Monday, June 23, 2014

The Child

I wrote The Child about ten years ago now, around the time I graduated from high school. This is probably one of the oldest finished pieces I still own and is the only one that I am willing to share without a complete re-edit.  I hope that you enjoy it.

The Child

As I walked down the street,
Just the other day,
A wondrous sight caught my eye,
As I saw a child at play.

He couldn’t have been older,
Than five or six,
And down at his feet,
Was a puppy of indeterminate mix.

The child had not a care in the world,
On that spring day,
As the dog with the kid,
Played and played.

My mind had been pondering,
On things often sought
About the world’s problems,
And things we have forgot.

I thought of Jews in concentration camps,
Nazis, and things we all hate.
I saw guitars and Elvis,
Woodstock and the music to which we all relate.

But the boy played on….

My mind was all a buzz,
With Martin Luther King,
With Hitler, Washington, and Armstrong,
And what these people mean.

But the boy played on….

I pictured Cold War politics,
And brother against brother,
Of Mickey Mantle and Babe Ruth,
And the wishes of the Father.

But the boy played on….

As I watched the boy and his dog,
Far from my head were thoughts of Nuclear Holocaust,
But as I watched the boy play on,
I had to wonder when our innocence was lost.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Time: The Great Clock That Rules Us All


It's unique. I cannot think of anything so fundamental, yet fleeting, as it is. Time can never be reconstructed.  With infinite control and perfect knowledge, everything else can be rebuilt. Your first car can be saved from decaying into rust. Bring back every burned piece of paper. That perfect moonlit night of your first kiss. But time? Once used, it's gone.

Why bring this up? Because I'm running out of it.

Sure, in some metaphysical sense, we are all running out of time. Death waits for no man and all that mumbo jumbo. But that's not what I'm getting at. Rather, I have goals and deadlines to meet, yet my worst enemyprocrastinationsneaks up on me and takes hold.

Not fun.

That, I suppose, is why we budget our time, hording it like Scrooge McDuck. But for me, it goes beyond that. I always seem to be running, never quite at a standstill.  My body may be stuck in one place, but my mind never shuts down. Ever. Im always thinking about something or doing something, all because it needs to be done.

I'm not saying that I'm the only one in this predicament.  In fact, I tend to think that most of us are. And that's a shame. But it's also part of being an adult. I look at my life and often wonder where my time went.   Wheres the time to be myself and relax and be a husband and be an individual? It disappears faster than we ever realize.

Now, Im not complainingnot much, anyhow.   This is something we all have to deal with.  For right now, though, it has come as a startling slap in the face.  It all stems from my work on my novels.  First and foremost, I am sending off my novelThe Red Dressto my editor in August (Thanks Susan!).  But before I do that, I have a little more work I want to get done on it.  The usual stufftweaking lines, deepening character development, description, description, descriptionbut even though it may be simple-ish, it still takes time. 

The second reason is simpler.  On my new novel, I really thought Id be further along than I am.  Oh, there are reasons for that.  Mainly, its that I can reliably write about 500 words a day, but often lack the time and energy to do more.  Its hard to write when you areliterallyfalling asleep at the keyboard.

Time surrounds our lives, dictates our activities, and either provides opportunities or shuts them down.  We find time for those things that are important to us, which is why I spend time with my wife, I spend time writing, and spend time workingso I can afford to spend time writing and with my wife.  Our obsession with it really should be no surprise.  

Perhaps that is why almost every science fiction show Ive ever watched deals with it in some way.  Strike that.  Every show deals with it, though its most obvious in sci-fiwith all their talk of time travel and paradoxes and polarity reversalsto such an extent that it is expected and almost always horribly done (If you dont get that, watch a season of Star Trek.  The solution always seems to be reversing the polarity.  Sci-fi tropes will be another post some day . . . when I find time to write it.).If you know anything about time travel theory, a bad soap opera is often preferable. 

But sci-fi isnt the only genre with a heavy emphasis on time, just the most obvious.  Imagine, if you will, a serial killer on a spree, and the cops and their writer friend have to stop him before he kills again (Castle).  Or how about the looming wedding that one character is having second thoughts about (How I Met Your Mother)?  Traveling to space for the first time and coming back to Earth to find that your friends have moved on while youre out playing astronaut (The Big Bang Theory). 

The entire plot of 24.

The list goes on.  And I can go on.  Toss in movies, books, video games, sports.  Hell, just about everything in our lives, entertainment or otherwise, centers itself around time.  All of it to prove just one thing.

Dont squander it.

Its a maxim we heard how many times growing up?  Thousands?  Millions?  And we dont stop hearing it.  Always do your best with what you have.  Learn as much as you can and always give your best effort with the time you have.  It almost makes you want to toss it all away and do whatever you please.  But we know we cant.  Ignoring bills wont make them go away.  All it does is get our gas shut off.

So we are going to keep minding it.  Keep following every tick of the clock and relishing those moments.  To do otherwise is to die.  Literally. So, as much as I hate to do it, I will buckle down and get back to work.  That novel wont write itself.  And I cant expect my editor to do all the work for me.  If that was the case, then shed be the author, and Id be the bum on the street, people watching.

Who am I kidding?  I am that bum on the street people watching.  But I just call it research for my next book.