Posted May 25, 2016 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Fathers and Sons

Tags: ,

I was just lacing up to go for a run (82 degrees, 55% humidity) when my phone chirped and told me I had an email. It was an acceptance letter for my story “Runaway.” The publication is called Aethlon, a print journal that is interested in the intersection of literature and sports. “Runaway” is one of my Fathers and Sons stories, and I’m particularly proud of it because it was my first attempt to bring running into a story. I’d shopped it around a few places, but I had about given up on it in part because I was beginning to think the stories ought to just stay focused on being a collection rather than individual pieces here and there. I had submitted it to this magazine in February, prior to my thoughts on no longer submitting them.

So I have to do a little formatting to the document but no rewriting. I’ll get that done quickly and send it back to the editor. Then I’ll find something else to pay attention to because it looks as though the edition my story will appear in won’t be out until the end of the year.

I’m sure I’ll babble about this more as things develop.

’69 Chevy Camaro

Posted May 23, 2016 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Fathers and Sons, Uncategorized


Usually on Fridays afternoons, if the weather is decent, I drive my two dogs to a not-so-nearby park and we walk around the lake. I take quiet neighborhood streets to get there, and often, when we pass a certain house, I see a man either in his garage or on his driveway, working on a vintage truck he is evidently restoring. Slowly restoring.

When I was a wee lad, there was a neighbor down the street who had a 1969 Camaro, and though I could not drive and was years from being legally able to, I fell in love with that car. I would cup my hands before my face and press against the window to peer inside, imagining myself in the driver’s seat, tooling along and feeling fine.

Later in life, I fell in love with a particular woman, and her father had an old ’69 Camaro (even the light metallic blue color I wanted) that he was keeping running for one of his other daughters. When it came time to get rid of that car, (after I had married that woman) I considered buying it and fulfilling my long-held dream. But it was a mess mechanically, and I knew even less about engines and such than I do about writing. I discussed it with my own father, and he said that it would likely end up in my garage, taking up space, siphoning my wallet, and causing more frustration than satisfaction. Money was tight. Responsibilities were large. Time was short. I did not buy that Camaro, and I suspect to this day that was the right decision.

Which leads me to my Fathers and Sons stories. I’m in perpetual rewrite mode with them now. I read and I tinker and I get inspiration and go back and do it some more. And I think about that man restoring his truck or me with that broken-down Camaro. How much longer will I/must I work on these stories? When will I feel like I can let them go and send them to a good friend who offered to read them? To begin — gulp! — submitting them as a whole? Or are they going to remain permanently in the garage of my mind, always being improved but never being finished?


“Been Lonely So Long”

Posted May 16, 2016 by Paul Lamb
Categories: short stories

My story “Been Lonely So Long” has come out in The Nassau Review. Unless you’re a subscriber, though, you won’t be able to read it since it is in print only. This is not a Fathers and Sons story; it is one that just “came to me” one day, and then I worked on it for maybe half a year before I felt I had it right.


Posted May 12, 2016 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Uncategorized

You may remember that I am reading the novels of Iris Murdoch in sequence. I’m currently reading The Bell (for the third time) and enjoying it a great deal. Some say it is her most approachable novel. In any case, the more versed you are in mythology, Plato, Buddhism, and the like, the more deeply you can appreciate her novels. To that end, I bought myself a nice reading copy of The Metamorphoses, written by Ovid. My intent was to read all of these myths and become a better Murdoch reader as a result. I acquired it last fall, and I haven’t gotten through the introduction yet.

But never mind about that.

One of the stories that has always interested me is that of Daphne, a nymph who was being pursued by the rapacious, salacious Apollo. About to be subdued, she begs for deliverance from various sources (her father, who is a river god, and others) and is transformed into a laurel tree.

And so much for today’s mythology lesson. What interests me is how this transformation has been depicted in art through the ages.



You get the idea.

It’s fascinating (to me, anyway) what the sources of these myths are, how the ancients understood their worlds by telling these stories. What seems consistent in these depictions is that Daphne is transformed in an upright position. What might have inspired that understanding?

I think those are all bogus, PG-13 depictions and that the real inspiration for this myth was something a bit more . . . graphic. Behold this tree in a park not far from my house:


nuf sed?

wherever I was

Posted May 10, 2016 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic

Hello again. Sorry I was away for so long. It wasn’t my intent, but time just slips away.

I have no great news on the writing side of my endeavors. I’ve been tinkering with my Fathers and Sons stories, and I’ve been making notes on a couple of other stories, but I haven’t taken/made/stolen the time to put any real effort into any of it. (I’ve been getting some insights — where do these come from? — about how to integrate the stories, how to carry certain themes and motifs through them, and I can see that I really need to commit to doing them right, which means . . . hard work!) But I think I’m in recovery mode right, having told myself that the stories are now written and soon will need to be rewritten. So a break. Perhaps. Or maybe I’m just a lazy bum.

