A Disconnect Follows My Soul

This is a Tweet showing a 46-second clip of Dennis Kucinich, a candidate for Ohio governor, speaking about banning assault weapons. Please listen to what he says before you read my response below. I just felt like I had to post this here as well because I sometimes find frustration in the fact that even someone I respect, such as Mr. Kucinich, isn’t making the correct connections, likely because he has to play the political game as it’s been set up. Anyway, here’s the Tweet…

…and here’s my response… (I had to write it in two parts because of Twitter’s character limit.)


Morning Heart

Of all that I have broken,
I have never broken a heart,
and for that, I am grateful.

But I have never had a broken heart.
For that,
I mourn.

The Gathering

You don’t know who you are,
you don’t where you’re from,
you don’t know why
you live to do what you do.

It has been said there are some,
a very few, who watch,
who know,
who understand.

Seek them out,
and once you find them,
you will find the answers
many have died to protect.

You will solve the mystery
to the greatest query of them all:
there can be
only one.

Writing Tip: Get The Villain Right

I recently watched a documentary that featured a quote that I feel hits the mark in a few different ways.

“I’ve always asserted myself as a villain because villains are always the more interesting characters in any story that I grew up reading and because the villain in any walk of life is the person who refuses to follow blindly and always wants to question things, and for me, art is supposed to be a question mark, so I’m merely asking questions.”
– Marilyn Manson, from the 2006 VH1 documentary Heavy: The Story of Metal

First, the quote speaks of villains in stories, showing why I believe the villain is actually the most important part of a story, which is why I personally find that Marvel movies tend to be forgettable, because they put the emphasis on the hero while the villain takes a backseat (really, though, I watch a Thor movie to see Loki, not Thor, and I’ll never forget Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight). To me, it’s the villain who holds everything together while we follow the hero on his/her journey. It’s the villain who makes the journey possible and necessary, so, in my not-so-terribly-humble opinion, a strong villain is needed for a strong story.

The second part of the quote talks about the nature of the villain. The villain is the one who doesn’t do what he/she is supposed to do but instead does their own thing for their own benefit. A villain can be seen as someone who wants to bust the status quo and shake up the world. Think about that the next time you hear about protests over issues such as minimum wage or lack of healthcare; remember that the current minimum wage or current lack of healthcare are the status quo, and the protestors want to bust that status quo for their own benefit, which, to the side wishing to preserve the status quo, makes them the villains. Also remember that corporations that strive to pay employees as little as possible and push to give people as little healthcare as possible are doing this for their own benefit, making them the villains as well, even though each on the opposing side sees themselves as the hero. This kind of makes me wonder if this world is mostly villains up against villains. Sure, we have our real heroes – those who sacrifice their time, effort, and even lives for the good of others – but I feel there’s a lot more villainy going on than people tend to realize or want to acknowledge.

Finally, the above quote discusses art and how art poses questions. I feel it’s important for art to ask questions, especially uncomfortable questions. A comfort zone is a safe zone, one in which risks are not taken and challenges are not faced. With fiction, in order to escape this comfort zone, uncomfortable questions should be asked, the status quo defied, and the mindset of villainy brought to the forefront, a mindset that bathes the truth we don’t want to see in a twisted light we have been raised to believe isn’t right or moral.

This is how to create an interesting villain, and, to me, this is the most important aspect of creating a strong story. It’s the villain who makes the hero stronger. If the villain isn’t done well, then what makes the hero a hero except for our predetermined images of what a hero is?


Every morning
we wake up,
greeted by a dawn
we can’t control.

Yet the beauty
of sunrise
is anticipated,

Perhaps morning
is a reminder
of our lack
of control.

Perhaps we too much
for control,
even after sunset.

Shall we celebrate
our freedom
from choices
we don’t have to make?

Shall we anticipate
the beauty
in all around us
to simply be?

Selective Light

My family are the stars,
each in exile
from the sun’s grasp,
from the sun’s light
singing of how it can
save me.

