The Blank Page

As some of you may know, I am currently working on a novel.  That is the biggest reason I have not been posting to the blog recently.  It is going fairly well, and I have completed about 20,000 words, marking one of the longest projects I have ever undertaken, and I’m only about a third of the way through what I have plotted.

Recently, however, I have been faced by my biggest obstacle: the blank, white, empty page.  I know where I need my story to go, I know what my characters are thinking or saying (or not saying, as is often the case), but the words don’t want to come forth.  I have tried the tricks I know, and still, the page sits there empty and taunting.

This is the hardest thing for me, having a story to tell, but not being able to tell it.  To have a blank white page staring back at me, waiting for words and thoughts and emotion to move the story forward.  Feeling stuck, without a way forward, paralysed by options and choices and the entire future of it.

I am starting the end of the first movement, and somehow, this is proving the hardest of all.  But I will continue to write, and try, and push, because this story is too important to me to let it hide.  I can’t wait to share it with you all.

Until next time, stay safe.

Time for Work

She rolled over, her eyes squinted in the glare from the hall light.  “Where are you going?”

“I have to go to work.”

“Did bad guys do something?”

“Yeah, sweety.  They did.”

“Be careful, daddy.”

“I will, child.”  I smiled.  “I’m sorry I woke you.”

“Daddy, why is there evil in the world?” she asked.

“That’s a loaded question,” I answered with a smile.

“Well, I’m good.  My friends are good.  You and Mommy are good.  Who is evil?”

I thought.  Who is evil.  “There’s been evil here before us, and there will be evil here after us.  Some was always here, and the rest we brought in with us.”  I took breathed deeply through my nose.  “Evil depends largely on which way you’re looking.  When the Romans arrived in Gaul, they saw themselves as arriving to lift the savages from the ash-heap.  The Gauls saw them as demons, world destroyers.”

“Well, where does evil come from?”

“Your mother would say the Devil.”  She raised an eyebrow, mulling that over.

“And where do you think it comes from?”

I looked at the floor.  “We all have a little evil inside of us.”  I looked back at her, “But what matters is how much control we give it.”  I stood up.  “Do right.  Try not to hurt.  Love.  Make the world better.”  I put on my cap.  “No one can judge you for that.”  I kissed the top of her head, and headed for the door.

“Can I go to the next concert?”

I stopped and closed my eyes.  “Maybe.”  I shook my head.  “I’m sorry I woke you, I just wanted to give you a kiss before I left.”

“Be safe, daddy.”

“Of course, love.”

I walked out of my flat, checked the lock twice and headed for my car.  I grabbed my radio to check in, “Office Harrison, responding.”  It was going to be rough in Manchester tonight…


My thoughts and prayers go out to all those in Manchester tonight; both the victims and the emergency personel, as well as all those facing danger in their everyday lives.

Don’t let the light go out.

Design/Aesthetic

I am using the Daily Prompt today.  A quick and easy post to help keep other projects moving.  I’m also drinking a Honey Tea Bowl to try to keep the sickness at bay.  Not sure either is going to work.

I am working today at a noisy coffee shop called Scout.  Actually, I suppose it is technically called Scout 2, but I digress.  I like working in coffee shops; the energy and rhythm of the place provides a nice kinetic movement to my mind.  If things are too quiet or too still my mind finds it fairly easy to wander.  Both Scout locations have a very definite design mentality; clean lines, a farmhouse feel, a little bit of the outdoors brought in.  And coffee.  Lots of coffee.

What defines the looks and feels of what we are comfortable with?  What makes us say, we like this, but not that.  Design speaks to us in ways we may not fully understand and helps us to make sense of our world.  We have all encountered bad design, we notice it and stop.  Bad design is that intersection we hate getting to because you can never quite see around.  Bad design is the outlet that is six inches too far, or the tool that hurts your hand to use.  We feel bad design.

Good design though, we hardly notice.  Good design blends in, precisely because it is a good design.  From the light switch that is where you know it will be, to the perfectly balanced utensil.  Good design fits in its environment, and makes the world an easier place to live in.  Aesthetic, however, can be so much more than that.

