Sunday with my thoughts – but only a few

Uncharacteristically, this will be relatively short. Maybe. Oh, look, a photo.


 As I mentioned before, photos appearing on Sunday with my thoughts  are gathered and presented in THIS SmugMug Gallery. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, you can also click on the photos for a larger version.

So, what’s on my mind? Well, mostly writing. And food. I always think about food. But, mostly, writing. Specifically, come November 1, the daunting task of setting myself back on the writing track. 

Here’s the thing . . . I have no problem writing. Heck, I can bang out opinion pieces like there’s no tomorrow. I mean, there is a tomorrow, but . . . oh, nevermind; I have no idea what that expression means. If there were no tomorrow, it’s unlikely I would be writing. How would I even know, anyway? 

It’s fiction that’s throwing up a slight speed bump. No, it’s not writer’s block. Nope . . . it’s that I’ve become overly concerned with the quality of my writing. By that, I mean plot and characterization. The writing itself, the choice of words, the flow, the style, dare I say it, the voice, all that I’m happy with. In my fantasy world, all that is pure gold. 


I have a problem with the thing I like about my writing. Simple plots, simple characters, fast paced action. I usually don’t worry about it much, hence why I can crank out stuff pretty quickly. Now, for whatever reason, and quite unwelcome, doubt crosses my mind. 

Doubt about what I like to read and what I like to write. I mean, I still like what I write and I especially like reading what I write. Heck, on any given day I’m more likely to be reading my fiction than that of any other author.

But, I wonder . . . is it possible that people want to be challenged a bit more than I like to be challenged? Is it possible that I suddenly care about it? I mean, I’ve always maintained I write for myself and if that ultimately dooms me to obscurity, so be it. Was I lying to myself? I don’t think so, and yet, I sit here trying to shoot higher than my station. Trying to produce stuff a notch above . . . well, I don’t even know what I’m trying to improve. 



I do know whence this comes from, where the blame sits . . . I’ve been reading other works, both long and short form. I mentioned before that’s often a bad thing for me, especially if I’m on the verge of something like NaNoWriMo. 

Reading other people’s works is a bit like me listening to someone with an accent; I tend to absorb the basic speech patterns, often incorporating them in my speech without even being aware of it. In the case of reading other people’s writing, I start to drift into their cadence, pacing, characterization and even plot exposition and resolution. 

And then, I don’t like what I write. 




Mind you, there’s some freedom associated with assimilating the output of other writers, and I mean that in not a flattering way. Based on a lot of the stuff I’ve recently read, I should not concern myself so much with clarity, cohesiveness, well-defined characters, or even resolving things. 

I’ve read a number of published stories that to me come across more like literary works than straight up genre offerings. There are differing meanings assigned to the terms, but a brief summary of each is that genre fiction has a plot geared toward entertaining the reader while perhaps also making them think about important topics. Literary fiction concerns itself less with plot and entertainment and purports instead to advance the understanding of the human condition, usually through the experiences of the characters. Also, language that oft obfuscates as much as it informs. Words for word’s sake, flowing on the pages as majestically as a herd of distant elephants traversing the savannah. 

You know it’s a beautiful sight, but you can’t quite make out much beyond the fact they are elephants and they are walking and there is a savannah . . . the details escape you but dang, it’s a beautiful sight. 

What has me confused is that this pseudo or full-on literary offerings are found in traditional genre publications. The same publications where I’m trying to sell my stuff. 

My stuff, in case readers don’t know, is entertainment. I aim no higher, aspire to no more than leaving a reader (me) satisfied with the experience. 



I will shake this, and do so before November 1st, but dang if it isn’t a nuisance to me now. 

Also related to writing, I decided to read what was a huge favorite of mine when I was still in high school . . . Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer novels. 

Holy crap on a cracker! That is some bad writing. I mean, I can see why I liked it back then; my brain was not fully formed. I mean the man no disrespect, but it really is bad writing. You are assuming I mean when viewed through today’s morals and attitudes. 

No. Well, yes, that too, but it’s also bad writing. I’m reading it and I want to fix stuff, want to make it better. How presumptuous of me, right? Spillane sold million of books and I can’t even sell a short story. 

And yet, as bad as it is, there are certain aspects of the writing that I must have absorbed. In particular, the good guy having no great moral dilemma when it comes to dealing with the bad guys. The thing is, that was with me even before I read those books, so maybe that just played to my already formed outlook when it came to bad guys. 

People might not be familiar with the Evil Overlord Rules. Go ahead and click on the link. It’s a list of rules overlords should follow to increase their chances of living out their lives. Basically, don’t do all the stupid stuff that evil overlords do in movies and books. 

Rule No. 6: I will not gloat over my enemies’ predicament before killing them.

Rule No. 27: I will never build only one of anything important. All important systems will have redundant control panels and power supplies. For the same reason I will always carry at least two fully loaded weapons at all times.

There are many rules, and all of them valid. I had them in mind when I wrote a short flash piece for THIS post, just about 742 days ago, coincidentally, on another SWMT post. 

The reason I mention it is because I plan to eventually write Good Guy Rules. Things like:

Rule No. 1: I will not spare the life of the person who swears they will someday kill me. 

Rule No. 87: I will not throw down my gun to fight the bad guy on equal grounds. I will, instead, double-tap them and then stand over their body and put one into their brain for good measure. 

