Monthly Archives: October 2010

Political Apathy

Am I the only one sick and tired of anything to do with the upcoming midterm election? Commercial after commercial features some candidate telling us how great he or she is and how incompetent their opponent is. All right, already, glad it’s over on November 2.

Here in California, we have a hotly contested race for Governor. Republican Meg Whitman, ex-E-Bay CEO is running against Democratic candidate, Jerry Brown. Brown has been in the political spotlight for many years in various capacities. Meg Whitman has little or no political experience but brags she’s a billionaire, whatever that has to do with anything relevant.

What I fail to understand is why a successful businessperson believes that running a business is anything like running a city, county, state or country. If the USA was run like a business, we’d all be in for a rude awakening. What puzzles me most is why a wealthy person would spend millions of dollars to be elected to a position that pays $100,000+ a year. The math just doesn’t make sense, nor does it make good business sense. Would a successful business person allow their company to spend 25 million dollars for a measly return?

That leaves only one possibility: the motivation for a Meg Whitman to pursue the Governor’s mansion has to be based solely on ego. What else makes sense? And if this is true, why in the name of all that’s logical would we want an egomaniac elected to a consequential and influential position?

To be honest, with one exception, I haven’t been excited about any candidate in a long, long time. Just about every time I’m standing in the voting booth, I feel as though I base my decision on the lesser of two evils. I reluctantly vote for the candidate who I feel will do the least damage. It’s hard to feel any patriotism when my choices are so few. This Tuesday, maybe I’ll just forget about voting and watch a good movie. But then again, the lesser of two evils is better than the alternative.

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My Two Favorite Words

 A writer faces many hurdles before he or she finishes a book. For anyone who thinks writing full-length novels is fun, think again. Not to bellyache, but it’s no day at the beach. Of course, living in San Diego, I spend many days at the beach, but that’s a topic for a different post. The research, creating interesting characters, crafting a compelling plot, surprising the reader, maintaining dramatic tension—a writer faces all these challenges and more. There are so many issues to consider; so many ways to get tripped up. I admire prolific writers like Stephen King.  How writers like King continue to tap their creative juices to come up with new, refreshing ideas is beyond me.

Since 1993, I’ve written five novels, one of which is published and another will be published soon. And I’m here to tell you, I’m not sure how many more novels are in my future. Working 5 or 6 days a week, just as if you might at a traditional job, it takes about 6 or 7 months for me to write a novel.

There is no way for me to make anyone who is not a writer comprehend how it feels to complete a novel. In a sense, it’s like getting out of prison or having a heavy weight lifted from your shoulders. Don’t get me wrong. I’m really not complaining. I’m thankful that God gave me the raw seed of creative talent for me to write novels. But make no mistake about it; writing is a lonely job. It’s just you and the computer screen.  

I can’t tell you how many times I sat with my fingers poised above the keyboard, staring blankly at the computer screen, unable to put two meaningful sentences together. But on other days, those same fingers could barely keep up with my brain.

Where am I going with this? Only to say that a few days ago, after writing 110,000 words and 360 pages, I finished Resuscitation, and enjoyed the rare privilege of writing my two favorite words: The End. So what happens now? I get to rest my brain for about a week, then I dive right back in and perform a comprehensive edit. So in reality, The End is not really the end. My job as a writer is not done until I deliver a flawless manuscript to my agent and a potential publisher. So maybe, the next time I complete the first draft of a novel, instead of writing The End, I’ll write Almost There.

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Surprise Getaway

My lovely wife and I celebrated our third anniversary on October 14, and she surprised me with a three-day tour of wine country in Napa Valley and Sonoma County. We stayed at a bed and breakfast situated on a one hundred acre vineyard, and for the most part we found it delightful. The home was built in the late 1800’s and most of the furnishings were antiques. We weren’t crazy about the four-foot bathtub, just big enough to accommodate a child, but hey, nothing is perfect. If you’ve never been to California wine country, and you’re a wine drinker, making a trip there is an absolute must.

We sampled lots of different wines—some great, some drinkable, some like rot gut, and we enjoyed some great cuisine. What we found most interesting was the contrast between Napa Valley and Sonoma County. My wife and I much preferred Sonoma to Napa. To us, Napa was way too commercial, and many of the people that worked in the tasting rooms seemed cold and almost robotic. Few, if any had personalities. The wineries were clustered together, one after the other, and the entire valley felt more like a big city than a scenic adventure.

