Back to the Real World

Yesterday, when I was supposed to blog, my brain was still jet-lagged. You spend a week in a beautiful state on the west coast, and by the time you adjust to the three-hour time difference, it’s time to come home–and adjust to the three-hour time difference. I know the purpose of a vacation is to “vacate” your regular life and relax, but I felt bad that I didn’t do any writing, except for a 100-word Friday Fictioneers piece. I did no work at all on the project I’m in the middle of revising. Bad me.

A writer friend pointed out over coffee yesterday afternoon that the break from the revision project is probably good, that I likely needed to take a step back, not think about it, then dive back in. Sounds like a plan, except that yesterday my brain couldn’t wrap itself around what time zone it occupied, much less concentrating on revising a novel.

Let’s hope today is better and more productive, and at least I’m writing a blog post. That has to count for something.

In Memoriam

Now on to something a bit more serious. A writer died over the weekend. He didn’t have the national notoriety of a Richard Matheson or a Vince Flynn, but he was beloved here in the Shenandoah Valley and among his fellow writers in the Staunton, Waynesboro, Augusta Group of Writers (SWAG Writers). His poetry, whether about animals he spotted in his yard, lost loves, or eccentric composers, was sublime and touching. He was initially dubious about our open mic nights. “Can’t we just sit at the table and read to each other?” he asked. We encouraged him to the stage, but he didn’t have enough light to see his pages. We would take turns over the weeks and months holding a lamp over his shoulder so he could see well enough to read. Why? Because his poetry was wonderful. He gradually took to the applause and was often among the first to sign up for reading slots.

Then, in the past few months, he stopped coming. We tried to find out what was wrong through mutual friends, and we heard that he just “isn’t doing well,” a southern metaphor for “he doesn’t have much time left.” Then, we heard he would be coming back to SWAG Open Mic night this month, but he didn’t show. Again, we asked around, and then we got the news. He had passed away this past Saturday at the age of 79, far too young we thought.

His obit described him as “a loving father, grandfather, friend, musician, teacher, choir director, author, poet, and wine connoisseur.” I think we in SWAG got to experience each aspect of him through his poetry readings. We had already missed his whimsical verse over the past few months, and now knowing we’ll never hear it again is disheartening. He was a true Renaissance Man, whose wit and wisdom we will miss, and we are lessened in our craft by the loss of him.

Ted Grudzinski

Ted Grudzinski

Rest in peace, Theodore George Grudzinski, poet and fellow SWAGger. We will always keep a chair at the table for you.

Friday Fictioneers Fireworks

The thing with having a holiday fall in the middle of a week? I spent all day yesterday thinking it was Saturday. Since I thought it was Saturday, I was excited that vacation was only one day away. Reality crashed in when I sat down to watch the NASCAR race at Daytona and realized, nope, it’s Thursday. However, the good news is, I have more time to pack.

The vacation to the Pacific Northwest is mostly relaxation (even though I’ll be sharing a beach house with my kids and their kids) with a wedding thrown in, also in the middle of the week (the date is significant). The laptop will be along and although I won’t be working on the novel revision I’ve mentioned, I hope to work on some stories for Spy Flash 2. No wi-fi at the beach house, so my contact with the outside world may be limited, though I’ll stake out a coffee shop or two to spend some time in.

I also plan on walking on the beach, seeing some sights, walking on the beach, and, well, walking on the beach. There’s something about a beach and waves and sand beneath my feet that relaxes and soothes me.

When you see today’s Friday Fictioneers photo prompt, note the body language of the two people on the right. That’s what inspired today’s flash fiction “Carpe Diem.” Unfortunately, it was a posture all too familiar, and whereas today’s story is not autobiographical, it is reminiscent. If you don’t see the link on the title above, scroll to the top of the page, click on the Friday Fictioneers tab, then select the story from the drop-down list.

Unexpected Paths will be on hiatus next week, and a new Friday Fictioneers post will depend on finding a wi-fi hot spot. Cross your fingers.