Philip Brewer's Writing Progress


Wednesday, 21 April 2004

Did a bit of work on a new story, about 300 words.

A long time ago I tended to write stories about people who were powerful enough that nothing really bad could happen to them. When I came to understand that real jeopardy is required to make a story interesting, I started writing about people who were much less powerful. That's not a bad thing, but it I remembered recently that it's not the only way to achieve jeopardy. A powerful person can nevertheless be confronted by a huge danger. He can also have powerful enemies. I'd not been writing that sort of story.

So, I have it in my head that I'll write a story about a character who would be quite safe from ordinary danger, and yet finds himself in danger even so.

I'm still feeling my way into it. I don't know if I'll keep a lot of the words I've written tonight, but it feels good to be writing.

[Jackie on Lake Mingo trail]

I'm getting my exercise in. After Saturday's long run I didn't want to try do more running on Sunday, but I did want to get some exercise. I also wanted to get an idea of the course of the Lake Mingo trail race that I'm going to run in June. So, Jackie and I decided to hike the Lake Mingo trail.

It's kind of an interesting place. Like all the lakes around here, it's a man-made lake. I'm pretty sure the land was strip-mined in the past, and the mining is the source of the changes in elevation. The result is a big, irregularly shaped hole in the ground, mostly full of water. The ground rises steeply up from the lake some tens of feet, and then is rather flat, like the rest of central Illinois. The trail is almost entirely on this higher, flat terrain. But there are many inlets to the lake--creeks, small streams, springs, and seeps--each of which, naturally, is down at lake level. To cross each of these places, the trail dips sharply down, almost to lake level, and the rises steeply up again. It'll be challenging to run.

Hiking, though, was wonderful fun. The race is 7.1 miles. The sign for the trail says that it is 7.3 miles. Due to a couple of false starts, I'm pretty sure we went closer to 8 miles. The weather was fabulous, the woods were beautiful, people were scarce. I was only a little tired from the previous day's run and held up okay.

We're planning on hiking every weekend we can.

Monday I took a rest day. Tuesday I ran 2.5 miles. Today I lifted in the morning, then ran 3 miles in the evening.

I saw a handsome snake on the Lake Mingo hike. I didn't get a good enough look to identify it, but it was largish (five feet perhaps) and a smooth, even greyish green color. Toward the end of the hike I saw some bluebirds.

Today I saw a red-tailed hawk out the window at the office, circling first over the sheep pasture and then over Assembly Hall. On my run this evening I saw a kingfisher.

[Me in our new chair]

The only other bit of news, I guess, is that our new living room furniture arrived.

This is me reading The Confusion sitting in our new chair. We also got a matching love seat.

The Confusion, by the way, is wonderful. Hilariously funny, full of adventure, packed with emotion, rich and juicy. Good, good stuff. Lots of stuff about money, always a favorite topic of mine.

I've written before about frugality and the need for people, especially poor people, to accumulate some capital. It turns out, other people have had the same ideas. That site is about a bunch of private and public efforts to move beyond the notion that poor people just need to have their consumption subsidized, to the idea that ownership of assets in America should be significantly broadened.

Things are going pretty well at the day job. They announced sharply higher earnings yesterday and our stock price spiked up. Yay.

Steven sent me a link to an article on writing by Joseph Epstein that talks about whether writing is related to brain abnormalities. (He thinks it mostly isn't.) It took me a long time to get into the article, but near the end there was a really good bit:

When the going is good for a writer, though, it cannot be bettered. For writers whose productivity comes to fruition in regular publication, the activity itself is its own reward--and practicing it beats all other regular employment. Once one has achieved a relative mastery over one's craft, the pleasures of composition are like few others: certainly none that I have known. Constructing well-made sentences, in which words and thought appear to make a seamless fit, causing the small but intense light of insight to click on, can only be compared, I should imagine, to the delight of dancing faultlessly to one's own choreography.

That describes it perfectly for me. But it's easy to forget. It's easy to get wrapped up in all the other fun or wonderful things to be done--for me, lately, reading, exercising, and watching tv--and not get around to the writing.

It's good to be reminded.


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