Tag Archives: family

Half a Century

Friday is my 50th birthday. No idea how that’s actually possible, but it is. I’ve probably lived through two lifetimes worth of experience during my time on this rock, and at the risk of being a corny cliche, I want to share a little of the wisdom I’ve earned along the way.

Most importantly, the people I know with the greatest material wealth are also the most miserable. Nothing ever fulfills them. There’s always a shinier trinket somewhere that someone else has. There’s always a need for more of this or that. Conversely, the happiest people I know don’t necessarily have much money. Their basic needs are met, of course, but they find contentment in life itself: helping others, enjoying a hobby, bonding with friends and family, and being grateful for the blessings they do have.

The second most important thing I’ve learned is that karma is real. It might grind slowly, and it might not always be public, but eventually, you will reap the seeds you have sown.

The third most important thing is that your family is comprised of the people who stand by you through it all. Blood has little to do with it. Cherish the people who have your back. Cherish the ones who love you unconditionally. Cherish the ones who accept you as you. Cherish them because they are rare and precious.

Finally, for the sake of this post anyway, take the chance to follow your dreams. For all intents and purposes, my writing career was a failure. I’ve lost far more money than I ever made from it. I never won any awards and never sustained the small successes I did achieve. But I regret none of it. I had a dream and chased it, sacrificed for it, and gave everything I had in me to make it come to life. Even though I didn’t make it, there’s a deep sense of satisfaction in the pursuit. I had the balls to put myself out there and the ability to complete a pretty good fantasy series. No one can ever take those two things from me. So if you have a dream, say forming a business or getting a degree or starting a rock band, go for it. Even if you fail, you will know the satisfaction of having been in the arena.

That’s all for now. Happy Thanksgiving to everyone who celebrates. Hopefully I still have a few years to kick around this rock.

Tuesday Night Ramblings – 1/25/17

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I was asked by a fan to put together a list of the top 5 things that inspire my writing, so here goes:

5) Movies/TV Shows – At heart I’m a sucker for a good story, so movies and shows that offer a solid plot and compelling characters inspire me to work harder at my craft. My favorite TV series of all time is probably Breaking Bad. I love the way Hank and Walt evolve through the course of the story arc. House was another show that inspired me. The witty dialogue and parallel plots of each episode, along with the seasonal and full series story arcs, are clinics on how to write a serial. I love far too many movies to narrow it down to one or two, but I will say here (and might retell the story soon of how) that The Two Towers actually inspired me to begin work on The Brotherhood of Dwarves series. Most recently, Rogue One stirred me deeply. It was everything I had been wanting in a Star Wars movie since A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back.

4) Books – I could do a dozen lists on the books that have inspired me, but for the sake of space, I’ll limit it to the one book that has inspired me more than any other in the last couple of years. Once and Eagle by Anton Myrer is quite simply one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read. It follows the career of Sam Damon, a career American soldier who serves in both of the world wars and then during the early days of Vietnam. The writing in this book is superb–colorful descriptions, provocative metaphors and similes, exquisite use of POV, and memorable dialogue. His depictions of battle (drawn from his own experience as a Marine in WW II) are hands down the best I’ve ever read, invoking all of the senses to immerse the reader into hellish landscapes that show the horrors of war. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

3) Nature – Anyone who knows me knows that I love the outdoors. If I had unlimited income, my life would be spent finding outdoor activities to be involved in. I love little more than the feel of my hands in the earth and sweat on my brow. Working outdoors, whether it be cutting wood for my stove or tending a garden or clearing brush, recharges my creative batteries and allows my mind to forget the day-to-day distractions that hinder my focus on composition.

2) Music – I love music in most of its forms. I have a playlist that I listen to while I write that varies from Traditional Country to Jazz to Techno to Rock. These songs inspire my creative process and create a buffer between myself and the outside world. In terms of individual artists, I am most drawn to the works of Chris Whitley, Jeff Buckley, Waylon Jennings, and recently Otis Gibbs. I can’t place enough value on the role music plays in not only inspiring my creativity but also in soothing the wrinkles of my soul.

1) My Children – I’ve written before about the role my oldest son played in inspiring me to write again. In fact, my children are the primary reason why The Brotherhood of Dwarves series exists at all. I have written it to share with them a piece of me and to give them a story of heroism, camaraderie, sacrifice, and redemption. Each book in the series is inscribed to them at the beginning, and those inscriptions are my attempt to tell them the roles they have played in my life. In terms of writing, my children make me want to tell better stories and remain true to power of language without reverting to tawdry tricks or fashionable gimmicks. My primary goal as a writer is to write books that one day my sons will point to and with pride in their eyes say, “My father wrote this.”

I Dream of a Day

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As we remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his messages of civil disobedience and social justice, I thought I would share my dreams for the world and my nation.

I dream of a day when there is real economic opportunity for all, a day when all positive contributions to society are valued and rewarded. When the day finally arrives that physical labor is seen as more than disposable, we will begin to enjoy real freedoms for all. When the ability to teach others becomes as valuable as throwing a football, we will begin heal the fragmentation of our society. When knowledge and sacrifice are once again revered instead of ridiculed and avoided, we will once again innovate the world. When basic humanity trumps financial greed, we will have a society that seeks justice.

I dream of a day when people listen twice as much as they talk, and nations stop fighting over petty grudges and insignificant differences. When the peaceful, civilized people of the world hold sway over the warmongers, we will begin to know real, lasting peace. When the wants of ordinary citizens – to raise their families and have safety and nourishment – become more important than the greed of a few, the world will begin to move away from the threats of annihilation. When cooperation is given equal footing as competition, as both are necessary for human prosperity, we will begin to solve most of our problems.

I dream of a day when people live as much by principles as by self-interest, a day when people remember that their communities are as valuable as their own homes. When people refuse to accept a child going hungry or the mentally ill sleeping on the street, we will reclaim honor. When the day comes that we protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us, our world will brighten into something worth protecting, something worth defending. When we begin to see each other as brothers and sisters, we can begin pushing back against the darker impulses of our species, and maybe, just maybe, if people do not feel the suffocation of desperation, some of those darker impulses will fade on their own.

I dream of a day when people are free to love whomever they loveĀ and express themselves in whatever manner they see fit, without judgment or condemnation. When that day comes, we will learn real freedom. If people can ever let go of their deeply entrenched hate and simply accept others as they are, not as one might wish they were, we can begin to communicate with each other instead of at each other.

These are my simple dreams for this world.