Word Limbo

I’m in that limbo stage between stories. It’s a weird place to be, having no story to sink into on my writing days, or daydream about on non-writing days. Since I’m a slow writer, this phase only comes along every few years. But when it does, I’m left weightless, not grounded by words.

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Getting set up for the recent get-together

What happens during those dreamless days? Well, I make many false starts on new stories, trying to force the words.

I fail.

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View from the book launch setting

I find myself almost desperate for an idea. That’s not because there are no ideas during this phase. There are always ideas. It’s more that the ideas are like hummingbirds, shying away on speeding wings at the slightest movement in their direction.

Have you ever tried to chase a hummingbird? You can’t even tell what direction they’ve gone.

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First few people beginning to gather

Time gets filled with going empty-handed to the critique group. Sitting there pathetically, envious of all the flowing words. And yet not too envious because the stories always come back and I know this.

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And so there’s a tiny bit of anticipation, there under the day-to-day grind, fluttering in the subconscious.

Something is on the way to me.

Some story is tentatively moving in closer, getting ready to light on my shoulder and whisper in my ear.

Soon, I hope.

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Rocinante – known to, unfortunately, leap off fences and catch hummingbirds in mid-air. 

Marketing Demon

A couple weeks ago, a marketing person who also happens to be a friend, told me I should have a book launch for the new book. My response included the words ‘No thanks’, ‘nope’, ‘no way’, ‘not going to happen’ and every other version of ‘no’ you can think of.

Which of course made me pause and wonder why that huge wall immediately reared up.

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Arthur on the Morningstar route of the Wall

The first thing to pop into my head was the scene I’m sure we’ve all been in. That moment when you walk into the book store looking forward to a relaxing leisurely browse with the reward of something new to read at the end. But instead, parked across the entryway is a starving author sitting behind a folding table, peering up desperately over the a pile of books. Everything screams of selling, of ‘BUY MY BOOK!!!’ and also whispers faintly of desperation.

So you squeeze by the table, nodding politely, immediately swamped with guilt.

I remember one time a man started talking about his book before I was even fully through the door. And it wasn’t even a polite introductory question along the lines of ‘do you like romance?’ which gives you the opening to say ‘no’ and sidle sideways. It was all about how wonderful his book was. I remember muttering something about not reading that genre, and realizing my mistake when he then went off on how his book just happened to cross all genres.

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Rowan starting up

You get my point. That incident was pushy and all it did was make me take his business card so I’d remember in the future whose book not to buy.

I explained that to my friend and told her about the big wall I felt when she said ‘launch’. She said what she had in mind was a get-together with friends to celebrate the accomplishment of finally finishing the book.

Well…okay…maybe…I don’t know…

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Getting there…

She talked about spending an hour or two with friends at the meadows that are a location in the book. Of how we could invite the fire department to do a demonstration on earthquake preparedness. About how the espresso stand at the meadows could do a special drink with the book theme…

And suddenly, without me being fully aware of it, we’re having a party.

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Almost…

Will there be books to sell? I suppose. A few, maybe, in the background. Or maybe I’ll just bring one to show what I managed to accomplish after four years of work. But the main thing is it’s going to be a fun afternoon with good friends and good coffee and music.

No starving authors will be allowed admittance.

And best of all, I can avoid the demon of Marketing, also known as the demon of pushing your book on people.  I know there are ways to sell without being pushy, but I’m just not comfortable with the whole marketing aspect of writing. So instead, I’m going to sit in the meadows, with the lovely view of mountains and waterfalls, and enjoy a day telling stories with friends.

That I can do.

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And done

Earthquakes

We had a small earthquake this morning. I slept through it.

Coincidentally enough, I’m releasing a new book that deals with a major earthquake. I felt, momentarily, as if Mother Nature was either giving me a little free publicity, or giving me a little shake, saying ‘don’t do it!’.

THIS DEEP PANIC ebook

I did it anyway. E-book now available for Kindle; print coming soon.

But events like this always bring to mind preparedness and balancing the need to be prepared with being paranoid.

We choose to be prepared but are far from paranoid. We have bug-out bags in our cars. We have jugs of water in our freezer. Think about it – a jug of ice can be put in your fridge to help keep things cold when the power goes out. And when it thaws you have drinking water. We also have little bags hanging by our doors that have the basics inside so you can grab them as you run out the door and at least have a flashlight.

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The granite here doesn’t roll like ‘down below’. It slams around instead.

Of course a couple weeks ago we realized every single flashlight in our house and our vehicles had dead batteries. Having flashlights is being prepared. Having dead batteries is us not being paranoid.

I like a stocked up pantry, a full freezer, and shelves filled with home-canned goods. That’s being prepared.

We’ll be able to live on home-canned raspberry jam for years. That’s being not paranoid.

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Old photo of the cabin, but we still have, and use, the lamps. Didn’t keep the cobwebs though.

Earthquakes are like any other natural disaster in that it’s always a gamble. Do you roll the dice believing it will never happen in your lifetime? Do you roll the dice hoping you’ll be prepared but when the quake hits it won’t be that bad? Or do you believe it’s just a matter of time, it’s going to be horrible, and you’re going to need to live without aid for a long time?

I used to create disaster recovery plans for local government. I can tell you most definitely that all that publicity about having food and water for three days is not true. Three days is nothing.

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Natural water sources; the advantage of not living in cities.

A few years ago a bridge on Interstate 5 was damaged and the freeway was closed down. Fixing it, even with emergency assistance, took THREE WEEKS. So if you think help is coming within three days when you live any distance at all from major traffic corridors, you’re going to lose that roll of the dice.

I don’t want to be paranoid, to think about these things, or lay awake at night because of fear. But when these little tremors rattle you a bit, it’s time to pause and ask if you still believe that a natural disaster won’t happen in your lifetime.

After the tremor this morning I also have a new worry. My son asked if we felt it and said his apartment building was rolling. Which reminded me he lives over an hour away in cheaply built apartment buildings, and we wouldn’t be able to get to him in a hurry.

And I’m willing to roll the dice that he has dead batteries in the bug-out bag we gave him for Christmas a few years ago. He’s prepared like his parents.

But not paranoid.

Arthur Lookout Pt 4