Category Archives: writing

You Be The Judge

I entered this “How To” Writing Contest recently. I’m supposed to pick the three – I assume not including my own – that I like the best by next Tuesday. So, what I’m requesting is for you to tell me what YOU think is best; I’ll compare it with the five I’ve winnowed it down to. Please let me know what you think by Monday, September 24 at 9 pm Eastern Time. There’s only one “lock” in my mind – do you want to guess which one? – so feel free to try to persuade me.

ROG

Monday pontificating

Via Jaquandor:

1. If there were no blogs, what would you be doing right now?

I found this question utterly fascinating, maybe because it hit a nerve. Before I was blogging, I was kvetching about the fact that I wasn’t writing or expressing my opinions and that I was missing out on recording stuff about Lydia, which, I knew, I would someday forget. So, if I weren’t blogging, I would be kvetching about the fact that I wasn’t writing or expressing my opinions…
On the other hand, I might be caught up on watching TV taped programs, and I’d certainly be more up-to-date with my weekly periodicals reading.

Incidentally, I cleaned up my blogroll this weekend, moving some links to my work blog, deleting a couple, and adding a couple, such as Anthony Velez’s The Dark Glass, mostly because I was tired of having to go there via Lefty. I’ve put a few folks under the uninterestingly-titled Other Interesting Folks. If you have suggestions for adds, or if you want to be added, moved, or deleted from the blogroll, you know where to find me.

2. If you had to spend one year living alone in a remote cabin, what would you spend your time doing?

OK, this depends heavily on what technologies are available. Will I have a computer? Internet connectivity? Assuming that, I would be catching up on reading those aforementioned magazines, then tackle the books. Alternating with writing two books, one a roman a clef about churches, choirs and ministers; choir people can be really strange folks. The other would be a history of the first 10 years of FantaCo.

Of course, listening to music and watching movies and stuff on DVD.

Now, if we’re talking really rustic, with no electricity, still doing the reading, maybe writing by hand. And slowly going: Stark. Raving. Bonkers.

3. If you could go back in time, what one piece advice would you give yourself?

Depends on the time frame:
Me at 16: you’re working in a library. You LIKE working in a library. Consider this as a career. You’re not cut out to be a lawyer.
Me at 24: no, you won’t be celibate forever.
There are plenty of others.

4. “If you really knew me you would know that…”

You should run away as quickly as possible.
***

You Are 24% Weirdo

You’re a little weird, but you’d be even weirder if you didn’t have a few quirks.
You are just strange enough to know it, but nobody else seems to notice your weirdness.
That’s because, deep down, everyone is a little freaky!

***
Merv Griffin died yesterday of prostate cancer, the disease that, as it happened, killed my father. Not only was Merv a popular talk show host, but he created both Wheel of Fortune and JEOPARDY! Most importantly, he wrote the JEOPARDY! theme:

***
ADD’s dreams, one of which features, of all people, me. BTW, the Daredevil Chronicles had the greater print run, but that’ll all become clear later this month.

ROG

The writing process

I went to see the author Joseph E. Persico last Saturday afternoon at the Albany Public Library. It seems reasonable that I would have mentioned the event on this blog BEFOREHAND, given the fact that the Friends of the Albany Public Library was co-sponsoring the event, and that I’m on the Friends BOARD. My only excuse is that I was out of town for several days and lost track until the night before the event.

In any case, Persico has been writing for over a quarter century. His current book is Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day, 1918, World War I and Its Violent Climax. He stated that more people died on that last half day of the Great War, for no particular strategic purpose, than died on D-Day (June 6, 1944) in World War II.

Persico talked about the process of researching and writing his books, which I found instructive in writing this blog.

