I Lost A Friend

I was on my way to lunch today when I got a call on the cell phone. Five minutes earlier a friend had passed away.

Unexpected, well not totally unexpected. He was my high school English teacher. He had a few health problems and was recovering from a bout of pneumonia.

A wave of loneliness hit me after hearing he had passed. I have a hard time making friends and I have lost several recently. It’s hard making friends. I don’t want to replace him, but I don’t want to be isolated and alone.

So to honor my old high school English teacher I’m going to finish by next book and dedicate it to him. That means I’ll have to finish another book so I can dedicate it to my father. I was going to dedicate the next book to my father, but it seems fitting that I dedicate this one to my teacher.

It’s funny. I was never a very good English student. The rule are so confusing and varied and there are so many exceptions and interpretations of the English language. So this one is for you, teacher. Who every thought I would write a book, let alone several.

If you get a chance, read my book and see what you think. If you like it tell someone else. If you don’t like it tell me why and I just might change it. https://www.amazon.com/Daemon-Boat-Education-Steampunk-Spy-ebook/dp/B01I63CH08/ref=sr_1_2?keywords=professor+Voltage&qid=1555468062&s=gateway&sr=8-2

Teacher, may the stones be soft beneath your feet, may the road be full of friends and lined with helping hands. May it always lead forward. Fair winds and following seas old friend, you’ve weathered enough gales.

Stay strong, write on, old friend.

Professor Hyram Voltage.

Don’t Be Casey At The Bat

When you’re looking for ideas, value every idea that comes your way. Ideas may everywhere, but each is worth more than you can ever pay. You are constantly being bombarded by ideas. Admire each idea as the precious gem that it is.

You remember the poem about Casey. He let the first pitch go by because he thought it was too low, he ignored the second pitch because it was not his style. He put everything into the last pitch. He had no choices left. Don’t do it. Ideas are not hard thrown fast balls that the pitcher wants you to miss.

When someone gives you an idea they want you to have it, not miss it. The idea is invaluable, you can’t buy it. It’s something that you might not have thought of. The experiences of the person giving it to you are different from yours, their background may compliments yours or be totally different. Don’t blow the idea off, it may be the home run you’re looking for.

Ideas are not balls. They change and can be molded into something unrecognizable. You can combine two, three, ten ideas into one. One that no one, has very thought of like that. And don’t believe that everyone has thought of everything.

It’s work to combine ideas. It’s hard to sort through ideas looking for one that’s usable. And that’s the key, finding one that’s usable, not perfect. But is your work and that makes the finial idea, your idea. If you ask someone to give you an idea or help you with an idea they are giving you something that is the most valuable thing they can give you. A piece of themselves, a piece of their background, their beliefs, a bit of their most strongly held secrets and insights. If someone gives you a piece of their soul, treat it like the most valuable thing you can every be given. Combine it, expand it, grow it into the most beautiful thing can can be.

It is not a bad thing to ask for help, to ask for an idea. It is a crime to ignore a freely given ideas. You can not buy ideas, but they are not free. You have to work to find ideas and once found you have to work with those ideas. And remember Casey struck out waiting for the perfect pitch to be handed to him. But don’t hesitated to swing for the bleacher.

There are places to look for ideas where they will be more plentiful. It won’t be on you cell phone. There you will find entertainment, not things that make you think. It won’t be on your streaming service. Again that’s to pacify the masses. Go to where the masses don’t go. The dull old history books. The old stories and legends, even the bible. Go to the silly places, like Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader.

Stay Strong, write on, and collect, mash up, and grow ideas that are given to you.

Professor Hyram Voltage.

A Black-bordered Letter

It’s an old tradition from the German side of my family. The envelope had a black border around it. That was a sign to the post office and anyone getting the letter that the letter was about someone dying.

It’s much better than calling someone and telling them to “sit down” pause “I have have some bad news”. I’ve had to do that a lot lately.

The letter inside would also have a black border, then a few simple words about someone’s passing. Even back in the 1800s you couldn’t put your grief into words on the page.

If you read some of these letters from the 1800s you will find that even as sad as the beginning of the letter is the writer would not waste the money or time it cost to send the letter with just bad news. I remember one where after the news about someone passing, the letter went on with how everyone was doing well and that there was an enclosed homemade blanket. The old line “We the living have to go on” means a lot. Survivor guilt was just as strong back then as it is now.

What does this have to do with writing steam punk? When your character receives a letter add the little things to it. Is the letter sealed with a kiss. Is there a heart in the corner of the letter or more boldly in the front corner of the envelope. A red heart was very risqué. What stamp did they use. That could have a huge symbolic meaning. Was the letter sealed with a stamp or a wax seal. Wax seals were old fashioned but embossed seals were the rage at one time. All these things could mean a multitude of things, and in a mystery if all that was left of the letter was the burnt corner with a black edge or a red heart could hint at so much.

Don’t forget that paper was fantastically expensive. Even at a penny a sheet. Ten cents could get you a good room and a meal. The old cowboy legend that he kept a $20 dollar bill in the last hole in his six shooter to pay for his funeral. A funeral now cost five or six thousand dollars. People did not waste money on an envelope, they folded the letter up in the shape of an envelope with the blank side out, and sealed it with glue or other ways. We think nothing of putting a letter in an envelope, but we are so rich compared to someone in the 1800s, yet now-a-days both parents have to work and only the super rick can afford a cook, maid, or housekeeper.

Don’t think of a letter as a simple prop. Getting a letter was a big thing and there was a lot of unwritten emotion in a letter. The simple “Why did she write a letter?” could have so many layers.

Stay strong, write on, and surprise someone and write them a letter.

Professor Hyram Voltage

Death and Tears

It’s been a hard year with several friends passing away. Now I lost a family member.

I find writers fall into two clichés when they write about death. One is they have the main character work through the seven stages of grief. The other is the hero is consumed with rage at the death of a friend or comrade on goes on to preform impossible feats.

The seven stages never talk about survivor’s guilt. The feelings of why him. He was younger than me. He had so much life to live, he took so much better care of himself. He had plans, goals. The words, “It was his time” don’t cut it.

In Star Wars, Luke could have thrown his life away for revenge. The writers did not show him resolving to live, to live his life to the fullest. There has to be more to life than being a Jedi.

Was this a mistake or would showing the character going through stages of grief just taken too long?

Death causes strong emotions. They are hard emotions and hard to write about. Writing is not easy. Show you care, don’t use death as a handy plot device.

We are all here for a short time. Have a will made, then go out and write hard, work hard, play hard, and enjoy life.

Stay strong, write on.

Professor Hyram Voltage