Saturday, August 14, 2004
I found a way to make money writing. It's throw-away writing, but it pays all right and with enough of these little jobs I can afford to buy food and the necessities--like books.
I subscribe to a lot of writer's newsletters and one of them paid off this morning because it was about job bid sites. Rent A Coder isn't just for web coders but also for writers, or at least they have a few writing jobs, most of which consist of writing key word rich one page articles for web sites so they place high in search engines. Lovely. Throw-away writing. And the pay sucks, but you have to write so many of these throw-aways for one client that I might make enough to make it worthwhile.
It seems strange, but I am a little nervous--as I am at the start of every project I take on--about my ability to write the same crap over and over and make it fresh and different. I mean, really, how many different and fresh things can you write when you have to repeat buy female Viagra online 6 to 12 times per article? Oh, well, it will be a learning process for me.
I also got my first acceptance of my bid and I bid pretty high. The buyer said I was the most qualified person who submitted. Must be my way with words and salesmanship. Or maybe he recognizes talent and ability when he sees it. Of course talent and ability just mean I can string coherent sentences together and still maintain a credible English grammatically correct manner. Go figure. Which reminds me, I still have an article to write for Scribe & Quill. I have been so busy marketing myself and trying to make money I forgot. Oops. I hope elementalmuse will forgive me for not putting her and S&Q first.
Speaking of the Muse, has anyone seen or heard from that talented wit of a fast car lover, mentalfuse, lately? The Muse asked me and I haven't seen or heard anything from him in weeks. He's MIA again. Go figure.
This morning I also received an e-mail from a wealthy entrepreneurial friend in Texas who asked me about the lucrative possibilities of a government contract he heard about. It's for medical transcription for a VA medical center. He doesn't have the facilities, staff, or software he'd need to start up the business, or the staff, managers, and tech support personnel, but I gave him my assessment. He would lose some on the first year because of the initial outlay, but for the duration of the contract he should make a tidy sum. I have a lot of experience in that arena since I did medical transcription for seven years for one company and for twenty years overall. I think he has the idea of footing the bill for starting the company and letting me run it, but there is no way I want to go back into that world. It takes too much time and energy and effort for too little money, even if he offered me $100,000 a year to run the company because I would have to be on call 24/7/365. There's no way. I'd rather do a bunch of piddling throw-away writing jobs than to give up my life for anything other than writing. If I took on that magilla I would never have time to sleep or relax, let alone write. So, thanks but no thanks. I'll consult for a tidy fee, but I won't manage the company or set it up. I wonder what I could get for consulting? Interesting thought and a better idea if I can put in a little brain power and end up with a nice little check that paid the rent here for a year and gave me a little left over for books -- and food, of course, but books first.
At any rate, this has been a productive day and now I'm off to do a quick net search for some info on anti-virus software, or maybe one of the other topics, and write a press release for a new software application from a dummy company. Fun, fun, fun and it just keeps getting better.
Time to shut up and do some actual work, but I think I'll get some food first. Need fuel.
That's it. Disperse.
Thursday, August 12, 2004
It's official. I might as well throw in the towel and retire to the shadows. I am old. Oh, my friends will rush to tell me that it isn't so. They'll tell me I look like I'm still in my thirties, that my mind is still young, but it's their fear talking. I never had the fear. It passed me by and I went right into ancient old age. Oh, sure, I had pain, but pain is your friend, the first one to remind you you're still alive; if you hurt, you're not dead. But the words, those slippery, eel-like words, the ones waiting in the darkness to grab you by the throat and take you down into the dust and cobwebs of old age, those words that, ever vigilant, creep up on you and take possession of your mind and your mouth, they're out. Luckily, I wasn't speaking, but writing to someone younger. Thank all the gods for a back space key so I could take the words back from darkening my screen. But they're out.
Had I said the words aloud the age police would have found me and taken me down, kicking and screaming, protesting they had the wrong person. I looked in my mirror yesterday and I was but a child. There were a few wrinkles, but that is to be expected when you smile and laugh; they are the tracks of happiness, joy, abandon, the signs of youth. I hadn't said the words; still haven't said the words, but they're there and I must be ever more vigilant, posting guard on my mouth 24/7. And if they can get me, you can't be safe for long. You're next. You know it and I know it; that is why you protest I am not old.
I'll have to move so the age police can't find me. Or disconnect from all living humans and crawl deeper into the mountains and forests near my home, become a hermit in truth to save myself from their Argos-eyed gaze.
