I do not like to compare myself to other writers. It still happens inadvertently. But I still don’t like doing it. At this stage of my evolution, I feel it is simply not a good practice; my concern is that matching my abilities against those not as skilled will lead to complacency and a bit of an undeserved ego rush (both debilitating in their own ways), and acknowledging how far behind I am against the more advanced writers could very easily conjure up impatience and frustration towards my own development (also debilitating). Don’t misinterpret…I’ll always glean ideas and advice about how to up my writing game from those whose works I enjoy, but I stop short at the comparison game for the simple reason that the very act is too close to self-praise for my tastes. I would rather have somebody else sing those songs on my behalf.

Not too long ago, one of my beta readers insisted that my science fiction world building skills were worthy of mention in the same sentence as Vernor Vinge. Having read Vinge, I don’t agree with the claim at all, but the compliment let me know that I (at least in the eyes of one person) was on the right track towards strengthening an extremely important story telling skill…which, of course, put a smile on my face.

Admittedly, though, this practice of basking in the praise of others opens me up to a potential problem. In the words of the late great Jim Hendrix:

”…and I don’t like compliments…they distract me.”

I enjoy hearing someone tell me my (pick a part of my writing game) is on par with (pick an established writer). My concern here is that, if I’m not careful, I will start interpreting today’s compliments as a validation that I have already succeeded in my writing goals…which could lead to me pausing (or outright ceasing) any improvement efforts I would have made tomorrow…which will no doubt lead to me becoming stagnant, and, consequently, ending up sitting in a puddle of apathy while watching my writing skills and output shrivel and die.

That’s the trap I believe Mr. Hendrix was referring to.

But I brought my own circumnavigation to the game. My goal is to be a better writer tomorrow than I am today. More towards the topic of validity, I want to keep hearing compliments for as long as I write. So, before I become too lethargic from excessive basking, I use that compliment’s jolt of adrenaline as motivation to make myself even better tomorrow than what a single reader thinks I am now. Here’s how I put that philosophy into play: later during the same day I was treated to that generous world building compliment, I grabbed a copy of Vinge’s “A Fire Upon the Deep” to find out why someone thinks I’m at that level, then used my observations and my interpretations of his having created a world and species that were so radically different than anything I’d seen before as my motivation to create worlds and species that would give others a reason to offer me equivalent praises. Essentially, I drew motivation from someone’s ability to accomplish something impressive, not his/her actual accomplishments.

Ultimately, I’m striving to hear people tell me that the stories I create today are better than those I created the last time they read something of mine.

I will gladly allow myself a moment of distraction for something like that.

Then, I’ll get right back to work on the skills and the stories that will allow me to hear that same kind of compliment sometime in the future.

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NaNoWriMo 2014: Yep, I’m Participating!

After several years of sidestepping, I’ve finally decided to dive head-first into NaNoWriMo!

For the uninitiated, NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is an event where writers of any skill level (even people who don’t really don’t consider themselves writers) will create a novel of at least 50K words during the month of November. Editing isn’t important. Polishing and getting it ready for submission isn’t ready. That stuff comes later. For the purposes of NaNoWriMo, it’s all about getting that first draft COMPLETED!

During the course of the next month and a half, I’ll post my thoughts and experiences…and maybe even an untampered excerpt or two (with the exception of correcting the inevitable misspellings).

Stay tuned!

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Shelf of the Banned

Saw this unbelievable site at a local library…

Thanx to the gang at the Bull Run Regional Library (Manassas VA) for allowing me the leniency of photographing their display without calling the police on me for ‘suspicious activities.’

Who would have ever believed that we’d see “Streetcar Named Desire,” “The Autobiography of Malcolm X,” and a Captain Underpants book on the same banned shelf….?! The Moral Police must be going nuts.

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Allergic to the Cure

If I were to enter a new profession, it would be as an allergist. That way, I could somehow—hopefully—discover the reason why so many people have such debilitating reactions to hearing and speaking THE TRUTH.

I could stand to make billions!

More than likely, though, I’d go broke because most people would be allergic to the cure.

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Game On! The Plural Edition

Late September / early October is a great time for sports fans like me. Plenty of things going on!


The Washington Capitals start their 2014-2015 campaign on October 9. My emotions from of last season are off-center because the Capitals didn’t make the playoffs for the first time in seven seasons. To right the ship, the Capitals have hired a new coach and upgraded the defense…among other things. We shall see soon enough if those changes make a worthy enough difference to get the Capitals back into the postseason…but, I was planning on watching as many of the games as I can, anyway.


The Washington Redskins are making me happy that the University of Maryland football team is doing so well.


And, speaking of the Terrapins…anyone who was nervous that their move to the Big Ten Conference was equal to a sheep accepting an invitation to a wolf’s dinner party can rest assured. At least, for a few more days. They smacked their first B1G opponent, Indiana, last Saturday, 37-15, so we Terrapins fans are starting to feel fairly good about our team.

But, we all know how that sort of thing works. The Terrapins play host to Ohio State this weekend in my home town. I originally said this game was going to represent a “bloodletting,” but the euphoria from last weekend’s game is convincing me to believe the Terrapins will make a serious run at an upset.

But, the realist in me says I’ll believe it when I see it.

And, then I will celebrate it.


I haven’t watched a NASCAR race in I can’t remember how long. But, just as I was starting to convince myself it was because I’m usually wall-to-wall busy on Sundays, I realized I haven’t been paying attention to the WRC, either.

Have I lost my taste for racing?

Not permanently. Consider: the vast majority of my most recent behind-the-wheel time has been spent running errands and shuttling people back and forth and going places I don’t really want to go, rather than just driving for fun. So, based on that, I’ve decided that, once I return to my regularly scheduled vehicular romps, I will find my way back to watching cars that are much faster than mine.

Sounds reasonable to me.


The Baltimore Orioles begin their playoff series this Thursday against the Detroit Tigers. Normally, I go with the old adage that tells us: pitching and defense wins playoff games. But, when you have the type of offense the O’s have, I’m looking forward to a lot of traffic on the base paths.


Games on!

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Banned Books By The Numbers

For those against censorship, and those who believe everyone has a right to read what they want, the following link is worth checking out:

Banned Books By The Numbers

Somebody laughed the other day when I said I would be happy to find one of my books included in some sort of censorship statistic. It would prove (to me, at the very least) that I’m writing as a free thinking, not as a sheep.

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How To Be A Writer – The Digital Board Game

I found this web site, and decided to share it with everyone.

How To Be A Writer

On my first play, despite falling into the “Twitter hole” (which is unrealistic, since I haven’t used Twitter in years…I figured they meant “Facebook hole,” which I would more likely agree with), and having suffered a “crisis of confidence” (I’ve been there before, unfortunately), I still scored a 63, and received the ranking: Shakespeare – a writer for the ages!

I decided to play it again, and took a much more frantic pace across the game board, which included landing on the “read,” “write,” and “revise” squares multiple times (a closer result to my current reality). In the end, I ended up with only 24 points, and the ranking: You’re Ayn Rand: You have some avid fans, but even more critics.

Curious. In this physical realm, I very much am privileged to have a handful of fans that enjoy my works. Except, I only have two (that I am aware of) true critics.

It occurred to me that my count of both fans and critics would go up if I would spend a little less time on the “revise” square.

Definitely worth the gamble.

For all you writers out there (and even those who are considering joining the writing world): play the game and share how you did with the rest of the class.

Game on!

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