This I Vow

As I start a new novel, I look back at what I've done this year and cringe at what I haven't done.

I finished writing the surreal science fiction fantasy novel, "Dark Red", in Feb of this year, 200,000 words.  Next, on a whim to see if I could, I wrote the cozy, "Life Lessons with Savanna", finishing in April and then completed a science fiction (with satirical overtones) novel, "Returnee", in October. 

The three novels have a few things in common. One, I wrote them. Two, they haven't been published. I didn't try hard publishing any of them. They reside on my computer along another science fiction novel, "Spider City" (which is actually a trilogy), and a science fiction tome titled "White Parasam" and an earlier novella,"Peerless", and a couple others. None published. None really attempted to be published. I set my sights on writing novels and I've done that but never really established a goal of publishing them. 

I've talked about it and thought about it. Those that read my posts on the late, wonderful Red Room site know that it's a recurring issue for me to get my butt in gear and get published. I thought once it was because I'm fearful of criticism of the novels. I think that contributes but I'm also lazy. I'm familiar with novel writing now. It's easy. That publishing business, well, that's something new and different. That's work. 

But, some will ask, why are you writing if you're not trying to publish? Don't you want to be publish? 

Yes, I want the victory without the hard work and effort. See, lazy. I still write because I thoroughly enjoy it, and enjoy the results, the novels I finish. That work, progress and result immediately reward and validate me, safely, without others to mar my self-image. Easier to stay unpublished and believe myself talented than to publish and prove otherwise. Except I know that's not true. I wrote and published short stories and received fan mail. So there is some sort of talent there. Novels, of course, are more ambitious, with greater associated risks. I go back and read them and enjoy them, often surprised by how well they're written, but that's me. I'm not impartial.

Besides, I'm intelligent enough to understand not everyone likes the same things. I thoroughly enjoy George R.R Martin's series, A Song of Fire and Ice, but others think those novels too big, too gory, or too unwieldy. Love Louise Erdrich and think her a beautiful writer that tells deep stories and yet others shy away because it's not what they want to read because they're too dark. I enjoy Cormac McCarthy, Harlan Ellison and Michael Chabon, Scalzi along with Asimov, and Octavia Butler, Phillip Pullman and Nancy Farmer, Kate Atkinson and Ian McEwan, Lee Child, Jonathan Franzen and Jonathan Safron Foer, Sue Monk Kidd and Margaret Atwood, Jonathan Lethem and Jo Nesbo, Stieg Larsson and David Guterson, David Balducci and Neal Stephenson, along with Stephen Baxter, Larry McMurtry, Sarah Vowell, Khalid Hosseini, Bernard Cornwell, Neil Gaimen, Donna Leon, Patrick Ruthfuss, Louise Penney, PD James, et cetera. These are among the writers I've read this last year. Some of those books were books I read before or books of theirs published long ago that I overlooked. I just like a novel that draws me in to think or lets me live on another world or experience life through another one's skin, and admire the writers that make it happen. But I have friends and relatives who judge novels and writers more cruelly and will take issue with a number of those listed, and their works, leaving me to wonder if perhaps I'm not critical enough...or are they too critical? Whichever, it comes down, in my mind, to different preferences and expectations. We look to novels for different reasons, carrying our own baggage, and walk away with different impressions of what we read.

No, thinking it all through, it goes back to being lazy. I have my routines of work, writing, reading, walking, visiting with friends and running around with my wife. I'm comfortable in those ruts, way too comfortable. I must take the decision to pursue publishing the last one done, and the rest. I must allocate the time and energy to do so. If you make it a priority, it gets done, just as I made it a priority to meditate and find balance, to get up and write every day, to write a novel, and a priority to do yard work, take care of the cats, wash the cars, socialize with friends, fix things around the house, go to work and complete my projects, now I need to take control, tell myself, "You must do this," set the time aside, establish a new routine, and do it. Publish. If not for myself, then for my wife and supporters, who have wondered just what the hell it is I write. 

It's time they see the results.

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Hard Up Against Priorities

So here we are, hard up against our priorities in southern Oregon.  Like much of the western United States, we're coping with severe drought.  The snow base didn't rebuild last year after a shortfall the previous year.  The city was and is in danger of using too much water and running out.  

