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J. J. Brown, Wordslinger

So, it’s the first day of March……

……..and it got me thinking about how the word ‘march’ is not only a noun, but a verb.  It’s not just the name for a month (or a person), but it’s also an action.

The month of March, therefore, can be interpreted as a month of action. I know what it is to be stuck, to not know what direction to go in. What’s difficult about it is that there are so many choices, that we often freeze. We feel paralyzed and panicked and end up staying in the same spot. We are so scared of making the wrong decision that we end up not deciding, which in itself is a decision.

The only true wrong decision is to not decide and remain stuck.

So make a decision and move forward. March forward.

If you realize the path is wrong, change direction. Just keep marching forward.

Eventually, you’ll find your way. You’ll find that the panicked and stuck feeling will fall away and you can breathe easier. You’ll feel lighter, more buoyant. Your energy will come back and you’ll find excitement at your favorite activities that only a few weeks ago, felt dull and routine, boring and stagnant.

Pick a direction, make a decision and go forward. March forth towards your goals and dreams.

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So, I’m dabbling in art again……

……..which is something I did all the time as a kid and teenager. It’s a lot of fun, a feeling that I’d almost forgotten about. Over the years, my art output went from fully realized drawings and paintings to sketches to just random bits on scraps of paper.

I’m re-discovering the joys of allowing it to spread out all over the canvas (which is a new medium for me) and focusing on getting the picture out. If it’s not as detailed and precisely as I envision it, then I certainly work in the impression of what I want.

Go forth and find your creative spirit. Dive into the first artistic expression you can think of and move from there. Embrace all of it.

More importantly, have fun.

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So, I’ve been working on my Patreon page……

……….setting up posts so that when I’m finally ready to officially launch it, there will be things already in place for subscribers to enjoy.

It’s not quite ready for the public yet, but I’m excited about what I hope to accomplish. There will be a serialized story or two, one of which will have multiple choices to drive the plot forward. It will also have general posts open to all patrons, an occasional one for the public and some art work to go along with the writing.

It should be interesting.

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So, I’m developing a Patreon page…..

……which will feature my creative work. Meaning, excerpts from my stories will be found on my Patreon page.

In fact, I’m working on a serial novel, where the readers will be given a determined number of choices (four) and whichever choice has the most votes, will be the next chapter.

Whether that will end up as an actual, hand-held paperback, I’m not entirely sure yet. I’m inclined to think that it will depend on the number of chapters this experiment will inspire and if it will even see a satisfactory conclusion.

There will be some other posts, as well, but I’m excited to see how this will work out. I love writing, I love seeing how people respond to what I write.

And now it’s time to make my words pay for themselves. When I’ve got it set up and running, with some posts behind it and the beginnings of the serial novel, I’ll let you know.

In the meantime, keep writing, keep singing, keep dancing, keep drawing, keep being creative.

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So, I worked at a small farm for a couple of days…..

…….packing fruit.

Tangerines, specifically. Well, smaller than tangerines, if you can believe that. I don’t remember the name of it and probably couldn’t spell it on a dare. I was able to sample some of the tangerine family fruit and it was pretty good stuff. Fresh off the trees, just like nature intended for fruit to be.

It wasn’t an intellectually demanding job – you had to cull out the rotten fruit and sort out the remainder for orders to ship and farmer’s market. Once you got the knack of what to look for, it was pretty easy-peasy.

It wasn’t a job that was hugely physical, either, except in picking up crates of fruit and carrying it over to the sorting table. If you were early enough to nab a chair, you could sit or stand during the course of the day as you worked. It helped, but I was still exhausted after my first day. I just wanted to go home, crawl into bed and go to sleep until I had to be up the next day and do it all over again.

But I enjoyed the experience and will probably have some use for it in a story. I’m thinking the Narrator in my current Novel in Progress might have worked at such a citrus ranch. It’s seasonal work, so it would make sense to have her come for a month or so, then disappear. It happens in some situations and it did on this job, whether by conscious decision or an injury.

