The title of this post is the opening line to the Dark Tower series by Stephen King. The following is a review of the series I’ve read thus far, and a commentary on the motivation I’m gaining as I’ve been reading it: 

As you know I’ve been reading the Dark Tower series, and it’s safe to say I’m pretty hooked. I didn’t think I would get taken in this deeply by Stephen King (a author whom I have a very sordid history with). For those of you who aren’t familiar with the series it’s about a man named Roland and his journey to find the dark tower. He is a gunslinger (think like a knight of the old west) and he is defined by his antiquated nature and his devotion to honor and destiny. He is also the last of his kind.

Everything takes place in this “world” that’s a lot like our own, but it’s mixed in with a very dystopian western future/past. Think: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly meets The Lord of the Rings and then they made very good looking baby with The Postman (a Kevin Costner classic).

The imagery of this whole landscape is enthralling and makes you wonder about what’s lurking around the next corner. The humor (what little there is) is poignant and helps break up the very heavy nature of this tale. The story is a slow burn, but slow like a mine fire; there is a lot is under the surface, likely a raging inferno, but all you can see is the poisonous gases and smoke the seem to fill the air. But I feel the most important aspect of this story are the different characters. (Certainly, as all great stories have).

(Very mild spoilers ahead)

All of these characters have their major flaws; just like ourselves. That’s why you read. You start to realize that maybe you have the same demons as Eddie (an addict), or Susannah (anger), or Jake (naivety). But once these characters enter Mid-world (the name of this crazy Middle Earth) then they sort of get knighted by Roland as gunslingers. These people have their struggles but they learn to stop, listen, and aim true. They start solving problems because they remember their past and know it can help them. They know their roles in this world and do the right thing. (It also helps when they’re all obsessed with reaching the end of their journey)

When you reach the point in the story where I am you start to learn a little more about Roland’s past. This is remarkable because Roland is a character shrouded in secrecy. He says very little and usually let’s bullets do most of the talking. You learn that, as a boy, he had to watch his family get torn apart by deception. He had to witness the decline of his people and the love of his life.

Knowing all these hurts in his life you start to wonder “what is Roland really chasing?”. It’s not just a big dark tower in the middle of a field of roses…is it? What does he want from this journey? Redemption? Vengeance? Saving a damsel in distress?

I’m willing to bet, if I could ask Roland that question he’d likely reply with “I wot, maybe it’s not about what I’m chasing, it’s about what’s chasing me.”

Now, I still have a ways to go in this story, but that’s what keeps hitting me. What is Roland searching for? It’s the reason I keep picking the book up. Maybe I’ll learn more. Maybe I’ll be teased further. Either way, it’s good storytelling.

And that’s why I’m making this post. This story is pulling me in because, I feel, that it reflects our own journey much better than other books do. No, I don’t have a great deal of tragedy in my life that has left me rabid with a desire to chase my enemy to the ends of the earth. Nope, I haven’t tried to find meaning in life by devoting myself to restoring justice and balance in the universe. I mostly drink too much soda and spend too much time on the internet. But this doesn’t mean I don’t have my own dark tower looming on the horizon. I just haven’t really started chasing it yet.

I think my dark tower is the same as Roland’s. I think yours is as well. We are all looking for that one thing, we just don’t exactly know what that one thing is. When we find it, it will feel like we’ve found a key that finally fits the lock in our heart. Maybe you’ll get to that dark tower and it turns into a Super Mario scenario. Maybe you defeat the monster but learn that the Princess has been moved to another castle. Still, you will persist.

I think a lot of people get discouraged in life because of this. “What is the meaning of life?”, “How come nothing goes my way?”, “Life is so unfair.” are phrases that we all say (I know I’ve asked myself these once or twice). Some people ask themselves those questions and they just sort of give up on the journey. They tell themselves they’ve achieved enough and that will be okay or maybe they say they are not fit for the journey and can’t go on. But the truth is, they’re just settling with your weaknesses. You can make this trip.

So, using this odd source of inspiration, I’ve decided to continually improve myself. Maybe I need to stop making fun of people so much. Maybe I need to stop the soda and the internet (or mostly stop). Maybe I need to exercise more self control to find more self motivation. Maybe I need to go out into the world so I can really find my dark tower.

Do as Roland did; chase that thing which seems nigh impossible to catch. Walk across a desert, a place of death, and persist. Don’t give up. Even when the buzzards are flying overhead and you find new paths along The Beam, continue onward. You may have to establish new and unexpected relationships, you might even have to sacrifice some other relationships. Press forward.

