I have returned. You may find my new blog, The Hawk’s Tail,” at:
Hope to see you there!
It is hard for me to imagine when I think about it, but this is the 400th time I have sat down at the computer and produced a blog entry.
Sure, there were a few that I recycled, that I had written some time in the past but, for the most part they were all original little essays. This one, number 400, will stand as my last entry on this blog.
That sounds a bit cryptic, so let me assure you that I am not going off to kill myself or something, nor is my death imminent, (as far as anyone can assume such a thing). And, sadly, I’m not moving to old town Key West to wile away my days sipping exquisite Margaritas . . . not yet, anyway No, I’m just done.
The blog won’t go anywhere. It will still be floating around in cyberspace like a piece of space debris hurtling through orbit, awaiting its inevitable, fiery re-entry. Every now and then, some wandering cyber cowboy may stumble upon it on a Web search and will be free to read to his/her heart’s content.
I am glad that some of what is written here helped some people, and grateful to every soul that took a moment of their precious time to stop by and read what I wrote. I am honored.
For those of you who read this particular post, and want to have a way to get in touch with me in the future, I will do the unthinkable and leave you an e-mail on a public post – email@example.com.
I might pop-up again with a new blog sometime . . . who knows? Until then, well . . . be kind to one another. That’s about it.
Adios, my friends! That’s a wrap!
Many Blessings To All…
Archivin’ it! This was one of my first posts – I was definitely channeling some wisdom from somewhere for this one. It was originally titled, “I Wish.”
I wish that I had something profound to write about at this very moment, but I’m just not feeling it. That’s the nature of being a writer – writing beckons you, even when you don’t think you have anything to say. A blank page is an intimidating, and yet compellingly beautiful thing. It patiently waits for your words, and has the great decency not to point out what a load of blather you just coughed up. Can you imagine such a thing playing out that way among humans? A perfectly reasonable appearing adult walks up and throws up all over you, and says, “Thank you. I needed to unload that someplace, and you look like the perfect spot for it.” No, that wouldn’t end well; there aren’t many “blank pieces of paper” walking among us. We would take that personally, (at least I probably would). But not a blank piece of paper, (or computer monitor). It makes no judgment, because receiving the thoughts, words, feelings and emotions of others – without any judgment – is what it is designed to do.
Hmmm…now I must return to the first sentence of this post and declare it to be a falsehood. In fact, it was only true for two more sentences, and then something profound began to “come forth.” I started writing this blog entry a mere twenty minutes ago, with absolutely no idea of any subject to expound upon, and by simply “thinking on paper,” a powerful analogy that describes the essence of what the Spirit, the “Self” [capital "S"], the Christ Consciousness, the Buddha, FILL IN THE BLANK , would have us be, quietly slipped up from my deepest Self and made its way to the page. Wow…heady stuff!
The ultimate goal of our spiritual walk is to become a “blank piece of paper:” to attain the realization that we are here in this physical form for no other purpose than to experience, without judgment, what is presented before us; to move beyond the subjective evaluations of what is “good” and “bad” that our environment has conditioned us to believe; to be pure awareness – which is what we have always been and have failed to realize. There would only be ONE thing, ONE energy, radiating from one who has attained such a realization, who is a human “blank piece of paper” – and that is pure, Divine love.
But, there are precious few who are willing to let go of their attachments. There are precious few who realize, or even wish to consider, that love in its highest form has no element of a need to “possess” anything or anyone, or make any judgment. I certainly can make no claim to be such a one who has fully realized this truth. I am no “blank piece of paper” by any stretch. Nevertheless, I DO set about the work of attaining that full realization every day: to merge with the Divine within, to rest in the love and bliss that is all that remains when you “erase” the conditions that you, (with the media’s help), have established to be happy.
I encourage my students to write every chance that they get, no matter if they think that they “have anything to say” or not. In my book, I phrased it this way: “Writing is an outlet for you and a conduit for God. You need to do it. It is that important.” This post, which started as “nothing,” and ended with great power, is a perfect example of that phenomenon coming to pass – yet again. Write, write, write! The world needs the wisdom that is locked within you.
