Daniel (Danny) Lance Wright, Author

Friday, January 29, 2016

To Wait or Not To Wait

It’s spoken of and written about all the time: As we get older, the less we care what other people think about how we look, what we say, or anything that would have driven us into a frenzy of self-loathing in our younger years. So, to all you people out there over sixty I want to pose a question aimed directly at you: How’s your patience holding up?
I spent over two decades in television sales and during those years it would be difficult to put a number on the months, even years, lost while waiting in lobbies and reception areas for clients to see me. I never put a calculator to it, but it would not surprise me in the slightest to discover that I had spent four forty-hour weeks a year sitting on my behind waiting for someone to do something so I could get on with my day. Or, in my personal life, waiting in doctor’s and dentist’s offices, or just waiting in the car for my wife, whose promised five minute trip into a store turned into an hour. Needless to say that by necessity I learned to be extremely patient and endured those years without a whimper. Well… there might have been a few whimpers. The point is, these are just examples. The list alone with no narrative could go on for several pages, I’m sure.
Ever-increasing impatience now defines me. And, I really don’t give a tinker’s damn if people think of me as curmudgeonly. Here’s the thing, and the reason I’m writing this blog at this time, I’ve always responded to someone’s direct request for help, and quite often immediately. I would not have been asked for assistance if they didn’t need it at that moment, or so I wish to believe. Here’s where the crotchety kicks in; when someone asks for help and I leap up and walk or drive to them ready to offer assistance but they decide I should wait patiently while they take care of something else first. Sorry, but I’m not going to wait patiently, or at all.
Several times in the past week this has happened. The way I have chosen to handle these situations is to simply say, “Okay,” and walk away without explaining why and not be there when they finally get around to actually needing the help. Let’s call it my version of a teachable moment about when to request the help. If they’re dumbfounded; good.

As we age, what would be the incentive to wait for anybody or anything? I know that to say “life is too short” is cliché, but it does fit quite nicely here. The clock spins faster as we age, or so it seems, and whatever our remaining goals are have to spin equally as fast to fit them into this lifetime. So, I hope you will excuse me when I refuse to wait until you get around to it… whatever ‘it’ happens to be. 



Friday, January 15, 2016

You Can't Say That!

Yesterday, as I scrolled the Facebook timeline, I ran across a post by a dear old friend. It was a share from somewhere else. You know the type; a bit of text that is philosophical, advisory or, perhaps, just plain old clever word play. This particular post said something like (paraphrasing), If you can’t carry on a conversation without using profanity, you’re not much of a conversationalist—or I don’t want to hear it—or talk to someone else… something along those lines, followed by a, can I get an amen or a share. Well, I did read it but scrolled on to other things. Later, I thought about it and when I did, I remembered the “7 Dirty Words” bit that the late great comedian, George Carlin, performed a number of years ago. So, I logged onto YouTube and listened to it again. It’s just as funny and thought provoking now as it was the first time I saw it many years ago. Although Carlin played his performances for laughs, the man was a master at putting things the world takes for granted into perspective.
I’ve been a novelist since 1998, full time since 2002. In the early years I was schooled many times by editors, agents, and publishers much smarter than I am about word choice—over usage, wrong usage, or the evils of adverbs. I also learned that using obscure words requiring the reader to pull out a dictionary is a fast way to break a readers flow and yank them right out of the plot, distractions a novelist certainly does not want to saddle their fans with. Other heinous distractions are typos, grammatical errors and, sometimes, the use of profanity. And now we’re back to dirty words.
The subject of profanity has always fascinated me. When I was a child, growing up on a cotton farm on the South Plains of Texas, I spent much time among farmers hanging out at a cotton gin office near my boyhood home. It was the de facto place to socialize, usually around a domino table. The language I was fed a steady diet of were all of George Carlin’s 7 dirty words, plus quite a few more, broken up by mumbles and grunts. So my tolerance for profanity is very high. I have to reel my own tongue back in occasionally. Salty language comes far too naturally to me. That said, I do attempt to be respectful of folks attitudes against its use and not spout obscenities willy-nilly in any crowd, like some I know.
Now for the good stuff—the questions: What makes a word, any word, profane? For every bad word, there are a number of others that mean the same thing. Why aren’t those profane? At what point in our history were certain words labeled as dirty, and by whom? Did popes, ministers, preachers, and politicians all get together one day around a conference table and agree on an ooh-ick factor for certain words? Or, maybe, it wasn’t words defining certain acts, but the acts themselves. That makes some sense to me. Maybe people were embarrassed by talk of sex, fecal matter, bodily functions, etc. Therefore, various descriptors were not to be spoken of. If so, it simply goes in a circle and we’re back to the question: Why? What makes any of these things taboo to talk about, using any language form?

