Protected: Turning Around

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On it

Holy crap, what a week!
We are just inside the three-week mark before we run into the Spring break fury that we are all so very looking forward. to. Still with Jer reading Lord of Chaos. We’re on about Chapter 9 or so right now. It’s the densest book of them all at present. All went well with classes and the work this week. The coffee was good, so no complaints there.
Finished up a short story this week and will be submitting it for professional review, so that’ rather exciting. It went through nine drafts – nine, and that’s just so far. I mean…and that was just a short story! I can’t imagine what it would take to get a novel or an epic fantasy through that many times. I know that there was a time in which Brandon Sanderson was talking on a Writing Excuses cast and he said that one of his well-over-900-page books went through fourteen drafts. Fourteen!

I’m sorry, what?

Yeah. Nuts.

Other than that, life is good.
Jer’s gonna get a bit of gaming of his own on this weekend, which is amazing. Can’t be happier. T?hat’ soigné to be my plan starting now. I’m workin gon getting more of that around . Have to have it. It’s sort of like eat travel bug, but it’s not really a bug. We know that.

I did watch some Critical Role last night. Matt Mercer is a pretty cool DM; I must say. Good show. I’m looking forward to some of the interviews with Adam Koebel and JP that are supposedly coming up. I have them all jotted down with topics.

Okay, enough of this drivel; back to writing.


Jam to this:


Thank you for the “Excuses.”

(*Below is my thank-you letter to the cast of Writing Excuses – a true source of writing inspiration, humor, and kinship of craft. If you want to be a writer, and have trouble with inspiration, please consider this cast.)


Dan, Brandon, Mary, and Howard,

Thank you.

My name is Levi and I have been listening to Writing Excuses since its inception. Right from Season 1 all the way to now, I have loved spending this time with you. This is not to take up a lot of your time, but I wanted to thank you for the inspiration you have given me in my writing life.

I have been writing since 2008 after reading Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, believing that I could do the same (maybe not as well, of course, but similarly). That I could be a writer. I grew up enmeshed in epic fantasy and science-fiction, and wanted to create and exist in those same worlds in my writing as an adult.

But I didn’t know how or where to start.

So, I picked a direction, something. I would read interviews with several novelists who I had admired growing up, articles and tips online about how to dive in, and I sat in on a writing group in the local area. But it was when a friend recommended Writing Excuses that I found a new series of fires had lit within me. From one episode to the next, I found myself listening to them four, five, six at a time. At that time, you were already into Season 3 or so, which allowed me to download handfuls of previous episodes and binge-listen to my delight. I had them on my phone, twenty-some episodes all locked and loaded at a time. If I needed to pause, I could pause, and I would come back to it and pick up where I left off.

And as I listened, I learned. Character, setting, plot, structure, language, dialogue, and on and on. And the two best parts were that the show is relatable, and maintains its level of interest. Let’s be honest, when you talk about writing, you can either make it appealing or not. In this way, I have to thank you on how very low you keep the level of suck. You have humor, you have varying personalities, you’re all very accomplished and have loads of anecdotes of experience to share with us, and unlike many other authors, who may carry an air of conceit, you treat us in a way that not only shows that you know where we’re coming from and what we’re feeling as beginner/amateur writers, but (and most-importantly) that you believe in us and encourage us to dig, and push, and create.

Brandon, thank you. My brother and I are both writers and huge fans of the Wheel of Time. His background of sci-fi and fantasy is heavier than mine, and when he says that the Way of Kings is the finest fantasy series he’s ever read, that’s saying something. Your prolific output, dedication to the craft, and generous advice and demonstration on writing (Youtube, lectures, interviews) continually inspires me. We met in San Francisco when you were on tour with Harriet. Your advice to me was, “keep going.” Thank you.

Mary, thank you. It is because of your dedication to your craft, your investment of yourself, and your honesty with your encouragement and advice for the rest of us is very inspirational. You hand-write letters to your fans and it was through this way that we met once at Norwescon in Seattle and I was introduced to and read Shades of Milk and Honey. Thank for you continued inspiration.

Howard, thank you. Your humor on the cast is great. It is so very nice to have you process the craft for the rest of us as it relates through the lens of the graphic art. When I check in on your site and see that you still putting up new strips every single day, it is very inspiring for me. You bring an art and style to writing that many may overlook and I would like to thank you for not only the exposure of your style to the craft, but your input as a writer and a cartoonist to the topics of the cast. Thank you. I must say that it has been some time since we’ve heard you give us the exclamation of “luxury” in only the way you can.

Dan, thank you. It’s always inspirational to know of those who know what they want and just walk out and get it. As a horror writer, you bring something to the table that the rest of us need to hear. It’s so nice to hear your method of how you break down your ideas into a structure (and eventual final product) for a story which affects its audience. Your Seven-point plot structure is a beautiful tool for writers and I thank you, as I am considering using it in a current project of mine.

