Oct 13, 2017 by


The 1960s Smith-Corona Super Sterling typewriter. My “new” writing tool of old.

I have a new writing tool this week. It’s probably almost as old as I am–a Smith-Corona Super Sterling typewriter. The same model my dad had when I was a kid. Same color, same everything.

Now why would a writer with three Mac computers and an iPad Pro with the cool keypad and Apple Pencil possibly need with a typewriter that’s nearly a half-century old you might ask?

The answer is simple: it’s slowing my writing down.


In either The Artist’s Way or Finding Water, the first of the two trilogy books by Julia Cameron, she writes about many of her writing friends getting typewriters. But she also encourages in the daily writing of Morning Pages that they be done by hand–not on a typewriter and certainly not  on a computer. Why? Because on a computer we don’t go deep enough in our thoughts, particularly with Morning Pages.

Guess what I’m finding in four days of having a Super Sterling on the desk next to my MacBook Pro?

I’m going a lot deeper in my writing on my novel than I ever have before when I slide paper onto the drum of the Smith-Corona and I begin to type.

Now maybe an argument can be made that I’d go even deeper if I were to write the book in hand, but I think there are limits to how far back I need to go with this experiment.


The reason I bought this respective model is, like I said, it’s the same one my dad had when I was young. From age 10 on, I also began using his typewriter to compose stories or whatever it was I was doing at the time to pursue a life-long dream to be a writer. I’d previously had a toy red plastic typewriter at that point in my life and it was time for an upgrade. Being able to use Dad’s mint green Smith-Corona put me on the big stage, or so it felt.

It still feels that way.

There is excitement in feeding a blank piece of paper into the drum of the machine, setting the paper so it is aligned straight, and then snapping it into place.

Writing with a typewriter is changing how I write. It’s allowing me to go DEEP.

I don’t have to worry too much about typos. This isn’t going to be seen by anyone but me, but what comes out is intimate. Already. The writings are far better. I’m finding I can put myself in the place of my character I’m writing about. My character is living in the same period as I was as a boy. In the same location. With the same typewriter. I’m getting back some of the play I had as a kid. I’m finding some of the innocence that was lost. And I’m dreaming of a simpler time. A happier time.

But I’m also able to find ways to turn the screws tight on my characters now. I’m enjoying this. And it’s all making more sense now. This is what I’ve been needing.

And with the help this week of Donald Maass, Heather Sellers, Jack Bickham, K.M. Weiland, and Julia Cameron, I’ve found a new gear for my writing.

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Novel Writing Tips: Let the Images do the Storytelling

Aug 29, 2017 by

Novel Writing Tips: Let the Images do the Storytelling

Julia Cameron has an exercise in one of her books where she asks you to list your favorite authors and then write something you feel they would tell you as writing advice if they were sitting at the coffee table with you. So far, I’ve come up with 16 and over the next few weeks, I’m going to share some of them.

I feel funny doing this, being an unpublished author. One dealt a setback Friday at that. But one determined to persevere regardless.

But as I’ve seen on YouTube, the Net is full of unpublished authors giving all kinds of advice about the publishing industry.

What I’m offering is a little different. Almost like telepathy. In someways I can hear each of these authors, and in some cases, multiple authors, whispering, saying, sometimes SCREAMING, their advice at me as I sit across the table taking copious notes.

Today’s advice:

“Keep the writing simple and let the images you compose do the storytelling.”

Keep the writing simple. A variation of KISS, but on the eve of the release of the movie Swallows and Amazons, this seems fitting.

Now you may ask how in the Devil can I ascribe this to Earnest Hemingway, Arthur Ransome and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Read most anything from Hemingway. It’s simple to read. Easy to understand. But draws you into complex thoughts because of what he says.

Read Swallows and Amazons. The words are pictures. All of them. Simple scenes. Ones that sail you away on an adventure.

Zelda writes like this, too. Her letters to Scott. They lift you away with the purest of love.

I can hear all of them telling me, not yelling, well Hem might yell, not in a whisper, but in simple terms,  Zelda might use a little Southern directness, but their point would all be the same.

Good creative writing is about putting images in the mind of a reader and letting them interpret for themselves the abundance of the details. This gives the reader a chance to escape and the ability to leave where they are and be transported to somewhere else, which is what they seek when they read fiction.

It’s not about barebones writing. I think I’ve learned that mistake. I’ve learned there is a balance there, too. Readers don’t want news writing, either. Not when they’re reading fiction. Just the facts ma’am worked in the papers, but it doesn’t work on the pages of a novel.