Aesthetics allows us to find beauty in art, in a sunset, in a smile.  It helps us to describe how something can have beauty, even in just the eye of the beholder.  It shows us how to create beauty from nothing, how to turn our dreams to truth.  Aesthetics can help us to understand why we decorate our homes a particular way; how we put our personal aesthetics over the design of a space.  It is why we continue to go to places that make us comfortable and happy, and avoid those that don’t.  Aesthetics can help shape good design.  It can go deeper than just a physical design though.

Look through any photo sharing site; every photo was taken by an individual, with their own insights and feelings.  They each had a viewpoint, and took the picture that reflected their world, edited it and adjusted colors and saturation and focus, and then posted it for the world.  No two people will take the same picture.  No two people will document their lives the same.

Each of us have designed our lives to reflect the world as we see it, and the way as we wish it to be. To reflect how we wish our world to be.  We find ways to recognize and create beauty in our own lives.  We tie our lives together in ways that blend into a larger canvas.  And we don’t even see it happening.

That is a great design.

Until next time, stay together friends.

via Daily Prompt: Aesthetic

Well, a happy new year to you too…

My new year has started off with a bang…almost two weeks of a strangely powerful, yet mild, attack of Depression.  I’m fine for hours, days, then all of a sudden my brain chemistry goes all to pieces and I can feel my soul being crushed.  Nothing in particular started it, and so far my usual fixes haven’t worked to stop the cycle. I just feel…bad. 

So, I’ve been trying to walk more. To contact friends I haven’t heard from, to check on them. To listen to more music that makes me feel good. To write and work on projects that have gathered far too much dust. I’m trying to enjoy the moments I do feel better. 

At the end of the day, I know I will feel better. I know that my levels will normalize and I will get my life back. I know that I’ve come so much farther, that progress is being made. It just takes time.

In the meantime, stay safe out there. It can be dangerous to walk alone…

…until next time.

What Kind of Year Has It Been

Let’s recap: 2016 was quite the year.

Like every year it has had it’s share of good and bad.  My little family has been able to travel, we moved into a new home, and have been very fortunate in mulitple ways.

Looking back at 2016 on Sword & Quill, I was surprised at so many parts of it; at being able to grow my readership in the beginning of the year; at the varied posts I made, from political pieces to fiction to multi-part stories.  I was also amazed at how many posts I missed; between travel, illness, moving, and fighting bouts of Depression, the second half of the year was inconsistent.

I started the year off with a story in four parts, That Woman.  Then a Letter to My Son.  While I was Travelin’, my friend Krisann from Now Hark This filled in with The New Holland Solution.

Spring brought clear skies and Fear and Loathing in Brussels.  I couldn’t write about every act of terror that took place, but, like the attack in Paris last year, I coldn’t let it go by without some thoughts.  I also shared some thoughts on #Love and My Best Friend.

Summer brought more travel, with another trip to Portland and then to the east coast to visit Baltimore and Washington DC.  But it also brought a couple of lingering colds and a battle with Depression that lasted through the end of the year.  But I did get to share my Thoughts on an Early Morning.

As Fall has fallen, my thoughts turned to the election and what that means.  I asked Who Are We?  And I remembered that Christmas Is Here Again, and then asked us all to Move Forward.

2016 was a hard year, full of contridictions and messes.  While I was privy to moments of love and joy, we were also witnesses to moments of vitrol and hate.  Like every year, we saw highs and lows, but it is how we deal with these moments that matter.

Thank you for coming along on this ride, and I look forward to an exciting 2017.  Until next time my friends, Godspeed and Good Luck.

Lack of Progress

It’s December y’all.  Which means The Great Dumpster Fire that is 2016 is almost over, and in that we can find some solace.  Although, for everyone hoping 2017 is the bright light at the end of the tunnel, it seems much more likely that it’s just the headlight of the oncoming train.

The last few months have been fairly light on content on my blog; I could complain about an increase in my workload, or other projects.  About the merry-go-round of illness that my little family has been on, or about moving and interviews and all the other parts of life that make it conveinent to not work.

