lost in the fog

Posted February 19, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Finnegans

I am making acceptable progress on the beginning of my new Finnegans novel, which, by the way, I’m calling¬†Finnegans Fogbound. I’m on chapter 3 and it’s mostly introducing characters and scene, though I’ve hinted at some of the coming tension. Still, it’s supposed to be a mystery novel, and these generally have some kind of hook in the beginning to draw the reader in.

This is problematic for me in large part because the Finnegans mysteries don’t involve any crime in the conventional sense. I still believe there is plenty of evil people can do to each other that doesn’t involved murder or even crime. (As an aside and a justification, Conan Doyle noted that more than half of the Sherlock Holmes stories did not involve murder and many didn’t even involve a crime.) Further, the Finnegans aren’t sleuths in the conventional sense either. They’re a retired husband and wife who stumble upon situations that need the light of day illuminating them. Generally, they don’t even know they’re on to something until late in the game.

Fogbound involves a half marathon (something I know a bit about) in a socially divided town. The dense fog hampers the running of the race and serves as a blatantly obvious symbol for the mystery.

As I said, I’ve begun chapter 3 but the whole things is an inchoate blob of words right now. I fully expect revisions to what I’ve written; I may even slip in another early chapter just to add that hook, but we’ll see.

Anyway, the writing is coming along fairly smoothly, and for that I’m grateful. I wish I could say the same for all of the stories in my head for the Clark family from One-Match Fire. Those are a struggle. A worthy struggle, but still a struggle.

 

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the journey is the destination

Posted February 15, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Fathers and Sons

I recently sent in a form to a hospital in St. Louis asking for my medical records related to the appendectomy I had as a lad. I have no hopes of receiving anything. Too many decades have passed, and I learned recently that in the state of Missouri, the legal requirement for hanging on to records is something like only ten years. My request is a long shot. A very long shot.

I’m not interested in the details of the surgery; I’m sure that was nothing special. What I hope to learn is whatever medical background my mother might have provided about me prior to the surgery. What I’m ultimately trying to find out is what it was I was hospitalized with as a small child of perhaps two years old, which I’ve spoken of in more detail in this post.

I asked my mother recently what it was that had afflicted me, and she could not recall. (Once before she told me I had pneumonia, but that was years and years ago, and she hadn’t seemed too certain at the time.) More recently I asked her what hospital I would have been in, and again she couldn’t recall though she thought it most likely to be the one where she had trained as a nurse.

So the long shot.

The point of this is to give me some experience for writing that story “Three Small Words.” In it the son finally acts on the old photo he’d found of his father as an infant that suggested the child had been gravely ill. His father has no memory of the time. The grandparents are long gone. He has nothing to go on except the approximate time and the city.

I suspect I’ll have no luck in my quest, and I’m sure I’ll work that into the story as well, concluding something like how you can never really know another person. So my actual frustration can inform my character’s.

Of course it I do get some solid information — and mostly likely it was pneumonia I had — that won’t work well with my story’s needs since whatever afflicted the father needs to have or suggest long-term implications for his heart health.

So we’ll see.

 

today is Darwin Day

Posted February 12, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Uncategorized

but you probably already knew that.

Darwin Day

Finnegans commence

Posted February 5, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Finnegans

I had a great weekend of writing this past. As I said in my recent post (betwixt) I needed to embark on something wholly different from what has occupied most of my creative energy for the last few years, and I did. I began work on a new Finnegans novel.

The Finnegans are a husband and wife team I’ve envisioned being the protagonists of a series of cozy mystery novels set in bed and breakfasts. Their stories would be unique because there wouldn’t be any actual crime involved, and certainly not any murder (which is standard issue for most mysteries). I’ve always said that there is plenty of evil people can do that doesn’t involve crime. The Finnegans stumble into these mysteries and bring them to some resolution, generally vindicating the innocent and revealing the guilty.

I’ve actually written four of these novels (none published), so I know the characters well and can more or less throw them into the plot I have in mind and let them do the driving. I think they’re perfect for the break I need from my “literary” writing. I can more easily pick up where I left off with the Finnegans, meaning I might do some writing at unexpected times, like in the long, dark winter evenings before me.

This latest, which I’m calling Finnegans Fogbound, involves a half marathon in a town bitterly divided by ethnicity (Irish on one side of the river, Hispanics on the other and only one bridge betwixt them). I had originally conceived this plot long before I took up the sport of running, but now that I’m revisiting it with some actually running experience, I can see how much better I can tell the tale.

The writing has been going well. I put down more than 2,000 pretty good words and completed a first chapter. Slyly introduced in that chapter are the tensions that will be resolved in the story, so the plan is well laid.

Feels good being in this kind of place.

__________

We were at the art museum when the “light dusting” began yesterday. Thinking it prudent, we headed home with some trouble. Four inches and some shoveling later and it all seems like a dream.

betwixt

Posted February 1, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Rants and ruminations

It turns out that exactly a year ago I had written a similar post with the same title. (The man who built the lake and dam out at my woods used the word “betwixt” regularly in his speech. It’s hard to find occasion to use it in my world without sounding cloying or pretentious.) I am betwixt projects right now. Story ideas of Nature Always Wins have been pouring into my head, and I’ve been making my copious notes for them, but I can’t seem to write them. In part it’s because the ideas are, at this point, only ideas and not full plots, but I think the larger “problem” is that I am creatively exhausted by this family of men I have created. I think I need to leave their field fallow for a while and then come back to it when my energies have shifted. (Mixing metaphors for decades, folks!)

