About Yes And

Can you please explain this to me? Can you please sit me down in a chair, one that doesn’t face the window, because I’m obviously easily distracted, and use small words, because clearly I’m a bit dim in the “I get it” department, and tell me what is going on?

How can I have 35 likes of a WordPress post but not a single view? How is that possible? Are the views phantom? Are the likes, like, from mice or something? What about dislikes? How… how does that work?

And answer me this, smarty-pants. How is that I can decide that I’m going to create and run what is turning out to be a terrifically labor-intensive website, because, if you’re going to do something, you should do it right, a website that will provide myself with A) a writing platform and 2) a sustainable, recession-proof income, and III) hopefully make possible the same sort of potential for other writers, and yet still think about working on another novel? And, yes, I am aware of that terrible sentence. Got it. Thank you.

And, here I am, thick in the middle (pun intended) of creating Skippity Whistles (please notice the link) and what pops up but an earlier version of Marigold’s End (please notice the link), one that’s clever and charming, and, with a little rewrite, is a lovely work of art? It’s quite good.

Plus, Marigold’s End and this book, The Diary of Phineas Caswell, tell more or less the same story, so you can’t just change the character names and pass it off…

So, now that I’ve decided to create and build Skippity Whistles, committed my writing engine to it lock stock and handlebars, here comes my wife, saying “you should write another sailing novel, one for the adult reader. And here are some character ideas…” My wife has never, EVER, suggested that I write a novel. Actually, that’s not true… and I’m researching the last suggestion she made.

Explain it to me, please? Please? PULEEEEZE?

I know the answer. So do you. But how can you do all these things, plus work a full time job, plus parent a kid through high school, plus carry a major role in a community theater play, and still have hair?

Hermoine from Harry Potter makes copies of herself. So does every lame-brain sitcom scientist, scatterheaded superhero, and magically artificially empowered flunky. Fortunately, those folks are all fictitious.

My wonderful sister the psychologist says Yes And. Yes, I’ll have this And I’ll have that. Why limit yourself? Do both? I do this, yes, and that. If it were both, that’d be okay. In this case it’s I do this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and sleep? No, not that.

In truth, I really want to write another novel. You’re a writer, you know that feeling, when the words just start flowing and you sort out the puzzle of your mind. Nothing, nothing like it.

In truth, I really want to get Skippity Whistles running, because that’s money. While a novel might sell (haven’t so far), this website will.

Above it all, hovering like the Sword of Damocles, is Time. Time the slayer. Time the grayer. Time, the grand equalizer. Every second I dither over what to do is a second lost to eternity, never to be retrieved. Lost. I’ll think about this tomorrow. Time cackles.


How many projects have you started, my friend? I’m terribly proud both of Marigold’s End and Droppington Place (notice the links), not because they are great works of art, but because I finished them. Decided enough is enough, and, having failed to gain the support of a literary agent, published them myself. Done. In the face of Time.

So, you can see the conundrum… Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait… I’ve got it!

Marigold’s End is out there, and has clearly not set the literary world ablaze. Who cares about that book?

The Diary of Phineas Caswell tells a similar story – it can be cleaned up – maybe that will light the torch? Yes, yes that’s a good plan. Okay, that’s solved.  Must every novel be a different story line? Don’t they remake movies?

At the same time, why not work on Skippity Whistles? Play less solitaire, work a little harder. Wait, what?  You’re a writer, you know that blogging and novel writing take different headspaces. Skippity is technical writing, which I do in my sleep (ask my boss).

A new novel? Reworking Phineas won’t take forever. Once that’s done…

Thank you, my friend, thank you. You have helped me sort out this most terrible puzzle.

Now, if you could just explain about the likes…

On Going Big or Going Home

When you were a little kid, remember how exciting it was to think about Christmas morning? All the commotion, the gifts, the noise, the screaming parents. Well, maybe not that one, or the barfing dog, but you understand what I’m saying – the anticipation. Oh, how great it was gonna be…

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You slave your brains out writing the perfect piece, knowing that one day, some day, somebody’s gonna read it and, shabam, say “wow, that was great.” Or something similar.