Many blessings to all…
That’s what I need - a bridge.
You see, I’m writing this fiction book, and a couple of months back I wrote myself right to the edge of a cliff; I had no idea what was going to happen next. I didn’t know where the story was going, so I couldn’t proceed. So, for about two months or so, I haven’t messed with it. Sad. Thirty-eight thousand words in . . . and then, nothing.
I’ve written and published a book in the past, but it was non-fiction. All that I had to do was relate what I experienced in an intelligent and coherent way. I didn’t even have to do any research – I had lived it. Fiction, on the other hand – well, that’s kind of hard for me.
Don’t get me wrong . . .writing fiction CAN be easy in two cases:
1. You are a genius – you know, the Stephen King , J.K. Rowling types. Or . . .
2. You THINK you are a good writer, but you churn out really crappy stuff. Writing crappy books is a lot easier than being a good writer, (and your friends won’t tell you the truth).
Outside of those two cases, writing a fiction book is very difficult. I’m not in category number one, and I know full well when I am writing total shit, so I’ll can it rather than stand by it, so I am not in category number two. [I don't count my blogs so much, because they are much more casual, "off-the-cuff ," and I may or may not do much editing before I zip them off into cyber-space].
Where was I? Oh yeah, at a cliff and needing a bridge. On the bright side, I know what the problem is. It isn’t that I suck as a writer, it’s that I don’t write with a plan in mind; no outline, none of that stuff. I have a vague, general idea of where I’m going, but that’s about it. I take that and sit down and start writing. It’s true – I don’t even know how the book will end, or have a list of characters, or a firm idea of a plot. That’s totally wrong, I hear – I would fail writing school.
Now, one would be making a reasonable presumption if one presumed that such an approach is destined for disaster. But, I re-read the entire book that I have thus far today, and it is a real page-turner. It pulls me along . . . I couldn’t stop reading it, and I wrote the damn thing! Just as if I was a total stranger to the work, I really want to know what is going to happen next for these people. I suppose that makes perfect sense, since in the real world, as the author, I DO want to know what is going to happen next, and I don’t.
But, I think the “dry spell” is coming to an end, because after reading it again today, I felt the “flow” of it again. I realized that the pace of the story had slowed, and that I had stopped at a place where dynamic action was needed in the story. It’s great to feel the pacing, because then you know where and how to direct your creative energy. The writing stopped within shouting distance of becoming boring, and that’s really good information to have as a writer. Now I know the nature of the energy that needs to be portrayed next, and that is a huge help in building that “bridge.” I know that there needs to be another dose of intense action, and that gives me focus by narrowing my creative field of vision.
Today, some ideas began to brew again. That feels good.
Many Blessings To All…
The following is an excerpt of my second book, (first attempt at fiction). It is not yet titled or finished – only 37,000 words in to it right now. I’m throwing this little snippet out there to see what you think. Please let me know!
A Change of Plans
He felt them first, then heard them, and at last saw them – two men in robes, on horseback, approaching him at a purposeful trot. His heart sank . . . “the strangers.” He grabbed his bow and notched an arrow. He would rather kill them from a distance than risk a closer confrontation. His fear nullified any question of whether their intent was evil or good; he didn’t care. If they ceased to exist, his anxiety would be relieved. He was drawing his bowstring when another form crashed out of the woods from the right. It was a grandiose entrance that momentarily stole Barrahtha’s breath.
Shining armor, silvery hair trailing from underneath a burnished helmet, a dark blue cape draped from broad shoulders, a heavy sword held tightly in his right hand, his arm loosely extended earthward, astride one of the most beautiful Bays that Barrahtha had ever seen. With a single leap, the gleaming figure commanded the center of the road, and wheeled to face the two approaching horseman. The two riders reigned up to a rapid stop, the energy of fear and uncertainty emanating from them. Their hesitance cost them dearly. The shining figure swept his left hand towards them, palm forward, and that action unhorsed them both as violently as if they had been hit with jousting poles. Barrahtha retired his bow. There was no point in wasting an arrow here; the magic that he had just witnessed would not be affected by such simple means.