The words are out. They're hanging like the sword of Damocles above my head waiting for the hair to fray or stretch so it can fall and cut me off in the bloom of youth. I am no longer safe and neither are you, my friends. Don't tell me the fear isn't there now. The words are out.
When I was your age...
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
new things. Every day brings something new for me to enjoy and use. Today brought more information about my mother and my grandfather.
I remembered a story about John Dillinger's mother living down the street from my mother when she lived in Alger, Ohio where she was born. I saw a submission call for an anthology about small towns and I think this story would be perfect for it. And there is a neat twist.
My grandfather was mayor, chief of the fire department and sheriff (not all at the same time, I don't think) of Alger. He was involved in a stake-out to capture Dillinger when he was in Alger visiting his mother. They missed him but caught him and put him in jail in Lima, which is about 20 or so miles from Alger. Four men purported to be from the FBI came to the Lima jail to transfer Dillinger to Indianapolis, but they were Dillinger's friends and ended up shooting and killing the sheriff and putting his wife and deputy in Dillinger's cell before escaping with Dillinger.
A small footnote to history, but my family was involved. It's exciting and fascinating. I called my mother to ask her everything she remembered and she said she had some newspaper clips about Grandpa and Dillinger. This is almost as good as the story about Grandma catching Grandpa with one of his floozies on Main Street in Alger.
My grandmother was a sweet and quiet lady who never used a curse word in her life. She was short and plump when I knew her, but at one time her waist was so tiny, my grandfather told me, he could span her waist with two hands.
Anyway, Grandma was downtown (Alger is a very small town and downtown would have been the main street thru the center of the business district--about 10 or 15 buildings in all)--and she saw Grandpa with another woman. He was carrying a bottle of whiskey, which must have been before Prohibition. She went up to my grandfather and snatched the bottle from his hands and poured it out right in front of him. Mom said Grandma later said she should have hit the floozy with the bottle. That must have been in her more militant years. The idea of my short, plump grandmother facing down my great big 6-foot 4-inch grandfather would have been something to see.
I didn't know my mother's family was so prominent. I knew she was upper middle class, but she told me both my grandparents's families had money, lots of money. It must have missed us because I sure haven't seen any of it. Oh, yeah, my cousin took it all when she was my grandmother's guardian, but that's another story.
I remember my grandparents owned a tree farm when I was born and I knew they always had a comfortable home, but I didn't know there was so much money and history in my family. I guess the Mays had a right to be proud of their heritage, especially since they descended from middle European immigrants.
Isn't it fascinating what you find when you start asking questions? Do you know much about your parents' history and family? Seems most people today don't know much about their families at all. I knew a little, but I am learning a whole lot more. History is indeed in the details and some of the details may be in your family's cupboard. Have you looked?
...except that I really shouldn't read anything by Dan Brown because once I pick up the book and start reading I can't put it down. Deception Point is another thriller and it's really good . . . better than a death defying roller coaster or the slickest ride at the biggest amusement park. My pulse was racing thru most of the book and normally I am a very calm person, except during sword fights and battles in movies. Can't help myself, the blood lust just does things to me and I get all tingly and . . . enough of that. I'm getting excited again. LOL
Anyway, the story is about an embattled president who has taken French Leave during his re-election campaign to oversee a discovery of universal proportions and is based on Clinton's little faux pas with the life on other planets press conference that resulted from a mistake in identifying an extraterrestrial rock. Both sides are playing for keeps and four civilian scientists and the front running senator's daughter and her intelligence community boss are caught in the middle, their lives on the line because they have figured out the truth. Talk about your hell rides. Death, destruction, special ops groups, and high tech weaponry that just makes me giddy and fluttery inside. Rifles that can make bullets from sand, water, and even snow right on the battleground -- or killing field. Ingenuity is wonderful. There are planes that fly six times the speed of sound and clean burning slush hydrogen fuels that can take us to Mars or the rest of the universe. It's the kind of story that you just cannot put down -- or at least I had trouble putting it down (Just one more chapter, one more page, one more book) until about four o'clock this morning. I had the same experience with The da Vince Code and Angels & Demons. He has only written four books and I have Digital Fortress on order at the library; someone else has it out. But I certainly can't take much more of Mr. Brown's writing or I'd never get anything done.
I should be reading the books I need to review and cleaning the house instead of reading until all hours, but I just can't help myself. Even Philip K. Dick and Edgar Allan Poe can't keep my interest with Mr. Brown in the house. I only have a few more chapters to go and then I'll be finished -- until the other book comes in and then I'll be back reading till all hours. Well, there are worse ways to go.
