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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/profile/blog/blimprider
Rated: 18+ · Book · Writing · #2191788
Or so I've been told . . .
         After almost four years, it's time to retire Riding the Blimp. And why not, as I've come to realize (with a bit of help) that never having reached the big time, I have no business giving advice to other writers. I have for some time now been sublimely content having fun as a hobbyist author, so it's about time my blog catches up. I don't yet know what I'll be doing here instead, but I promise I'll never wear a tie or a serious expression.

Live for the fun!
*Spiderline*
*Spider* Jack
Previous ... -1- 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 ... Next
September 19, 2020 at 5:05am
September 19, 2020 at 5:05am
#993700
         Stalkers abound here on the site, and I need to call one out that's been dogging my every step for a couple of weeks now. So without further ado, I offer my most sincere thanks to long-time member Annette of the "Rewarding Reviewers Committee who has been dropping GP rewards on a good number of my reviews lately. I don't write reviews for recognition, but I can't deny that it's gratifying when it comes. Perhaps it's due to having missed the boat myself that I'm so intent on escorting others to the gangway. Whatever the reason, my thanks go to Annette for her encouragement. It's just the sort of thing that keeps me hard at it!

Be safe, my friend, and know that you are appreciated!
*Captainwheel* Jack "Blimprider" Tyler
September 12, 2020 at 2:41pm
September 12, 2020 at 2:41pm
#993184
         "I'm not a big believer in disciplined writers. What does discipline mean? The writer who forces himself to sit down and write for seven hours every day might be wasting those seven hours if he's not in the mood and doesn't feel the juice. I don't think discipline equals creativity.
                             ~ BRET EASTON ELLIS


         Good morning, and welcome to the first day of the rest of my blog. I had big plans to write today. I have a work in progress, a magic-free fantasy set largely at sea, that I have high hopes for. I read my scene notes last night, and fell asleep visualizing the action in my mind, but this morning, parked in front of the keyboard, no part of that great scene flows. I've set aside this time for writing, so how about working on my alternate project, the class in steampunk I'm supposed to be preparing for the "WDC Writers University? Nope. Nothing happening there, either, and the difficulty I'm encountering in bringing this project to fruition is beginning to suggest that it never will be. But that's the story for another time. So then I thought, why not write about the creature that's giving me such fits: the muse?
         I've had some very snobbish writers tell me that there is no such thing as a muse, and that that whole concept is just an excuse for a lazy writer to stay lazy. I retort by quoting my old friend Ellis at them. The ancient Greeks recognized the concept before the Roman Empire overran them, so this is not a concept some lazy writer dreamed up last week to get out of work. They may write every day, but what they write may more closely resemble a grocery list than a coherent story.
         So, what is a muse, anyway? According to those ancient Greeks, the Muses were the inspirational goddesses of literature, science, and the arts. They were considered the source of the knowledge embodied in the poetry, lyric songs, and myths that were related orally for centuries in ancient Greek culture. Sounds nice, but they don't work for me. I live in the modern world, and the way I visualize my muse is of necessity modern. Before I get around to talking about him (yes, him), I need to introduce you to the organization inside my head.
         As I go about my day, I hear snippets of conversations that I'll never be privy to. I see cops and firemen hurrying past on important business that I'll never know about. I see airplanes veering in their landing approaches, squirrels dashing across a street, hear car horns and screeching brakes, and I'll never know the reasons for any of it. You can compare each perception of one of these random events to the finding of a jigsaw puzzle piece on the sidewalk. You don't know whether the picture is of Big Ben or the poker-playing dogs, and there's no way you can ever find out. It's just a random splash of color on the ground. No sane person would ever bend over to pick one up and try to suss out what it might be part of, but we writers aren't normal, are we? I pick up every single one and store it in my Warehouse of Plot Germs. Do you remember the last scene from Raiders of the Lost Ark? Let me refresh your memory.