The man did not wait for the two figures to regain their saddles, but turned his Bay toward Barrahtha and spurred into a hard gallop, sending the mud of the road skyward and his long cape and hair streaming behind him. Was this an illusion?
Barrahtha drew Cauldrabern, bracing for an attack. He was about to unveil his shield when the man began waving at him, yelling something that he couldn’t quite hear. As the increasingly animated rider drew closer, Barrahtha could see that the two strangers had re-established their composure and were scrambling . . . painfully . . . to get back on their saddles. “Three against one,” he thought. He didn’t like those odds, and was confident that Edana could outrun any horse alive if it came down to a chase. He was about to test that theory when he heard the man’s words ringing clearly.
“Run, you fool! Turn back!”
He recognized the voice immediately . . . it was Jannakk. His change in appearance from dirty robes to . . . this . . . was startling, but there was no time to ask about it now. Heeding his friend’s advice, he turned Edana about and heeled her hard in the opposite direction. Jannakk arrived quickly at his side and called over to him in a commanding tone. “Follow me . . . I’ll explain later!” Barrahtha needed little encouragement; his gut told him that the two pursuers were the mysterious strangers that Old Rory had warned him about, and he was glad that he was not alone.
They rounded a sharp bend in the road, temporarily shielding them from their pursuer’s sight. Jannakk raised his hand for them to halt, and eyed an impassable boundary of trees and brush to the right. He fixed his gaze upon the thickest point, and uttered, “Morag Andsacava.” At his words, an opening appeared and he rode through it and into the woods. Barrahtha stood motionless, transfixed by what he had seen. Jannakk’s booming voice shattered his inertia.
“What are you doing, waiting for those two to catch up? Move!”
Barrahtha’s senses returned and he hurriedly steered Edana through the gap that had been created. It silently closed behind him, leaving no trace.
“This way,” said Jannakk as he turned his Bay onto a practically invisible animal trail that led to the north. “That will leave those evil miscreants blind for a bit, and a few hours of free movement is all we need for the moment. Nevertheless, we must make haste.” Barrahtha nodded in breathless agreement as he and Edana slid in behind him.
Jannakk traveled north only briefly before turning east again. The trail had ceased to exist . . . it was only Jannakk’s horsemanship and knowledge of the land leading them now, and they were weaving in and around the trees and rocks of the hillside at a blistering pace. Edana was her usual, sure-footed self; Barrahtha, however, was holding on for dear life. In less than fifteen minutes Jannakk connected with another trail, a switchback that turned downhill sharply to the south towards the road from which they had fled a short time before. They erupted onto the main east-west road again near the same place that Jannakk had first appeared; only on the opposite side. He crossed the road, leading them back in the direction from whence he had originally made his riveting appearance. There were a hundred questions that Barrahtha was eager to ask, but Jannakk’s pace was unrelenting. There was little he could do but follow, and trust that there was some measure of safety ahead – a place to rest.
After crossing the road, they descended into a densely wooded and narrow swale, which was more like swampland as a result of the morning downpours. Thankfully for Barrahtha it was a short swale, as riding behind Jannakk was leaving him subject to a constant shower of mud and water. The elevation of the ground ascended rapidly as they exited the muck and Barrahtha could see bright sunshine ahead. A few moments more and they were on a large, ridge-top clearing – a treeless, grassy knoll that felt incredibly naked and exposed. Jannakk slowed his pace, allowing Barrahtha to come up beside him.
“Do you see that rock over yonder, along the tree-line to the right?” Jannakk asked.
“Yes, of course,” replied Barrahtha between gulps of air. “It’s bigger than Old Rory’s front door back in Armas; maybe the largest standing stone I have ever seen.”
Jannakk smiled, “Your description is apt . . . a front door is exactly what it is. We shall be going through it – but not just yet. Wait here.” Jannak shot forth at a gallop, continuing across the grassy plateau and down the slope at the clearing’s opposite side until he was out of sight. He was not gone long, but the wait felt interminable to Barrahtha, standing alone and exposed on the hill. The sound of hooves soon broke the silence again, and Barrahtha was relieved when he saw the old man’s head bobbing up over the hill.
