 2002

Today is the last day in the Writing Center, and it will be a long one. I am working from 9 until 7 this evening. Have seen no one yet today, but many are signed up. Not thrilled.

Wrote a new poem, "Stillness and the Turtle," and posted it yesterday. Did not get online to do other changes to the site until this morning. Decided the temptation was not worth giving into and so read a little from the Thomas Merton book. This book is intriguing me, but I feel that I am spending too much time getting through it. I must resist that tyrany of the urgent. In grad school, I complained to one of my professors, Dr. Richard Tuerk, that it took me a whole month to read Moby Dick. His response was something along the lines of me being glad someday when I can spend a month reading a book.

I have been reading in the Merton book a section from his A Vow of Conversation and having some interesting thoughts about his struggle to live in a hermitage. In a way, it seems rather selfish. I certainly was accused of wanting to become a monk for selfish reasons. And maybe there is some truth to that. And yet, solitude is necessary if one wishes to commune with God, to be closer to God and to serve God by loving his creation.

Soon (August 19) I have to return to work. I am somewhat looking forward to it, especially since I am trying some new things. Part of me is not, mostly because I am not ready having not accomplished this summer what I would like. I think I had too many ambitions and expectations, but not the discipline to pull them off.

Wrote 500 words Monday night on the Max story. Not feeling good about it. Am I derivative? Am I telling a real story for people other than those who know me? All my concerns seem more important when I consider that it may be the only project I finish before school starts.

Sunday, August 04, 2002

Just spent way too much time online working on my website. Should have been reading or writing. Is this what the modern writer does to procrastinate the real work of writing? Anyway, the most significant addition is a page for e-books.

Wondering if I should join some webrings. Don't know anything about html and they all talk about adding code to pages. Eek.

Should sleep. Probably be up a little longer.
Stayed at home today with the small kids while Tonya was in Farmersville trying to clean our tremendously filthy van. She was gone all day and says she did not complete the job. She did exhaust herself and come home with some injuries requiring my attention.

The kids drove me nuts today. I guess it is time to get back to talking to people who at least pretend to be listening.

Money is tight and we are not sure how to pay some of these bills. More of that usual fear.

Watched O Brother, Where Art Thou yesterday when I should have been writing or cleaning up the house. At least it was good enough to cover up some of my guilt. Much fun -- when the kids let us watch in peace.

I know other things have happened or been thought about, but I can't remember what they are. I guess I'll try to do a bit of work and see what happens.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002

Tonya and I took the twins and Max to see The Country Bears last night. It is a goofy little movie, but was kind of fun. Max brought in a magazine I had gotten him earlier and lost all but the cover. Ate too much popcorn and paid for it all night long.

Wrote pretty much nothing, but did work on the webpage. I need to finish this children's book. I am wondering about whether I should post it to my website. Should have tried to write a little or maybe revise my newest story last night (since I wasn't sleeping), but I played with the stupid computer instead.

Read only a few pages of The Ghostway and nothing in the Merton book. I did put a hold on a book yesterday, Practical Gods by Carl Dennis because I am trying to read Pulitzer Prize winners. If it comes before I finish the Merton book, I may turn Merton back in. This morning read chapter 11 of Proverbs and chapter 12 of Ecclesiastes. That business about God bringing every deed to judgement is scary.

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Have made changes to the website. Mostly, I made a new start page and have added this weblog. Have added another group log that I hope my writing friends will use to discuss writing and reading.

Reading The Ghostway by Tony Hillerman and Thomas Merton: Spiritual Master. I think I need to finish the latter book, but am frustrated that it is taking so long. May get back to some poetry.

Wrote a poem Friday while Max and I were at Burger King. Titled and typed it today: "Fear at Burger King".
Well, I just signed up for this blogger thing and I'm trying it out. Thanks mostly go to Brad Smithart for not only being a very cool friend, but for giving me the idea of doing this.

Speaking of Brad, I suppose a most recent event involves he and I fixing the breaks on the van. Spent Saturday night at his place and had a fun time. Watched The Legend of the Drunken Master and burned some cds. Talked about my website, writing, music. Nikki made Buffalo Wing Sandwiches and we ate them, for they were delicious.

Today is the twins' birthday. They did the Chuck E Cheese thing and after I get finished at the Writing Center, I think we are going to go out to a movie and dinner. I suppose it will be Powerfuff Girls or something like that. Hopefully we can do Chili's and not McDonald's or Burger King.

Hope I can figure this out.