Inside the writing wing of my head

         This could be a picture of the Writing Wing inside my head if every one of those boxes is filled to the brim with puzzle pieces. The figure you see disappearing into the stacks is a rare and fleeting glimpse of my muse. He is an old man, my age or older. He's grumpy and opinionated, and he will not tolerate being questioned. His life consists of wandering around taking a piece out of this box, and a piece out of that, and trying to fit them together. Occasionally, he'll find two that sort of make a pattern, and then he'll go in search of a third. Once he finds five or six that seem to go together, he'll load them into one of those pneumatic canisters like you use at the drive-thru bank terminals, and fire it up to the bridge for development. It arrives with a crash and a clatter, and an impact that can be almost visual. If you're with me when it happens, you'll observe me lose my train of thought, and if you ask what happened, I'll tell you, "I just had the greatest idea for a story," and proceed to tell you about something that has nothing whatsoever to do with what we were just talking about. If you ask me where in the blazes that came from, all I can tell you is that I have no idea. That isn't what you want to hear, but it's the truth.
         Well, the Old Man hasn't found anything for me today, and that's that. My alpha-reader, whose identity I'm going to share today, Tina Stone , recently saw that in action, when I forced a scene I wasn't feeling, and a couple of days later had to tear it up and do a rewrite with completely different characters and action. Yeah, I'd like to write more than I do, but when I'm not "feeling the juice," it's just a waste of time. The miracle is that I feel it as much as I do. I guess the Old Man knows his business; I just wish we were better friends.
         And that's what I've got today. Want to talk muse, or just enjoy the ridiculous story? Your call. Either one's good. Y'all keep safe and have fun, and I'll see you in a few days.

Read well, and write better!
*Captainwheel* "The Blimpster"

And don't forget to enter

 
STATIC
The Trifecta Challenge  (E)
A challenge that will periodically pop up depending on The Drunken Bunny's whim's.
#2231206 by Richard ~ in a Virtual World

There's still half a month left. Don't waste it!
September 9, 2020 at 11:49am
September 9, 2020 at 11:49am
#992858
         Good morning, fellow scribblers, and I hope it finds you well. I come before you today with an offer too good to pass up. My friends and I at "Dreamweaver Bar & Grill are working to build a brand, and we would like you, all of you, to be part of it. We are compiling an on-site anthology of some of the best stories from Dreamweaver members. This is what it looks like.

 
STATIC
Fireside Tales  (18+)
A sampler of works by the members of Dreamweaver Bar & Grill
#2216645 by Blimprider


         Dreamweaver isn't my group, but I have the lead on this, so it's in my port. That's the reason I'm able to tell you that, due largely to promotions such as this, my stat counter informs me that Fireside Tales is often viewed by twice as many people as all other items in my port combined. I am given no information on what these viewers do after they're there, but logic would suggest that they go on to read some of the stories. In other words, extra eyes are drawn to your work... if it appears there.

         And how might it appear there? Glad you asked! First you need to join "Dreamweaver Bar & Grill. Simply request membership from Richard ~ in a Virtual World , Sumojo , or myself. Then you write a story to the month's prompts. This month they are someone born in the wrong time and a motorcycle. You submit it to me for reviewing, and if I award you five stars your story goes into the anthology immediately. If it's close, needing only a few typos or some grammar fixed, I give you a chance to do that; we want you to succeed! Read this entry at "The Dreamweaver Lounge for the official rules: "Anthology Project: 2"  .

         But maybe joining a group isn't for you. Let me clarify that we make no demands that you do this or that project to keep your membership active. We simply ask that you enjoy the conversations, and partake of anything we offer that you find of interest. Still not for you? Well, here a couple of other contests for our newer members that may pique your interest:

FORUM
The Fox's Socks BIRTHDAY PARTYPALOOZA  (E)
OPEN! NEWBIES, COME ON IN AND HELP US CELEBRATE WdC's BIRTHDAY!
#2225985 by 💎GeminiGem💎


FORUM
Newbie Contest Challenge!!  (13+)
Contest Open To Newbie's Only.
#2219272 by Richard ~ in a Virtual World


         Why do I offer those two in particular? Again, glad you asked. If you enter all three of these contests, the heavens will open, and you will be buried in a blizzard of GPs, AwardIcons, and Merit Badges. These three contests, if entered together, comprise

 
STATIC
The Trifecta Challenge  (E)
A challenge that will periodically pop up depending on The Drunken Bunny's whim's.
#2231206 by Richard ~ in a Virtual World


         So, what are you waiting for? You joined WdC to participate, didn't you? We're trying to give away the store! Why not connect those two concepts today? It couldn't be easier, and the rewards are breathtaking in scope and value. The mouse is right there by your hand...

Semper audax esse,
*Captainwheel* Jack
September 6, 2020 at 5:08am
September 6, 2020 at 5:08am
#992527
         Twenty years. Think about that. Twenty years is a long time for a website to survive in the virtual world of instant gratification and planned obsolescence, but here we are, newbies just discovering this wonderful home for writers, grognards in from the beginning, and off-and-on members like myself, coming and going like visitors to a fine library. We're all here for our own reasons, and as the milestone Twentieth Anniversary winds down, I thought I'd take a few moments to chronicle my own journey, and offer in the way of feedback my opinions on the best and worst features on the site.