I mentioned in that earlier post that I had been overwhelmed by an idea for a darker novel unrelated to anything I’ve ever written. That idea is still around, and the copious notes I’ve made for it reside on my computer. But I am leery of beginning the work. I’m much more comfortable with sweetness and light. So it sits fallow too.

I have some older, unfinished stories that aren’t related to either of these ambitions that I could/should work on. One in particular is tugging at my brain. I’ve written two stories retelling Greek myths: “Moron Saturday” which is my version of the Diana and Acteon story, and “Pandora’s Tackle Box” which I think is evident. This new story would fall in that realm. It’s a kind of retelling of the Icarus myth, with a dose of Sisyphus and even Camus thrown in.

And then, if I cannot get any actual writing underway, there is always the business of getting One-Match Fire in submission. I think I’m scared of doing that.

__________

Here’s a picture of my chainsaw. There isn’t much muddled thinking when I pick it up:

#28

Posted January 29, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Process, Ramblings Off Topic

Tags:

I am currently working on journal #28 in my 35+ years of keeping a handwritten journal. Thousands of pages. Hundreds of thousands of words. Countless ideas. Complaints, moans, thoughts, musings, copying, trying, dreaming, scheming. These journals have been my respository for inklings for article ideas (earlier in my writing life) as well as for story ideas now. I’ve worked out themes and characters and plots and whole novels on the pages of these journals. In the dim days before I had my earlier blog, Roundrock Journal, I would write pages-long, detailed accounts of my trips to my woods (because I had this idea that I would need the notes for the great account of my life in the woods I would eventually write). I make entries to voice my complaints with the universe as well as complaints with the quotidian. I’m all over the place in my journals.

I certainly don’t even remember all of the things I have written in my journals and certainly couldn’t find most of the ones I do remember. And why would I as I reflect on it. In those decades, I have changed a great deal, not only in my writing but in my general view of life, the universe, and everything. Whatever I had to say about anything thirty years ago would probably make me cringe with embarrassment today.

I sometimes wonder what will become of my journals. I can’t imagine there is anything particularly insightful within them. The world won’t be a better place because of my musings. About the only thing I ever imagine happening from someone reading my scribblings is these words being uttered: “This explains everything, Your Honor.”

My middle son has said he can hardly wait to read my journals after I have died. There is so much he will want to learn about me then. (Why doesn’t he want to learn about me now?)

I’ve thought about having a cleansing fire sometimes. Burning all of my journals to be rid of the weight of them. I’ve begun burning the notebooks I kept in graduate school. The next step wouldn’t be so hard.

So why do I keep them? Some sort of mental health break, I guess. I do like the feel of pushing a mechanical pencil across a page. I even spent a day scouring Kansas City for exactly the right mechanical pencil for the job. There is some catharsis from holding the pencil in my hand and making marks on the page, marks that form themselves into words that collect into sentences that flow into paragraphs that begin to have meaning.

But maybe the meaning is in the act itself, not the results.

Roundrock reckoning

Posted January 25, 2018 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Roundrock

Tags: ,

I keep a calendar on the wall of my little cabin and mark on it each time I make a visit. Then, in January, I switch it for the new calendar and take the old one home to do a reckoning of my visits. Here is how 2017 went down:

January – I started the new year off right by going down to the cabin on the first and staying the night, so that counted as two days of visits. But then I managed to go down on the twenty-first and stay the night again. Four days of visiting. Pretty good.

February – Sadly, I only made it down there one time, a Saturday, for a day visit. Not sure what was going on that month, though wicked weather seems the most likely explanation.

March – I managed a visit on Saturday, the fourth, and then went again on the 18th, staying the night. So I’m calling that three days of visits.

April – Two visits in April, but on successive Saturdays. (Not sure “successive Saturdays” is logically correct. Only one of them could be successive, right? Sequential, maybe?)

May – I made a day trip on Sunday, the seventh and then an overnight on Sunday and Monday, the 28th and 29th (Memorial Day).

June – One overnight visit, on the 10th and 11th, so two days of visiting. Seems like I should have gotten down there more.

July – This month gave me two visits. One on Saturday the eighth (a full moon, though I didn’t stay the night) and on the last Sunday of the month.

August – Just one trip, on Saturday the nineteenth. Miserably hot that month no doubt.

September – I had an overnight early in the month and then returned for a day trip near the end of the month. Fall is my favorite season in the woods.

October – Another two-visit month, first on the fourteenth and then on the 29th. Not sure why I didn’t manage an overnight.

November – Sadly, I didn’t make a trip at all this month. I remember I spent a long weekend in Kentucky then, and a week long trip to Seattle for Thanksgiving, so I guess I couldn’t find any chance to get to my woods.

December – The first weekend was an overnight trip (where I’m sure I burned something or other) and the second was on a Wednesday, which I recounted in this post.

__________

So I think I told you that among my other afflictions, I have a mild case of synesthesia. I know what color each letter of the alphabet is, and I know the shape of most sounds. (Imagine seeing the music of a symphony!) My older brother has it too, but when we were comparing notes one day we realized that not everyone is like us.

Anyway, I colored the names of each month based on the colors they are in my mind (mostly based on the first letter). October is actually a white word, but that wouldn’t show up against the white background so I left it black. Curiously, I had also done this last year when I made my reckoning, and the colors turned out pretty consistent. Paul is a blue word, and Lamb is a white word, though that letter “m” in it makes it want to be red.

As afflictions go, it’s not so bad.

__________

The photo above is of a round rock sitting in the negative space of another, larger round rock that I had pried from the ground. The smaller rock is about the size of a baseball, which makes the larger rock about the size of a basketball. I have it around here somewhere.