City council took steps.  They posted signs urging all of us to use water wisely and conserve.  Information fliers with tips for yard and plant care and intelligent water use were created, published and disseminated.  While water rationing wasn't announced, a tiered system for charging customers for their water use was created.  The more you use, the more you pay, which, like many things in America, rewards the wealthiest.  You can have and use water, if you can afford to pay for it....  If you can't pay, you must limit your use or do without.

Driving around town, the dichotomy is very evident.  Wealthier neighborhoods and home owner associations have lovely green lawns and beautifully flowering, green plants.  Poorer folks, or those with a social conscience, don't.  

What's also evident is who and where else the priorities lie.  The city and the university grounds are well watered, so much so that they're sodden in some places.  City and university grounds are also watered at the hottest time of day, making you pause to ask, 'What the what?'  It becomes a classic example of do as I say, not as I do.  Worse, however, are the football fields.  They've all been watered and maintained, which is galling to learn.  The education system is increasing class sizes while scrambling to save money, with teachers buying supplies for their classrooms, and here is money being spent to water the sports fields.

Yes, the priorities here are very easy to see.

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Getting Lucky













El Springador chews on the theme of chance, not without a whiff of scentiment.


Say 'Lucky' to me and I think of that woolly pooch who used to star in the More Than Insurance adverts. He had a nose for hot water, a regular rappaw with disaster, but always ended up saving his bacon by the skin of his canines.

Take the time they left him in a parked car. This Bichon went strutting by on the sidewalk, all done up like a dog's dinner with her Bruno Magli doggy bag. He went mental, nearly died of clawstrophobia. Imagine it! 6.38 mm of auto glass between him and the groves of hymen. Before he could get his brain in gear, the brakes were off and the vehicle was coasting down the hill at a great rate of knots, slipping through gaps in the traffic and miraculously arriving at the front door of its own kennel. Now I don't call that lucky in the cherche la femme stakes, but the tail does bear the serendipitous ending Lucky was famed for. If only his owners had realised, they needn't have paid all those premiums! More Than made gravy out of him and no misteak.

Lucky was given to biting off more than he could chew. That's something I don't do. Won't have any truck with leaving good food in the dish, or anywhere it happens to be making slow progress between the fridge and someone's plate. Don't like to see it hanging around all neglected. It's just not meant. Herself never needs to coax me to finish my food, they'd be glad of that at the RSPCA. It goes to a better home, believe me. If anything's going to the dogs, it's not my supper. Or hers.

Of course, when you're as handsome as I am, you get lucky quite a lot. The big blonde girls are a pushover. Well, no, not exactly, they roll over all by themselves. Whatever they're into Retrieving, take it from me, it's not their dognity.

But there was one occasion when Cupid's bow struck. We were walking along this grassy path between a wood and a field of wheat when I spotted in the distance a young chocolate Lab. Within moments, she spotted me and we abbreviated the distance between us at lightning speed. (Not for nothing am I nicknamed Thunderpaws!)

Usually, I'm a cool sort of guy, but she had such melting eyes, I was nearly as smitten as she was. I sniffed the ground underpaw. Couldn't tell whether her perfume was Ted Lapitup, Dogsession, or Havitoff Cologne, but it went straight to my head. Good thing the wheat was high and ripe. With one accord, we galumphed into the golden tide at the deep end, so to speak, and eventually came up for air, all smiles. There was no 'shunning the Maker's cordial visage like an adversity', I can tell you. Emily Dogginson wuz wrong.

Sadly, the two of us got called away, but we kept glancing over our shoulder. She was about three hundred yards away, when, next thing I knew, she took to her heels and came sprinting towards me. It was straight out of Gone With The Wind. I just had to say goodbye, she said. A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.You were tops. I wuz It!

Well, I had to explain, the fates were against us. I could hear the bass rumble of suppertime and had to head home. Never say I don't put duty before pleasure. It turned out to be salmon fishcakes for seconds that day.

Now that's what I really call a Lucky Dog!


Jack, the dog who keeps track of the plot


RIP Benson, aka Lucky.


© © Rosy Cole 2011

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