         This is my third enlistment on WdC. I made my first appearance under my own name, Tyler, Jack Tyler, back in 2012 while I was writing the original "Beyond the Rails 1, the first book of my signature steampunk trilogy. I had completed my first novel, after taking 35 years to practice, in late 1995, early 1996; memory fades, as many of you have yet to discover. It was the project I believed was going to be my passport to the big time. All it actually garnered was enough rejection slips to wallpaper a small bedroom, but it somehow didn't manage to cure me of my love of writing.

         I wrote a couple more novels, taking the time to read some how-to-write-books books by famous authors and agents. One of them, my crime drama "Broken English, can be read here. Somehow, none of them stood the publishing world on its ear, leaving me to wonder at its short-sightedness. Still somehow undeterred, I went on a search for a quality writing group. I may have actually put that into the search engine of Jeeves or Yahoo, whatever we used to search back then, and one of the returns was a list of online writing sites, one of which was WdC. It was described as an older site, rarely upgraded and clunky to use, but I took a look anyway, being rarely upgraded and clunky to use myself, and found a site that was delightful for those very reasons.

         The road that brought me to steampunk was long and convoluted, and I may recount it someday when I have nothing to talk about. As I said, I joined WdC in 2012, I forget which month, and began sharing the novellas that would comprise the first of three Beyond the Rails books. They were well-received and I got some excellent pointers and suggestions, and once it was finished I figured that I had no further need of a writing site, and went off to conquer the publishing world. I ended up self-publishing, and as I sometimes quip, one month my book royalties paid for my internet service; that's less of a joke than I sometimes care to admit. I did make some wonderful friends in the steampunk community, and earned my awesome sobriquet which is my nickname, gamer tag, and email address, but I'm still not earning a living with my writing. I returned around 2014, and stayed for about a year. I don't remember much about my second stay here, other than that it happened, nor why I left the second time, but I do know that I was writing "Beyond the Rails 2: Soldier of the Crown during that time.

         I rejoined for the third time on New Year's Day 2017. This has been my longest tenure, and the happiest, I suspect because I returned this time as a hobbyist-author, placing no unreasonable expectations on myself, but just hanging out with a lot of great people having a good time. I seem to run on about a six week manic/depressive cycle, and while I'm wallowing in the troughs I think a lot about leaving here, but at this point I'm sure I won't. I would have already if I was serious about it. I'll just ask everyone to be aware that that is my cross to bear, that I can and will be a good friend to anyone who wants to reciprocate, but that is the flaw that you'll have to deal with. I can't help it; when you recognize the symptoms, just give me a few days, and I'll be started back up.

         So I thought to celebrate WdC's 20th Anniversary, I'd share what I like most and least about the site. What I like most is difficult to pinpoint, as there's so much to like here. I've been reading essays about the wonderful people, the entertaining contests, the great reading, the complete lack of trolls, and too many other things to list, and all of them are true. But the thing I like most about WdC is that the admins and operators leave it alone. The old adage goes, "If it works, don't fix it!" It's too bad people don't believe in that anymore. About a month ago, Facebook completely reworked the site, and a few months before, WordPress did the same thing. I hate that. Deep hatred! You're going along having a good time on a perfectly good site, and you wake up one morning and it's like you're a butt-green newbie who doesn't even know how to find his own page. Why? Because they can? Because they feel pressure to prove that they're innovative? All that proves is that they don't give a tinker's damn about their subscribers. There's no logical reason that you can't make one small change now and then to keep things current, and WdC has mastered this approach. I'm sure the site doesn't look the same as it did when I was here in 2012... or 2017, but the changes have been minor, gradual, and reasonable, and when I bring up the site I know what to expect and how to use it. Thank you, WdC. You'll never know how much I appreciate that!

         As to what I like least, there's no question at all about that. It's the default font and format for the static items, forums, and email. I don't know what the official name of that tiny little font is. I call it Times New Eyestrain. Couple that with the almost non-existent line-spacing, and anything longer than a few sentences presents an intimidating wall of fine print that would send a patent attorney into an orgasmic fantasy. When I click on an interesting title or a long email, and I'm presented with the choice of putting on my +4 reading glasses, sitting with my face six inches from the screen, and enjoying a headache for the rest of the day, or not reading it, it's pretty much a coin toss. If I was given the power to change one thing about the site, that would be it. I'll be 72 in one month. My eyes have seen better days. Give them a break, please!

         And those are my views almost four years into my third membership. Anyone like to share yours?

Happy Anniversary, WdC!
*Captainwheel* Jack "Blimprider" Tyler *Captainwheel*
September 1, 2020 at 5:13am
September 1, 2020 at 5:13am
#992013
Happy 20th Birthday, WdC!

         And what better way to celebrate than giving out an award, and calling attention to some of the fine writing to be found here on Writing-dot-com? I reviewed considerably more last month, and that naturally resulted in more 5-star ratings. This month I had four stories, five poems, and a Special Mention that "only" received a 4.5-star rating, but is a story that deserves to be read, nonetheless. Without a lot of idle chatter, then, let's get to the writing!

