bits and pieces

I’ve been searching for this rock in my woods for years! I had picked up a block of this purple sandstone and dropped it on another block to see how it would cleave. And then this teardrop revealed itself. Sandstone is a sedimentary rock, so its layers pile up over millennia. Yet at some point a big drop of this other-colored sand had plopped into the purple mix, remained undisturbed, and became part of the eventual rock.

What huge splash event might have caused that? And might there be other such errant teardrops in other rocks in my forest?

The day I made this discovery, we were on the outgoing portion of our hike, and I didn’t want to carry this rock with me the whole way. So I placed it on the east base of a tall tree, thinking I could go back and fetch it for the cabin curiosities another day. I’ve been years searching for it. This is a good time to resume my search since the scrub hasn’t leafed out and the autumn leaves on the ground have settled or blown away. Next trip to the cabin . . .


My writing efforts continue unabated. (You have to be self-motivated in this endeavor. The rewards, if they come at all, are tremendously infrequent.) Since the turn of the year I have written five stories that I think are worthy (including a 6,000-word one that I wrote in two days). That’s a brisk pace for me. Also in that time I have made 40 submissions. Most of these have been of the five stories and a few written before as well as some novel submissions to likely publishers. I also do a great deal of research into likely markets for my work, so even when I’m not writing, I am working. Write/research/submit/repeat! I’ve gotten quite businesslike in my creative world.

In that same month and a half, I have received thirteen rejections, four of which came in one day! I was surprised by that number since I thought it would be twice as many. It seems that every day I get another email telling me a story has been declined, but apparently it only seems so. (Yet, a pleasing number of these rejections have had personal comments of encouragement added to them, so that’s nice!)

This is an apples-to-oranges comparison since many of those rejections were for submissions I had made before the turn of the year. So I can expect a flurry of rejections still to come. Nonetheless, you don’t get rejections unless you make submissions, and you don’t get publication unless you make submissions.


I bought a new pair of running shoes last week. I work out almost exclusively on my treadmill, so my shoes don’t see much pavement, but I could tell they were getting spongy, and my lower joints were sending me signals suggesting I was due for an upgrade. One thing I noticed about my older pair was an odd bit of wear inside the shoe, at the heel beside where the Achilles tendon would rest. A hole had worn through the fabric all the way to the outer surface. It was pronounced on my right shoe and beginning on my left shoe. This seemed like a spot that would get very little wear, so I mentioned it at the running shoe store when I got my new pair. They were familiar with it in this brand, saying several people had reported it. The manufacturer knew of it as well they said. And this reminded me of when I was at the expo for my first marathon (in Portland with my son). I went to the table for my shoe manufacturer and mentioned that the insole tended to slip toward the front of the shoe. The man at the table was familiar with this problem too. (He suggested using double-faced tape.)

I’ve tried various brands of running shoes, and this brand has served me best, so I’m going to stick with it despite it’s bugs. (For all I know, other brands have their known bugs too.) I guess it’s just good to know that they exist so I can watch for them becoming problems.


In addition to writing and research, I’ve been doing a lot of reading lately too. (Essential work for a writer!)

Here are the books I’d read in January:

Oh William by Elizabeth Strout – I’ve read all of her published fiction, and I snapped this one up while in New York (when I worked the water station at the marathon my daughter was running). The writing and human insights were wonderful, but the character referenced was a minor character in another of her novels I had read some time ago, so it was harder for me to connect.

A Man by Keiichiro Hirano – This was a great book for me. I have been trying to read more non-Western literature (coupled with what is available at my library) and this one came up on my search for books about identity. Every single page of this novel has some reference to the many, many ways we identify ourselves. I really recommend this one!

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman – This is apparently a well-known novel in the young adult genre though I had never heard of it. It’s about a teen who is sent to a hospital for people with mental health issues (his being schizo-affective disorder) with alternating chapters of his fantasy/mania trying to understand his “imprisonment” in terms of a sea voyage with untrustworthy authority figures. It’s an achievement, and it pulls together in the end, but I felt lost a lot of the time. (Though maybe that’s part of the point.)

Visible Man by Chuck Klosterman – My first (and likely last) time with Klosterman. It’s about a therapist whose client claims to be able to become invisible so he can watch other people in their lives. Can he really do this or is he hallucinating? And when he demonstrates it for the therapist, does it really happen or is she hallucinating? It got tedious for me and I thought the ending betrayed some of the themes that were being developed through the story.

The Frightened Ones by Dima Wannous – Another attempt to read non-Western literature, this time a novel set in war-torn Syria. Displacement, disease, and death and the toll they take on the humans who must endure it all. This wasn’t a good connect for me, perhaps because I had read Silence is a Sense by Layla Al Ammar several months ago, which did connect. In this novel the protagonist is a Syrian refugee living in England but unable to speak because of the atrocities she suffered.

Disappear Doppelganger Disappear by Matthew Salessas – Another novel about identity, in this case of a Korean-American man who feels he is disappearing because he is not seen as a person. It’s surreal in parts, and it holds together well though I think I need to read more about this subculture to appreciate it better. I heard this book discussed on a podcast and I was mildly interested in it, and when I found it was on the shelf at my local library, I gave it a try.


Explore posts in the same categories: Rants and ruminations

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