Surprisingly, or probably not, I’m feeling the same way about my new site, Skippity Whistles. I own the URL, but it’s parked here on WordPress until I get more content into it.

Oh, how great it’s going to be, and how popular, and how many views and likes and subscribers and awards from somebody for what a great and helpful site it is!

Man. I’m going to sit back and sip a sunrise and soak up the success.

But it only has a tiny tick’s worth of content. A speck. Not even any, except two pages. It’s itty bitty.  The gulf between what it is right now and what it’s going to be is sooooooo huge, I’m concerned that I’ll never finish the bridge across it.

Today I got an email from WordPress – hey, why don’t you try our hosting for only $4 a month, and take your site to the next level.

Wait? You mean, for just four bucks a month, I could go BIG? BIG???

OMG! OMG, do you have any idea how much I want to do that? To go to the next level, to run down that runway and leap into the rarified air of successful sites?

Alas. I have no content. The rarified air is too rare. On the ground, stay we must, to quota Yoda. No on the going big. The four dollars must remain in my pocket for a tiny bit longer. Guess I’m stayin’ home…

All enterprises start somewhere, right? You’re writing, right? Waiting for that time when people ask you to write for them, or simply laud you with praise and stuff for what you’ve done…

The secret must be to stay home until your enterprise is of size enough that you can go big. Maybe bigness comes upon you like a fog in the night, and one day you realize it.

Well, here’s to bigness, and not going homeness. And here’s to more content!

Moaning in the Myniverse

Doing what in the wha…?

So, you know how the multiple dimensions available in the quantum realm open the door to multiverses, right? Didn’t you see Antman and The Wasp? The quantum realm – you know, the land of the itty-itty-itty-bitty?

I saw this tweet – it was a tweet, so I know it’s true – that if you compressed all of the matter in all of humanity super tight, you could fit us all, 7.3 billion of us, into an apple. And not the Big Apple, either. Maybe, like, a granny smith or something.

What? Well, you know the orbits of the various subatomic particles, protons, electrons, jimmy neutrons, are enormously huge. When you get inside those particles, break ’em down, the distances, although tiny, get even huger, uh, more huge. If you stood on a quark, it would be just like standing on the earth – at that scale, looking at the other bodies around you, the other quarks, muons, morons, and stuff, would be like looking at the stars. Because the distances between those things are vast, even though the scale is so, so tiny.

At that level, there is a likelihood of multiple universes occupying the same territory, but in different dimensions – the multiverse. Because the multiverses probably exist down there, we must logically experience them up here, at jumbo scale.

Well, that’s fine. You experience things the way you want – actually, the way you have to, because the engineering in your brain only allows you one set of perceptors – and I’ll experience things the way I want.

Fine. In fact, because you perceive things the way you do, it could be said that you live in your own yourniverse. See that? Clever, huh? Hey, you, in your yourniverse! That’s fun.

I can call to you across the multiverses, because I’m in my own universe – it’s a myniverse. You have a myniverse, too, but it’s not mine, it’s yours. It’s yourniverse.

We all see blue sky, but we all see it just a tiny tick different from each other, because we each have our own set of sensors, and they are not identical. How could they be? You have a universal set of truths based on your sensors, on your input, which is similar, but different from mine. In fact, we only agree in principle on things, because we can’t ever see the same details. Therefore, the sky is blue, a little more for you, a little less for me, but, sure, blue. Why not.

So myniverse sits right alongside yourniverse. And the person next to you, your significant other, the dog, the spider under your chair, they all live in their own yourniverses. They have to – it’s how the universe works.

If this seems like babble, it is. I crashed into it because I’m behind schedule in every major endeavor in my life, and I’m feeling the stress of time. Ah, time. Don’t get me started.

If occurred to me that the universe doesn’t care about time. The universe can’t, because it’s cold and protracted and, if it was a living organism that cared about each and every one of us, well, how could it? and beyond that, what? The universe doesn’t care. When you toss a rock into the ocean you hear it go skadoonk, but then you’re done with it. It creates waves and ripples and displaces stuff when it hits the bottom and creates a huge nuisance to the system that was there before it, but you don’t care. How can you? The universe is like that. A landslide wipes out a herd of sheep. Yes, and?