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The Opioid Crisis in America And How I Fought Back

Aug 28, 2017 by

The Opioid Crisis in America And How I Fought Back

There is an opioid crisis in America. Since June of 2016, I’ve been plagued by it. I was hurt after a visit to a chiropractor in Mesquite, Texas May 13, 2016. My primary care physician put me on hydrocodone in mid-June 2016 and I was on either it or Percocet, or Percocet with fentanyl patches, until late April 2017.

That stretch of time messed with my brain. A recent CT scan shows no physical damage to my brain, but until this past week, my sleep pattern was totally messed up. 

What fixed it?

The jury is still out, but it’s a combination of 100 MGs of Trokendi and 3600 MGs per day of Gabapentin. What I finally had to do was take 1:1:2 and 2 of 6– MGs of Gabapentin a day in order to not sleep 15 hours or more a day. And this past week I finally reached the sustained dose of Trokendi. It took four weeks to reach it having done seven days of 25, seven more of 50, and seven more of 75 Mgs, respectively.

Opioids Are Dangerous

Make no mistake about it, opioids are dangerous. I am one of the rare ones who find the way to get off them. There are scores of people one can read about who find themselves on heroin after using prescription opioids. Then there are those who run out of med and want more and do wild things like smash their hands with hammers so they need medical attention and more opioids to relieve the pain.

Dr. Britt Daniel of Medical City of Dallas

I went to see Dr. Britt Daniel earlier this month. He’s a neurologist and the one who put me on Trokendi and put me on the maximum legal amount of Gabapentin per day.

Within the first five minutes of talking to him, Dr. Daniel said I suffered from a condition he calls Medication Overuse Headache.

It’s the International Classification of Headache III. The old name for it was Rebound Headache. It is a syndrome related to overrating. Dr. Daniel’s paper says that 80-90 percent of new patients seen in specialty headache clinics have MOH.

MOH may come from overtreating with simple pain killers like caffeine, Tylenol or Advil, opioid narcotics, pain killers with barbiturates, or triptans. Patients typically rotate drugs and take many drugs at the same time that may cause MOH. After awhile, the pre-existing headache problem, which is usually migraine, becomes transformed from and intermittent to chronic headache problem. It is like what happens to the person who drinks coffee every day and then gets a headache when they don’t. They the brain becomes sensitizes to these drugs repeat dosing cause neurologist-inflamatorry chemicals to be released in the brain which keeps the headache going.

This is what has been happening with me the past couple of months.

I’ve been working to lose weight so I’ve been cutting all kinds of things from my diet. And I’ve cut the meds. So my body was going nuts trying to figure out where everything had gone at one time. And I spiraled downward with headaches galore.

Thanks to Dr. Daniel, I think, praise God, I’m finally on the right track.


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Finding Water

Aug 28, 2017 by

Finding Water

I’m in Week Seven of Julia Cameron’s book, Finding Water.

Julia Cameron’s Finding Water.

This makes 19-straight weeks of following in her teachings, coupled with an equally invigorating study of my NIV Bible. Today I’m on the last pages of a second $0.50 college rule Walmart notebook. In fact, Chandler, my daughter, about fell over last week when I showed her the two-foot high stack of them in my closet.  Every three weeks now, I fill a notebook with handwritten Morning Pages. It’s the best form of prayer and therapy I’ve encountered in almost 52 years.


Friday was a crummy day and if it weren’t for my growing faith in God–thanks to Julia Cameron’s teachings, my daily study, and the confidence I’ve been building because of my Morning Pages, my weekly artist’s dates, and daily walks, (ones that have been trimmed the past month for medical reasons and the oppressive Texas heat) I’d probably be on a balcony somewhere ready and willing to jump.

Transportation issues presented themselves. Issues with a video project popped up. Issues with my ex reared their ugly head. Another video and web project presented issues. And worst of all, the book project with SMU, the one I’ve worked so hard on since 2014, well, I was not one of the 14 selected to go to New York in November.

And That’s Okay

All off it. It’s okay. At some point, mechanics will figure out what’s wrong with my car. There are always difficulties when you shoot a video project. You work them one or two at a time. They get solved and then you fix the next two or three that come along until the project is complete. Website and video editing problems you deal with. You use your creativity and you fix.

The Writer’s Path at SMU

I am grateful for what I’ve learned through the Writer’s Path at SMU. I would not trade the experience for anything. It’s honed my writing. The past year and a half I’ve been wigged out on opioids.

I am happy for the 14 authors selected. Julia Cameron teaches us in Finding Water to celebrate the accomplishment of other artists. They worked hard. I’ve worked hard, too. And now I’m free to follow my own path.

That’s what I’m going to do on my book, too. I don’t have to worry the next few months how I’m going to pay for a trip to New York in November. Things are tight enough around here as they are. I can now get into the feel of my book now that the opioids are having less of an effect on my brain. I can query to my heart’s desire. My brain is in a different place than it was in late June and throughout July. God wanted it that way. You can read my post from last night to read just how. Again, this is okay. God has me on a different path to getting published.

