Jeremy J. Jones – Stranded in Thought

July 5, 2010

10 minutes to Oregon

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Jeremy @ 12:41 pm

Willamette River from Parrot Mountain, copyright © M.O. Stevens

After my morning workout in the gym this morning I decided to head out for a drive, searching to find Snake Den State Park in nearby Johnston, Rhode Island. I drove around it for a bit, never finding the parking lot and access to the trails. (This appears to be because the directions from the site are inaccurate; I believe the entrance to be on another road than the one named in the aforementioned directions.)

But what was interesting was what I did find. I drove up Route 6 (the ever-winding highway that travels east from Bishop, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts), and turned onto Brown Avenue.

Once I did that, I nearly immediately came across farmland and felt transported 3,000 miles to Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where I grew up. I felt a sense of nostalgia as I drove along that country road for a few minutes.

Eventually, I gave up trying to find the entrance to the park and instead resolved to find it another time. But that was a great start to my day, and sent me off to find this great shot from M.O. Stevens.

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June 2, 2010

New month, starting the new challenge

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Writing — Jeremy @ 5:19 pm

So last month I created a goal to surpass my highest number of posts to date. It’s not a great goal, because it’s a very good way to get a lot of crap put up on my blog this month. But I’m going to do it anyway, when something strikes my fancy.

I’m working on my craft series now, starting with plot. I need to get a couple of books on that, and really study and learn. It’s going to be great fun.

I’ve also got other ideas for posts. One thing that comes to mind is the sheer number of available markets we can submit to. It’s staggering.

Another thing is the ease with which we can find the names of editors in the field, at magazines, major New York publishers, e-zines, and so on. These people want to be found, but just not by everyone in the whole world. So they make it a little bit difficult, but not impossible. We just have to know where to look. Veteran writers tell us the right places all the time; we just have to be listening when they say it.

So I’m off to study plot for a couple of hours, with dinner somewhere in the middle, and then I have a few short stories that will be submitted before the end of tonight. They’ve all been written some time in the past two or three years, but have sat stagnant. Time to submit and see what I get. Rejections, or rather their format, will tell me what the problems are.

Of course, I could end up with the opposite problem, and they all get accepted. That’s not likely, but it’d be a nice problem to have. I’m told that writers are terrible judges of their own work, and they should let the editors decide.

So be it.

January 11, 2010

Where do you get all your ideas?

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Thoughts — Jeremy @ 8:58 pm
Work, work, work

Image copyright © 2009 Jeremy J. Jones

Too many times to count, I’ve read or heard published authors say that by far the most common question they are asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” or some variation on that. Invariably these writers say that it’s not coming up with ideas but finding the time to write the stories the ideas generate before new ideas occur that is the problem.

I’ve really got a fire burning under my tokus the last couple of weeks, and it is due to my own drive, but considerable thanks are due to Dean Wesley Smith’s series on motivation.

I decided that I want to start working on a longer story that I’ve been kicking around, mostly because I love the idea and because my niece and nephew are aching to read it. So I went looking for my notes on the story.

I’m apparently like most writers; we all keep many notebooks, notepads, electronic versions, and sticky notes, all with scribbles about various projects and topics. As I flipped and clicked through everything, I realized that I have literally dozens of story ideas documented, in various states of development. I became overwhelmed briefly, before realizing that this is a good thing. I could work four hours a day for the rest of the year and not finish writing everything.

Yet I come up with at least one new idea per week, and I’m sure that pales in comparison to many.

So I had to stop what I was doing and write this. The internet can be harmful to the creative process. I really should be writing.

 


Copyright © 2009 Jeremy J. Jones


November 30, 2009

What to write about?

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Thoughts — Jeremy @ 7:11 pm

I haven’t written anything in far, far too long. I’ve had some personal difficulties that aren’t worth mentioning, and I’ve found myself either dealing with those or avoiding responsibility altogether. I’m sure nearly all of us have been there at one point or another.

For some time, I’ve been wrestling with what I want to post on my blog. I’ve wanted to add some fiction and poetry, but I’ve not been writing any. (That will soon change; failing to write is literally draining the life from me.)

I subscribe to many blogs, and several of them are outstanding, though a cut is becoming necessary. What many of these people do is write about a subject in which they are an expert. I am not an expert on writing. I have good instincts, but limited experience, and even less instruction. So I’ve always had a problem figuring out my voice.

However, I just had an epiphany of sorts. Several authors I read have themes, often for only a short period of time. What I was reading this evening at the time of my realization was my friend and former professor Jesse Abbot’s latest post, which is part of a series titled “the book of common care.”

