No mo moping

It’s been an odd week. I lay down at 7:30 p.m. Monday — way before my bedtime — figuring I could treat it as an “afternoon nap” and awake refreshed to work on my blog and stuff. The “nap” lasted until 11 o’clock, but I stayed up as planned anyway and ended up filling a dozen journal pages over the next two hours. Part of those thoughts ended up in my Tuesday blog post, “Taking stock,” which I finished around 2 a.m.

The day job has taken up most of my waking hours since then — one of our three-person staff is taken a well-deserved vacation this week — and I’m still trying to digest the notes to myself from which “Taking stock” emerged.

It was quite a meal to digest. I ran through all of my works in progress, assessing and organizing and trying to wrap my mind around it all, perhaps with an unconscious goal of generating some realistic goals for 2024. I concluded that I have nine distinct works in progress at various levels of completion, comprising the beginnings of two to four series — and those are just the novels.

I also have a couple or three ideas for non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a collection of poems, and a desire to get serious about writing songs again. Doing the Ebenezer podcast has reminded me that I think it would be fun to start making audiobooks, too. Oh yes, and I still have the above-mentioned day job. Is it any wonder that taking stock is a process that takes a few days?

The attitude shift I described in “Taking stock” is a big step. When I got to the bottom of the 12th page that night, I concluded with this advice to myself:

“You are sitting in a modern-day House of Ideas. Stop moping, take the wheel, and enjoy the ride.”

Uncle Warren’s Attic presents Ebenezer, Stave 3: ‘The Second of the Spirits’



I hope you’re having as much fun listening to the story of Edmund Filliput as I am having reading it to you. This week, as you might expect, the Spirit of Christmas Present catches Edmund up to the lives of the people we met with the Spirit of Christmas Past. You might not expect what happens in Stave 4, but that must wait until next Friday.

Unless, of course, you want to skip ahead and read the rest of the story right now. You can do that by grabbing the ebook wherever fine ebooks are sold, like here or here

You can also order them in paperback or hardcover format from any online bookseller, and I’m thrilled to add that the paperback is now on the shelves of OtherWorld Books & More and Novel Bay Booksellers in Sturgeon Bay! Your local bookseller should be able to order it for you.

I’m finding the hardcovers are coming off the presses a lot more slowly than the paperbacks, but I’m very pleased with the quality of both. I hope you will be, too. (Insert smiley face emoji here)

Sasha saves the day

Onyah after she grew up, circa 2008 or 2009.

(Based on a true story.)

Onyah and Sasha were pals. They lived with their people parents at their houses in the woods.

Onyah would run and play with Sasha like a puppy because, well, Onyah WAS a puppy.

“Be careful,” Sasha would say, because she was older and wiser, “or one day you’ll run and play right into trouble.”

“You silly worry wart,” Onyah would say. “Don’t you worry about me.”

One day in winter when the sun was shining but snow was on the ground, Mama Red let Onyah outside, and the little puppy went running in the woods near their home. She found a pond that was covered with ice.

Onyah walked on the ice and said, “Whee! It’s slippery!!” And she ran and slid on the ice, crying, “Wheeeee!”

But all of a sudden, the ice went CRACK!

And Onyah went SPLASH! into a hole full of cold cold water.

Onyah tried to climb out, but her little paws weren’t strong enough, and all she could do was put her paws on the edge of the ice and cry.

“On-yah! Come inside now!” Mama Red called from the house. “Where are you?”

Just then Sasha and her humans, Jim and Heidi, were taking a walk along the road. Mama Red came out to see them. 

“Have you seen Onyah? She didn’t come when I called, and I’m worried,” Mama Red said.

“Oh dear,” said Heidi. “Let’s go look for her.”

After a few minutes, Sasha heard cries from somewhere and ran up a little hill.

“What is it, Sasha?” Jim said. “What do you see over the hill?”

He walked up behind Sasha and saw Onyah’s sad little face with her paws hanging onto the ice.

“Oh my!” Jim said, and he ran over, stretched himself out on the ice, and grabbed Onyah’s little paws.

He pulled her gently out of the water and hugged her tight, to warm her back up. 

“What a good girl Sasha is!” said Mama Red. “And what a sassy dog you are, Onyah!”

They took both dogs home and laid them next to the fire.

“I told you,” Sasha scolded Onyah. “One day you were going to run right into trouble, and today was the day.”

“You were right,” Onyah said sadly. “I will be careful from now on.”

“That’s good,” Sasha said. “After all, my humans and I may not always be there to save you.”

“But you did save me!” Onyah cried. “Oh, Sasha, we will always be pals!” 