“There,” winked Jannakk when he returned. “Nothing like a fresh trail for fools to follow.” He turned his horse toward the stone, and examining the ground in front of them said, Arnora Lancar Sissell Haaaa. Clearly it was a spell of some sort – Barrahtha felt the power – but nothing happened that he could see. “Come,” said Jannakk, and they moved across the field toward the massive stone.
“I’m sure that fools can follow this trail, too,” commented Barrahtha. “Aren’t you leading those who we are avoiding right to your ‘door’?”
“And what trail would they be following?” asked Jannakk.
Barrahtha looked behind him to find that there were no tracks. “So that was the spell,” Barrahtha considered quietly.
“A fellow might learn a thing or two of value from one such as you,” observed Barrahtha.
“The right fellow might,” replied Jannakk. “But if one desires new knowledge, old ways born of arrogance must be thrown away – there is not space for both. You have much knowledge that is more suitable for a chamber pot than your head.” Barrahtha’s face flushed, and he bristled at the insult. “That includes anger and rage,” Jannakk continued, interrupting Barrahtha’s boiling thoughts. “Such loss of control clouds the judgment. They are poor servants in times of crisis.” They arrived in front of the stone, and Barrahtha heard familiar words being uttered; Morag Ansacava.
A large opening appeared in the face of the stone where none had existed before, large enough for both man and horse to pass with ease. As soon as they had crossed the threshold, it sealed invisibly behind them, and Barrahtha followed Jannakk down the steep descent of a wide tunnel carved out of stone, with lit torches on the walls at regular intervals providing abundant light. It was only now, here, that he first noticed the emblem that was sewn in gold thread on the back of Jannakk’s cape. It was the image of a hawk, talons outstretched, looking as though it was about to grasp some hapless prey. Barrahtha’s connection to the hawk was strong, and he made a mental note to enquire about the symbol; but for now he trailed Jannak in silence.
“We are safe here,” announced Jannakk as they continued to descend. “For generation-upon-generation, the most-powerful of the gifted ones have gathered here in times of trouble, to plan, and to avoid detection. Now is a time of grave danger to all of mankind. In my many years I have never known a more serious threat to our existence.”
“What has all of this to do with me,” asked Barrahtha incredulously. “I am not among the most-powerful, and my ‘gifts’ are of little note.”
“It has everything to do with you; you are the one of whom the ancient prophecies spoke.” Jannakk continued in a reverential tone:
When the fires of the four corners unite to scorch the face of the world, one known as Barrahtha will arise, whose future will be the past. To him the world will turn, and be returned, in wholeness. Look for his coming when the four become of one mind. In the second world, he shall precede them, and leave desolate their future.
(Copyright 2012 by Greg McGraw, All rights reserved. This excerpt may be re-posted in digital format with proper copyright attribution).
Many Blessings To All…
This is what was said:
“Revelations of the photographs had senior defense officials once again promising an investigation “that could lead to disciplinary measures.” Said Pentagon spokesman George Little: “Anyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with our military justice system.”
This little snippet was in reference to the photos of U.S. Serviceman urinating on the bodies of dead Taliban soldiers. I will admit, such behavior lacks, shall we say, “integrity,” and is not in keeping with fables the U.S Government likes to spin regarding our morality.
The fact that we are in a foreign country, killing people, apparently, isn’t “inhuman;” but pissing on them after we have killed them is just WRONG. I think our moral compass is off or something.
War is shitty, nasty, bloody, irreverent, and a rocket-ship ride through hell for those on the ground. We teach the killing, without remorse, and then act surprised and appalled when someone “disrespects” the corpses we taught and told them to make.
I must say that your head is firmly planted in your ass if you believe that this is an isolated incident, or if you believe that such behavior did not happen when the “Greatest Generation” was fighting in WW II, or any other war. Technology is the only thing that has made this an incident – cell phones that record on the spot, and then post the pictures for all the world to see in a matter of seconds.
War isn’t like a Gene Autrey or John Wayne movie – it is blood, and guts, and fear, and screaming, and a great big “fuck it.” It isn’t nearly as glamorous, or romantic, or noble as John Wayne makes it appear in the photo that I have included in this blog. That’s the truth. I’ve been there, in combat, and beheld it personally. I speak from experience.
