The Writer Exposes Himself…


The cycle of a writer’s life is best described as long periods of time underwater with an occasional surfacing to discover the world is still there. The underwater time is spent in solitude making something that can only be created alone—some poems, a few stories, a novel. And once that creation is finished and ready to be shared, the writer reluctantly steps onto land to announce his project done and introduce it to the public.

It is at this moment that the writer feels most exposed. Exposed, that is, to whatever critical reception his creation will enjoy or suffer. In any case, endure. It is a time of uncertainty, anxiety, even fear. What has been private is now revealed for all to see. Though of course the writer’s first concern is that the now-completed work be seen at all. That it be published, that it reach an audience. That it be read.

I am somewhat surprised, then, to be overtaken by these same feelings at the completion not of a collection of stories or a novel, but at the unveiling of a website. Well, it has been a long time coming. Years, really, if one considers the thinking behind it. And months of actual work in executing its design and content.

And now, finally, it is launched into the wider world. Here it is. You are reading its first blog entry. And what can I say? I hope you like it? I hope you explore it? I hope you find it interesting?

I hope you do all those things. And toward that end, I’ve included some material not normally found on a fiction writer’s website: magazine articles I’ve written, and newspaper dispatches filed over the years; also, poems and philosophical writings. The predictable material is here, too. The information on my books, especially the e-books that have been such a focus for me these past six months. Eight of them in all, counting foreign language editions, along with some book reviews. And some photographs you may find interesting. Eventually, there will be some videos, as well.

As I look now at the website, I am most struck by one thought: How could it take so much work to finish what is, in the end, not quite as impressive a creation as I’d first imagined? Then I remember: This is always the case with anything we make. No one else knows what went into the undertaking. What finally shows is but the tip of the iceberg, and only the creator knows what remains underwater unseen, unfathomed, forever unknown.

So do please just take my word for it. Creating this website was a chore, getting it into shape to be seen has been a feat, I am relieved to have it done. And I hope you will find the effort worthwhile. Feel free to leave comments, tell me what you think of the work you find presented on the pages of the site. You also can use the contact button to send me a note. And if you like what you see, you can click on the orange button above the Amazon panel at the right and sign up to receive an email notice whenever I add something new to the site.

What else? I suppose you could buy one of my e-books. That would be nice. After all, it’s how I earn my rice bowl: writing things, and people paying to read them. It finances all that time I spend underwater, alone, in a solitude to which I became accustomed long ago. Still, I do plan to surface every now and then to write another personal blog entry for the website. Not every day, but at least once a month.

Until the next time, do take time to read the other material I’ve posted here on the site. There’s a quite a lot of it, and quite a variety, too. I do hope you enjoy it and take time to comment.

As ever,




“On What We Know and Do Not”


(Czech Republic—December 25, 2011)

You ask what I think about God.  What do I know?

You tell me what you think about God.  What do you know?

We talk about God as if discussing the weather.  And what do we know?

Nothing. Only hearsay.

So let us talk about what we know:

       One plus one equals two.

       Self-discipline is difficult to maintain.

       Harnessing our destructive impulses is a struggle.
       Any act of creation generates meaning.

       And if the power of love to heal has a limit, we have not found it.



“The Truth About Lying”


(Prague, Czech Republic—23 December 2011)

Anyone who’s observed behavior in the natural world must concede that deception is normal behavior. Animals (and plants) routinely misrepresent themselves in order to survive and flourish. So if judged by the ethical systems we homo sapiens have developed—the Golden Rule, the Ten Commandments, and even many legal codes—plants and animals are chronic liars, cheaters, thieves. And they often get away with it. Justice? There is none in the natural biological world, at least not the kind of justice we imagine.

So why are we so surprised to discover this animal we call homo sapiens is any different, at least in terms of its (that is, our) natural tendencies? It seems apparent that we’re swimming upstream when trying to use ethical systems that are very recent in homo sapien evolution (a few thousand years) to alter deceptive behaviors that proved to have high adaptive value during millions of years of biological evolution.

It’s hard work, swimming upstream. Easier to go with the flow. But that isn’t what civilization does. By definition, civilization is the creation of an alternate universe in which humanly created ethical values hold sway over older biological values. Civilization requires us to go against the flow. But we get lazy. Or lack self-discipline. Or get tired. And some of us don’t learn the alternate rules very well anyhow. So our ancient underlying biological values frequently win out. Result: routine lying, cheating and thievery (not to mention aggression, war and other forms of predation).

Seeing the world in this way is not cynical, in my view. Quite the opposite: It’s smart. Why? Because it helps me feel less dismay (and less despair) when we homo sapiens behave like all other animals instead of the human beings—part beast and part angel—that we aspire to become. After all, we are very new to this project of becoming human beings.

And for those among us who believe that natural biological values should hold dominance—who assume that in a “free unregulated marketplace” the most adaptive behaviors will win out—I offer this cautionary note: While “temporary” adaptive and survival value should never be underestimated in the biological kingdom, it can prove short-sighted when a species holds the technological means to permanently alter its own ecology. In a civilized world, “long-term” adaptive and survival value must become our primary concern if we are to address the more critical challenges confronting us, challenges that we ourselves have created: overpopulation, eco-destruction, pollution, nuclear waste, and climate change. In addressing those challenges, temporary “short-term” responses will likely prove adaptively insufficent and disastrous to our survival.