Sonoma County on the other hand was quaint, and the landscape lovely. Acres and acres of lush vineyards and beautiful examples of nature surrounded and separated the vineyards. One winery in particular—Ferrari-Carano—blew us away. The main tasting area was spectacular. The wines were excellent. And most important, the servers in the tasting rooms treated us like family. I can’t even begin to tell you how incredible the landscape was around the main structure. One of the servers told us that eight full-time landscape employees maintained the property. And the panoramic view of the countryside from the front of the tasting room was breathtaking. If you love wine; you’ll love Sonoma County.

SEQUEL UPDATE: Well, I just surpassed 103, 500 words and barring any brain freeze, I should be finished with the first draft of Resuscitation by the end of the week. I haven’t been shit-faced in years, but when I write, “The End”, I just might have to tie one on.

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Short But Sweet

Resuscitation, the sequel to, They Never Die Quietly is about 95% completed. I can smell the finish line. And when it is done, rest assured that my wife and I will enjoy an expensive bottle of bubbly. Of course this is a first draft, so what I face after writing “The End” is a comprehensive edit. I may have mentioned this before, but as one famous book editor puts it, “There is no such thing as good writing; only good rewriting.” So, I still have lots of work ahead of me. But it’s like building a house. I’m nearly done with the construction, but now I have to paint and add the finishing touches.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the 33 Chilean miners trapped in a mine 2,000 feet below the surface for over two months. Well, the workers frantically trying to save their lives joyfully announced that the rescue should begin on Wednesday. One miner at a time will stand in a cage-like cylinder and be slowly pulled up to the surface.

Now that their wait is over and rescue is a reality, the miners are embroiled in a heated argument about the order in which they are rescued because only one miner at a time can be pulled up to the surface while the remaining wait their turn. Here’s what’s fascinating. The miners are not fighting over who should go first, but who should go last. The miners all want to go last so their comrades are rescued first. Isn’t that amazing?  Talk about compassion and selfless actions. I love to hear stories like this because even a cynic like me can have his faith in human nature renewed. Maybe there is hope for the world.

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Common Courtesy

Maybe it’s just me, but my daily interactions with other people occupying the same planet lead me to believe that courtesy and respect are things of yesteryear. Not a day goes by without some nitwit cutting me off on the Freeway and then giving ME the single-finger-salute. I pass people on the sidewalk and few if any will yield even an inch. I have to either detour around them or hit them with a shoulder block. When I’m riding my bike on the boardwalk around Mission Bay and encounter a group of people casually walking side by side and blocking the entire boardwalk, I ring my bell and politely say, “On your left, please.” In most cases, they ignore me and I have to pass them on the grass. With no regard for the safety of other people, pet owners walk their dogs around the bay on long leashes, creating a hazard for bikers and rollerbladers.

When I’m walking down the street and a stranger approaches me, I often make eye contact, smile, and say, “Hi”. More often than not, they gawk at me as if I was a rapist. I go to the gym 5 days a week. Consequently, there are lots of people I see regularly, yet it takes an act of Congress to get many of them to even smile, let alone strike up a conversation.  Here’s another issue that drives me nuts. I live on a street where parking spaces are at a premium. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have off-street parking, finding a spot to park on the street is very difficult. In spite of this situation, a problem that everyone in the neighborhood is aware of, local residents haphazardly park their cars and take up two parking spaces. It’s as if they’re living in their own little world and nobody else matters.

Would you like to talk about door dings and people blocking traffic in a busy parking lot, hell-bent on parking as close to an establishment as possible? In a snowstorm, I can understand this. But what is the obsession with finding the absolute closest parking spot at Costco, or Walmart in sunny San Diego? Isn’t walking good for your heart?

What has happened to our society? Have we become so self-absorbed and so insensitive that we can no longer be civil or respectful? It seems to me that in an ever-evolving world with extraordinary medical breakthroughs, unimaginable technological advancements, and innovative scientific discoveries, humans have regressed to a state of self-serving clods. I can’t even begin to imagine what the world will be like in 50 years. Thank God, I won’t be around to witness the madness.

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