I’m feeling the need to write more personal stuff and I don’t want to start another blog, so posts about writing and publishing will be sharing space with topics that may be only marginally related to my regular writing. At least for a while. I don’t really know how this will work out or whether anyone will be interested, but this blog has been feeling static for some time. Life isn’t static, my writing isn’t, so the blog needs to reflect that.

Start with the weather. Why not? Everyone else talks about it, and it does tend to affect my writing. Today, it’s already 86 degrees at 11 am, with the forecast promising a long run of high temps in the mid to high 90s. I don’t function well in excessive heat, so I’m now looking at the annual mid-summer pain of having the air conditioner working around the clock. Sometimes I have to turn it off for a few hours just to get some relief from the steady drone.

When I first started reading books about prison, I just read them, not bothering to mark passages or take notes. Now, new books get the full treatment, and I’m going back and rereading the ones I need for reference, doing the marking and notes. I don’t have a retentive memory, so I usually find that I get more out of a book from a second reading, so that’s really all to the good.

Rereading books by prisoners, about their lives and the conditions which have shaped them in prison, what jumps out at me is something the general public will never understand. It’s the power of personal transformation that can make the young criminal and the mature man seem like two entirely different people. I consider it a miracle that such transformation can happen at all under horrible living conditions that no one in the free world can even imagine, and that they would prefer to avoid knowing or thinking about. I don’t know how often it happens. Possibly not very often, but it does happen.

The horror is that it doesn’t matter. The transformed person will still die in the execution chamber or live out his life in prison, frozen, as Kenneth Hartman says, “into their worst moment forever.” Once found guilty and condemned, they’re denied “the hope of positive growth and change that’s oxygen for the spirit of a human being.”




3 thoughts on “Changes

  1. Good for you for expanding the boundaries. Honestly how can any writer keep writing about writing forever? We became writers in the first place because there was so much to write about. Why do we have to limit ourselves? I know, I know. We have to brand. Focus. Target. Forget it. Unless you’re getting paid for your blog posts write what fascinates you. It’ll be more interesting work in the end.

    Besides, I’m not sure we need yet another writer pontificating about the publishing process. We’re losing the mystery of the whole thing. Personally I prefer to not know that much about the writers I idolize. Let me believe they have a direct connection to the Big Guy and that’s why their stuff is so great. Keep it magical.

    1. I certainly hope I’ve never given the impression that I’m pontificating. I always write from my own experience, and that’s a process of exploration and discovery. It can’t apply to everyone, of course. And I’ve tried to come at writing about it in ways that throw a new light on it. That’s something I’ll continue to do because writing nonfiction is, in many ways, not that different from writing fiction. I’ve often gained new perspectives from reading essays or blog posts that seemingly have nothing to do with writing fiction. There’s always something new to learn (that’s where the mystery is, for me), and I find real pleasure in sharing what I learn.

      I, too, am pretty sick of hearing about what we *have* to do in order to be successful. Sure, I’d like to be successful, but not to the point where the means to that end become more important than the writing itself. I’d like to see more writers break out of that straitjacket.

  2. My commiserations about the heat, Catana, I share your feelings about it. Over here, of course, in beautiful downtown Australia, it’s wonderfully cool at the moment. Write about whatever you like, Catana. I suspect it’ll always be interesting.

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