The Magic of Writing

The easy title for this post could be, “Why I Like Writing.”

But that misses the essence. By a long way.

When I sit down to write a story, there’s nothing on the page in front of me. A blank page, utterly devoid of thought or substance. An idea is floating around in my head and I take that idea and work with it. I twirl it around, look at it from different angles, flip it forwards and backwards and roll it side to side.

Then I start to pound the keys on the keyboard and the idea forms into words, rolling across the screen, line after line. Sentences become paragraphs, paragraphs become pages, pages become chapters.

The idea in my head starts becoming a story. It started with an idea, a plan of where the story is going. But then the story happens, it comes alive, I’m living and breathing each breath, each word of conversation, the ebb and flow and ups and downs of the hero and heroine, the antagonist and participants.

Then, out of the blue, a new thought strikes and I throw a curve into the happenings. Just like life—we’re going along our merry way and then something happens that we don’t expect and we adjust. Will my chapter return to its original planned ending, or have I just changed the plot and structure so much that I am creating on the fly?

I let my imagination soar, like an eagle set free. I can create whatever story I want, bound only by making it real for you. Unless it’s a science-fiction story, I can’t have a space ship land in the middle of a picnic. But I can introduce a car careening through the park, machine gun blazing at an unknown adversary, catching a young couple by surprise.

Then the girl is kidnapped. How does the boyfriend react? How does he rise above his current existence, reach inside himself and find that something extra?

When I write, I see the story in my mind, in full color and three dimensions with sound and smell and emotion. The anger from an adversary, the kiss of a beautiful girl, the slap on the cheek from a woman scorned, the exultation of winning the race.

I get to journey into entire new worlds. I work on more than one story at a time, so I’m not constrained by one alternate reality. I have several!

When a new idea strikes, I flesh it out, start to work on it. Then another idea hits, and I put that one to paper. I’ve get a number of stories I’m working on now. White River is in the can. Next is a business thriller, “Checkmate,” with the first draft done. I’ll let that one simmer for a while as I work on a third and a fourth. Pretty soon I’ll go back to “Checkmate” and work on the re-writes and editing.

I’ve got a few chapters written on a western, believe it or not. Right now I’m on the second chapter to the sequel for White River. I always wondered if I could write a sequel to that book, but the right idea was never there. Then one day it was there, and off I went.

I’ve outlined another story that I have to do some research for, and I’m really looking forward to doing that research. I even have the concept for a sequel to the business thriller. And ideas for several more, written down, waiting for me. All of this creation, waiting to burst out.

Writer’s block? No, not that. Writer’s block happens if I try to force the story, if I must write. When I sit down and write for the joy of it, the magic is there. When I write the story for the sake of the story, the words fly across the page. When I write for the sake of the story, the magic happens. I stay up past my bedtime, capturing the next scene, eager to put that thought into words…

My dream is not just to write stories, but to capture the magic and put it on the page for you to read. I’ll have done my job well if you feel the magic, if you not only read the story, but experience the story. When it’s in color and three dimensions in your mind, when you feel the smile and the snarl, when you grimace about the villain and cheer for the hero, I’ve done my job.

The magic of writing.

I invite you to enjoy the ride with me. Just like my stories, how the journey unfolds has yet to be written.

Champagne Tastes

When I was growing up, my Dad used to complain about one of his cousins, invariably after those big family get-togethers. “She’s got champagne taste on a beer budget.”

He said it like it was the worst thing in the world. What he meant was she had a taste for high-priced stuff while having a blue-collar income. Or rather, her husband had a blue-collar income. Women didn’t work much in those days. (That gives you an idea about the generation I grew up in.)

As I’ve grown, I don’t see anything wrong with liking champagne, even if you’re on a blue-collar budget. You just can’t drink very much of it.

Personally, I think we should all have champagne tastes. While I certainly can’t afford a Ferrari, I love looking at them and I enjoy the hell out of listening to that fabulous engine howling its sweet song at high speed. That doesn’t cost me a thing.

I took my youngest son to an Indy Car race this spring, actually the Saturday practice. Only 8 at the time, he’s a car nut like me. I took his older brother at the same age, who’s not a car nut, and he loved it. My youngest and I spent the day listening to sports cars, Indy Lights cars, Indy cars, screaming their howling best to be the fastest. We loved it. I bought some food, a hat, two tickets. My son scored two t-shirts, I got another, I got pictures with him in the Indy 2-seat photo car, in a Mazda open-wheel car, playing a racing simulator, getting autographs from all the drivers. Cost? Less than $100. My son turned to me in the late afternoon and said, “This is the best day of my life.”

Makes a father’s heart go thumpa-thump.

Champagne taste? You betcha.

I drive a BMW. It’s not new, but it looks like it. It’s older than my youngest son. It’s got a stick shift. It’s a nice car. I bought it for a whole lot less than you’re probably guessing. That looks like champagne taste on a beer budget to me.

I live in a nice house. It’s not worth much after the recession, but I sure do like living there. It’s got a fieldstone fireplace in the living room that rises all the way up to the cathedral ceiling. The master bedroom has a master bathroom with a tub and a shower. I never use the tub, but I sure do like that shower.

I’ve outgrown the suits I used to wear before casual dress was de rigueur. But I have one really nice suit and a great sport coat that looks as good as the expensive price.

I think we should live life with passion. No, I’m not talking about love or sexual desire, but the first definition of passion that appears in the dictionary: “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling.” Gusto, bravado, passion, call it what you will, I think we should live life with great feeling, great commitment, great participation.

Not just sitting on the couch watching football and guzzling beer, but out there doing stuff and enjoying the hell out of it. Do things you love doing. Spend time with people you enjoy being with. If you enjoy sitting on the couch watching football and drinking beer, then drink great beer. And get a nice big-screen, on a close-out sale of course or from Craig’s List that looks like new but for half the price. I bought mine as a return. Big discount. It’s ridiculously large but the kids and I enjoy the hell out of movie night drinking Orange Crush or root beer.

If it’s going to the beach with the kids, make it special. Bring an umbrella, bring some Gatorade, stop for ice cream on the way back. Enjoy the hell out of it.

Buy your wife flowers for no good reason. She might think you’ve done something wrong the first few times, but then she’ll come to appreciate the little extra. If you’re a woman, get your husband chocolate chip cookies that are just for him. Or his favorite ice cream. Give him a back rub when he least expects it. A touch of champagne in everyday living.

Whatever you do, do it with champagne taste, do it with passion. It’s those little extra details that make life special.

If you’ve only got a beer budget, don’t do it as often. You don’t blow your entire wad on some frivolous item or activity, you plan for it. And get really good at finding great deals!

To those with champagne tastes on a beer budget, I salute you! Reach for the stars! Live life with passion! Make enjoying life on a small budget an art form!

It’ll be the best champagne you ever tasted. You deserve it.