clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Sunday, February 26, 2017


At left, page image from Mary Shelly's draft of Frankenstein.

In my hands today, a draft.

Sure, there are enhancements to add, a punchlist of major corrections to detail, and then the inevitable line edits that result from just reading through the thing. But, it is in my hands: a draft.

Composition is complete and the revision and alteration phase begins.

It's non-fiction so the process is a little different from the tonal aspects of corrections in fiction where something "isn't quite right" or there is a tense lapse or dialogue needs condensing or ...

Nevertheless, there is the same thrill of having something that has moved forward after two-and-a-half months in the full composition bin which comes after three distinctive half-starts over the past two years.

Sound familiar?

Same thing with the novel.

Keep running at the wall. You will find a way through. You will find a way to say the things you wanted to say. You too will feel elated on the other side even though the remaining work is nearly as daunting as the piece just completed.

Draft. Say it proud. Say it loud.

Just don't say it to your friends: they only want to know when they can buy it.

You can say it here, however. I'll give you the slow clap of joy any day.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

In The Secret Lair

At left, British troops dismantling the German nuclear test reactor at war's end. Image hosted on wikicommons. Copyright free.

It's a stretch to call this thing a "reactor" as self sustaining capture and control of delayed neutrons was not yet possible given their design. Prompt neutrons were possible and they had a little trouble with the radiation from this beast's older brother.

I'm working on two non-fiction projects at the moment. One is wrapping up and the other is ready for its annotated outline this weekend transcribed from the volume of hand notes.

I'm writing non-fiction thinking of fiction.

I've figured out a couple problems with plots I've come back to as well as changing a couple of point-of-view characters in some fiction from the past couple of years.

Ever have a story whose character roles changed significantly when you revisited the tale? Happened to me.

I hope you keep your stories straight. Watch where you store the drafts. Those things can approach criticality if you're careless with how you stack them.

Stories blow up. So do reactors.

I've got prose to radiate. So do you.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

The Writer's Desktop

At left, public image after a woodcut of Alexander Dumas at desk. Works this way every time for me. Well - the mess part.

Cleaning up the desktop for a few long sessions this weekend. In no particular order: the desktop contents.

\34 volumes -- most of my trout library -- covering angling.

1 pipe tobacco leather carry roll-up.

1 pickle jar of Old Gowrie Virginia tobacco now rejuvenated from near-desiccation.

6 fly boxes and fly wallets.

1 Vancouver Starbuck's souvenir mug, empty.

1 Seattle Starbuck's souvenir mug, mostly full.

An Olympus waterproof digital camera.

2 fighting knives, one stiletto and one a modified Alaskan skinning blade. Both large.

8 Advil in a plastic tube-style pill box.

1 leather button from a cardigan. Removed from the sweater by one of my wife's cats.

Draft of a story from 2007, unpublished.

Clipboard of notes regarding trip planning for a fly fishing outing to Wisconsin (spring '17).

Folder of notes, fly angling WIP. Non-fiction.

1 page of notes on the Bill and Veronica stories (glamorous professional criminals who have never quite "worked" in the drafts so far ...).

19 small slips of paper with hand notes on various topics. Un-ordered.

Compact field glasses.

DVD - The Heart of the Driftless by Robert Thompson. Fly fishing trip source material.

Blood pressure cuff.

Laptop - open and pushed to the side.

Apple ear-bud headphones.

Allen wrench, 3/8".

Catalog from The Angler's Bookcase -- a source of rare and out-of-print fine fly-fishing books.

Pens in a "suffering bastard" tiki bar mug.

3 pens not in tiki mug.

1 ink spot from fresh fountain pen refilling.

1 bag of feathers from Mallard and Wood ducks.

1 field water.

Spare glasses.

Good luck to all in 2017. Off to work on the projects. Well, off to decide which to finish.

Finish something for me while you're at it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

We Know You Are Watching

At left a gargoyle. Image by Jebulon and hosted on wikicommons. The work is in the public domain thanks to Jebulon's generosity.

We know why you're watching.

We know why you spend evenings in the laundry room after everyone is in bed. We know what's wrong with you.

It's what is what is wrong with us.

We cannot bring ourselves to make those easy carefree connections to our fellow humans. There's a piece that isn't there between our friends and ourselves.

What is it?

Is there an academic interest in the human condition lacking in our friends?  Weren't we hugged enough as kids?  Is there some sort of perverse self-delusion at play that our written words will bring the fame and success our daily toils and vocational ends lack?


Is it that we're too damn shy to be the people we are except with a very small group? Maybe with just one?

Maybe not even that.

Why are we compelled to toil at ink and page to communicate something about the nature of our characters that we can't say any other way? Why is the cloak of fictive disguise our best defense against what we actually feel - or imagine we feel. Do we feel too little?

We're not like other people. We watch, Always.

That inner dialogue you always have playing? Other people don't have that.

You write for a reason.

If it is about telling a story? Relating events? I'm not buying it.

I think you've got something to say. I think you can only say it in the text on the page.

There are worse things.

Stop keeping us in suspense. Write the story and tell the events as you see them. Then, re-write the story and tell us what you could not say through other means by manipulating the characters in the events you've drawn.

It's two drafts. It'll feel good. Go with it. We're all waiting to hear from you.

We're waiting to hear from the you we don't yet know.

Show us something. We're just like you.

We're of a kind and we know things about why you are watching.

We're watching you.