So, if i can, I’d like to hand you a pair of guns. They have the same ivory handles and have been passed down from gunslinger to gunslinger for generations. They will always be by your side. They will always shoot straight. They will keep you protected. Don’t forget to treat them with the care they have received before. These will serve as your tools on your long journey to find the dark tower.

It doesn’t matter who your family is, what creed you follow, or what (sub)culture(s) you claim as your own. What matters is you learn from your past, get things done in the now, and look toward the future.

 

You have been knighted, so steady your hand, aim true, and pull the trigger.

The dark tower awaits.

D.A.

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Summer To Do’s

June 21, 2014

Thanks to humanity’s understanding of planetary motion and geography today marks the official beginning of summer. 

Huzzah!

Now, I’m not a typical summery kind of person. For instance, I live in Florida, where’s it’s summer 9 months out of the year. So if we were to break this down into formula (heat+humidity)/tolerance = insanity threshold. (The unit of measurement is a “Frick”, or “F”.) So when the insanity threshold reaches a full Frick unit we all start to say things like “It’s way too fricking hot to do anything outside.” 

So…yeah…I like it when it’s a good deal cooler. 

But this year, that changes. This year I’m going to be actively more engaged in going outside and doing things. And while I’m at it, allow me to throw together all those things in one of those old fashioned lists of things I say I’ll do but never get around to doing.

Heh, maybe I should get my named changed to D.A. DOESN’T…

You get it…? 

It’s because I’m lazy…

So, here’s the summer to do list:

  1. Read: During the school year I’m working hard. My brain is fried like the golden batter of a eight pack of nuggets from Chick-fil-a…(drools). Since we’ve last spoken I’ve pretty much only read 4 books. Some of them were read completely; some were not. (I feel ashamed, I do). I did a little non-fiction kick at the beginning of the year (which I will certainly make a post about later) and I’ve delved deeper into the Dark Tower Saga from a guy named Stephen King. (This guy is going somewhere one day, take my word for it.) Right now I’m on the book Wizard and Glass which is the fourth book in the series. I plan to have book five done before the middle of August. I’m trying to be realistic because I might get sidetracked into reading other books. Also, two books is a lofty goal for my addled brain right now, so if I fail on two books and one read one…I still win. Or maybe I lose because it is not Ka-tet and I will have forgotten the face of my father…(OooOOooOOoo…seewhatididthere?)
  2. Write: This should be number one…but I didn’t think of it first when I wrote this, so it’s holding down the deuce. I plan on using the increased use of this site to ignite the pyres of words hidden in my mind. I’ll likely publish those shorts here as they pop up. Let’s go ahead and say…a story every 2 weeks? Seem realistic? sure…sure…why not? I’ll also try to limit posting here on the blog to a few times per week. You know how pacing helps you win the longer races. 
  3. Move: I’ll be moving this summer to a house. Like a bonafied real house. With windows and doors and neighbors that aren’t sharing walls with you and have very strange noises coming from behind those said walls. I’ll have a backyard and a front yard (that I must mow). And I’ll have big empty spaces that I can play guitar really loudly in without disturbing the already disturbing neighbors. 
  4. Play Music: And do it loudly. I’ve even contemplated purchasing a new amplifier for this noise making endevour. Hopefully people will come over and play music with me also, which would be nice. 
  5. Do something about my laptop: This is a very tricky area that I may just allowed to happen organically instead of forcing the issue. My only computer is this laptop. It’s not that old (maybe 4 years) but it most certainly needs help. I’m considering buying a new battery and just gutting the whole thing. Maybe that means buying a portable hard drive and backing up the important stuff, resetting to factory settings, deleting bloatware and see how far that gets me. I’ve also entertained the idea of changing the operating system to Linux. This is a little unnerving because I really don’t know much about computers and have grown up only on Windows. So to pull away and do something different (but still well supported as I understand it) is a hard thing to do. The nuclear option will be to purchase a brand new shiny thing which would be more capable of some of the other goals I might have down the line. (Maybe even join the desktop community).
  6. Plan for the next school year: I really want to try getting a good deal of work done BEFORE the kids come back and I got to do the whole thing again. I always like to get better at things. Every year I’ve taught I change at least half of what I did previously. My goal would be to get everything for the 1st quarter planned (in the newly required format), assignments copied, new strategies thought up, and create a new method of sharing content. That method of new content delivery would preferably be shooting some fun little videos that give kids content and also make it fun. (think Bill Nye meets poor high school teacher). I’d like to have units or certain topics that could become “flipped classroom” content. More on that later.
  7. Design a board game: Well…that’s not totally true. I plan on re-theming a board game and then focusing on some of the key mechanics of that game. Then I will tweak that game until it comes out with a more unique playing experience that is wholly different than the game it was based on. What game is that? It’s going to be based on the game Lords of Waterdeep but with a theme of shopping on during Black Friday sales. It’s a pretty fun game that I think could be a little bit more fun with a bit more satire and or humor. (But honestly, if you’re into board games, check out the reviews on boardgamegeek and consider playing it, it’s quite a bit of fun despite everybody’s reluctance to want to be roped in with the DnD crowd.)
  8. Play more disc golf: Yeah, I somehow got hooked on playing disc golf a few months ago. Is it just a kick that will die out shortly? Is it a long term habit of forming new friendships and skills in a hotter than Venus environment during the summer? Is it a way to get easily frustrated when you lose a disc in some unholy thicket full of barbs and thorns that forbid you to enter and retrieve your molded plastic you paid $10 for? I’m not sure…but I do know I like it right now…so I’m going to be doing a good deal of that. 
  9. Paint: I want to paint more. Because I’m elegant and crap. I’ve had some ideas strike me that I know I will not turn out the way I want them to, but man…I’d still like to try. Also, I paint watercolors now…sorry if I haven’t mentioned that as part of what’s happened in the past year…my bad. (don’t worry, I’m not some hidden savant of the brushstrokes, I just found it pretty neato and was something I tried.) 
  10. Poop my pants if the U.S. moves out of group stage in the World Cup: This would be sudden and unexpected to occur, but if it does happen, the stinkies will happen.
  11. Clean pants if that happens: See above.
  12. Try eating Kale: Because that’s a thing now and I want to judge for myself before I start badmouthing its trendiness. 
  13. Learn a new skill: I don’t know what it is. Could be knitting or cooking like a pro with a wok. It could be learning the basics of finance or learn to canoe. I’m not sure what it is, but it would be nice to learn something new every once in a while. Add some extra flavors to my life. (Which may or may not taste like Kale) 
  14. Stretch: In high school I won the class award for “least likely to be confused with Dr. Richard Reed AKA Mr. Fantastic”. With that honor came the great inconvenience of not being able to fully expand without something popping inside of me. Most people liken the sounds to that of a submarine diving deep and the hull crinkling due to the pressure. 
  15. Buy some new music: Yes, I’m one of the 26 people on earth who actually still purchase all the music they listen to. Why? Because morals. That’s why. Because I want to give my money to a band to support them. That’s why. Because I’m a little dated. That’s why. So deal with it. 
  16. Climb Mount Everest then jump to the moon while on fire and winning the world cup with the sweetest bicycle kick in stoppage time: Because who DOESN’T have this goal? Right?

