Word Work and Humility

One thing that I am noticing about this Creativity Journal is that it is helping me to follow through on small projects. I said yesterday that I would finish the Word Work review today, and I did. Part of the point of making this a public journal is to push me to finish the work that I start, so it seems to be working in that respect. I also updated a couple of these journals; I was a few days behind. Lately, I’ve been taking notes about what I want to cover in the journal entries so I can update them when I get time. As I’ve said before, it’s not completely live, but it is accurate by day.

This journal is also getting me more web traffic. Thanks to those of you who are visiting; I hope the journal is doing more than just giving people a glimpse into the not-so-disciplined life of an aspiring writer. I hope it is also introducing people to new writers and music that they have not encountered before.

A glance through my website statistics shows a few interesting things. First, it drives home the point that I am doing people (and the Carvin musical instrument company) a serious injustice by not completing my Carvin Bolt Kit review. More people are driven to my site when searching on Carvin related terms than any other combination.

The most intriguing thing that I saw in the stats, though, was a search engine referral. Someone found my website by typing the exact phrase “people who brag about their intelligence” into a search engine. I choose to take this incident as a reminder of the importance of humility.

Forward and Backward

I learned today that Dr. Robert L. Forward passed on over the weekend. I have read a few of Dr. Forward’s books, and enjoyed Dragon’s Egg very much as a young man. I wrote a brief review of Starquake for this website years ago, and in reading it over, I wish I had said more positive things about the novel. It is a good novel, but my review is nit-picky, and concentrates primarily on a disdain for some of the name choices rather than on the true strengths and weaknesses of the novel. I think it’s safe to say that I’ve learned a bit about critiquing since then, but I would have to go back and re-read the novel to give it a fair critique

I still stand by my assertion in the review that Dragon’s Egg is a better book, and that I’m not sure Starquake really needed to be written. The premise was covered nicely in the first book, and the Starquake story seemed, to me, to be superfluous.

All that aside, I will miss the gravitational waves generated by Dr. Forward in the realm of hard science fiction. My story “Half-Lives of Quiet Desperation” is inspired partially by the ideas Dr. Forward presented in Dragon’s Egg, and though I don’t have the science background that he did, I know the importance of research in making a hard science fiction story ring true. I hope I can attain some level of his skill in presenting my own hard SF work.

At lunch today, I wrote part of my review of Word Work, by Bruce Holland Rogers on my handheld computer. At home I transferred and finished the review and was polishing it up when I decided to check my e-mail. Outlook locked up (Outlock? Hmmm …) and my computer displayed the dreaded BSOD. (I’m gathering more and more reasons to leave Windows 98 behind and move to Windows 2000 Professional.) I had not saved the review, and I had already erased it from my handheld and synchronized after copying it to the desktop computer. “Crap” is the appropriate term here, but, being an aspiring writer, I chose a stronger word when I realized what had happened.

I will rewrite the review tomorrow.

Sophie’s Wor(l)d Work

As I promised yesterday, I did write a review of Sophie’s World today. I was a little surprised that the review didn’t come out as positive as I expected; I genuinely enjoyed the book, but I’m afraid the review may not come across that way. Thanks to Michael Main for introducing me to Jostein Gaarder’s work. (By the way, Michael, I saw the picture of the neon computer on your site, and I’m suitably jealous.)

I also started reading Bruce Holland Rogers’ Word Work today. I’m definitely biased here, since I’ve studied writing with Bruce, but it felt like he was talking to my soul in the first fifty pages. I didn’t want to return to work after lunch; I wanted to read and write. The man certainly has an infectious passion for his chosen craft.

I also replaced all of the links to my old e-mail address on this website. All new mail should go to lytspeed_web@comcast.net now. If you see any other e-mail links that I missed, please let me know.

Goodbye, Phil

I did hear back from Brian Plante after sending him feedback on the GVW Chronicles. I’m pleased to say that he was very pleasant and civil, and that he addressed some of my concerns about the anonymity of the group to my satisfaction. I still have some issues with the moral implications of what he’s doing, but I told him I would keep reading the chronicles based on the reply he gave me.

Yesterday, I sat down to write the review of Zen Guitar and got some shocking news about its author. Evidently Phil Sudo died while I was in the process of reading his book.

When I read a book, I get a sense that I’m sharing something personal with the writer. That was especially the case in this book, since it was written in the framework of a martial arts dojo. I felt like Phil was teaching me while I was reading. When I found out that he had died of cancer in June, I experienced a stillness in my thoughts. I felt as if I had been conversing with a ghost for the last month without realizing it.

I wish Phil’s family the best, and I want them to know that Zen Guitar gave me focus in my playing, and the book will stay by my bedside and in my gig bag for some time to come.

Fogelberg and Inspiration

Gee, where should I start? Today felt very creative, primarily because of the Dan Fogelberg concert that I attended at Red Rocks. The weather was perfect, the seats were great, the talent was mindblowing. (Those sentences were weak.) I took nearly 500 words of Graffiti notes on my Handspring Visor, using the backlight after the sun went down. The lady next to me finally leaned over and asked me what I was doing. I explained that I was taking notes about the concert and the set list so I could post a review on the Living Legacy website. “Good,” she said. “I was hoping that you weren’t trying to conduct business in between songs.” I smiled, and for some reason I felt like a real writer. I hope to have the concert review written by the end of the weekend, and I will probably post a version of it on this site, as well.

I made it a point not to play guitar when I got home from the concert. I have learned something about attending inspirational events; it’s important for me not to go home after a concert or reading and immediately try to write, even though I may feel inspired to. When I do, the stuff I write or play pales in comparison, and I dive from an emotional high to a depressed, inadequate feeling. The poem “Inspirational Inadequacy” came from my experience after attending the 2000 World Horror Convention here in Denver. Rather than trying to capitalize on that inspirational energy right away, I’m working on saving that energy up and drawing upon it later. I think this relates to Wordsworth’s “spontaneous overflow” quote again:

“I have said that poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings; it takes its origin from emotion recollected in tranquility; the emotion is contemplated till, by a species of re-action, the tranquility gradually disappears, and an emotion, kindred to that which was the subject of contemplation, is gradually produced, and does itself actually exist in the mind.”

— Wordsworth, “Preface to Lyrical Ballads”