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At the Beginning

At the Beginning

Where better to begin than at the end?

Maybe it seems like cheating, to know the end at the beginning. That would be the case if we were like King of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, who said to the White Rabbit, “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

I have in mind, however, an ending more in line with one of Stephen Covey’s habits — Habit #2, in fact, “Begin with the end in mind.” As Covey writes, all things are created twice: first in the mind, and then in the world. It is a little outside his meaning, but: I am at the end of one thing, although that thing turns out to be the beginning of something else.

You see, I’ve finished my novel. The thing about finishing a novel, however, is that it’s less a thing than a state of mind. I don’t meant that the novel itself is unreal. In fact, it exists both on my various computers and as a stack of more than 200 letter-size sheets of bright white paper. Especially in the paper form, the novel looks rather finished, at least in the sense of being neatly printed and with few spelling errors. It would be, in other words, complete if I had for some reason written this novel for a high school assignment.

However, in the world outside of something like high school — what in high school we referred to as “the real world,” a description that is not nearly so concrete as it seemed at the time — this is what I’ve finished my novel means in reality:

I have finished a sh—y first draft of my novel.

Or, perhaps:

I have flogged the stumbling ruins of my novel across the finish line, gasping and spent.

My novel is far from finished, in other words. And yet here I am, at a milestone.

And where better to begin than at a milestone?


next page next page close "Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose." - Viktor Frankl"
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“I Remember You,” by Roger Ebert

“I Remember You,” by Roger Ebert

This article, written by Roger Ebert, appeared originally on “Roger Ebert’s Journal.” I’ve copied its entirety here, rather than providing a link, because links expire – which is somewhat ironic, really, since this essay is about being remembered.

The emails have been arriving with depressing regularity. Often the subject line is only the name of a friend. With dread I know what the message will contain: That person has died. In recent weeks there have been seven such losses. Three came in a 10-day period, and I fell into sadness. (more…)


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My Three Minutes

On Monday night, I finished the first work of fiction I’ve written in—well, decades, surely, at least since beginning graduate school (in history) in 1990, and probably for some years before. I’d long ago determined, you see, that fiction is just not my thing.

And the result is … 600 words long. That’s exactly the allowed maximum. (more…)


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Approval

I wrote this story in response to NPR’s “Three Minute Fiction” contest. The first sentence is mandatory; the length is limited to 600 words. I hope you enjoy the story (and perhaps the essay of reflections I wrote a bit later).

She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally, decided to walk through the door. Within a few steps she had moved from the comfortable, wooden world of the library into the tiled grayness of the government office.

There were four service windows, but only the rightmost window was occupied. The man behind the glass partition was writing something onto a form, and he continued writing as she stepped up to the window’s opening. Poole, said the nameplate, and below it, Approvals. He was writing, she noticed, with a fountain pen. (more…)


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The “Yes” Session

The “Yes” Session

The one thing we know for certain about creativity is that it’s fragile. Since we don’t know where it comes from—and don’t know where or why it goes—we’d be well advised to treat it well when it’s here.

At the inaugural meeting of a new writers’ group on Saturday, exactly how to help each other was the question of the hour. Writing is intensely solitary, taking place almost entirely within the skull of one person. How can we help each other without being negative? Critics like to talk about “constructive criticism”—does such an animal exist?

The answer is: Yes. The process is both simple and powerful. (more…)


next page next page close Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
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Half time

Half time

Every. Single. Day.

That’s the challenge of NaNoWriMo — writing every single day. I’m just past the midpoint of the month — and the month’s writing challenge — in both time and word count. This means I’d like to take a moment — and, hopefully, a quickly-building word count — to reflect on what’s happened this month.

(more…)


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A Gathering of Introverts

A Gathering of Introverts

This past Saturday – November 5th – I was able to answer the question: What happens if you bring together a bunch of introverts?

(more…)


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It was a dark and stormy … month

It was a dark and stormy … month

The slogan: “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!”

November is coming, and the ever-shorter days mean that it’s time again for National Novel Writing Month – or “NaNoWriMo.” It’s a mostly- (but not entirely-)online assemblage of writers and non-writers and wanna-be-writers, who join a collective national effort to write, in the space of one November, a novel of 50,000 words.

Does it need to be a classic? Does it need to be good? Does it need to have any actual readers?

(more…)


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At the Beginning

Where better to begin than at the end? Maybe it seems like cheating, to know the end at...
article post
""Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose." - Viktor Frankl"
article post

“I Remember You,” by Roger Ebert

This article, written by Roger Ebert, appeared originally on “Roger Ebert’s...
article post

My Three Minutes

On Monday night, I finished the first work of fiction I’ve written in—well, decades,...
article post

Approval

I wrote this story in response to NPR’s “Three Minute Fiction” contest. The first...
article post

The “Yes” Session

The one thing we know for certain about creativity is that it’s fragile. Since we don’t...
article post
"Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way."
article post
thumbnail Want article post

Half time

Every. Single. Day. That’s the challenge of NaNoWriMo — writing every single day. I’m...
article post

A Gathering of Introverts

This past Saturday – November 5th – I was able to answer the question: What...
article post

It was a dark and stormy … month

The slogan: “Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!” November is coming, and the...
article post
thumbnail Mater Dolorosa article post