         For someone who claims not to understand poetry, I found quite a few to like last month. Behold:

 FIRST DAY OF SPRING  (E)
remembering looking for 4 leaf clovers
#1489361 by Lou-Here By His Grace


 Hear A Crone  (E)
Some wisdom...
#2228396 by MojaveMajik


 Perplexity  (E)
A haiku for the Daily Haiku Contest.
#1990394 by Koyel~writing again


 The Dress from the Goodwill Store  (E)
An innocent young lady seeks a partner through feigned modesty.
#1595558 by Tim Chiu


 Mountains, Teach us  (E)
A haiku about mountains with a metaphor for peace
#2230528 by Melissa Fredericks


         A number of short stories made the grade, among them:

 Stubborn  (E)
Flash Fiction
#2092004 by Jacky


 
STATIC
Sunshine and Shadows  (E)
The Storm is Brewing
#2229798 by Queen Normajean says Keep Calm


The Seven Wonders of the Universe  (13+)
The Seven Wonders of the Universe: The Definitive Intergalactic Travel Guide
#2204591 by Tobber


         The Special Item I mentioned above really deserves a read:

 BATTLEGROUND STORIES  (ASR)
Breast cancer survivor stories from a group meeting
#256524 by Joy


         Lat month's winner was chosen after some agonizing; any one of these fine stories and poems could have been legitimately declared the winner, but the one that finally got the nod was:

STATIC
The night the circus came to town  (E)
It was going to be a break from boredom, and yet no one saw what was coming.
#2228666 by Sumojo


         Congratulations to all, and thanks to all for providing me with some fine reading. If you're looking for some quality reads, may I be so bold as to suggest you start here!

Semper audax esse
*Captainwheel* Jack
August 25, 2020 at 1:19pm
August 25, 2020 at 1:19pm
#991555
         Good morning, friends and followers. It's been a while, almost two weeks, and I feel that I should check in, but I don't have anything profound to build a post from. A wise man once told me, "If one's words are not better than silence, one should keep silent." Wise words, but on a blog, one is expected to produce content on a fairly frequent basis. Fortunately, I have a fallback subject that I don't feel can ever be over-promoted.

         How would you like to enter a contest that could pay you 75- 100,000 GPs merely for a quality entry? One of my detailed reviews? AwardIcons, Merit Badges, preferred status in a young and growing group, and inclusion in an anthology that my stats page tells me is well-read, commonly fielding up to twice as many views as all the other items in my port combined on a daily basis? And not for winning; simply for participating. It's all at your fingertips!

         You first need to join

 
GROUP
Dreamweaver Bar & Grill  (13+)
An idea factory, an inspiration pool, a place where creativity can soar.
#2211862 by Richard ~ in a Virtual World


         This group is devoted to the love and promotion of quality writing, and has no requirement that its members do anything to keep their membership current. You simply join, enjoy the conversations in "The Dreamweaver Lounge, and participate in any activity that strikes your fancy. The Lounge is open to all, and you can visit right now to see what August's prompt are. You can even join and write to that one if you like, there's still a week left.

         Our primary activity at the moment is the "Fireside Tales Anthology. As a member of the group, you simply write a story following the monthly prompts provided in the Lounge. Email the link to me, Blimprider , and within a couple of days, you will receive one of my reviews. If you receive a rating of four stars or greater, Richard ~ in a Virtual World will add tens of thousands of GPs, one or two Merit Badges, and in some cases, an Awardicon. If you receive five stars, your story will immediately be added to the Anthology, and also entered into the running for my "Talk of the Flight Deck Award, though that's another story. Your level within the group will be immediately bumped up a level showing everyone your involvement, and all of this (except Talk of the Flight Deck) happens within hours of your submission. So, what are you waiting for? You have nothing to lose and barrels of swag to gain. Claim your spot today!

 
STATIC
Fireside Tales  (18+)
A sampler of works by the members of Dreamweaver Bar & Grill


*ConfettiBR* *Confettibr* *Confettibr*


         And while we're speaking of contests, let's not forget the one hosted by Richard ~ in a Virtual World :

FORUM
Newbie Contest Challenge!!  (13+)
Contest Open To Newbie's Only.

         WdC is known for its polite and helpful members, but I have yet to meet anyone as generous with GPs and prizes as Richard. He defines a Newbie as anyone with less than two years on their membership, so if this is you, make the trek over there and see what you stand to win. I'll betcha it's good!