Hmm . . . I should start work on that; it’s a badly needed list and a lot of innocent people would be spared if only the good guys weren’t so focused on being “good guys.” 

That, frankly is what I see as huge failings in many movies and books. Mercy is not a good quality if the person you spare will then go on to hurt other and potentially those you love. Never mind swearing you will bring them to justice; it’s too late and you screwed up by letting them live in the first place. 




I did mention this was going to be quick. I could sit here and write a bunch more stuff on writing and reading, but I get the feeling it’s not something weighing heavy in the minds of people at this particular junction of time. 

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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. . .  my FP ward  . . . chieken shit.

About disperser

Odd guy with odd views living an odd life during odd times.
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8 Responses to Sunday with my thoughts – but only a few

  1. AnnMarie says:

    I didn’t read all of the ‘Evil Overlord Rules’, but the first ones did seem very reasonable. What came to mind are Gandalf’s words to Frodo ‘that it was pity that stayed Bilbo’s hand” and that “the pity of Bilbo may rule the fate of many.” Anyway, your ‘Good Guy Rules’ will probably be just as entertaining.

    And another thing that just came to mind. In your previous post about the waterfalls, I commented about the introduction of non-native plants to that ‘original’ landscape. So, perhaps reading the work of other authors is similar to that . . . their words are invasive.

    Oh, and the photos are sublime.


    • disperser says:

      Yeah, maybe, but look at all the anguish Gollum went through, carrying all that anger and self-loathing and hate, his last few moments spent in incredible pain as his flesh is burned from his bones and lava runs down his throat. It would have been more pitiful to put him out of his misery, and instead, he lived as no more than a plot device. What kind of fate is that? Yes, I kid . . . but not much.

      Wait, I thought you implied that “invasive” was not good.

      Seriously, that is exactly why one of the things that is most often suggested to writers is to read other people’s works. For that matter, artists too. I think the idea is to learn the craft through studying others. That is all fine and good if one has the talent to use what they learn as a basis for coming up with new things. But if everything that is produced is then derivative of the original, nothing new is ever introduced in literature and art.

      And what if the burden of what one reads (learns) blinds them to truly new stories and narrative styles that will now rest undiscovered within them? Not that I claim such as being present in me, but what does happen to me is that immediately after I read a lot, my output drops. So, even if I am not destined to present unique stories, even if my output is nothing more than rehashing what has gone before, the act of reading puts a damper on my creativity.

      A truly talented writer (or artist) would take what they learn and use their talent to reshape and improve ideas and methods thereby creating new stuff that is appreciated for its own sake even as it pays homage to past works.

      There is one scenario when that works for me . . . when I read something — or see a movie — that presents something I find irritating. Then, I am moved to write something to counter it. The trick, then, is to read only stuff that irritates me and watch only bad movies.


  2. Christ! I’d hate to see a long one!


  3. I’d love to read your list of “Good Guy Rules”. The guys in my life would wholeheartedly agree with the 2 you listed here. Speaking of “two to the body and one to the head”…I saw two movies this weekend…The Accountant…and Blood Father. The second being too much like other movies of it’s kind…but the humor and the shooting made it bearable. :-)

    These photos are wonderful! The unique things you are finding in nature are stunning…and are like things from a Dr. Seuss story! :-)

    If you ever snack while writing…what makes a good writing snack?!
    HUGS!!! :-)


    • disperser says:

      I’ll see if I can muster enough rules to make it worthwhile publishing them. It means I need to recall all the movies and books where I was frustrated by the good guys being stupid good guys.

      As for those two movies, I considered watching them, but I can hardly stand either of those actors. I’ll probably wait until they come on cable and then ignore them there.

      As for snacks when writing, it depends on the writing. When I am really into it, I hardly eat or drink. But, if I do eat, I have a wide range of foods I like. My go-to snack is usually bread, usually toasted. If it’s sweet bread, then I’ll add honey. If it’s french/italian bread I might add some pecorino cheese. Bagels I like just toasted. I used to eat a lot of cookies but I’ve cut back a whole lot on those. The only cookies I currently eat are graham crackers. Sometimes we have chips, but I don’t like having to clean my fingers after I eat and before I resume typing. That goes for most fruit as well.

      Walnuts are a decent snack.

      However, as I said, when into deep writing I hardly eat because even if I have snacks, I don’t enjoy them because I won’t remember eating them.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Eddy Winko says:

    Maybe you should write a story in someone else’s style, not yours? Pick an author or indeed just someone you know, write a story as you believe they would write it, no matter how bad that is, you never know what might come out.


    • disperser says:

      That is often mentioned as a writing exercise for writers learning their craft.

      Here’s the sad truth . . . I often read about style (voice) in terms of both being recognizable and being a signature of sorts of the writer.

      I wrote about it before, and I’m saying up front that I’m not good at recognizing it in either my writing or others. For instance, I don’t know that I would be able to pick out prose by Heinlein versus Nive versus Bradbury versus Asimov.

      No, I do know. I would not be able to identify any writer by their writing style alone.

      I could, perhaps, identify broad styles like literary versus genre, but that would likely be because of the ebb and flow of the soulful and deeply personal expressive honesty and rumble of the words as they spill from the page and touch upon the shores of my perception, gently nudging my understanding of the cosmos as they weave their revelatory siren song and articulate the author’s subtle yet intimate billet doux.

      But, individual authors? No.


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