So there you go. Another list of lists to end all of the other lists have have surely popped up in your reader feed today. Thanks for reading. Actually, what I’m more willing to be is that you just sort of looked at the title of this post, saw that it was a guy who wrote more than 200 words and said, I will click follow so maybe he clicks follow. If I did that, dear friend, then we’d all be followers…right?

If that last statement offended you please keep in mind I still have this powerful stench of bleach in the air from cleaning out this place from yesterday. The plummer is coming tomorrow. To add to that, I discovered what went unchecked in the fridge. It’s currently sitting on my couch eating old hot dogs and learning to speak English by watching T.V. commercials. 

As for you, what do you plan on doing this summer? Travel? Meeting up with friends? Carving a image of yours truly into a stump of a tree with a chainsaw? I’m just asking. I’m not trying to encourage any odd behavior like that. 

But, if you do…make sure you get my eyes right. People always mess up the eyes. 

D.A.

An Event

September 14, 2011

So, Mr. King and I have been working together.

You see, I’m still reading that book On Writing and I came across something that really made me stop and say, “Woah.” And yes, I said it in my best Keanu Reeves voice.

No, I did not learn Kung Fu.

Mr. King has described writing as one thing.

Telepathy.

We can literally transfer our thoughts into the minds of others by using the silly medium of written/printed words.

For his example he described a very unique setting.

Look –  here’s a table covered with a red cloth. On it is a rabbit with a pink nose and pink-rimmed eyes. In it’s paws is a carrot-stub upon which it is contentedly munching. On its back, clearly marked in blue ink, is the numeral 8.