Fascinating subject, I believe. And not without hard opinions, I’m sure… just not from me.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Sitting This One Out

Note: I am the only one who usually posts on this blog site. But since my wife broke her ankle and is indisposed for six to eight weeks. She is now scribbling thoughts. I thought I’d share one with you. That said, my guest blogger today is my wife of almost half a century, Rickie:

My highlight this week was getting dressed and going to see an orthopedic surgeon in Waco. And, what do surgeons do? They operate. I knew that, but it didn’t matter. When the word “surgery” came out of his mouth, I must have zoned out or black out at that point. Anyone that knows me knows I am very active; work out at the gym almost every day, helping our daughter remodel her newly acquired house that she’ll call home eventually, volunteer one day a week at the Pot of Gold (a charity resale shop), and babysitting our beautiful new grandson, Myers. With this injury, I think someone was telling me I should slow down and enjoy the things and people around me more and a bit more frequently. I will have 6 to 8 weeks to think about that. I sure hope everyone has a blessed Christmas. I think I’ll get caught up reading my husband’s novels.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving, Y'all!

Being a writer, of any ilk, becomes so deeply ingrained over time that to cease writing, even for a short period of time, becomes a source of guilt—akin, I suppose, to calling in sick from a nine to five job when the only illness is an aversion to getting out of bed and driving there. Although, I believe that to the writer the guilt is honest and deep—not so much for the person pretending illness for a short staycation.
Here’s a great example: It’s early Thanksgiving morning and I’m here at the computer, knowing I should be working on the novel draft because I had convinced myself that I should. Unfortunately, that conviction is not quite as deep as I would have hoped. Being a holiday, my heart is simply not in it.
Most novelists will probably agree, I guess, that style and emotion of a story is a direct reflection of the author’s state of mind. If that state is bland, so goes the story. I don’t want to simply be stringing words together so that later I can say that I strung words together. There must be life and color in the narrative and dialogue. Today is not the day for it.
A writer will understand that this blog post is my need to write something today, even if it’s not a contribution to the novel draft. Others may have picked up on that as well. So, I’m imparting a free flow of thoughts on writers’ guilt—sort of a bandage that heals nothing, simply hides it until I can get past it.
Here’s the best part: This gives me an opportunity to say Happy Thanksgiving! And, if you suffer from this same malady then, by all means, drown that guilt in turkey, dressing, and gravy. I’m sure going to.

Cyber hugs to all and God bless. 

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Flash In Time

As a novelist, there are moments when inspiration turns away from the project at hand. It doesn’t go away, simply takes an abrupt turn. It might be the laugh of a child, the bark of a squirrel, the sight of a jet so high that it appears to move across the sky like a slug leaving its trail or, it might simply be that third glass of wine. The reason really doesn’t matter. It’s just the mechanism, the switch-flip that turns it on. The mind is active, reeling and still wants to record thoughts—a stream of consciousness thing that usually is best saved for personal journals and diaries that has nothing to do with the draft in progress.
A few months back, I was working on the draft of a romantic thriller, “Call Me Mikki”. (soon to be released through Booktrope) I happened to be searching for a better word to describe a scene, but I had been working on it for several hours and it had become difficult to continue concentrating. And then, my mind began to drift and my eyes moved over the word “universe”. It struck me how overused it is and how underappreciated is the infinite depth of that word and what it represents.
I won’t detail the entire path of this philosophical journey that lasted only a couple of minutes, other than to add that I shuddered when that thought stream ended.
I saved my work and pulled up a blank page, and then began to type. I am no poet. I will not make comments about this for good or bad. I posted it once on Facebook and, this morning, pulled it up and read it again. So, I’m sharing it again. What came out of me in about five minutes surprised me:

If I tiptoe lightly enough on the stars to the end of the universe
Will anyone notice that I’ve made the journey?
Comets fly, suns burst, and black holes suck in all that time has wrought
But I will continue skipping, one light source to the next.
Only this stream dictates a time of rest, when to lay down shield and spear,
Taking comfort that He has known from step one where the journey ends.
I am me, one, and many.
We give what we have. Take what we must. But leave behind the best of what we were.
Eternity is what it is. I am but a flash in time.