Taking stock

Slowly but (sometimes I realize) surely, I have been chipping away at the block of stone that is my quarry of incomplete fragments of thought and bursts of creativity. I am pleased that I have had a big little victory this fall in shipping Ebenezer: A sequel of sorts to A Christmas Carol out the door, and I am eager to follow that up and find another finish line in my wandering way. 

I know I have to shift my attitude. I have at least 10 unfinished creative projects and often express frustration that I have failed to bring them to a conclusion. The fact is, however, that I have taken steps along the path in every case. They are not my “unfinished novels” — they are my “works in progress.” Do you see the distinction?

Even if I only nibble at the edges of this one or that one, I should be celebrating the newly etched teeth marks rather than bemoaning how much of the elephant I still need to eat. Wow, talk about mixed metaphors — I have meandered from the stone quarry to the undigested elephant in three quick paragraphs.

What am I doing? Where am I going? The eternal questions. It does help to stop along the way, to rest and regenerate, and see where I am and where the journey has delivered me at the moment.

We often ask “What am I doing? Where am I going?” in a tone of despair, but it occurs to me that perhaps that is the wrong tone. Rather than moaning about meandering, we should exclaim, “Look what I’m doing! See where I’m going!” 

We will see that we are traveling along a glorious path through a wilderness, exploring our way on everyday paths that wind this-way-and-that in newly discovered directions all the time, if we would just lift our heads and see what surrounds us. The sun rises and sets every day, but the swirls of weather and billions of interactions around the planet make each a different day, a kaleidoscope of experience.

By shifting the focus from “unfinished” to “in progress,” I cease moping about not having “enough” of my projects done (what does “enough” mean anyway?), take the wheel and start enjoying the ride.

I think Ebenezer turned out nicely, if I say so myself. I’m looking forward to what comes next.

6 o’clock

“There’s something special about 6 o’clock in the morning.” What a great first line for a song. I’m not sure John Sebastian quite pulled it off — it’s not one of his most memorable songs — but many mornings at 6 o’clock, I sing the first line. 

This time of year, 6 o’clock in the morning is dark and cold and quiet, and I think the dogs are nuts to want to go out there. But I remember 6 a.m.s when the sun is shining and birds are calling to each other and the air is bright with the promise of a new day.

I’m guessing Mr. Sebastian wrote that first line in the summer.

Still, warm or cold, 6 o’clock represents the beginning of the day for most people, a proverbial and literal fresh start, a time for reorganizing and refreshing and preparation and taking a deep, quiet breath before plunging into the chaos of another day.

There’s something special about that moment.

Something, anything

The value of establishing a writing streak is enormous. Making the commitment to write something, anything, every day, creates a habit that is hard to break, and especially once you have sailed past 1,000 days, then 1,100 days, and then 1,200 days. You just don’t want to go back and start counting from 1 all over again.

Still, inevitably you’ll have a day like this one, a day when you can’t think of anything to write about except the streak.

It’s weird. You might have just finished your first significant bit of fiction in almost a decade and published your first significant bit of fiction in nine years.

It may, in fact, be your first published book of any kind in more than a year.

You might have all sorts of ideas rolling through your head.

And yet still, some days, you find that none of your ideas are formed well enough to convert into a coherent blog post.

You kick yourself for not working far enough in advance, despite your best intentions to work ahead and especially never to leave the blog until the end of the night. 

But you made a commitment, and so you sit down, reluctantly, to scratch out a little something about writing for the sake of extending a writing streak. 

“This is the 1,215th day in a row that I have posted something here — three years, three months, 28 days,” you write. “And isn’t that something?”

And you realize, why, yes, it is something, isn’t it? After decades of writing intermittently and thinking how good it must be to develop a regular writing habit, you did it. You’ve been writing and posting something here every day for so long it’s second nature to write something, anything.

You know there will be days that you write something more interesting or thought-provoking or entertaining, because you’ve already had days like that. You know there will be days when you come up with three and four and a half-dozen blog posts, because you’ve had those, too. 

In short, if you follow through on a commitment long enough, the days when the words barely trickle out don’t trouble you all that much, because you’ve also had days when the floodgates open. 

And so you write a few words about not having much to write about today, and you sleep well, looking forward to what you will write next.

Everyone knows it’s windy

I have never seen the wind, but I have felt it sweep cold into my bones, and I have seen leaves dance across the yard, and trees sway, and rain and snow fall almost horizontally. I have been comforted time and again by the melodious non-melody of our wind chimes outside my office window.

The wind is a mighty metaphor for God. I have never seen God, but I see the effects. I have seen God’s glory.