And while those are all reasons that I haven’t been posting, they aren’t the reason.  I haven’t posted because I haven’t felt able to.  The time just doesn’t seem right for the normal fictional drivel that I post.  And the articles that I want to write, just end up bumming me out to an unhealthy degree.

My general malaise isn’t because of Trump and his (so far) clown car of choices for cabinet positions.  It isn’t Brexit and the gaining of power for UKIP in the United Kingdom, or the general rise of far-right parties in Europe.  In fact, it isn’t because of politics at all.

Or rather, it isn’t because of Politics, with a capital P.  It is because of society in general, and American society in particular.  It’s the rise of Fake News, and memes.  It’s the lack of civil discourse and debate.  The demise of critical thinking and objective reasoning.  The rise of “belief” over “fact”.

There is no ability to have a discussion about the problems in this country and in this world.  We can’t talk about guns, we can’t talk about climate change, we can’t talk about regulations for companies or the environment or income inequality.  We can’t talk about racism or sexism or ageism or idiocracy.  One side is absolutely right, and the other absolutely wrong.  Both sides are to blame for this; the left clings to its ideals just as much as the right.  Their religion of righteousness forces them to hold hardline positions of opposition, and any sense of compromise is a sign of weakness.  But bipartisanship has not always been a dirty word.

The solutions to these problems are not easy or quick.  We need to find ways of working together.  We need to find ways of having civil discourse at a local level.  We need to encourage our elected officials, on both sides and at all levels, to be civil in their remarks and in their deeds.  We need to use critical and objective reasoning in our lives to seperate fact from fiction.  But most of all, we need to stop and think.  We need to not react.  We need to reason and discuss.

But really, we just need 2017 to be better.  Because I don’t think any of us can take another year like this one.

Be safe my friends, and Happy New Year.

Christmas Is Here Again

I love this time of year. I have so many wonderful memories of Christmas-time with family. Of carols and movies and decorations.

Normally today I would repost my Wednesday entry, but on this day, I wanted to say something different. I wanted to say thank you. I wanted to say that you are all wonderful and beautiful and broken. I wanted to say, to those of you hiding from family, you are not alone.

Mostly, I wanted to tell you that I hope your holiday is full of peace and happiness. No matter the holiday or occasion, this time of year is the perfect time to take a few moments to remember our fellow man. To show some kindness to those that are locked on this rock with us.

This year, which has been so full of divisive rhetoric, it is important to set aside our disagreements and anger, to remember that there is more that unites us than not. We should all take a moment to be thankful for what we have, and to recognize what we can do to help those that have less this season.

So, to those that celebrate, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Life Day (for those Star Wars fans) or anything else you choose to celebrate.

Until next time, stay safe friends.

Who are we?

I’m so sick of politics I could vomit.

Actually, that’s not true.  I’m so sick of us.  Of the American people.  Of Republicans and Democrats and 24-hour news networks.

I’m sick of a culture that forgot the lessons of Kindergarten.  That forgot common human decency.  Of a culture that cares more about what the Kardashians are doing than about what is happening to our fellows half a world away, let alone in our own neighborhoods.

I’m sick of people who will get into bed with racists and bigots because of a tax plan.  I’m sick of people claiming the moral imperative, and then supporting misogyny and hatred.  I’m sick of people shouting for tolerance and understanding, and then attacking the ideas of thoughts of others.

I’m sick of all of us.

When asked, a recent poll found that 56% of people believe their children will be worse off.  I’m one of them.  Republicans in this country read that poll and claim it’s a repudiation of Obama’s Presidency.  Democrats read it and spend the rest of the day arguing about how to fix it.  All of them act like the French politician that saw the people running, and said, “I must find out where they are going so I may lead them.”  They have the numbers, but they don’t understand.

I do belive our children will be worse off.

