Monday, September 28, 2015

Bits & Pieces

Sometimes writers can--just like sports teams or race cars--find themselves "running hot". Momentum, clarity, or even perseverance can all play in part in the streak. 

Over the past two months I've learned the value of patience and revision, especially as it pertains to essays, short stories and poems. I've had several short stories that have found their way into print, including one romance story, "The Tall Girl's Wedding", and a quirky piece of flash fiction that I entitled, "The Tall Man".  (The "tall" in the titles is purely coincidence.)

Last week I also learned that a Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine in London will be publishing my science fiction story, "The Superannuated Man"--a story that I've worked on for some years now and rewrote from top to bottom a few months ago. I knew it was a good story, I just had to perfect the tone, pace, and point of view. 

And as for essays, a few upcoming book reviews top the list and I also wrote an outdoor article about fishing for Sheep-heads.  While I don't personally fish for the dang things, I spent an afternoon earlier this summer watching some teenagers haul them in . . . and I took photos and conducted interviews on the spot. (This was during vacation, so I broke my vow to Becky that I would not do any writing away from home . . . but she'll never know since she doesn't read this blog and certainly won't see the article.)

Finally, a few poems forthcoming in various literary and university journals, including The Lyric

All in all . . . a rather productive summer for short pieces. Well on my way to having more than 100 essays published for 2015.  Now if I can just finish my science fiction novella and my essay about funeral eulogies . . . in addition to the books . . . I might be able to eat that ham sandwich.  

Thursday, September 24, 2015

By the Numbers

Not long ago someone asked me:  "How many sermons have you preached?"

"Offhand," I responded, "I don't know."  But the question intrigued me and so I set off on a hunt through my files, my history, and my shoddy memory to arrive at a number. However, I quickly bumped up against some roadblocks. Words--and their creation--are indeed elusive commodities. 

My search for sermon fodder also took me on other side trips through the far country of word-land, and before I knew it, I was making lists and columns and screaming at my wife:  "Where's the calculator?"

(She reminded me that I have one on my cell phone and another on the computer I'm using right now . . . but again, I forget these things.  I'm still hunting for the slide rule I used in high school and I nearly flunked calculus.)

Nevertheless, I did eventually arrive at some neatly crafted columns. I'm not sure what these numbers say about me, but I do know that they represent a huge portion of my life--a life spent, often, crafting these things early in the morning or late at night. I cannot begin to estimate the hours represented by them . . . but here they are:

1700 sermons written
3000+ sermons preached
30+ books published
100+ books written 
700+ published essays/stories
125 published poems
500+ poems written

As far as other stats go, these might be of interest to some:

5 (number of sermons my wife said were "good")
1000+ (number of times my wife has heard me preach)
2 (number of my books my wife has read)
0 (number of my short stories my wife has read)
0 (number of my books my son has read)
0 (number of my books my son says he will read someday)
0 (number of my books I have read after publication)
12 (number of sermons my parents have heard me preach)
1000+ (number of blog posts I have written)
0 (number of my blog posts my wife has read)
300+ (number of romantic poems written to my wife)
7 (number of romantic poems my wife says are "good")
0 (number of my love poems that produced "results")

As you can see, living life by the numbers is no fun. I'm not a mathematician. I'm not an engineer. I'm not even an author. I'm a writer. 

But every time I do the numbers, life doesn't add up.