I was reminded of the words of another former professor, Sally Terrell, who explained that writing a research paper is conducting research to become an expert on something one wishes to learn about, and then writing to inform others.

Suddenly, I have a plan. Thanks to the professors. Though not all mentioned, they’re all in there. Thanks to all of you.

 


Copyright © 2009 Jeremy J. Jones


May 25, 2009

The Zero With A Thousand Options

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Thoughts — Jeremy @ 9:23 pm

I recently heard a fellow student say that for her, art is religion in a way. She went on to provide information about Joseph Cambell’s “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” and how an artist can get lost in his or her craft. Furthermore, she talked about “transition,” as it related to a person’s isolation from his or her original society. (This was an Anthropology class.)

I am currently in a self-imposed transition. I joined the U.S. Navy after high school, served six years, and separated honorably. I’ve since worked three jobs, and ten years after leaving the Navy decided to go to school to study fiction and become a writer, which was what I wanted to be at twelve years old. I have finished my A.S. in Liberal Arts, and the graduation ceremony is in a week.

For personal reasons, earlier this spring my wife and I decided to relocate from Southington, Connecticut to Cranston, Rhode Island, to be closer to her family. I informed my boss three weeks ago that I would be moving, but that I didn’t want to quit my job. He agreed to keep me, and we ironed out some details. He then spoke to the company president, who agreed to retain me. That was two weeks ago.

This past week, I learned that the company had “changed its mind.” On the contrary, I think they knew all along that they would fire me and they merely lied to me. But that’s another essay. The point is that unless I can find another job, at the end of July I will be unemployed.

In the fall I will be at Rhode Island College as an English major. That’s very exciting and nerve wracking at the same time.

My friend said that she feels that she feels “art coming from some source other than [herself].” I know what she means. My best stories come to me when I really lose myself in a scene or a character. If I am thinking too much, the writing becomes academic at best. But when I am in the head of the character, which requires that I understand the character intimately, the appropriate words just flow out of me, and then I read it back, often stunned.

Having gone back to study the humanities, after having spent about ten years in technical math and engineering study, and then about seven in sales and marketing, my mind has opened to new things. As a writer, I’ve become a student of the universe; as a result, I’ve seen amazing things that I would have otherwise ignored. Ironically, the information I’ve learned in the humanities are those things I spent my early-teen years pondering, outside atop the hill under the Douglas firs at my father’s house in Oregon, gazing down upon the Willamette River Valley three thousand miles from here. Unfortunately, I wasn’t ready to study them in high school, and I spent more than twenty years lost and drifting. I’ve now found myself, and I know where I am going. That is the greatest religion anyone can get, and any way we achieve it, it is the power that drives us forward.

Find your religion. You will be happier for it.

May 24, 2009

Apocalypse When?

Filed under: Miscellaneous,Opinion,Thoughts — Jeremy @ 12:10 am

Apocalypse is an interesting concept. Religious societies have predicted an apocalypse for thousands of years, and each has evidently been wrong thus far.

The current apocalypse coming to a head has been ostensibly predicted by several independent religions around the world: December 21, 2012. Apparently, this date is to be the climax of all the increased interpersonal tension and natural disaster increases we’ve seen in the past ten years or so. At best, it is supposed that this date will effect a huge change in how humans conduct themselves. At worst, cockroaches will be ruling the world, as they’re apparently the only thing that will survive a nuclear holocaust, as the old joke says.

From my knowledge of The Revelation from the Bible’s New Testament, one could easily make a religion-based case for that date as an apocalypse. Near the end time, we are supposed to see increased: storms, disease, famine, seismic activity, war, and so on. It’s hard to argue that we don’t live in such a time. It’s also said that this period of “end times” will follow a period of relative peacefulness, which the 1990s certainly were by comparison to this decade and the 1980s. So, it can be easy to believe that the world is coming to an end, or at least to a monumental shift.

But I think that predicting this event in such a way can actually serve to paralyze people by fear. My philosophy is to live my life every day, because I can never know in advance when I will reach the end of it, whether it be December 21, 2012, or January 15, 2061, or some other day (I should save that last date; that would be interesting). Otherwise, I will reach the end of my life saying “I wish I’d done this,” or “Man, I should have done that.”

When my relationship with my wife was new, I told her one Tuesday, “I think I’m going to take flying lessons.” She had known me about three months and had heard her share of men talking like that throughout her life. She was therefore thoroughly shocked and impressed when I had my first lesson that Saturday.

She told me, smiling, “Wow! When you say you’re going to do something, you do it!”