One thing is certain, I have learned more about the intelligence community than I ever thought possible and I want to get out there and play with the new high tech weapons, although I will always return to the low tech swords and daggers I collect and use. Speaking of which, I can hear my sword calling me to play with it. I have neglected Excalibur of late and I really shouldn't. So, I'm off -- just downstairs not off my nut. What could you be thinking?
I'll shut up now.
Disperse and go play with something sharp and pointy.
Tuesday, August 10, 2004
Did you know dust collected in the cracks and niches in your mind? I knew about the cobwebs, but not the dust. Like furniture, if there is a thick layer of dust on everything, you can't see the beauty of the wood or the craftsmanship--not that there is beauty or craftsmanship in my mind, but you never know. At any rate, since last week I have been clearing out the cobwebs and dust and finding me underneath.
I didn't start out to dust my mind, but my nephew's incredible good fortune with a trip to Europe for twenty days next year began the process and I'm still clearing things up. Music has helped (or hindered) a lot. I'm with Shakespeare in wondering how sheep's guts and instruments made of metal and wood and cork can hale men's souls from their bodies--and stir the memories.
I wrote my mother, who should receive my letter today, asking some pointed questions. Just the act of writing the letter and asking the questions blew off a huge layer of dust that has accumulated over many decades, dust I didn't know was there. Last night I blew off another layer of dust, not a lot of dust because it hasn't been there for very long, but more difficult to remove. Tears help a lot.
I wrote Don. He may never read the letter, but I needed to write it all down and send it to him. He's still so angry and hurt and it's my fault. I know that. I was a coward and turned my back on him when he needed me the most. It took me two years to realize that and admit it. I am a coward. Faced with a lifetime of happiness and love, I ran away because I thought I was helping him, saving him from pain and grief. What a martyr I am . . . not. I made a pre-emptive strike because I thought he was losing interest and I didn't want to see that deadness in his eyes when he looked at me, the deadness all the men in my life have had right before it ended. So, before he could hurt me I hurt him. The real kicker is that he probably had no intention of hurting me, but was intent on his own problems and I couldn't wait to help him figure them out. Aah, the things you see when you look back with your eyes wide open and get rid of all the dust and fears.
So what have I learned from all this dusting? That I have been my own worst enemy. That I have been a coward. That I don't have to be that way any more.
I know love like I shared with Don will never come my way again, but having known that kind of love I know I will never settle for anything less. I have actually known love--the real thing, not the infatuation and lust that passes for love--and anything else is a pale, anemic shadow by comparison.
Some internal changes are going on. I can feel myself shifting, clearing, shaking off all the dust and cobwebs. Where I will end up and what I'll find beneath the dust is anybody's guess, but I am sure it will be a purer and more resolute and productive me. That will be an improvement.
I'll shut up now.
That is all. Disperse.
Monday, August 09, 2004
Okay, thanks to Who Represents?, I will be interviewing Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks for the proposed article: Saving Private Ryan: The Man Behind the Legend.
I interviewed Tom Hanks before for an article I did on the Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, of which Hanks was a part before he made it big in television. In fact, my brother-in-law, Larry Sherwood, used to end up with Hanks's costumes because they were the same size and had no butt. Just a little factoid. However, the interview with Hanks was about 10 years ago and by telephone, as will this interview, but Steven Spielberg is new and exciting.
Of course, the interviews are contingent on selling the article, but I have confidence in the idea.
I'll shut up now before I really begin gushing. Can you tell I'm excited?
Six years ago, Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg came out with Saving Private Ryan, which was based on a real life situation. The man in question was not Private Ryan but Sgt. Fritz Niland and he was the first man to be sent home from the war because two of his brothers were killed at Normandy on D Day and one other brother was reported MIA in the South Pacific. Roosevelt felt it was wrong to deprive a family of all its sons and enacted a law that sent Niland home.
The story is not at all as it is portrayed in the well known movie, but fantastic nonetheless.
I had the good fortune to know the nephew of the man who really saved Sgt. Fritz Niland and interviewed the gentleman in question. I also have a copy of a memoir the gentleman wrote detailing his sometimes hilarious adventures before, during, and after Normandy as one of the first recruits of the 101st Airborne, the screaming eagles.
Don't know why I waited so long, but I have spent the morning putting together query packages, e-mail and snail mail versions, to write this remarkable story behind the movie.
Now, I'm just curious if any of you ladies and gentleman would be interested in such a story, so give it to me straight and bare your soul. Does the story intrigue you? Would you like to know more? If so, let me know. Just consider this market research, especially since all of you comprise a varied cross section of American readers.