I belive that humankind is causing climate change.  I believe this because I have read the studies and looked at the math.  Because 99.9% of all climate scientists have told me so.  Because volcanoes produce somewhere between 65 million and 300 million tonnes/year of CO2, while humans produce 29 billion tonnes/year; we, as a species, produce massive amounts of green house gasses.  If a doctor tells me that I’ve got to change the way I eat or I will die, I believe them.

I believe that people should be treated fairly, no matter the color of their skin or their beliefs or whom they choose to love.  I believe that the Founding Fathers didn’t want religion within miles of their government.  I believe that the economy is stacked against most of us, and that the top 1% hold more wealth than the bottom 90%.  I believe these things because I read studies and abstracts and lectures.  Because I was taught critical thinking skills and am able to use my God-given faculties to find answers to questions.  I question.  I seek answers.

This election has been said to be about so many things.  A rejection of political correctness.  A rejection of the bicoastal elites.  A rejection of the norm.  Of “draining the swamp,” and finding a new way.  But, to me, it is a rejection of something else; a rejection of thought and civility.  A rejection of fact and embrace of fiction.  A focus on the felicitous and salacious.

And before you begin to think that I’m just angry that my candidate lost, my candidate lost in the Primaries; the Democrats nominated the worst candidate they could find.  I’m not angry that a Republican won; I think there are some great thinkers in the Republican Party, and I look forward to years of healthy debate with conservatives in the future.  I am angry though; because the American people have been had.  The liberals gave up the fight, and the conservatives jumped in bed with ugly people.  So, we’ll repeal the social safety net.  We’ll walk back our commitments to international climate change agreements, and find new ways to get involved in wars we have no business being in as a show of American “might.”

Yes, I do believe our children will be worse off.  But because we didn’t go far enough in the last eight years.  Because we elected a reality television star as our President and hailed it as a victory for a cause he doesn’t believe in.  Because we can’t talk about the ugly things it exposed in our culture without it devolving into an ugly conversation itself.

I do have hope though.  I hope that it will inspire new generations of liberals and conservatives alike to start the conversation over.  That is will inspire people to pay attention and get involved in the process of our government.  That it will inspire all of us to reconsider the role we play in our society.

And yes, to Mr. Trump and his administration, we will remember every word you have said.  We will remember the times you should have spoken and remained silent.  We will remember every forgotten tweet and campaign promise.  All of us, conservative and liberal alike.  And those of us that disagree with you, we will fight back.  For as Winston Churchill once stated, “we shall defend our land, whatever the cost may be,…and we shall never surrender.”

Because we believe our country, and our world, are worth fighting for.

Goodnight my friends, and good luck.

The Process

Have you ever had an idea, that seems so evident and complete, that you are sure that it has been done already?  Like Paul McCartney writing Yesterday, the melody was so complete he knew it must have already been written.

I had an idea pop into my head, the rough story of a novel.  It is so clear in my head, so visually evident, that I am doing bizarre internet searches trying to make sure that no one has already written it.

So far, I’m coming up empty, but I can’t imagine that it doesn’t already exist.


The muse has been avoiding me lately it feels.

Or, more likely, I’ve been avoiding the muse.  It is easier to not write, and ignore the thoughts in my own head than to take the time to write it down.

The world has been irritating me.  Not just politics, although that is certainly some of it.  But just my world, has seemed small and petty.  I’ve been very wrapped up in the details of life, and that is not conducive to my general writing process.  My days off have been spent either sick, or caring for a sick little one, or trying to catch up on all the life I missed when everyone was sick.

It keeps me from writing.  Which has the effect of making me doubt my writing, which makes it harder to write.


The travel bug is biting.

Group-On keeps sending me amazing deals on international travels.  I want to visit cities I haven’t gotten the chance to see, and see where that creativity takes me.

However, life is always just around the corner.  Also, it is winter, and who wants to travel in winter?  Unless it is to the Carribbean…then bon voyage!


I have 4 blog posts sitting in my drafts folder.  None of them are finished; 3 are only missing a conclusion.  But I can’t finish them.  Mostly sure I never will.  I am afraid to post them, afraid of the thoughts inside of them and of releasing them to the world.  Rather they just stay in the dark, locked away from seeing daylight.