While that is very little description, it’s done just right to make you imagine what that looks like. You actually did envision a cute little bunny who was gnawing away at an orange stick. Perhaps it was making those adorable little crunching sounds as it was nibbling. Maybe you imagined the rabbit as a white one with red eyes, or maybe it was a brown and white mix. The point is, you literally saw exactly what he wanted you to see. A rabbit with some very mysterious number on it’s back.

How awesome is that?

I read that and had to stop for a moment. I had to collect my thoughts.

I’m literally trying to make people think a certain way when I write…

That’s not only really cool but it also makes me tense up as I contemplate what power that could wield. Do I have a talent or skill developed enough to actually allow this to happen in my readers’ minds?

Quite honestly, no. I don’t think I have developed that far as of yet. I’m too busy trying to figure out how things are even supposed to look or feel. I’m too worried about if my story makes sense. I’m too nervous on whether I will say enough…

But Mr. King speaks on this again. (Since I can’t find the quote I’ll just paraphrase). He says something along the lines of “trust your readers.”

Trust them? How can I trust them with this world/character I create? They are mine. I want them to see the character as I see them. Nothing else…

Then i realized I’m a selfish writer. I write for me.

Yes, the name of the blog is bookforme, but that doesn’t mean my actual writing has to focus on what I want. I can reach out to my audience. (Since I don’t really have an audience, I will just pretend I have a certain group of individuals I want to read my work.)

So I can feel free to stop worrying about silly details about a characters past. As long as the character is real and easily relatable to the reader, what do I have to worry about? They will take care of them. They will give them a face, a walk, and voice, and an attitude that I couldn’t put into words anyway.

Okay readers, I’ll try to start trusting you.

D.A.

Sick

September 12, 2011

Hey!

I’m sick today! All sniffles and coughs and a little head ache to boot. Not too fun.

Now you’re probably thinking, “Oh, well at least he took the day off work. That would totally explain that very cheerful ‘Hey!’ at the beginning of this post.”

Then I would say, “Nope, I went to work. The ‘Hey!’ was me just trying to be friendly. Why do you look so much into little things like that anyway?”

Then you would say, “Well! I never! Who knew you could be so rude?”

Then I would reply, “I’m sorry! I didn’t know I was being rude. Still, it does seem that you’re being a little paranoid about your motivations for reading things I write.”

Then you would huff off and go sit in a corner. You would even shoot me “the eye” from time to time. The only way I can make it stop is if I walk over there and apologize for my silly comments.

***

Well, that was fun.

The reason for me not skipping out on work? I never miss out on work. I never skip out on school. I never skip out on anything. It’s just how I roll.

It’s only some sniffles…I would rather use my leave time for something much more important.

Also, it would be a real pain in the neck to fall behind in my teaching (more than I already have). It would also be a pain having to get a sub and know that my students would just devote their day to ruining that poor sub’s day.

***

So I’m still reading Mr. King’s book On Writing. So far I’m deeply enjoying it. I’m not sure how much it’s going to help me in writing considering how often I work instead of write but I guess if I want to get better I’ll have to make/find the time to do it.

The most important thing I have read in that book is concerning “passive voice”. In short, he’s not a fan. In short, I think I’m guilty of using it quite often. So maybe I’ll keep that in mind when I’m writing next time.

Now that I think about this, I think I’ve made sure not to do it in this post.

But that could be my sickness talking. I could be delirious from the sniffle/cough/head ache.

Another cool point the King of Steve said is this whole thing about “he said/ she said.”

He states that the best way to carry a conversation is to say “he said.” or “she said” after they say something.

Don’t go too deep into it. Just wait said. Don’t try to elaborate on it. By what the character says we should already have an idea on how they say it.

Annnnnd that’s all I remember from reading last night. Speaking of night, I will be avoiding it all together and sleep as the sun sets. I hope you enjoy your day tomorrow. Maybe I’ll get some grading done so I can end up writing a little this weekend.

:::drools:::

Well, I’m off to bed,

P.S. If you comment by saying “Hope you get better soon” I will look into that as your way of saying “I think you’re going to die a slow painful death.” Instead just say, “Grapes and fudge make a terrible dessert.” I will receive that as a nice way of hoping I get better.

Let’s see how well some of you pay attention.

D.A.

 

That’s Right

July 11, 2011

I did it. I took me nearly 3 weeks, but I did it.

I finally got another short story written and finished. I even felt good enough about it that I could show all of you.

I would love to hear any comments you may have about it. And just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about, you can find that short story right here.