I spent four days around Mother’s Day weekend in Paducah, Kentucky visiting with my mother, my aunt, and my sister. Everything was low key. Too much eating. Too much sitting around. Too many excuses not to get out and run. There was actually a half marathon there that weekend (on mostly flat ground, too) that I had been considering for a while. But my runs in the week prior were dreadful, embarrassing things, and I knew I didn’t have a half marathon in me over the weekend. (Still recovering from that marathon in St. Louis. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.) So I didn’t sign up. I did, however, lace up and run to the start (about three miles from my mother’s condo) to watch the pack take off. That was a mistake since it made me regret not participating and made me chide myself for not being able to participate. Next year!

While at my mother’s, I took an evening to go through the many, many photo albums she has, looking for a particular photo of myself. I mentioned in this earlier post about one of my characters finding a photo of his father in his grandfather’s albums and being greatly affected by it. And then I realized that there was a similar photo of me in the real world. So I knew that when I went to Paducah, I would be in search of that photo. My mother doubted that she still had it and had even made a preliminary search for it. But there it was. I have no memory of the matter depicted in this photo, just as none of the characters in my story have any memory of it. Both of us were tiny boys at the time. But I do love the serendipity.

So the coming days stand before me. I managed to get the lawn mowed before the forecasted thunderstorms. I’m hoping to get out to my little cabin in the woods on Saturday. More writing work. More running. Whatever.

chronology of my Fathers and Sons stories

Posted April 22, 2016 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Fathers and Sons

So on my day off yesterday, between creeping about the upstairs of my house and fighting off the sleepiness (I guess I really did have some affliction) I worked out the chronology of my Fathers and Sons stories, assigning a month and year to each based on age cues I had written in to them.

The (19) stories span the years 1968 to 2013. In that time, a man has a new son, that son has a new son, and that son has reached the age where he could have a new son. Each story is supposed to be able to stand alone, but taken together, I think they do a good job of telling the life stories of these three men, at least for the time we get to see them.

What I was specifically looking for by doing the chronology (aside from any anachronisms) were any large gaps in the narrative that perhaps needed to be filled with another story. In some cases, one story follows another by only a month. Most gaps are only one or two years long. But there is a nine-year gap in one case, fairly early in the chronology.

I’m not sure what to do about that. I don’t think it’s a bad thing per se. I don’t think it is calling out to be filled, and I don’t think any important character developments are missing that could be addressed there with a new story. (This, however, may be my story-telling fatigue asserting itself; I really would like to be finished with the Fathers and Sons cycle.)

I have an idea for a story. It would showcase different approaches to parenting, and I have notes for it. Plus I have thousands of words of notes for the other stories that I never used. I think I could write a filler story. But I worry that it would be just that: filler. My intent is not to contrast parenting styles; it is to tell the stories of these three characters.

Nailing down the chronology was an important step before the major rewrite (based on the narrator epiphany I had) could begin. Many of the stories include flashbacks and memories, and it may be that in the rewrites I’ll find ways to include more of this to address that gap period (and another of six years). Or not. The integrity of the stories is what will guide my fingers across the keyboard.

sick leave (I think)

Posted April 21, 2016 by Paul Lamb
Categories: Ramblings Off Topic, Running

Home today from the office, possibly sick. I came home yesterday after work and immediately fell onto the couch, fully dressed, with a heavy blanket over me, shivering. Every muscle in my body ached. I subsequently slept for 12 hours straight. I woke this morning exhausted and spacey, but I didn’t have any typical cold symptoms. (I had my flu shot earlier, and I don’t think I’ve been exposed to anything anyway.)

So rather than dragging my sorry self into the office only to likely leave early, I just stayed home. (I think they can survive without me for a day.)

I suspect my affliction is actually some sort of delayed fatigue response to the marathon more than ten days ago. It was a horrible run for me (and all my fault, a combination of inadequate training and foolish fueling), and I think I’d been pushing myself through my days since then without getting sufficient rest. (Also, some tough gym sessions.) And then it all caught up with me. Muscle aches and sleeping for 12 hours (absent of any head cold symptoms) suggest fatigue rather than sickness. I intend to try a long-ish run on Saturday to assess my status. They say you should rest one week for each mile you run after a marathon. “Rest” is an ambiguous word in this usage. I don’t think it literally means stop running, put your feet up, and drink a lot of beer, though maybe for the first few days immediately after. Rather, the rest is more likely just a much easier exercise schedule, with slowly increasing levels for 26 days.

After the Kansas City Marathon last fall I literally took off the next two months, running little more than 30 miles in that time. And I paid for it in St. Louis, so I can’t slack now given I have New York in November.

And so I am home today. My intent is to fool around with my stories since this windfall of free time. Though I may take a nap as well.

Update at mid-day: I am holed up in my writing room upstairs. My wife is downstairs with Emmett, Emmett’s mom, and my sister who is in town for business but stopped by briefly. I am (possibly) sick and shouldn’t infect any of them, especially a 6-week-old baby, but even my presence has not been acknowledged. As far as our guests know, I am at work. And so I try to make as little noise as I can, creeping about, hoping the floor boards do not creak as I pass from one room to the next. I’ve been drinking iced tea all morning, yet I do not dare flush the toilet lest I give away my presence.

I have been fooling with my stories, and I think I’m doing good to them.


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