While working on My Enemy, My Brother: Men and Days of Gettysburg (1996), he sought to pin down who fired the first shot in this pivotal Civil War battle. He believed he’d finally found the answer. He brought this to a gentleman at the Gettysburg Memorial who had provided invaluable assistance. The gentleman replied, “That’s one version.”
I’m going to try to get it right, but some of it is all but irretrievable, even my own history, where memory blurs and fails. I’ll try to do my best to get it right, especially re: JEOPARDY! and FantaCo, but I cannot swear it’ll be definitive.

Persico interviewed Charles Collingsworth, one of “Murrow’s Boys” for Edward R. Murrow: An American Original (1988). At one point Collingsworth asked him to shut off the tape recorder, which Persico did. Collingsworth then told of Murrow’s affair with Winston Churchill’s daughter-in-law, Pamela Churchill (later Pamela Harriman), which almost wrecked Murrow’s marriage. Persico decided that Collingsworth wanted him to have the story, but didn’t want people to know that the information came from the now late newsman. Persico used the information in the book.
I want to put in as much as comfortably possible. Some might be embarrassing, (even to me.)

As a speechwriter for the former New York State Governor and US Vice-President, Persico had unusual access to Nelson Rockefeller. The author was waiting for Rocky to finish a lengthy meeting with black housing leaders. Finally, the exhausted official collapsed into a chair, looking haggard, and exclaimed, “Amos ‘n’ Andy got it right.” (For those of you too young to understand the reference, Amos ‘n’ Andy was a controversial radio and television program in the 1940s and 1950s.) Persico wrote this comment down at the time. He put it in the first draft of his book The Imperial Rockefeller: A Biography of Nelson A. Rockefeller, then took it out, then put it back in, ultimately leaving it out. He decided that the then-governor lashed out in frustration that was out of character, and would provide a distorted view of the man.
Re: the blog, I may decide not to tell (for now) some stories.

In that same book he had to deal with how Rocky died. He was with a 22-year old assistant that Persico knew. Not to mention it would have made it “look like the book was authorized by the Rockefeller Foundation.” He told the tale succinctly, never mentioning the woman’s name (nor did he mention Megan Marshack by name in his talk.)
One can get to the truth sometimes without being TOO explicit.

Persico co-authored Colin Powell’s autobiography, My American Journey. He believes his most important jobs were to keep in what was interesting to a broad audience, and to delete what was not. In Powell’s case, the general wanted to put in a couple sentences about his two tours of Vietnam. Persico found this not practical, given its import in American life. Conversely, Powell was a policy wonk, very proud of a report he had made. Persico argued that the audience would not be as interested in this story as he was, and the story was excised.
I’ll try not to use too much insider language.

Anyways, I enjoyed the talk, though I was troubled briefly that he thought I was there ONLY because I was on the Friends board. I do wish that more folks were present. It WAS a lovely Saturday afternoon outside, though, and that is tough competition in a spring that has been unseasonably cool and wet.

Gerber, baby

Steve Gerber, writer of fine comic books such as Man-Thing and Howard the Duck (but don’t blame the movie on him!), wrote in his inaugural blog on April 4, 2005:

“I make my living as a writer. There is only one characteristic that distinguishes writers from non-writers: writers write. (That’s why there’s no such thing as an “aspiring writer.” A writer can aspire to sell or publish, but only non-writers aspire to write.) Anyway, writing for a living requires writing every day. Writing every day requires discipline. Discipline requires enforcement.
“I’ve lost the habit of writing every day. I need discipline. I need enforcement. You’re looking at it.
“I intend to post something on this blog every day. If I fail to do so, that failure will be very public, and I’ll be embarrassed by it. I don’t enjoy being embarrassed. So maybe, just maybe, making this obligation will help transform me into a habitual writer again.”

But I’m not so disciplined.

Besides, Thursdays are LONG day during the church year:
Get up and keep Lydia company (read: distracted) until Carol showers and dresses
Get dressed and go play racquetball
Go to work
Go to Bible study
Go home and take out the garbage

It’s pretty much a 16 hour slog. But when choir’s off for the summer, I’m eager to get back into it.

Like I’ll do with this blog…tomorrow.