WP Twilight Zone

You might want to ignore this post. It is a test to see if a peculiar WordPress message is correct. At least some WP users (including me) this morning see a notice demanding confirmation of our email addresses. We are warned that if we do not confirm our emails, we cannot publish posts. To confirm, we need to respond to an email that WP allegedly sent. We got no such email. And when we click on the link to “Resend Email” nothing happens… or anyway, nothing happens that is visible to us.

As a conspiracy theorist, I now believe that this notice is the work of a hacker and that something nefarious occurs when we click on the “resend email” link.

Anyway, now I am testing to see whether I can still publish without having confirmed my email address. If you see this post, that substantiates my conspiracy theory.

What an exciting Monday morning!

How Long Is That In Dog Years?

Today is a milestone: Required Writing is one year old. So. Is my blog a toddler? An adolescent? A septuagenarian?

How does a blog lifetime compare to a human’s? We don’t yet know what the maximum lifespan of a blog is, do we? Clearly, many of them die young, after scant months or a handful of years. But how long might a blog keep going? Should it? Can we look to some other realm of pop culture for a comparison?

The Tonight Show?

Days of Our Lives?

The Fast and the Furious?

The New Yorker?

Mad Magazine?

Rolling Stone?

The Rolling Stones?

The Sex Pistols?

Dear Abby?

James Dean?

Betty White?

What do you think the right comparison should be? I confess I have no clue. Should I want my blog to live fast, die young, and make a good looking corpse?* And I hope I immediately know when it is time to go. Like the song** says, it’s better to burn out than it is to rust. Although I would prefer to do neither. My goal is to keep writing until it is time to stop. 


* What movie is this from? Anybody?
**The song being “Hey hey my my”, which Neil Young wrote about the advent of punk (with some lyrics derived from Devo’s days as copy writers, and the ad campaign Rust never sleeps). Or was that “My my hey hey.” For obvious reasons, I always mix those two up.

Today’s Lessons in Haste and Humility

Lesson Number 1: When your blog post has links, check each link before publishing.

I’m thinking you don’t need details to imagine how this lesson came to be.

Lesson Number 2: Do not rely on Pages‘ spell- or grammar-checker.

I much prefer Apple’s word-processing software, Pages, to Microsoft Word. But then I hate Word and avoid it whenever I can. Thus it grieves me to report that Word could be superior to Pages in any way. But here is one way. A big way!

When I prepared my psychological thriller, WAS IT A RAT I SAW, for serialization on this blog, I did the typing in Pages. I did the spellchecking in Pages. I copied each serial chapter from Pages. However, to prepare the book for e-publication on Smashwords, I had to move the manuscript into Word. It was then that I discovered the typos. In well nigh every chapter.

Typos! Everywhere!

Typos! Everywhere!

I so hate typos. I assume my readers do too. Fortunately, none of these typos changed meanings, but that is limited consolation.

For those of you who read RAT in serial, mea culpa and lo siento. I hope I can make it up to you. Come back tomorrow – the next post here will detail how to get a free e-copy of RAT with all those typos corrected.

Mind you I’m not saying it’s typo free. That’s a promise I can’t make and I’m not alone.  I can’t remember the last time I read a book that had a zero typo count.  In defense of current typo standards:  I was stunned at how many typos I found in the old hardcover version of WAS IT A RAT I SAW, which I re-visited to serialize. As I recall, the Bantam-Doubleday-Dell copy editor and I spent 37 months in proof-reading before that edition was finalized. At the time, I thought no typos had escaped scrutiny. I was wrong.

Dearest Blog, I Once Was Cool!

Dearest Blog,

I have neglected you of recent. Although I miss you, I cannot say why I’ve gone silent nor when it will end.

It was no fun to contemplate life without this big doofus.

Certainly, I have my reasons. First, I went away for a week of family reunions. By the time I got home, my special buddy, the enormous former kitten Leo, had gone missing, and the next 2.5 days I was in a terrible funk until I found him.