Here’s a little check-up on how my writing has taken shape during this project:

1. I started using dashes (-) quite a bit more. I think they help a reader see a sudden stop of thought or dialogue. It’s mostly there for effect, with no real literary use behind it. Also, I’m still not sure what the “rules” are for this, but I’m using them how I feel is appropriate.

I don’t think I used them so much that they are aggravating for a reader but if they ever become overused or used inappropriately I’m sure you’ll let me know.

2. I think, for a long time, I haven’t been as cautious on checking my spelling as I should be. I’ve just trusted this odd word processor of sorts that WordPress gives you, which is questionable at times. So I decided that I should look at words twice even if there is no red squiggly line. (squiggly was one of those I had to check, BTW).

I soon found out that I’ve been misspelling the words “minute” and “definitely” for quite some time.

How embarassing!

Unless, of course, they went unnoticed. Then huzzah for me because I pulled one over on you.

Actually, I think these words are commonly misspelled. So I don’t feel too embarrassed.

(Actually, it’s your job, internet people, to identify those mistakes and troll me for it. So you’ve just missed out on your opportunity!)

(Still, I’m sure you’ll find plenty of other opportunities.)

3. I tried thinking of a story before I thought of any characters. And that panned out pretty well. I think my problem with the clown story was that I was too concerned with trying to make an interesting character. That prevented me from focusing on an important story.

Now, I know some of you who have written longer pieces of work will want to remind me that characters need to be very deeply written. This allows the reader to experience things that relate to them in understandable ways. It also makes a simple story much more entertaining. And I agree with these ideas.

Well, I agree with a catch. For longer forms of writing this may be true, but short stories don’t really lend themselves for character development on a very deep scale. (I could be wrong in this.) Short stories really need to grab a reader’s attention early, and have an interesting story that will carry for the moment. And the moment is all you really have. Short stories that take place over multiple settings and multiple times seems like it would be too hard to achieve using only 2000 words or so.

Maybe I’m looking at this a weird way. Let’s shift focus, shall we?

What if my short stories aren’t really short stories at all. What if they are the first chapter of a book?

Now, I feel comfortable saying that I am setting up characters for potential change, but I’m not changing how they think and feel. I’m introducing them and then I’m setting them loose on the world that wrought them. Usually, I’m just presenting them with a problem and they begin a process of trying to figure it, which is what I consider entertaining.

So, maybe my short stories are really nothing more than beginning chapters for books. They usually introduce characters, present a problem, and allow for life changing things to happen.

The whole messy ball of fun gets rolling, if you will.

And I’m okay with that.

4. I’m not very good at “forcing” stories out. You can tell this when I don’t post a story, nearly 3 days after I said I would release a story. I wasn’t so busy that there was no way I could write a story. I just didn’t know what the story was going to be about. Somehow, though, I managed to think of a (somewhat) entertaining story two nights ago. I immediately began writing.

What resulted was a story that I felt was fairly original (now watch me find out Stephen King wrote this exact same story 30 years ago.) I’m pretty happy with the outcome. And I think it just happened. I didn’t even plan to write this story.

As a matter of fact, a week before writing this story, I wrote the beginning to another story about a wily cowboyish sheriff that is investigating a domestic dispute. (Of course the couple were aliens and the story took place on some colony planet). Still, I was planning on writing that story, and yet it fizzled and this one just popped into my brain.

Maybe I’ll get around to finishing that story one day…

5. I didn’t take very long on this story. This meets one of the goals that I set in place a while ago.

And considering the time that it took me to write this (about 4 hours honestly), that’s much shorter of a time period than I used to write most of my other stories. Plus this one was 1600 words long, which I feel is about the right length for short stories. (At least stories that are actually going to get read on the internet.)

Wait a second. If this story took me 4 hours to type, edit, and mix, then that works out to 6.6 words per minute. Oh boy…

Well, I guess I’m not considering thinking time…

I am a thinker…

Still, that’s not a lot of writing in such an amount of time. I would like to shave this down further.

6. Humor. I guess it was there, but I wasn’t trying to bash you over the head with it.

I wasn’t trying to write a “funny” story for one. I was just trying to write something, and some parts just lent themselves to being funny. I’m not sure if that’s an improvement or not, but that’s how I feel at least. I think I tried focusing on the story, but still had my opportunities to show humor.

So, yeah, there you go. I actually got something good done. I feel better about myself now. I feel – stronger – kind of.

Well, more experienced at least.

I’m always looking for tips and advice, so if you’ve got it, feel free to drop a comment here after you read and review my short story.

Thanks,

D.A.