It isn’t that I don’t think they’re good, I absolutely do.  It is mostly that I’m not ready for the conversation, and for that I will leave them.

For now.  Maybe I will find the bravery to trust and take a leap.


It is almost a new year.  It is time to reflect and renew.  A chance to start over.

And after this year, we need to start over.

God, what a dumpster fire…


My dog has made himself quite comfortable in my lap.  It does make typing on my computer slightly more difficult, but totally worth it.

Completely worth it.


The process of writing is a deeply personal one.  I’ve never asked how anyone else does it.  Perhaps that is why mine is so poor; I’ve never found a better way.

But sometimes you have to purge, to get rid of all the waste that is clogged up to allow fresh ideas to flow.  This is but a taste of what my brain looks like when I sit down to write.

Now, it’s time to get to work.

 

Until next time friends…

The Next Four Years

Plenty has been written about the election, and plenty is still left to write.  Both sides have their post-election breakdowns to do, cable news will spend countless hours on every detail of success or failure, and the rest of us will watch as time continues to moves on.  But before we do, perhaps we would benefit from a little soul-searching; to look at our country and decide how we wish to move forward, no matter which side of the aisle you land on.  It has only been a few days since the election, and I am just starting to make sense of everything that has happened.  It played itself out over almost two years, and will not be parsed in a single day.  It was filled with fire and brimstone, vitriol and anger.  The primaries were rough for both sides, and the general election was somehow even worse.  But, that part is over now.

Just over 59 million people cast a vote for Donald Trump.  Most of those were from people that are angry at the system, weary of eight years of a Democrat in the White House and ready for a change.  Others liked the message and toughness that he draped himself in.  For still others, it was the Supreme Court or Free Trade or guns or countless other policies.  But for some, it was a different message.  A message of hate, and of fear.  If you watched his rallies you saw America’s dirty secret; the racism roiling just under the surface, yells of, “sieg heil.”  Blacks, Jews, Muslims, and others being called terrible things.  Donald Trump gave this deplorable faction a platform and a leader to rally around.  No matter how intentional or not, it was on his part, the country has been shaken by it.  The alt-right and their ilk have taken his election to mean that the change people are ready for, is their kind of change.  Even in my sleepy little corner of Central California, rocks and shouts of “President Trump,” were hurled at a friend because he is hispanic, a day following the election.

His message speaks to millions of people.  The people who voted for him because of the economy, or change, or toughness, those people I can understand.  Those that voted for him because of a deep-seated hatred for a group and culture that they don’t know or even seek to understand; those that voted for him because they believe that America was great when it was full of hatred; these are voters I do not understand.

Donald J. Trump is our President.  His name will be written on that wall with all the others.  He must represent everyone, not just those who earned his vote.  And thus, he must understand what it is like to live as Americans.  If you don’t like the job he is doing, write him, email him, call the White House.  Call your Senators, your Congressperson.  Call your State and Local representatives.  Don’t yell, don’t curse, don’t threaten.  Talk.  Explain.  If you are angry, not just about the election, but about the system or the direction of the country, get involved.  Work to change it.  We have a system of government that is of the people, by the people, for the people, but it only works if people are involved.  If you are scared, not just about the election, but about the future or intolerance, get involved.  In a democracy, all citizens voices get to be heard.  If you find yourself angry or hating another person, seek to understand, talk to them, find ways to listen to them, and most of all strive for compassion.

The United States of America did something truly amazing this week; we made our voices heard.  We were able to do that which so many in this world never get the chance to do.  As, over the next few months, power shifts from one group to another, peacefully and without bloodshed, that is just another small miracle in our already miraculous country.

America is already great.  We are not perfect; we fail, we start over, we endure.  We push the boundaries of what is possible, we push ourselves and our world.  We believe that freedom is always a generation from extinction, that it must be fought for and protected.  We believe that, while we can’t help everyone, everyone can help someone.  But most of all, as our 40th President, Ronald Reagan, said, “If we love our country, we should also love our countrymen.”

Until next time, stay safe, stay sane…and God Bless America.