Monday, July 11, 2011

Turtles with Warm Butts

from: Daytona Beach, FL 32114, USA

Similar style to the truck I drove, you can
see the space between mirror and cab.
This one's decked out like Optimus Prime!
I was watching an episode of American Dad a little while ago in which a rabbit and a tortise are having a race, and it reminded me of once when I was driving my semi-truck and, in the middle of the highway, there was a turtle trying to cross. He was just moving into my lane and I saw him just in time to dodge a little to the right. I wasn't sure if I'd miss him or not, but I looked in my rearview mirror at my trailer tires and saw them fly past the turtle closely enough to warm his butt without hitting him.

I was elated to see I'd managed to miss him when I didn't think I would. The feeling lasted about two seconds, until the car behind me ran him over.

And this reminds me of seeing birds performing death-defying dives at vehicles and flying out in front of them. One event in particular happened while I was driving a Peterbilt 379P, which has a boxy frame, narrow cabin, and prominent exhaust pipes on the sides. This bird flew right in front of my cabin as I was rolling at speed down the highway.

In the first instant, I thought, "That's gonna be close!" Next, it flew BETWEEN my mirror and the windshield, and I had an instant to think, "WOW! What a lucky bird!" Unfortunately, an instant later, the truck's wind shear trapped the bird and slammed it into the exhaust pipe with a clang. I don't expect he walked away from that one.

I've had a few other birds suicide on my windshield, but fortunately no big ones, like eagles. Hopefully that's more because they're smart than because they're rare. And a cousin of mine used to have a car which had deer run into it several times. I advised her to sell her deer magnet to a hunter.

I recall hearing a story of a trucker in Alaska whose way was blocked by a moose. He blew his horn to scare it off the road and, taking it as a challenge, the moose charged him and rammed the truck. So if a moose ever gets in your way, don't honk your horn at it. You probably shouldn't do that to buffalo either; forewarned, we didn't test their docility while we were at Yellowstone.

Over the course of May, I got to do some traveling out west. I took a ton of pictures, and I also took notes while we were out, so I've got a lot of story-telling for you, as soon as I get the time. Since I got back, I've been kind of busy, especially in the last couple weeks, writing on one of my books and working on one of my other personal projects, so I haven't had time to devote the usual level of attention to the site. (I've got half a dozen partially written articles awaiting some attention.) And so long as this roll keeps on rolling - I've written about 100 pages just in the past 2 weeks, and that's a lot - I'm going to continue to focus on it. I know you're all dying to see my books on your shelves as much as I'm dying to put them there.

I'm sure a lot of you are good at being creative on demand, but for me, when I get the bug, I have to do something with it before I lose it. It's like having a wonderful dream; if you don't write it down right when you wake up, you lose it. Sometimes even that isn't enough. So while I've got just about the whole book in my head itching to get out, I need to do as much writing on it as I can.

A lot of writers, once they manage to overcome their writer's block for long enough to get some things on paper, get bogged down in editing their work. They may initially decide the night was dark and stormy, then later realize it needed to be cold enough to snow, and that changes a few other things, and pretty soon, they're spending more time correcting the stuff they wrote earlier than writing new stuff. I get that urge too.

But I saw a very helpful piece of advice in a book about how to get a book written in 30 days: when moments like that come up, make a notation to yourself right there about what you want to change, and then continue on writing as if that change has been made. This allows you to continue with your stream of consciousness before you lose it, so you can get more written down. Then, when you're resting your creative muscles, you can go back and make those necessary changes.

Another thing that is invaluable is doing a LOT of reading for fun. I've recently met someone who hasn't ever done that, and so her writing and critiquing abilities are suffering for it. She's learning fast, but there are still a lot of things you can only learn by looking at the examples of other people's work. I may not know what most of the rules of grammar are called, but I largely know how they work. You won't often find a comma or apostrophe out of place in my writing, and my nouns always agree with their verbs. Tense, point of view, and that kind of stuff are second nature to me. Why? Not because I paid any attention in English class - no, my English teachers admired me only for my creativity, when I had the guts to show it - but rather because I did a LOT of reading as a kid, and continue to read as an adult.

Reading for enjoyment, not for business. If you want to know how to write an engaging piece of fiction, you have to read a lot of it. If you want to know how to write technical manuals, you have to read a lot of them. It's called practice. And so I've lent that friend some of my books so she can see how other people write and learn from their styles. Hopefully she'll enjoy them and not critique them.

So you're wondering what all this writing advice has to do with animals too dumb to try to avoid loud, fast-moving vehicles. So am I. Looks like a chain of things I was reminded of after watching TV.

Hope everyone had a happy Aphelion last Monday. I meant to write about it, but I was too busy dodging bottlerockets.



  1. LMAO!!! @ "So you're wondering what all this writing advice has to do with animals too dumb to try to avoid loud, fast-moving vehicles. So am I."

    I actually just started writing on my first script. It's a TV-serie (drama), but I also have a movie (action/thriller) in my head. Unfortunately I don't have the time to write so much right now, but I hope I will get more time and inspiration later this year.

    Looking forward to your books, Jaycee! Don't forget to invite me to the release party (or maybe you only get such parties when you've written a couple of bestsellers? -Which I hope will be soon.)


  2. Congrats, dude! Write down the ideas and any important moments before you lose them. Good luck, and keep at it!

    And thanks! I appreciate the vote of confidence!


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