See you soon,
*Captainwheel* Jack
August 13, 2020 at 11:42am
August 13, 2020 at 11:42am
#990670
         I know, I said I wouldn't bother you guys again until next week, but timing is everything. Yesterday I received an email from Jolanh , a very active member who many of us know, and I am reprinting and discussing it with his full knowledge and permission; this is too important to be buried in a private email. This is it:

         I had a quick look at a few different tales of yours. I noticed a small anomaly. You have three distinct writing voices. No, I am not suggesting you're crazy.
         The first voice is Navy Jack. Navy Jack likes everything to be ordered and his style is stiff and rigid, adhering to every rule. This comes out most often when you are writing tales about ships with crews, and its understandable why. You spent time in the Navy, so it's to be expected for Navy Jack to write such things. He is also your most dominant voice. Especially after you have planned a story.
         I tried to find that story about the man on the bus and the vampire woman. Read that and you'll see that is not the same voice that did Beyond the Rails. I call this voice Original Jack. Original jack writes with emotion and doesn't mind going off-script. I could feel your passion, and joy in that piece. You pulled me to the end because I had to know if the dude got the damn girl, only to find out she was a vampire. I feel your passion in your other work, but it's just stronger in that piece
         Your police story presented a different voice. I call it Complete Jack. I only read a few paragraphs, but in that story, there is a fine balance between the rigid and the relaxed. It felt like a police station, but the camaraderie between officers was organic and seamless. I was there in that station watching the tale unfold. I could have read to the end, by that I mean all the chapters. I can't give you a higher compliment than that since I am picky about what I read. Here Original Jack and Navy Jack joined forces to great effect. Your passion is tamed by reason here but not stifled.
         I could be crazy, and if I am please tell me... I only noticed because some of your stories excited me and others did not. I know you're going to say "Isn't it that way with all authors' work?" Not for me. I tend to go all in with authors I like. I read Just about everything from Terry Brooks, Jack Whyte, quite a few from Steven king (Is it just me or does his work drag a lot at the beginning? He didn't do it in Cell). The dude who wrote the Endworld series. The only other Author I get selective with is David Eddings. I loved his stories about Sparhawk and his knightly buddies. He wrote a couple others I enjoyed, but the rest of it didn't have the flair of the Elenium trilogy and the Tamuli.
         If this seems insulting I am sorry, but this is what I see.


         Insulting? How do you like this guy? This is perhaps the most valuable review I have ever received here, an overview of not one story, but of my whole style across not just stories, but time. I suspect the reason he's finding things so different is that he isn't reading the same author, but an author developing over decades. The police story, "Broken English, was written in the mid-1990s if memory serves. I had just received Police Procedural by Russell Bintliff, and following the step-by-step guide to police detectives and how they work, I constructed that story to exercise my newfound knowledge. There was one huge problem, and the story has been rewritten several times to account for it: I didn't get a cell phone until a decade later. Not being on the president's staff, I felt it was pretentious, and only got a burner at my daughter's insistence when I started driving a broken down car. Not being familiar with them, the people in the story had them when it was convenient to the story, and were out of touch for hours when that was convenient. I think I have most of that cleaned up now, but I still can't guarantee it.
         By "ship stories," I must assume he is talking about "Beyond the Rails. Yes, I drew heavily on my navy experience to craft those stories, but I was never a "good sailor" (i.e., I was more concerned with the technical aspects of my job than haircuts and shoe-shines), and only served one hitch. But I was quite familiar with the hierarchy of a ship's organization and discipline, and of the need for it, and wrote that into my books about a crew that had come together voluntarily but still understood the need to function as a team. That's my signature series, and I'm very proud of it; it earned me my nickname and a favorable reputation in the international steampunk community. But again, I've moved on since then, and have had no success writing more of it, nor the obvious spinoff set up in book 3.
         The bus-vampire story he refers to is "Getting Lucky , which was written earlier this year, and would be my "modern voice" if I had one anymore. The sad fact is that I have lost all interest in writing, and hang around the site, lurking in the shadows as it were, to do reviews and work on the "Dreamweaver Bar & Grill contest. I've been trying to drive "The Orphan Princess forward, a story I started in 2003 or 2004. That's another ship story that obviously predates Beyond the Rails. I couldn't drive it then, and it's turning out to be a terrible slog now; I set aside mornings to work on it, and wake up depressed every time it appears on the calendar. I only keep trying because I have an alpha-reader who keeps telling me how great it is, and to not give up on it. I don't think it's great; every word is forced and uninspired, but I keep going because I don't want to disappoint this person. Would that they'd give up on it!
         So, yeah, if any of you feel like you're reading three different authors, it's because you are, one writer's phases separated by decades. I have the same feeling about many of the authors I read. Compare the pulse-pounding excitement of Lord of the Rings to the snooze-fest that is The Silmarillion. Same author, same subject. What's the difference? Tom Clancy produced books I enjoyed and books that were meh. Sue Grafton's Alphabet series has highs and lows. Brandon Sanderson grabs me that way even though he created one of the greatest systems of magic I've ever seen for the Mistborn series. He mentioned Terry Brooks. I've read most of his fantasy, and enjoyed it a lot, but when I read Sword of Shannara, his first book, and my first exposure to him, it read like a scene-by-scene rewrite of LotR, and I could never read any of his brilliant follow-on works without my suspicions rising about whose story it was originally. In fact, I can't name an author whose work I uniformly admire. There's always something...
         So I can only offer my most sincere thanks for this. It tells me a lot about my own writing journey, and why some people don't care for the things that I think are my best work. It is quite a project to sample a number of stories and then write a critique on the author's overall voice. I only wish it was the norm here. Any writer worth his salt would love to receive an overview like this, and I would love to give them. Alas, I wouldn't know where to start; perhaps that will be the next phase of my journey.
         And that's 30 for this issue. I'm going to stop scheduling these things. All y'all have fun chewing on this, and I'll be back next time I have something.