Are you offended, outraged, embarrassed, judgmental, sitting at home and hearing about it on the news? Yes, it’s real easy to be righteous when you weren’t there.
Bring them home. Now. That will solve at least one problem.
Many Blessings To All…
I lied. This single blog isn’t for “all the marbles.” It is for 300 of the marbles, because this is the 300th post I have written on this blog.
One would think that on such an auspicious occasion, I would have something incredibly profound to write about; maybe crack the Mayan calendar, or definitively explain quantum physics in a manner that even a child could easily grasp, or perhaps channel some complex thoughts from a being from an alien race.
Alas, I have nothing of such magnitude to offer. But, you know what, I have written 300 posts in a world where most blogs you come across haven’t had an entry since 2009. I’m rather proud of that, (no, I am not without ego, despite my belief that it is the source of much misery).
This leads me to a simple message: if you are determined to do something, there is a very good chance that you will.
I have been determined to keep this blog alive, knowing in my heart that, every now and then, I would write something that gave someone hope. And, over time, I have heard that I have. And if I can write something that can positively influence someone’s life, then YOU can do something to positively change someone’s life – you just have to be determined to do it.
Thank you to ALL of you who have taken the time to read my words thus far . . . and you can be sure that there will be more to come.
So, I am officially patting myself on the back for 300 posts. That’s a lot of hours at the keyboard, and a lot of commitment. Funny thing, though, it is always me that receives the greatest blessings from the effort. I’ll take ‘em
Many Blessings To All…
Well, today I ground out 2,000 words in my novel; me and Stephen King.
That’s how many words he writes EVERY day. It’s a goal for him that he usually hits, but one that I do not attain very often.
So, here is my interlude:
Damn . . .
Damn, damn, damn . . .
Writing a book is hard work, just like painting a picture, or creating ANYTHING.
If it is worth attempting, it merits following through. The story is good . . . but am I good enough for the story? We’ll see in the end. I will finish it – it will have a beginning, a middle, and an end.
My own little world, where the characters act just like I want them to.
Fiction is a gas . . . even though it is hard; for me, anyway. Into the eighth chapter, approaching 37,000 words.
I am updating my completion time to July instead of October/ November. Wish me luck!
Many Blessings To All…
Isaac Asimov . . .
Robert Heinlein . . .
and the king of all of the Science Fiction writers as far as I was concerned . . . Arthur C. Clarke.
I read the works of these guys voraciously when I was 12, 13, 14 years old. I lived in their worlds, and loved them. And I read the Star Trek novels, too.
Yes, I was a major nerd by popular definition [As an aside, just for the record, "bully's" aren't a phenomena that just recently occurred, despite the ads that are now on TV against it - I was on the receiving end of that ignorance many times, years ago]. In fact, when tested, I was reading at college level by the time I was in the sixth grade. Not because I was some sort of genius, (I’m most certainly NOT), but because I READ.
I can recall pleading for a few dollars from my mother so that I could buy a book at the Book Fair that was setting up at my school [I don't know if they still have those anymore, but they used to]. I didn’t have a specific title in mind, I just loved to read, and wanted to buy a book. I can still recall what I purchased with the money that I had begged for: “The Deep,” by Robert Benchley, in paperback, because that was all that I could afford. He also wrote “Jaws,” which ended up being made into a pretty successful movie franchise.
I also read Shakespeare, and Mark Twain, and Tolstoy’s “War and Peace.” And nobody made me read them, either; I wanted to read them. It wasn’t for any school assignment, it was me, being a geek. Then there was military history, strategy and tactics and, in particular, Civil War history.
I don’t think there was any author of note in the field of Civil War history that I didn’t read; most of them more than once.
Sun Tzu: The Art of War – not the American Civil War, but I read it. And biographies – Lord knows I read a bunch of those, and still do; business leaders, rock stars, you name it. Let’s not leave out the Scriptures, either. Not just Christian, but Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Islamic, and a few more, too.
And I read Adolph Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampff,” (not sure I spelled that right). Why? Because I wanted to know what he thought. Here’s the real kicker of it all . . . I probably read all of these books before I was sixteen years old.
