The Cave

There is a man in a cave.  One eye is as milky white as the reflection of the moon, piercing through the crystalline white of the quartz, on the water of the pond he sits beside.  He is not blind… Do not make that mistake.  Too many before have made such a mistake and they were lost to this world.  He will ask one question, a simple question, a question that is easy to answer yet easy to get completely wrong. 

His name is Jeremiah and he has sat by this pond for longer than the vines that have pulled their way up the jagged outer walls of his home.  He is dark like midnight and a wispy beard trails down his face.  He has knotted the bottom with an old fishing knot he remembers from a life long ago.

Why is he here? 

The question…

Remember?  He is here to ask a question.  

We’d been told to keep a steady mind about us.  Not to look into the milky eye.  To run before he asked the question, though no one would tell us what it was.  Just that it was terrible.  Others said that it was the only way and that was why forgiveness was a word used in hushed tones.  Who would’ve guessed that one man, supposedly, held the key to unraveling centuries of strife.

Like it or not, we went into that cave, with the bag around my shoulders and pushing a wheelchair.


A Song and a Chase

This has nothing to do with Paul Simon, well maybe a little.  This year is the celebration of the 25th year anniversary of the release of Graceland, one of the best albums ever… ever (Please go out and buy it).  Songwriters are storytellers, Simon being one of the best.  Others that I can name off the top of my head are modern greats such as Josh Ritter, Sufjan Stevens, Sam Beam (Iron and Wine), Andrew Peterson, Patrick Watson.  However, it is rarely flipped the other way or at least written about.  Storytellers, writers, are not song men/women.  We are, however, heavily influenced by music.  I heard once that Maurice Sendak wrote most/all of his books under the influence of Mozart.  I don’t lean that classical, but I do put my headphones on and tune into the world I’m writing.  The music helps get me there.  (Thanks to for melding the two, storytelling and music making, in the fantastic weekly post “Book Notes”)

Music is always hovering just behind a good book.  I’ve loved paging through the last pages of Donald Miller books only because he lists the music that was his soundtrack to his writing.  My last writing endeavor I spent most of my time listening to, a now defunct band, Anathallo (geniuses in their own right).  This novel is going to be/sound different.  I know there is going to be a chase scene.

It will sound like this.

A Place to Call Home

Okay, so the intent of this blog is to serve as a sort of cubbyhole for my writing.  I’ll toss out sketches of characters, place, and plot and let them ruminate in the dust laden corners of my home.  I have a book… or an idea.  I have a 50,001 word document… a result of the NaNoWriMo contest a few years back.  I have countless pages of names, maps, places, ideas, goals, that have come to little or nothing.


"The Most Beloved American Writer"

Maybe I’ll have an attic writing spot someday.

Now, though, I have a first page.  A first page that has been read aloud to a few with some pretty solid results.  Is the story complete?  Not even slightly.  I rewrote the first page 3 times before feeling remotely pleased with it.  I had to change the tone and the main character.  Within three pages!

Earlier this year I met one of my writing heroes: Gary Schmidt.  He wrote the astounding Okay for Now and is all around a great guy.  I asked him how he writes and if he blazes through the story and returns to do edits and rewrites (the motto of NaNoWriMo).  He rightly answered that it doesn’t matter except to you, the writer.  He told me about Ernest Hemingway who wrote 500 words a day, no more, no less.  He’d stop mid sentence if he hit 500 words.  Some of us need focused discipline to force our hand.  In this case, I need a bit of that and a lot of belief that I am a writer.  Maybe a bit of pandering.

Schmidt also talked about how it was relatively easy to get unstuck when finding yourself in a bind.  Usually it means that you’ve deviated from the interesting character you created.  Are you bored writing?  Maybe it’s because your main character is coming off as boring.  Maybe it’s as simple as the story forgetting who the main character was from the beginning and heaven forbid that you hit page 300 and find out that the main character is kind of  a wuss and could never fight off the mongrel hordes.

All that being said, I return to paragraph one.  This blog is about attempts.  Attempts to nail down what may only be in the ether right now.  Like the drawing I laid out before my friend Casey this last week or the dream I told my wife Talia, someday I want to own land.  And not just any land, I know what it looks like.  Five acres (the actual number here is debatable, five or more it should read) in front of the house of hay.  Maybe for the neighbors, maybe to hold a horse for my daughters.  A driveway down the side from a not-so-busy country road.  After the hay a grassy lawn with huge trees; older than my grandpa’s hands.  An old farmhouse or converted barn or converted church or what-have-you, painted red with white trim.  A small deck out back overlooking a sloping lawn going down toward the creek that separates the lawn from the woods.  A garden plot next to the house.  The woods out back trail off for another five or more acres.

I don’t know if it is in Washington State.

I don’t know if it exists.

But I plan on finding it someday.

Like the story I have planned out, things will change.  The sloped lawn running down to the creek will turn into a gravel parking lot for the many parties we will host.  The forest out back will turn to hay and the hay out front will turn to forest.  The house will go from converted barn to single story rambler to mobile home and back again.  The garden will overgrow with borage and then turn out a glorious crop.  This is all imagination right now.  Reality will soon settle in and stake its claim, but it is time.

So let literary gravity take hold of my story and ground it here.  But at least let me practice first.