Semper audax esse,
*Compass* Jack
August 10, 2020 at 1:34pm
August 10, 2020 at 1:34pm
#990446
         Good morning, my friends, and I hope it finds you well. I come before you today to reminisce about the days when I had things more under control. This blog used to be a lot more regular. Now it's slipping longer and longer between posts, and I realize that that isn't good. It isn't fair, I guess I should say, to the people who read it regularly for its content. So I'm here to offer some excuses and make a promise. If everyone's ready, the banquet will begin with a course of crow served cold turkey.

         I used to offer a lot of how-to-write advice here. That stopped when I was informed by a reputable source that my opinions about the Craft were just that, my opinions, and shouldn't be presented as if they had any particular validity. That particular comment had a major impact on my activities here, as I've always questioned my own acumen anyway. You see, I dropped out of high school after 11th grade, English having been one of my most difficult subjects, and joined the navy to begin my higher education at the University of Hard Knocks. Everything I know, or think I know about writing, today comes from reading books on the subject, books by successful writers, to be sure, but it's their knowledge, not mine. So all that stuff I've told you about the Craft over the past couple of years? Yeah, forget it, as it has no validity.

         With that subject removed from my repertoire, I was left with very little to write about; stories of what I've been doing around the site lack a certain relevance, and even less my recipes or stories of battles with decades-old plumbing. So while I've tried to keep a place-holder presence going here, I've thrown myself into other projects. I've dusted off a manuscript I began a decade and more (almost two, actually) ago, "The Orphan Princess. Inspired by my three-year old granddaughter (she's twenty now), this is the story of the daughter of the King of the Pirates, and some of the adventures she endures in the pursuit of making a living.

         I doubled-down on my reviewing, though I wind up giving my invalid writing advice in reviews as well, so I'm still undecided as to how good an idea that is. Still, it supports my "Talk of the Flight Deck Award, so I must muddle along, now matter how sketchy it is. At least I'm only giving it to one reader at a time!

         I returned to a group that I had given away, "Dreamweaver Bar & Grill, and initiated a contest that is a bit off the beaten path. You might want to look into it: "Anthology Project: 1a"  . It isn't your ordinary contest, and you may find the prizes to your liking. But I digress.

         In the midst of all this, I was approached by the "WDC Writers University and asked if I would be interested in creating and teaching a course in writing steampunk. My first response was, "Who am I, Neil Gaimen? Sod off!" I wasn't that harsh, and suggested that our local steampunk group might be able to provide someone far better qualified than this self-taught amateur, and went about my business. But I have this streak of decency that continues to get me into trouble; I swear I'm going to lose that some day, but this wasn't the day. After about a month I went back to see how they had fared with the steampunk group; I was informed that they had not even received the courtesy of a reply.

         That was exceedingly disappointing to me, as one of the cornerstones of steampunk is elegant Victorian manners. So I agreed to do it. I was able to put together a course synopsis that wowed them, but actually collecting and organizing the course material is kicking my ass! I don't think this is going to be done anytime soon, but I continue to wrestle with it because apparently none of the other three-quarters of a million members is interested. I should change my handle to Sucker.

         And that brings me to today. I'm badly overextended. You might be thinking, "You're retired, you love to write, you can't go out and do anything because of the cootie epidemic, so what's the problem?" Here's the problem: After sixty-plus years of writing, it doesn't hold the same attraction for me as it once did. On a percentage scale, comparing my writing interest today to what it was thirty years ago when I was still involved in the race for publication, I'd say it's at about 10%. I would have left the site a year ago if it weren't for Talk of the Flight Deck holding me here; I don't want the awards I've given to those wonderful stories to be replaced with the "Invalid Item" icon. So here I am mired in a swamp of my own making. Exacerbating this issue is that I'm good for about three hours of writing activity per day, after which my brain is mush and I'm unable to produce anything of quality. I need minions, but as those aren't likely to materialize anytime soon, I will have to fall back on prioritizing.