But I feel the pressure of time, and the pressure to be creative, and the need to accomplish so many, many things. But that’s not the universe – it’s the myniverse. The universe I’ve created around myself, just like you and yourniverse. The realities there are different from the universe itself, because we made them.

You’re a writer. You know how it goes. You try things out, wear them for awhile and see if they fit. You have to think. Explore. Play.

Say, for griggles and gins, that the yourniverse/myniverse dealio is for real. I think that’s pretty cool. You control your universe – how you perceive and deal with what happens, what’s shoved in from the outside, from the other dimensions, that’s all up to you. You are in control. Best of all, the universe, the one we all agree to live in, doesn’t care. It’s all up to you!

In fact, the myniverse (mine) is pretty whup-ass. Think about it. In the myniverse, I’ve written two books, available here, and am building this interesting website, here. Beyond that, I’ve been able to reach across the electron stream separating our two universes, and have this chat with you.

Thank you for spending the time to visit this corner of the myniverse. I’d like to visit yourniverse someday.

I’ll, uh, have another one of those brownies, if you don’t mind… I’m so hungry!

Getting Past the Past

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. Your job is to tell a compelling story that engages your reader.

Invariably, and inevitably, that story is about the past. You even tell it in the past tense. Like a good joke, you can’t tell it in the future tense: a priest, a rabbi and a duck will go into a bar…

But here’s a funny thought. The past upon which you draw for your epic work is easy soup. Easy soup, my friend, that takes no thought and no effort to either create or consume. Creating the past is kinda done for you, and you can’t help that. Revisiting the past, either by conscious choice or sudden memory, is just about as easy. Remember that time when Uncle Bob dropped the reindeer head into the soup tureen?

But the past can also be an anchor. It can be a seditious, infinitely heavy drag on everything you do, every thought you have, and every piece you write. When you find yourself thinking “this is how it’s always done,” you’re feeling the anchor tug on the hawser of your creativity. When you see a blog post start with the words “You’re a writer, you know how it goes,” you know the author is tethered to the bottom of sea of time, with no hope of sailing free.

When you find yourself thinking “this is how it’s always done,” you’re feeling the anchor tug on the hawser of your creativity. When you see a blog post start with the words “You’re a writer, you know how it goes,” you know the author is tethered to the bottom of sea of time, with no hope of sailing free.

In the sailing days, if your ship was anchored and you needed to get away quick, you would cut the hawser. Raising the anchor and hoisting it inboard took a long time, but cutting the anchor cable only took a couple of minutes. A few minutes of whuffa-whuffa-whuffa-whuf with the saw and then you were free.

To be a writer, even a writer about the future, you draw upon your past. You relive it with every single word you write.

So, how do you cut that hawser in your life and sail off to a new horizon? And, do you want to? Aye, cap’n, that’s the rub. How ever, then, do you break free? How ever are you to move unfettered into the future, leaving the vast anchor of your past embedded in the mud of the sea floor? How ever can you even envision a tomorrow with no yesterday.

How ever, then, do you break free? How ever are you to move unfettered into the future, leaving the vast anchor of your past embedded in the mud of the sea floor? How ever can you even envision a tomorrow with no yesterday.

Certainly the answer lies in moderation, in making the past your servant, not your master. The answer lies, perhaps, in letting out more line, sailing even farther away from it, but never quite cutting it loose.

Even as every second slips into the past, there’s no way to delete what was from what is. I don’t suppose that’s even a worthy goal.

Just once, once, I would like to smell bacon on the wind and just enjoy the flavor, without thinking of holiday breakfasts and other times.

But, then, I wonder: what would that flavor be?

Death of Some Salesmen

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You published the book, and it just sits there, doing nothing except get annoying because…well, because nobody’s reading it.

So, if you’re like me, you make the most of your marketing might to move many readers over to take a look. But, if you’re like me, you don’t have much marketing might, because you subscribe to the Gorilla Marketing precept of doing nothing in hopes of big returns.