Even the sermon Sunday spoke to this very topic. With God, nothing is impossible. He has a plan. There was a reason I got hurt. There was a reason it took so long for me to get back on my feet and off the pain meds. There was a reason for all the bad things that happened Friday. I believe that. And most of all, I am okay with it. All of it.

And that’s what puts me further ahead than many.



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Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry

Aug 24, 2017 by

Ólafur Arnalds’ Eulogy for Evolution 2017 1440 is musical symmetry.


I am in Week Six of Julia Cameron’s Finding Water. Now 18 weeks into her writings, she professes somewhere along the way that we do not celebrate enough the work of other artists who are brave enough to be themselves. I must do that here with the work of Ólafur Arnalds and a piece called 1440.

The piece is sublime, intoxicating, and contrite, all in the course of it’s six-minute fifty-six-second life.

I breathe, I whisper, I cry, I dream, I remember, I pray, I hope, I long for what was and what still will be in this song’s life.

I know nothing of his intent in writing this piece, but the Piano Channel of Apple TV plays it once or twice daily of late and when I hear it, I stop what I’m doing and close my eyes and enter the world of the music.

This is what music is made for, to take us somewhere. To our own place. Not the one the composer designed, but to the place only we can share with God. And that’s what happens when I am enjoined with the sounds of this piece.

The song is available on iTunes.

Here’s one video interpretation. I’m not sure of the video’s point. I can’t determine the storyline but the work is good.

Regardless, a salute to Ólafur Arnalds for this fine song. It has a special place in my heart. Thank you.

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Last Friday of July 2017

Jul 28, 2017 by

It’s the last Friday of July 2017.

The eighth month of the year is upon us. Where did the first seven go?

Sunset over Mesquite, Texas, July 27, 2017.

Last night three GOP senators killed a chance to repeal Obamacare. My premium is $821.55 a month already. It will be higher next year.

My neurosurgeon wants to send me to a neurologist. He made a referral Wednesday. Thursday I talked to Dr. Duc Tran’s office. They don’t take my “wonderful” Obamacare HMO that all these wonderful Americans who love Obamacare so much don’t want to change.

Thanks for that, Sen. John McCain. I’ll start sending you and your to partners in shame my monthly bills. You probably won’t be able to afford it or pay it either.


Anthony Scaramucci is not an unusual presence from what I have experienced in Washington politics. People like him are the reason politics has such a bad name. There are operatives like him on both sides. If they’re not telling you to F off, you can tell they’re thinking it.

My Friend Jeff Sessions

The president this week has been on a Scaramucci-style attack on my friend, Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Trump, this action is no dumber than the Scaramucci rant to The New Yorker.

Jeff Sessions is a good and honorable man. There should be more like him in your organization and none like Mr. Scaramucci.

The Voodoo Hill Explorer Club

I turn in my first 15 pages and synopsis of my book to the SMU program by noon on Monday. Whether I get selected as an author to go to NYC in November at this point doesn’t matter to me. I’ve learned so much about myself, my writing, and who I am and want to be more like from this experience. Yes, I want to have my books published. But I want to do it the right way, too. When my work is ready for the world. If that’s not now, I’ll keep working on it.

My Leg Pain

My leg pain is back this past week and a half. Almost like I don’t even have the pain stimulator working in my spinal cavity. I made a request three days ago now to go in and have it retuned but the person from Abbott has yet to contact me. The gizmo is set to 15 right now. It was originally set to 11. It hurts just as much now as it did before I got it put in. I’m just not going to take the meds again. My neurosurgeon suggested going back on Gabbapentin, but I was once at 900 mgs per day and wasn’t getting any relief, so I’m not going to start that again. Plus it made me want to sleep again all the time. I’m doing that enough because of the erratic sleep schedule. So, no thanks.

Grateful List

Each day I add a little bit to a list I keep of the things I’m grateful for. There are now more than 600 items. This list keeps me focused on what’s going right in my world instead of letting all the bad and wrong that’s going on throughout the world consume my heart. Someone asked me on Facebook this morning if I thought someone like Scaramucci would ever understand what an ugly person he really is. Not for me to worry about but I have my doubts.

Obamacare has become something of a Democratic entitlement. Republicans should have seen that. Once you’re giving something away to the populace, you can almost never put that Jennie in the bottle.

A friend of mine repeats to me often that “Insurance companies rule the world.” It’d be interesting to know how much Blue Cross Blue Shield and all the others have given to members on either side of the aisle. But that would require reporters doing reporting instead of chasing phantom stories about the Russians.

Why don’t you guys leave that to me in my book and focus on real news for a change? Yeah, I didn’t think you’d be willing to do that either….



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