         So going forward, what I plan to do is follow this system of priorities:
         First comes the contest at Dreamweaver. Whenever entries come in, doing the reviews and the peripheral activities will be first on the list. On the days when I don't get entries, reviewing a random item to support Talk of the Flight Deck will be my first activity.
         Second will be working on the curriculum until that's done... if it's ever done. Looking at it from where I am right now, my gut feeling is that I'm completely unqualified to do this, and there's no way I can succeed. But I'll keep at it. Something may break the logjam and get me rolling. Time will tell.
         I need to keep this blog active, so number three will be finding things to write about besides my opinions about how to write. I'll try to get something posted here every six to eight days, but no promises.
         In last place comes my own writing. With apologies to my granddaughter and my alpha-reader, progress is going to be slow on this for a while. It will pick up when I've solved the steampunk problem, but when that will be, I have no idea.

         And that's the way it is, Monday, August 10th, 2020. I'll be around in a week or so... I hope. I can't guarantee anything, but you can always find me at "The Dreamweaver Lounge. I'll be the guy in the corner surrounded by wads of paper, nursing a rum-coffee, and pulling out clumps of hair. See you soon!

Semper audax esse,
*Captainwheel* Jack
August 1, 2020 at 2:54am
August 1, 2020 at 2:54am
#989631
         Good morning, friends and followers, and welcome to August! The first of the month always sees the "Talk of the Flight Deck Award, so let's get right to it.
         I did quite a bit of reviewing last month, and managed to find five items worthy of five stars. The first was an uplifting poem about a heroic dog who saves her family.
 Hound Dog Hero   (E)
The family dog saves the day.
#2203837 by Jatog the Green

         Second was a gritty story of guilt and revenge on the dark streets of Philly.
 Philly Is a Very Small Big Town  (18+)
A man's mistakes finally catch up with him.
#2225876 by D.M. Murnan

         Next was unique piece of writing that almost took it, a clever memoir in poem and prose about the highlights of a year.
 2017: An Awesome Year  (13+)
This essay combines poem and prose. WC: 329
#2143083 by Prosperous Snow

         Finally came the tale of a poignant and relentless dream that won't give its dreamer any rest.
 The Dream That Won't Leave Me Alone  (E)
The relentless dream of traveling the world...
#2227436 by Travellinda

         The one that finally captured my heart was a poem, odd enough in itself, given my tastes, but one of irrevocable loss of something loved. I usually read for an uplift, but this one caught its mood to perfection, and my eye as well. Congratulations to:
STATIC
Long Weekend  (E)
A poem about you, leaving, and how we never have enough time.
#2227117 by Lyf

*Castle*

         So, you're here reading about this contest, and if that's got you thinking that you might like to throw your name in the hat and get in line for some prizes, have I got a deal for you! I'm a member of what has been a sleepy little group here within WdC. I've been given free reign by the boss-man to change that, and this is my first activity aimed at doing so.
 
FORUM
The Dreamweaver Lounge  (13+)
A forum for members and friends of the "Dreamweaver Bar & Grill" Group.
#2211867 by Richard ~ in a Virtual World

         Read any posts with the title "Anthology Project" followed by a number and letter. Long story short: This is a monthly group-only contest with prizes ranging from GPs to exclusive merit badges to inclusion in our anthology, "Fireside Tales, and a number of other things. I can assure you that the anthology is being read; I have a story in it, and it has gotten more views in the last two days than in the previous two months.

*Castle*

         And finally, here are two more contests looking to get traction in their early weeks. Both are for newer members ("newer" being defined by the operators), and both offer nice prizes for top-notch entries.
FORUM
Newbie Contest Challenge!!  (13+)
Contest Open To Newbie's Only.
#2219272 by Richard ~ in a Virtual World

FORUM
The Fox's Socks BIRTHDAY PARTYPALOOZA  (E)
OPEN! NEWBIES, COME ON IN AND HELP US CELEBRATE WdC's BIRTHDAY!
#2225985 by 💎GeminiGem💎

         And that's 30 for this issue. As I've mentioned before, most of my conversational posts are being invested in Dreamweaver Lounge these days, but if something appropriate turns up, I'll be putting it here, so watch your newsfeeds! In the meantime,

Semper audax esse,
*Compass* Jack
July 25, 2020 at 12:51pm
July 25, 2020 at 12:51pm
#989116
         Greetings once more, my loyal friends and readers. I am here to report yet another failure, maybe for the last time this time. I have received many beautiful words of wisdom over this, and a number of pep talks that made perfect sense. Someone (or someones?) even gifted me 1,000,000 GPs and a Premium Membership, and I have tried to stand up and show myself worthy, but it isn't depression or laziness that's causing my issues. It's a lack of interest on the part of my muse, or on the part of Jack Tyler, for those who don't believe in muses. I've started two books, which now lie unfinished and mocking, and in one case, a clear disappointment to a couple of privileged readers. I've started a group which I've subsequently given away, and several forums, all of which seem to have died off for the most part.

