How to survive in a roomful of posers

Willow - Christmas 2018

I introduced my musing “The squeak that kills” on Facebook with: “My fellow imposters will recognize this feeling.” It seems to be true that everyone is going about their business worried they’ll be recognized and exposed as pretenders.

But if you’re not consciously pretending –

if you’re not putting on airs but

are really doing your art and are

lauded – are you really an imposter?

If it’s real, it’s real. Isn’t it?

Be real and the rest will

take care of itself – won’t it?

The only way to know is to be real

and see what happens next.

The real imposter is probably the one

who points or looks down a nose

and cries, “Imposter!”

Be real and you don’t have to worry whether it’s real.


The squeak that kills

dinosaur eye dreamstime_xl_42229118.jpg

There it was! I just heard it again – that little pipsqueak of doubt that said, “Why are you wasting time writing these words down and rereading them to see if anything is worth sharing, because of course none of it is?”

It passed through my mind just for a second, that little squeak, and yet such power it has. It catches me by the shoulder just before I’m about to take a step. It flits in front of my eyes in a flash that blinds me as I’m about to meet a significant player. It catches my throat before I can make make a cogent point, and it steals my attention as I’m about to write my pearls of wisdom.

I imagine the successful artists are those who conquer these vicious little beasts that steal our confidence – or perhaps the monsters can’t be conquered, only leashed, so they pull against our hand and we can say, “Yes, isn’t he a cute thing,” knowing the lovable-looking furball has the means and the strength to tear out our throats and have us for lunch.

Illustration © Graphixchon |

Slipping poison into a vial of laughter


I don’t know much about Seth MacFarlane – mainly that he has a different sense of humor than mine, because many of his jokes fall flat with me – but he seems to be an intelligent and talented man, so when the characters in his scripts say or do something, I think he knows what they’re saying or doing.

I’ve been mostly enjoying MacFarlane’s television show The Orville, his homage to Star Trek, but he stopped me cold last week with an exchange during the episode titled “All the World Is Birthday Cake,” written by MacFarlane, in which Capt. Ed Mercer’s crew makes first contact with a civilization much like ours but a century or two behind the enlightened Union space travelers.

During a banquet scene, one of the natives asks about the economic system of the visitors, saying, “I’m fascinated that there’s no form of currency exchange.” Continue reading “Slipping poison into a vial of laughter”

A day lost and found

above the contrail

The day had come and gone without his notice. He had buried his face in the everyday and could not say whether the sun had shone all day or if snow had dusted the neighborhood. It was as if he had slept all day, but he remembered waking.

Outside, he knew, there was a cold colder than the coldest cold and a land anxious for spring, but he hadn’t glanced out the window, as far as he could remember, so he couldn’t say if the ground was softer or harder or ice-covered or some lingering grass was visible. He thought he may have communicated with the outside world but couldn’t remember the details. Continue reading “A day lost and found”

3 journal fragments: What time is now

willow 12-21-2018

Almost a month into my Year of Finishing, and I haven’t finished anything yet. Even the schedule of what to finish, and when, isn’t done. What gets finished first, hmm?

What time is now?

I’m amused by the new bosses who have spent the last eight years screaming in the faces of elected officials that their policies are shameful and hurtful and mean, and now, having succeeded in winning significant seats from those they have treated as mortal enemies, now call for civility and bipartisanship. Where was civility when their duly elected opponents were passing their legislation? Where was civility when they were shouting from the gallery and fighting to have courts declare their opponents’ laws illegal and immoral?

What time is now? Is it time for civility and bipartisanship – the latter a code word for “cave to my demands” – or is it simply time to resume the battle, with the battle lines redrawn? Continue reading “3 journal fragments: What time is now”

Lost in the flit


The thoughts bombarded him like an automatic machine gun spraying the yard like lethal missiles. Overstimulated, he folded into a stupor, unable to think straight enough to take a step one way or another. Sounds, blinking lights, and hundreds of people dashing or walking this way and that.

He knew he had somewhere to go but suddenly had no interest or memory of where that might be, only an overwhelming urge to process the scene in front of him. It was if he had been dropped into a teeming ant hill: Everyone about him knew where they were going and was going straight about their business, but it looked like chaos. He wanted to see the pattern, he wanted to see how it all fit together, the infinite combinations. Continue reading “Lost in the flit”

A premise in search of a story

press dreamstime_s_84073300

The Printer. The Librarian. The Disk Jockey. Three denizens of Sunset Electronica, a story or novel or series of stories or novels for which I have a premise, a setting, but no story to tell.

They all preside over electric or electronic devices but old ones, built before computers were installed and equipped with tracking devices. The press was just a big machine – so was the turntable, and the book.

We can add The Mechanic to our cast of characters. And The Tracker, a hunter who does not depend on electronics to find fish or deer. They are the Keepers of the Old Ways, regarded with awe now but once with bemusement, for of what use were the Old Ways in a digital utopia? Continue reading “A premise in search of a story”

Fill the unforgiving minute

how to get it done

“If you can’t be great, then there’s no sense in ever playing music again, Sal.”

— Eddie Wilson, creative genius, in Eddie & The Cruisers

Is Eddie right? If you fail over and over to produce great work, you may as well quit? (That is not what he said, but it’s the underlying premise.)

No, Eddie’s wrong, as you might expect me to say given my devotion to Bradbury, whose mantra is attached to my desktop: “You only fail if you stop writing.”

Creating art of any kind is about the art – you can strive to be great, but there’s plenty of sense in making music whether you can or can’t be great. Continue reading “Fill the unforgiving minute”