Yes, I was, and am, a certifiable, documented book nerd. Why I write of this tonight is because I wonder, since I am an author myself, is there any one of these people whose style is most evident in what I put to the page?
All of these influences – I just have to wonder if I write like one of them in particular, or if my style is just a mish-mash of all of them. It’s an interesting question, since none of us do anything that isn’t a reflection, if only dimly, of a previous influence upon the way that we think.
That’s all very interesting, but there is an even MORE important point that I want to make: ALL of these amazing works, (though I exempt Hitler’s writings – and really shouldn’t – because he outlined quite clearly the hell that he intended to unleash, and his twisted worldview was ignored), are still available for you to read. In fact, you can read most of them for free courtesy of your local library.
The world is rapidly changing, so it is hard to gauge just how long we have before the printed word, on paper, ceases to exist.
I like the feel of paper in my hand . . . I’m “old school” in that way, even though I am well-versed in digital technology. Popular titles, best-sellers and such, will likely continue to be accessible in an e-book format . . . but what of the lesser known works, that didn’t sell millions, or even thousands, of copies. What of them? Will you be able to find them ten years from now, or even five years?
Get to your local library – support it. Just wander the aisles and see what jumps out at you. There is a world of knowledge that you cannot even imagine tucked away on dusty shelves. The day may come when these long-forgotten tomes are gone forever.
Broaden your horizons! READ something that is outside of your self-imposed “area of interest.” It will enrich your life.
Many Blessings To All…
“He,” being “me.”
I have been silent on the blog for a little while – my new book has taken up most of my writing time, (which is also a lot of editing time). I started the book without any firm idea of where it was going to go, and no plot. So, that makes me either a genius, or an idiot. Only time will tell, (though I suspect that I have a foot firmly planted in both camps). If there is genius, it comes through me, not from me.
By the time I had gotten to chapters three and four, (where I am now, around 22,000 words), a plot developed that was not in alignment with the way that the book started – which meant I had to go back to the first two chapters and do some serious revisions to ensure that everything was contiguous.
Writing is such an amazing process for me. Every time that I set words down on paper, I’m moving in blind faith. I do not know where the book is leading . . . what the next chapter will encompass – I just keep following that mysterious muse.
So far, so good. A few published writers and very talented folks have heard and read portions of what I have written so far, and they have been enthralled. It’s a good story, one that captivates ME as I read it, and I’m the one that wrote it. That’s always a good sign.
I have one rule that informs my writing style more than any other, and it is this: when I get to the end of a chapter, or a chapter break that inserts action that is taking place elsewhere at the same time, did I end it in such a way that I can’t help but continue to read?
That’s the essence of a good story; it pulls you along, you WANT to know what is going to happen next. If what I have written doesn’t do that for ME, then I presume that it won’t do it for anyone else either – so I go back and work on it until it does.
Rule #2, (if there are any rules), is that I write conversationally, and VISUALLY. I’m seeing a movie when I write. My writing is simply a description of something that I am “seeing” in my mind. So, even though this book is fiction, it is non-fiction to me in that I am just factually describing something that I am seeing – even if it is a fantasy.
Starting from a vague idea, this story has begun to take on multiple dimensions, like layers on an onion. It all begins to blend like the ingredients of a delicious, home-made soup. I am both the physical writer, and the observer of what is being written. It is a most wondrous experience.
I have contemplated sharing an excerpt on this blog, but my writing style makes that very difficult. When I write a book, everything BUILDS. By that I mean that each chapter relies upon the previous chapter for its validity.
I rarely have a “stand-alone” chapter - there are always links to what was written before. Knowledge that is critical to the story, or the chapter, builds upon information from a previous chapter. So, a “stand-alone” chapter leaves gaps for any reader who did not read what came before.
Anyway, for the handful of people who might give a damn, that’s where I’m at right now. And I still say what I always say – WRITE!!!
I don’t care who you are, or if it’s a private journal, or a book for publication, or just scribbling down some feelings about something – WRITE!! It will bless you. Don’t question how, just do it. When you do, you’ll see what I mean.
Many Blessings To All…