I’d definitely recommend getting out there and having an experience like this, whether it’s a citrus ranch or a cow ranch. Life experiences enrich us and help us grow. They also inform our creative work.

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So, my Novel in Progress is coming along……

…….and I’m starting to feel energized by writing again.

One of the notes I was given was to not summarize parts of my story – that if it was going to be mentioned, it deserved a scene of its own, in the present, as an action. So, I broke a chapter in half and created not just two, but three, chapters out of one. This includes the active version of what was a summarized scene.

The new scene, the one that breaks the former single chapter in half, takes place in 1924. An incident occurs in that year that is continually referred to throughout the story. It’s a pivotal moment in the story, as it affects several lives over the course of several decades leading up to the present. It may also be key to how the Narrator resolves the story and put an end to the danger that began even before 1924.

So it made sense to bring this moment out into the open.

And now I’m getting ideas on how to add some necessary details of the Narrator’s past into the main frame of the story.

And I’m beginning to feel excited by my work again.

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So, I’ve been working on my Novel in Progress…..

…….going over notes from my editor covering the first eight chapters. After six hours of taking out, adding to, and much re-arranging of words, I’m now five pages away from finishing the original notes. Then, I’ll go on to the edits covering Chapters 9 through 16. There’s also a pass-through of the first eight chapters, mostly a tweak here, a question there, and I’ll get to those at some point.

As soon as I’m done working on Chapters 9 through 16, however, I’m going back into the thick of it and write on. There are some elements that I want to add in for some of the secondary characters and a new skill for the Narrator. Bits that need to be established early on in the story also have to be done (continuity is the thing, here), as well as adding detail to the world I’ve created.

Maybe now I can figure out how it ends.

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So, last fall, I took a history class…….

……about how California came to be a part of the United States. I signed up for it in part to improve my general GPA in order to pursue a Master’s degree. I also love history and I want to incorporate what I learn to improve and to enrich the settings of my fiction writing.

Using The Elusive Eden by Bullough and Orsi, the course traced the ‘discovery’ of the region until the latter decade of the 20th century. We covered a lot of material, ranging from the encounters and conflicts between the First Americans and the Spanish and European explorers of the 16th/17th centuries to the creation of the Spanish missions. We read about the Gold Rush and the Civil War, about the Prohibition era to the civil rights movements of the 1960s and 70s. There was so much history (and at the same time, not enough), that I’m breaking this up into more than one post.

You know that saying, and I may be paraphrasing a little, “those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it”? Every week, I was reading my text book about events that happened three hundred, fifty, twenty years ago. On the news, it was playing out all over again. The players were the same, the conflict was the same, but the year was different.

What I learned about California as a republic prior to its acceptance into the United States reflects the growth and change of America as a whole. Like the state itself, the history is vast and sweeping, detailed and epic. Because of that, I will be writing about California’s history over multiple posts.

Through the prism of California, I saw how America evolved, set itself back and emerged anew, only to start the cycle all over again.

It was a surreal five months, to say the least. And it hasn’t ended.

My text book.
My text book.

So, I’m just gonna keep this post short…..

…….because I’m in a mood. The things I want to discuss are being difficult. Not in writing it down, but writing it in such a way that the salient points get across. There’s no absolute guarantee, of course, but my goal in writing about heavy, serious subjects is to make sure understanding can take place.

I mean, that’s the whole point of writing, right? And the arts, in general? To create a space where understanding happens, whether it’s from as far back as millions of years ago, or as recently as this morning.

Even if it’s wrapped up in bubble gum and a bow. Because sometimes sugar does help the medicine go down, to paraphrase that venerable movie nanny, Mary Poppins.

Gene Roddenberry knew that, which is how he was able to talk politics and social issues in Star Trek. It went by the execs’ heads, but the fans picked up on it and some found a calling in the sciences or other fields.

I could go on, I’m feeling that rambly, but I’m gonna leave it here for now. I’m still moody. And those subjects still need more citing and arranging before I let them go out into the wide world of the interwebs.

Have a good night, everyone. Read a good book, watch a favorite movie, listen to some music that fills your heart.

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