Each of you has inspired me as a writer and I very much appreciate

Which brings me to the reason I wanted to write this letter. The most recent episode on true confessions is the best I’ve ever heard. Maybe you thought it was mediocre or just something fun to do, but it was the most poignant and apropos message I’ve heard to date. I think it’s easy for beginning writers to think ideas such as, ‘no, this can’t be the way to do it,’ ‘no, it’s all wrong,’ or ‘no, I’m just repeating myself, I don’t have any chapters yet, this isn’t even what I wanted to write about…..’ and on and on. “Failure” after “failure” after “failure.” And this episode is one in which you tell us to our faces, “Actually, that’s totally normal…and look at all the times I screwed up.” I love the fact that Mary said that it’s not really failure, it’s just data. It’s said that Thomas Edison screwed up over 1,000 times (and I’m paraphrasing) before finally inventing the lightbulb. And when asked about all those times, he is famously quoted as having said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times, I just found out 1,000 ways to not make a light bulb.”

Math is not my forte, but if we’ve been at this for 12 years (you as the hosts, and me as the listener), then we’ve hit somewhere around 625 episodes – ballpark. And this one, above all, was the most perfect of episodes. No guests needed, no special theme, no writing prompt, just sitting back and listing some of the epic screw-ups that you’ve had, and reminding us that (as Howard said, and again, I’m paraphrasing), it’s not that you fail; that’s going to happen. It’s what you do with that discovery. You can either quit, cry about it, moan, and consider a professionally lofty bridge, or get back up and go at it again. You’re either a writer, or your not. What a period to end the season with.

Thank you for the inspiration. I am looking forward to the upcoming season on character, and if I may, and because I’m into language, I’d like to learn about character and presence – basically, the about of presence a protagonist (or side character) can have and how you can keep a character’s presence from overwhelming the rest of the story (i.e. maintaining a balance of character presence).

Okay, enough from me. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your continued dedication to the craft we all love, and for helping us better ourselves in this venture. You do just by who you are.

And with that, although I am not quite out of appreciation, I am out of excuses. I’m off to write.

See you next year,

Gate 89

Just getting back from a kick-ass vacation with the family. Here’s a clue as to where it all went down:

What a deal. There was sun, beach, accommodating personalities, and plenty of smiles. It’s been too long since I’ve dropped a post; well consider this one official. Was able to meet up with TC,JJ, AC, AM, and NG. So good to get back together with you. To the others that I missed, please don’t fret. I’ll be back. That’s all but a guarantee. I miss it, all of it. I miss the water, the food, the sun, and the softness of the energy. My favorite fountain is there in K Park – the Dillingham one. There’s a cache there that I tried to get with B, but we just weren’t able to find it.

At present, life finds me at Gate 89. Coffee is here just within reach of my right hand. Locked and loaded.

Here’s the latest. Back to the keyboard.

Why the Old Man Smiles

It’s 11:22 p.m. and before I crash, I need to tell you about how my day ended.

Today had some stress to it. It’s a Sunday – a day off, but still, there was some stress. If you’ve ever been a student (so, I presume most of you), you’ll understand what it’s like when your vacation ends and there’s that one day where you’ll have to get back to school…and then of course there’s homework, tests to study for, lab reports, essays to write..that kind of stuff. And that’s if you’ve ever been a student.

But this especially hits home if you’ve ever been a teacher. If you’ve ever been a teacher, you’ve no doubt experienced that time when your vacation ends and there’s that one day when you’ll have to get back to work…..and then, of course, you will have had to have prepared all of the homework, tests for the students to take, the components of the lab reports, the rubrics for the essays you’ll have them write….that kind of stuff. All the stuff that, as a student, you just sort of expect is going to be there, and as a teacher, you never knew that you had to prepare.

            But it’s there – all that stuff.

            Today was a day in which I was doing all that kind of stuff. During the course of the day I got e-mails from students asking me why their grade was an A- and not an A, I had thoughts about the parents I’ll be speaking with throughout the term, I opened my e-mail for the first time in two weeks and had to respond to each of those. After all that I had to figure out how not to use a certain grading tool because of some of the disadvantages it brought me last term, and learn how to use another grading tool with which I am completely unfamiliar.

            And, finally, AFTER ALL THAT, begin planning for the week.

            Hours. It took hours off the day. I had to somehow manage to sneak in a lunch there in the middle, and then get back at it.

            Then there was dorm duty. The kids were great, but there are 40 of them and none of them have homework, and they all want to crowd in the same room and have yelling conversations when my colleague’s bedroom is right next door. In the meantime, there are other students walking in and out, traipsing through the hallways yelling out the names of their friends. “Hi,” I say, “who are you again?”

            So there’s that.  Four hours there.

            It’s 11:00 p.m. The day is done. It’s very black, dark, and cool out. I have but to drop by my office, drop off some books, send some e-mail messages, print something, use the restroom, and then I can leave.

            Done. Walk outside. <DEEP SIGH>

            Then, stopped, in the middle of the quad, I just want to listen to the silence. It’s so quiet, I just want to hear that.

            I look up….

            …and begin to laugh.

            Not a chuckle, a giggle, or a snigger. A full laugh. An out-loud laugh. A hearty gut laugh.

I take a breath and bend over laughing aloud again. I look around at where I am, in the middle of a quadrangle, surrounded by dormitory windows (some on, some off), and in the middle of the night’s silence, I’m laughing aloud.

            To answer why, here is what I see.


Many of you just see a moon, but what I saw this.


            Here he is, my guardian, my spirit. And in that moment he reminded me that I was worried about bullshit – that all my worries were completely irrelevant. Considering how very vast the great Great Cosmos is, and I am getting anxious over the infinitesimal.

            Now that’s true love. Thanks for the reminder.