But the light is a lie,
a story fed to babes,
repeated by children,
to make them feel

But the light is a lie,
a mask worn
even by those
still working to convince

But the light is a lie,
pattering with distortions
only seen
through the glass
from the outside.

My family are the stars
too dim to find,
but their influence
must be,
for I can’t be
the only one.

Perhaps they abstain
from shining bright
in sadness
for the lying light
that professes how much
it wants to hold me
but only
if I accept its truth.

Perhaps they abstain
from the shining light
in sadness
for their brother or sister
who lost the way
and walks astray
in the darkness,
clinging to itself.

Perhaps they abstain
from the shining light
and how it wishes to save me,
while we gaze at each other,
and I wish to save those
who in their desperate hour
allowed the light
to blind them.

Reading Meaning

This past Saturday, I spent six straight hours finishing revisions for Chapter 11 of my first novel. Maybe total burnout had struck my brain, I don’t know, but afterward, I thought about what I wrote, focusing in on the possible meaning behind the repetition of a specific line.

For a tiny bit of background (no spoilers, I promise, which is why I’m not telling you any settings), I can say that the first scene, taking place in Chapter 10, involves the protagonist, Kara, speaking with another character, Roland. In this scene, Kara, who’s been charged with saving the life of every person on planet Earth, is having a “down” moment in which she has zero confidence in herself. Roland is attempting to talk her up.

“You’re not a failure, Kara,” Roland counters.

“I’ve always been a failure,” I counter back. “There’s never been a question about that.”

About to counter again, he stops himself and squints. “You know, maybe we do have something in common.”

If he mentions having an affinity for pronouncing the word ‘supposedly’ as ‘supposebly,’ then I will be seriously shocked.

“You’re stubborn, like me.”

Of course not; I’m too unique.

I part from a view of his gorgeous blues as my tone ensnares a healthy dose of reality. “I’m not like you.” My exhausted head droops as I finish, “I’m not like anyone.”

The second scene takes place in Chapter 11, as Kara confronts the antagonist of the novel, who is kind of attracted to her.

“What is your name?”

Turning from him, I cough out a laugh. “You’re about to murder everyone on the planet and you ask me my name as if it’s important?”

“Please,” he begs.

He begs?

Gazing up into his eyes, I see something that may resemble affection, like he’s actually come to care about me. But how can someone about to do something so unspeakably horrific have any sense of caring in him? I’d accuse him of being heartless for committing to destroy my world, but that would be a lie. My world is already gone, stolen from me years ago. Besides, I’m not sure that I have any caring left in me either. I mean, I never did wanna save the human race anyway; I only wanted to save myself.

“Please,” he softly repeats.

Maybe we do have something in common.

“Kara,” I exhale.

Maybe he’s devoid of the same thing I’m missing…

“It’s a true honor to meet you, Kara…”

…a need…

“…a pleasure.”

…something real.

If you didn’t catch the specific line that’s repeated in the two scenes, it’s, “Maybe we do have something in common.” Now, at the time I wrote it into Chapter 11, I didn’t realize I was repeating the line; that wasn’t my intention. When I did realize it, however, and I looked back at Chapter 10 to make sure I was remembering correctly and not just suffering from post-revisions severe brain fry, I began thinking about why that line is repeated.

What I came up with is that Roland is a good guy; he has a good heart. In that Chapter 10 scene, he’s seeing the best in Kara and trying to encourage her to see the same. But Kara rejects this because of the low opinion she has of herself. When Kara is speaking with the antagonist in Chapter 11, she thinks of him as heartless and uncaring. This is when Kara poses the same thought for the antagonist that Roland attempted to pose with her. She sees herself as heartless and uncaring so thinks that she has something in common with the antagonist. In other words, despite having good qualities, Kara only sees the worst in herself, which is why she believes she shares a common trait with the antagonist but not Roland.

This is also why I really like that little exchange at the end of the Chapter 11 excerpt, after she tells him her name, in which Kara’s thoughts align with the antagonist’s words. It’s like the two of them are on the same wavelength.