Next, I came down with a cold. It’s on the wane, thanks for asking. I’ve also found myself low on energy vis a vis the government shutdown. My day job paycheck is on furlough as I am a “non-essential” employee; and although it looks like eventually the lost pay will return to me, I don’t know when or how much. The cold and my furlough ennui are probably related. (My very personal response to this week’s Writing Challenge.)

Besides which, I found a tick! On me! Eeeewwww. Which led to hours with medicos, and an antiviral shot.

Meanwhile, I’ve been immersed in my first sit-down re-read of my newly completed fantasy-mystery novel FRAMES. At this stage, I don’t allow myself to make changes, I try to keep a more global perspective and  make notes in margins about what needs to change. The goal is to read the whole book in as few sittings as possible.

Also meanwhile, I confess I’ve been struggling to limit the amount of time I spend reading Pete Townshend’s memoir: it’s kept me hooked through 400 pages so far.

More for the Strange World files. Now the visionary rebel Fela has become a Broadway musical.

More for the Strange World files. Now the visionary rebel Fela has become a Broadway musical.

Then, yesterday, when I thought I would finish my re-reading and reading, instead I got sucked into my son’s impromptu project to organize my record collection. He has recently laid long-term claim to my albums, but sought help organizing them. Alphabetical has never worked for me when it comes to browsing. So we spent many hours sorting into initial piles like R-&-B-rock-intersection or New-York-junkie-music. Some of the sorting stymied me. I mean where do you put Ike & Tina Turner? Sun Ra? Richard Thompson? Should the Blasters LPs stand alongside X because of historical context and abiding friendship, or next to David Lindley, another lover of roots guitar? Guess that’s how alphabetical listings got started…

It was great fun to give my son a few albums immediately. Turns out the 20 y.o.s are getting back into Joy Division, and I still don’t like ’em, so now my son is the proud owner of their first LP. (Mint condition, unlike the LPs I did like.) At one point I was rewarded when he said with bemusement, “Mom, it’s hard to say this but you used to be really cool.” Which reminded me of how I came to write SCAR JEWELRY.


I started blogging as part of my effort to regain a writing career.  (Warning to other writers: J.D. Salinger aside, not writing for two decades will not bolster your career.)

Like most of my important life decisions – including writing novels and having kids – this one sprang from an offhand suggestion. Fortunately, impulsive decisions can be excellent decisions.

My blog’s initial purpose was to let people know my writing exists. Here’s how it was supposed to work: you read a post, you like it, you say oh look she’s got novels too I think I’ll try one. Wordpress and Smashwords stats suggest that chain of thoughts does sometimes occur!

(In other hands my blog might attempt aggressive marketing but the reality is that that ain’t me. Fortunately, my books do seem to be gradually building momentum despite this.)

When I started my blog:

  • I had considerable wariness, surely shared by most fledgling bloggers. What if I run out of ideas? What if nobody ever visits my blog? What if writing a blog keeps me from writing my novels? Fortunately – like most fears – these caused needless angst.
  • I assumed I would blog about writing but I hardly ever do.  I mention milestones for my novels (for example, today I launched a serialization of my psychological thriller ?Was It A Rat I Saw?) But I strictly write novels, so milestones don’t pop up that often. Sometimes I detail my writing techniques, but this blog will never provide advice on writing or editing.  I’ve only got this advice for other writers:

To improve your writing do more writing.

  • I anticipated a single-topic blog but instead have many.  I’ve got my preoccupations  (animals, my kids, sunrises, the ocean, epitaphs, an addict among my loved ones, patterns that prompt impromptu Rorschach tests) but I do keep adding to them. I aspire to an omni-topic blog. Although that will play havoc with my tag cloud.
  • I didn’t expect to have so many people like my photographs.
  • I didn’t expect to be staggered and awestruck by the vast number of interesting, beautiful, thought-provoking, nurturing, and hilarious blogs I have happened upon! I love being part of this sprawling yet tight-knit community. I still feel peripheral but that’s who I am.
  • I didn’t know that responding to WordPress Photo Challenges, Writing Challenges, and Daily Prompts such as  this one would be so much fun.