I hope you enjoy your day and the rest of your life—your flash in time.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Let's Talk Symbols

I’m sure there are books and discussions out there on the importance of symbols to humankind since the beginning of recorded history. But, I cannot remember ever having seen or read anything that spoke on the subject in the broad sense.
The recent argument over the Confederate flag has sharpened my interest on the topic. Let me say that this is not about that, not specifically. It simply got the thought process ginning. My thoughts here are more questions than answers because I certainly don’t have answers, just thoughts.
It is odd to me, though, that what is in the heart of a person is not enough and apparently never has been. We must devise flags, medals, obelisks, carvings, jewelry, idols and myriads of other things to bolster a belief and proclaim it to the world and, sometimes, meant to divide and conquer. More often than not it seems symbols are designed and meant to herald superiority and divisive thinking, to the detriment of harmony within the human family.
I suppose I need to offer my personal opinion on the subject of symbolism, since this is my discussion after all. And, I may very well prove to be the odd man out with my views. That’s okay. It certainly won’t be first time I’ve stood alone with an opinion. Symbols mean little to me, as a general rule. For example: I’ve been married forty five years and have never worn a wedding band. If I need a reminder that I’m married or a reminder to tell people I’m married, then the marriage is not that solid, and may have been questionable from the beginning. Here’s another example that might make some people cringe: I don’t need to see a cross, have one hanging in my house, or around my neck to remind me of my Christianity or to tell people of those beliefs. That’s enough personal examples. That should give you some background on my thoughts.
I do understand that symbols serve as guiding beacons, such as stop signs, logos, flags, and other objects. But, that is not what I’m referring to, not exactly. I’m talking specifically about escalating the value of a symbol, any object, beyond its usefulness as a ‘guiding beacon’. Somewhere along the way, the importance of some symbols are deified or demonized unto themselves and elevated to the level of gods or devils. And, they are neither, but rather simple representations that should do nothing more than to guide a person toward, or away from, something.

I would be interested in hearing or reading other people’s thoughts on the subject now that the door has been thrown wide, wide open on the subject of symbols and their importance in our lives. What do you think? 

Monday, January 12, 2015

There's Nothing Standard About Outlining a Novel

Over the years, at book signings and special events, people have asked if I outline a novel before I begin writing. I don’t think I’ve given the same answer more than once. I think that’s worth a blog entry. Don’t you?
Here’s the deal: Do I prepare an extensive printed outline? No. Do I take a few notes? Sure. Do I know beforehand what every chapter is going to entail? No. Do I know how I want it to begin? Of course. Do I know what the mid-point, the pinnacle, the zenith, the most intense chapter, should generally be like? Sometimes. Do I know how I want it to end? Always.
Many years ago, an author at a writing seminar stood before the group and drew an arc on the blackboard. She X’d the beginning, the middle and the end. No surprise there. Right? She then drew a smaller arc starting near the base line of the mid-point of the larger arc, never going higher the main story arc but ending after the main plot had ended. This was my first visual representation of a sub-plot. There can be any number of these smaller story arcs intersecting at various points, as long as they never go higher than the main story arc. The smaller arcs should always, somehow, feed into and strengthen the main story arc yet retain a modicum of individuality. Done well, those sub-plots might turn into your next bestseller but still provide strength, believability and emotion to the story at hand.
This may be the long way around the issue, but this is the genesis of what I call an outline—the story arc(s).
The one aspect I pay most attention to in the conceptualization process is character development. Every day we all see many personality types and how each reacts to other various personalities. I’ll say no more about this other than to add if you’re not sure, then you’re not very observant of people. Now, I work at giving every main character a backstory, an extensive one. This provides me with the personality I’m searching for. We are all molded by our environments and lifelong associations.
Once I have the personalities fixed and the backstories in place then the characters tell me how the novel should go. I don’t need to insert my influence whatsoever. I just need to be able to type fast enough to keep up with them as they show me where the story goes. Sometimes it’s an exhausting, sweaty experience just trying to stay up them.
If you haven’t yet read the suspense/thriller “Phobia”, I invite you to do so in paperback, Kindle or Nook formats.