And I replied: “Well, yeah. Why say you’re going to do something if you’re not going to do it?”

I have always lived by that mantra. I certainly delay things for financial reasons, but the things I want never come off of my list. Ever. I will do them all, someday. It is in that way that I satisfy myself. That is my religion. Sure, I occasionally change my mind, but most things I decide never leave my focus.

I think of it as a very simple creed. “I do what I say I’m going to do.” Many of us would do well to follow that creed. First, it would make us more reliable to others, but second, and more importantly, it makes one feel more responsible and proud. There is nothing like accomplishing what you set out to do. It is very empowering.

Earnest Hemingway once wrote, “Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.”

That’s sound advice. But simplifying it can actually make it more restrictive. Always do what you said you’d do. That’s sometimes hard to measure up to. However, I know one surefire way to fail at anything, and that is to assume failure is inevitable. This all but guarantees it, as we stop trying once we’re sure we’ll fail. Into the mouth of Yoda, everyone’s favorite 900 year-old Jedi Master, George Lucas put the words, “Try not. Do. Or do not. There is no try.” Very powerful. I remember that when I am setting my mind to do something particularly challenging for me.

And that brings me back to the subject at hand. Maybe the world will end on December 21, 2012, maybe I will die between now and then, and maybe I’ll live to be 100 years old. But what I know is that it will remain important to “do,” until that moment comes. Otherwise, regardless of when my end arrives, I’ll have died perhaps decades earlier, from waiting for my death.

I’d not wish that fate on anyone.

May 3, 2009

Summer Activities

Filed under: Fiction,Miscellaneous,Poetry — Jeremy @ 5:34 pm

I had a new (better) idea, so I must amend my summer plans.

My goal is to write a new poem each day, and a new short fiction scene in a world I will create. The goal will be to amass a substantial body of poetry work and to finish a large fictional story arc by the end of the summer.

That should be a fun journey, and maybe I can get some people on the hook with that story as well.

April 26, 2009

I Need a Name Change

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Jeremy @ 7:43 pm

My blog name is craptastic. I have to find a great name for it that exemplifies me. I’m open to suggestion with that, so please make any recommendation you like!

Reawakening

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Jeremy @ 6:34 pm

It’s been too long since I’ve done anything here. School is winding up in three weeks (actually, twenty days), and though I am feeling nostalgic about my last few weeks at Tunxis Community College, it’s time to seriously get to work.

During this summer, I will be writing quick short stories and poems and placing them here. My goal will be one of each for every day. That means that sometimes they will be not great. But I will be working every day on my writing, and that’s the point. Also, I will get a test audience for my work, albeit an as of yet small one. That will be invaluable. Also, my opinion pieces will keep going up.

As a first in that series, I’ve decided to post some my findings about the FCC and its regulation of our airwaves. This will be presented in phases, because there are logical breaks, and it’s kind of a lot to read all at once, though it’s not a huge paper. It’s really fascinating information for all you television watchers and radio listeners out there. I know that’s not very many of us, but the hundreds of millions of Americans (and for that matter, tens of millions of Canadians – can’t forget you guys) to whom this applies will most likely find it interesting.

One thing I will be doing less of is political commentary. Though these topics are near and dear to my heart, if I start writing about our asinine system of politics regularly, I might find myself sidelined from a writing standpoint in favor of a run for some political office, with the noble intention of fixing it. I most wholeheartedly do not want to become a part of that system, so I’d better write like hell.

Ah; I will also be working on a fascinating biography of my father. I am working with him to write the story of his life, first being born in Mississippi as a black child in 1930; not an ideal starting point, but he has certainly made the most of it. He will also write about his time in the military, and what it was like being there, and his life after the Army since 1971. I’m really looking forward to that.

Oh, and I have a family tree to work on; I’ve got a huge amount of information to work on from both sides of my family. It should be immensely eye-opening and a lot of fun. Aside from learning about my father’s side; which has proven problematic for him, of course, and probably will for me as well; I will also learn about my mother’s side. We are Irish from that side, and who knows? maybe I’ll discover our tartan and coat of arms. That would be amazing. A picture will go here if I find those things.

Please look for all of that!

February 7, 2009

Sourdough Rising

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Jeremy @ 8:35 pm

I have successfully completed a sourdough bread. Though it really isn’t that sour. Had help from active yeast, but my next step will be to make a starter with only flour and water. Might need to get bread flour for that for the added protein.

But we’ll be using that loaf for French toast in the morning, so that rocks. It was a nice, dense loaf of bread.

My First Loaf of Sourdough

My First Loaf of Sourdough

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