Writing Every Day

Writing can be a bicycle made of lead. It’s much easier to stop than to start.

I’ve got two quotes that help propel me forward again after I stall out.

One is by the scientist and activist Linus Pauling, who won two Nobel prizes  (chemistry; peace):

The way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.

The other is by musician, song-writer, and record producer Nick Lowe, who had this motto in the recording studio at Stiff Records:

Bash it out now, tart it up later.

Finally, this comment by jazz great Thelonious Monk to a newer musician gives me courage to try something different:

You are making the wrong mistakes.

The Daily Prompt: Do Not Disturb – the Real Moi

Richard Nixon, a 1 on the trust scale.

Former U.S. President Richard Nixon

How do I manage my on-line privacy? That depends on the kind of privacy. On the trust scale — 1-to-10, 10 being fully open and 1 being Nixon — I have always had to fight against an inner Nixon, so on-line caution has never been difficult for me. I take what I think are sufficient security precautions and I don’t fret about them much. (Note to hackers and identify thieves: the preceding statement was not meant to be a challenge. Hand to heart, I’m not worth your time.)

I’ve struggled with a different kind of privacy. Work versus personal.  When it comes to internet guardedness,  the dealbreaker is whether my friends and connections on the site have tie-ins to my job. Which is not surprising.  It’s a curious system, the work world so many of us dwell in. The majority of our hours are spent with people who do not matter to us, where we display personas that are not entirely us. But that’s another post entirely.

When I started my blog I was determined to just write like me and let what happens, happen. So far, I give myself a B, B- on meeting that intent. I would probably have a higher grade if I did not read my statistics. The temptation to pander can be strong. Although one of my favorite blogging outcomes is the realization that I really can’t predict who will find, read, or like anything.

Not sure what I will do if many people from work start hanging around my blog. (Probably not a big concern- we don’t have much in common.) I haven’t publicized my blog’s existence around the office. When someone has happened onto it, I have so far simply reclassified that colleague as a buddy and kept going.

(This post topic comes from The Daily Prompt.)

The Lost(?) Art of Editing

I write this at risk of proving myself  to be a total creaking dinosaur.

Those of you who read or produce serial fiction, impromptu flash fiction, NaNoWriMo, book series that publish at the rate of a novel every month or two — and any other writing that  publishes right after inception. Please help me understand its appeal.

As a writer, I see much value to it. Writing quickly helps with flow, tapping the subconscious, and discipline. But — why publish without much or any editing? Doesn’t a pause to edit always improve the piece? (By editing I mean more than proof-reading and tinkering. I mean the act of making changes, some of them wholesale and sweeping.)

As a reader, I don’t want to read an early draft and I only want unplanned ideas when they come from inspiration, not haste.  I like writing that feels crafted. What am I missing?

Hmm. I don’t mind reading a first draft blog post and for that matter I rarely do more than proofread my own posts.  Maybe I’ve just got fiction on a pedestal when nobody else still does. Is that it?

In Lieu of Goodbye

A bit more than a month ago, life shifted, irrevocably. (Four weeks two days 1 hour 25 minutes – I expect I’ll remember the details forever, my personal version of I remember when I heard Kennedy /MLK /Kennedy /Lennon was shot. All the images I can conjure are from horror movies. Ground splits and previous paths disintegrate. Steep fall from a suddenly looming cliff, to land on a road with treacherous forks every few steps, each new path quickly vanishing into darkness and fog. You get the idea.)

A bit more than a month ago, I learned that Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is addicted to heroin. Actually that isn’t quite right. It’s not a situation. SILD is a heroin addict. It’s a part of SILD’s being. And it turns out that I am a codependent.

When I sit down to blog, I got nothin’ to say.  Not surprising. When I launched my blog a few months ago I had no idea where it would lead but my blogging tendencies have proved playful and lighthearted. My current thoughts are anything but.  I expect that at some point the light stuff will again rise to the top. Maybe. Meanwhile I’ve got plenty I need to say, and I’ve decided to say it here. For those who want to skip the gory parts, I will make sure it is obvious when I am writing a SILD-related blog.