To that end, I once had this theory I called Castanets – you cast a million website posts, knowing that they’ll get read by somebody, and some small percentage of those somebodies will follow a breadcrumb trail over to Smashwords and read you book (Did you see how I did that? Led you right over to my book, didn’t I? Dang. That’s just clever.). Castanets – cast the nets, get it? It’s okay. Nobody else did, either.

I now subscribe to the Georgia Theory that says “that dog don’t hunt.”

To that end I hacked away two nets, killing two of my salesepeople for poor performance. Boom. Away with my Droppington Place WordPress site. Boom. Away with my PhineasCaswell site. If you are looking for them, good luck. Actually, if you are looking for them, let me buy you a cigar, for you are surely the only person on the planet doing so!

Consolidating. Reining in. Pulling up stakes. Something like that.

Instead, I’ve got a new basket into which I’ve put all my eggs: Skippity Whistles. Oh, it’s small now, but, you watch. One of these days it’ll be bigger than, well, bigger than those sites I dumped!

The message for you, my writer friend, is that you should focus on writing your books, and leave casting nets to fishermen.

Hey, Fred!

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You create, create, create, and some of it’s pretty good.

I got this new idea. Actually, my wife got the idea, and I’m going along with it. Actually, I got the idea quite some time ago, and she shot it down, rediscovered the idea on her own, and, well, I’m going along with it.

Here’s the challenge: how to build a recession-proof, age-proof, forever available platform to publish your own work? How do you find independence from the 9-to-5 grind (hit it, Dolly), help the world, and enjoy life?

Enter SkippityWhistles.Wordpress.Com. It’s only parked at WordPress until I have enough content on it to launch it with its own URL, but it’s there.

See, I’m a technical writer by trade, and coming along as a technical illustrator. Really I’m a videographer… this all just gets so confusing. So, why not make videos to help people of a certain age – okay, Millennials. Yeah. I said it. – negotiate old-school technical challenges for which they are generally unprepared. Like changing a tire. Or, the premiere post on Skipp… you can see the link above, switching out a light fixture. Not world saving, but helpful.

Because, although I have all those writing titles, the one that really sticks is Dad.

So, why is there a sort of dorky PDF instead of a video? Because I’m trying out PDF formats, and haven’t quite gotten my video studio together enough to handle the quality of video I want to produce. You asked. I answered.

Will this make money? Am I quitting the job at the quarry? Will it sell copies of my books, Droppington Place and Marigold’s End? I have no answers, but this one: maybe.

Fred Flintstone would be proud.




No Step, No Journey

You’re a writer, you know how it goes. You think up an idea, you jot some notes, you toss it into a drawer somewhere…a drawer labeled whenever. If you’re like me, things go into the drawer, but never seem to come back out.

I have a huge, mondo-sized, drawer overflowing with ideas, all labeled “whenever.”

Worse is that other drawer, the one packed with projects that I started but then abandoned. That’s the Drawer of Embarrassment, the hidden, secret drawer

Embarrassing because every project in it is an excellent example of my inability to commit, or, worse, my inability to concentra…squirrel!

As years go by, each drawer accumulates more and more stuff – ideas, half-baked projects, boxes of pieces of things that were going to be great. I have no less that four great novels in the Drawer of Embarrassment, along with a screenplay for a film, some podcast test runs, and an attempted audio book. Not to mention all the model ship-building and technical writing first-step examples. Oh, it’s full.

And now, another endeavor. And now, a new idea that takes more moxie, more creative willpower, more innovation and project management than anything I’ve ever done.

I call it Plan 2024. It’s a website. It’s a how-to guide. It’s an educational powerhouse. It’s a green-planet manual. And it’s more than all that. It’s a hare-brained scheme, an epic amount of work, a most-likely waste of time.

But it’s also a way to give back, a way to to give useful instruction in combatting the real ills of our way of life.

Which makes it a gamble, and a mission, and a cool project with potentially huge payout.

As of today, I’m re-labeling the Drawer of Embarrassment as Former Projects. I’ll sift through it once more and see if there’s anything in there that applies to this new project.

As of today, the past is in the past and tomorrow lies just one step away.

And so, the journey begins…