Anyway, those are my thoughts on my writings and analyzing my writings. Maybe I don’t intend to put meaning into every line or every action, but sometimes it accidentally sneaks in there somehow. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think I’m some type of genius by any standard, even the lowest ones, but part of the fun of reading and writing is analyzing what’s been read or written. I like seeing meaning in things, especially when I know it wasn’t consciously put there. This makes me believe that maybe there’s more to our thoughts and our creations than even we know.

Can you read the meaning in your own writing? Give it a try. You may surprise yourself. 😉

A Giraffe, A Canadian, And Shakira All Walk In To A Bar…

Three things:

1. Am I the only person on this planet who would take a picture of a giraffe sitting outside of a children’s orthodontist office?
Dysart and McDowell orthodontist office IMG_20170816_170348

2. Do you love Canadians? So do I. And like me, you can show your love for a Canadian by following the blog of this up-and-coming writer who happens to live in Canada. I plan to move there someday, you know, when I seriously need the free healthcare (America is so behind the curve on that). Miss Brittney Stevenson has only recently begun blogging, but what we know of her thus far is that she has a nice blogging style, loves the color purple as well as The Color Purple, and she has totally wonderful taste in music. Check out her blog by clicking this sentence.

3. Speaking of music, is this Shakira song just so freakin’ awesome or what?

Oh, I should finish that joke (up there in the title) with a bad punch line. Okay, umm, how about this?… A giraffe, a Canadian, and Shakira all walk in to a bar. The Canadian notices the giraffe seems sad as he struggles to curl his mouth down to his drink. Shakira, also noticing the giraffe seems sad, asks, “Long day?” “No,” the giraffe replies, “just a long neck.”

Just Win (The Super Bowl), Baby

Three years ago, I wrote a blog post concerning my Oakland Raiders and the fact that they stunk so much that I was hoping for them to get even one, lone win that season. It’s amazing how quickly the Raiders have turned around, last season becoming a post-season team for the first time in 13 years, and this season, being looked at by many as a Super Bowl contender. This represents quite the change for the Raiders, who for many years were the joke of the NFL.

So what happened? They put in the work.

And by that I mean that the Raiders are a well-managed team now. Their GM, Reggie McKenzie, has done a much better job in recent years of signing free agents and drafting new players out of college. Add to that the spectacular job head coach Jack Del Rio has done in instilling confidence in the team as well as a winning attitude, and it’s not hard to see that luck had nothing to do with the Raiders’ return to excellence.

Leading this return is a QB, Derek Carr, who would rather give all the glory to God and to his teammates and coaches than to himself. He’s a humble young man, and I’d have no one else in that QB spot. Carr’s exactly the type of man who I want to see on this team, and that’s saying a lot since there was a time when the Raiders were the bad boys of football and proud of it.

Derek Carr, as he’s willing to admit, was wild in his college years. That is, until someone special to him said, “You’re not the person I thought you were.” Coming from the right woman at the right time, those words were exactly what Carr needed to hear to turn his life around. He straightened himself up and began walking on the path of Jesus with that special lady who would become his wife. Today, Carr will tell you that he’s had many experiences that have convinced him that God is working in his life. In fact, if you want to hear him for yourself, please follow this link to a recent podcast interview in which he explained his faith, how he came to it, and how he uses it to help others. That portion of the interview begins at the 12:48 mark.

This is the man I’m thankful is leading my Oakland Raiders. I love him. He’s a wonderful young man with a great attitude and a strong dedication to his belief, to his wife, to his kids, and to making the Raiders a Super Bowl-winning team. I may not be a man of faith, but I’m grateful that he is. Carr has had such a positive impact on the Raiders organization and the fans, the Raider Nation, as well. And who knows? Maybe in a couple of years, when the Raiders move to Las Vegas, we’ll find out that Carr is exactly the angel that Sin City needs. I wouldn’t bet on Vegas changing one bit, but then again, faith doesn’t rely on luck. 🙂

Oakland Raiders - Derek Carr