         I've been fighting with diminishing interest for well over a year; I'm not going to go back and try to find the date of my first post on that subject, because I'm pretty sure that I don't want to know. I have enjoyed writing very much. As I state on my home page, I came in with all the enthusiasm of youth, certain that I was destined to be the next Stephen King. Over the next sixty years, I changed genres a dozen times, found some modest success with self-published steampunk, and found myself with a circle of good friends, fellow authors all, who I cherish to this day and always will. Realization slowly grew that I wasn't going to find that magic combination of words that would grant me access to that inner circle of Celebrity Authors, and I was okay with that, enjoying the company of friends that I'd made and writing as a hobby. But as with so many hobbies I've enjoyed in the past, this one seems to be winding down; having witnessed the demise of so many, from model building, to off-roading, to wargaming, and beyond, I'm familiar with the symptoms.

         I'll look at the calendar and see a clear day coming up; there are so many of them now that we're all confined by the cooties. I'll tell myself, "I have squat to do tomorrow. I'm going to write something." I'll look at my works-in-progress, settle on one, and look through my notes, refreshing myself as to the particulars, the story line, the upcoming scene, the characters involved, and all that. Then I'll drift off to sleep playing the scene like a movie in my head, trying to get everything just so for the morning's session. Then I wake up with a bone-crushing headache that can only by cured by turning on the Xbox or opening someone else's book to do some recreational reading. The closer I get to the laptop, the worse it gets until I set it aside and say "another time, then." Then I'm fine.

         Given this situation, the question posed by everyone who's tired of hearing about my problems has to be, "So, why are you still a member of this, you know, writing site?" A worthy question, and one with two answers. First, I'm not yet ready to walk away from all the wonderful people here. Seriously, this is the only social media site I'm aware of where you can discuss a topic or state an opinion without being pilloried by trolls. Second, there is my Anchor Baby.

         I began giving the Talk of the Flight Deck Award, themed to tie into my steampunk interests, the first month I arrived here, January of 2017. I review a number of stories each month, and give 1000 GPs for a 5-star effort, and 750 for 4 to 4.5. At the end of each month, I evaluate the top stories and give a ribbon to the one that best "blew my socks off." That began as a 10,000 GP ribbon. As my finances improved, it became a 25,000 GP ribbon. Then when I made yellow, I began to add a Merit Badge, the yellow star that only Preferred Authors can give. A few months ago, I was gifted with my own signature Merit Badge, which I now give to the winner each month. It's pretty cool, and was again given to me anonymously, so thank you, whoever you are.

Merit Badge in The Blimp Sails On!
[Click For More Info]

Congratulations on your new merit badge! Thank you for supporting the Writing.Com community with your inspirations, participation and activities. We sincerely appreciate it! -SMs

         So, that's the big thing that keeps me here, my Anchor Baby if you like. I don't want to turn the awards I hung on all those wonderful stories into "Invalid Items," and I don't want to break a 3½ year tradition, either. I like traditions, I think they're nice. So I'll be around here until I check into that big game room in the sky, reviewing, encouraging, and awarding the Flight Deck ribbon, and all that comes with it. I'll leave up my completed stories, sort of like a museum where people can see how I used to write. When my Premium Membership expires next year, I'll renew at the Upgraded level. That's all I need for what I'm doing; Please don't give me any more expensive gifts! There are plenty of struggling, beginning authors here whose fledgling careers could greatly benefit from such a gift. Please, I beg you, if you're in need of giving away these wonderful things, give them to someone who can make use of them.

         And that's the way it is, Saturday, July 25th, 2020. Please do visit my portfolio. Please do tell me what you think of my work, any of it. This post, however, isn't in need of comments; no pep talk or words of wisdom are going to get me started again. If it happens, it will come from inside through a love of creating. And if it happens, I will work in silence, posting only stories that I've completed. In the meanwhile, I'll tell you where you can find a treasure trove of wonderful writing of every style and form:

 
STATIC
Talk of the Flight Deck  (18+)
Monthly award for writing excellence.
#2110745 by Blimprider

Semper audax esse,
*Anchor* Jack

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