Getting Started

The top of Bertha Falls

The photo above is the top of Lower Bertha Falls, which you pass on the way up to Bertha Lake. Bertha Lake is shown on my “About” page.


Last August, I finished my first novel. Since then, I’ve reread it twice. The first read-through took me three months. The second, a month. I finished the second read-through on 23 December 2016.

I’m going to come back to it for two more read-throughs starting on 23 March 2017. I hope the three-month hiatus will help me be a little more objective in my final editing.

Between now and then, I intend to learn as much as I can about self-publishing. My first step was to download a number of manuals about self-publishing. That downloading resulted, of course, in phone calls from the various companies who’d posted them. I haven’t read any yet, but I’ve sure learned lots from the people who phoned me.

The immediate problem, I’ve discovered, is that my novel, which is 245,432 words, is a way too long. The Writer’s Digest quite clearly states, I was told, that a first novel almost unequivocally must be between 80,000 and 110,000 words. You have to earn the right to go longer than that. One example they use is J.K. Rowling. She started out with two shorter novels, and only then did she dare to go longer.

The other problem is cost. If I paid for proofreading (1.5 cents per word) and copy editing (2.5 cents per word) and structural editing (3.9 cents per word), which one of the companies that contacted me charges, I’d be looking at 7.9 cents per word x 245,432 words = $19,380.13. But surely that can’t be. I must have a faulty calculator.

And even if I did pay that $19,380.13, all I’d have is an edited manuscript.


OK, so now what?


(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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I Think My Novel Will Have to Be an E-book

Red Rock Coulee

This is Red Rock Coulee, just west of Medicine Hat, AB.

These rocks are among the largest of their kind in the world, up to 2.5 meters across. They were formed by the prehistoric seas that repeatedly covered most of North America. And it’s iron oxide that causes their redness. 


The salesperson for one publisher said it would cost me $19,380 just for the editing, and another salesperson said a novel that length would have to sell for at least $34 as a hard copy. Moreover, he warned, if I added even one color photo, and I plan to add several, the price would at least quadruple.

But I like to photograph, and I would like to include photos of a few of the key scenes in my novel.

So if I try to publish in hard copy, I, an unpublished and unknown writer, would be asking readers to pay $136 for a novel. I don’t know about you, but Sisyphus and his humongous boulder immediately come to mind.

Red Rock Coulee

However, I can’t even imagine trying to push that boulder on the right downhill, let alone up.

But the good news is I’m not Sisyphus, and Zeus is not punishing me. Besides, I’m not responsible to get a rock of any size to the top of a hill or even to the bottom of one. That would be an outcome, and I am not responsible for outcomes.

I’m only responsible to create possibilities.

I can put out birdseed, but I’m not responsible for whether a Northern Flicker comes to my feeder. I can cast a dry fly next to some deadfall in a stream, but I’m not responsible for whether a brown trout takes it. I can buy a lottery ticket, but I’m not responsible for whether that ticket wins anything.

And I can write a novel and try to publish it, but I’m not responsible for whether anyone ever reads it.

“The readiness is all.”

Northern Flicker
A Northern Flicker about to wash up before it dines at my feeder.

When I first thought of writing, I came across a quotation by Raymond Chandler that was an absolute fit with my approach to things.

I say that because I always work on a large task for a certain period of time, usually thirty minutes, rather than working until I complete it or until I complete a significant portion of it.

When I was teaching, for example, I didn’t have to mark an entire set of papers – I just had to mark for thirty minutes. Then I could quit if I wanted. And today, I don’t have to vacuum the entire house – I just have to vacuum for thirty minutes. Then I can quit if I want. And today, I don’t have to – etc.

But usually, once I start it’s easy to keep going and even easy to add another thirty minutes, if I want. Or not. My choice.

It’s the same with writing, Chandler says. The key is to set aside a period of time each day, three to four hours perhaps, where you sequester yourself someplace that’s distraction free, then wait. This waiting is very, very important. You can’t check your emails or your calendar, or browse through magazines or your notebooks, or tidy up your closet. Your sole job is to wait, distraction free.

It’s that simple, he says. You either write, or you do nothing.

But I think that doing nothing invariably ends up being quite productive. Ideas and insights can’t stand a void. So when they spot one, they very quickly jump into it and try to fill it up.

My job at that point is to notice what they’re up to and help them.

And soon, if I stay out of their way, my characters begin writing my novel for me. That, folks, is when the magic truly happens.

But if I ever have a day when I can’t write, Chandler says I shouldn’t try to force it. A good novel is not a conscious, lock-step process.

I like what he says very much. If I put in my three hours, I’ve had a great day even if I didn’t write one good sentence. I don’t have to feel guilty about not getting any words on the page, and I don’t have to feel as if I’ve failed.

My goal was to make those three, distraction-free hours, and I did that.

Fortunately, however, most of my days truly are non-stop magic, where my characters do, indeed, write a few paragraphs for me.

And in my next post, I’d like to suggest how I think that magic happens.



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How I Suspect My Writing Takes Care of Itself

This Is a -31° C Sunrise

It’s good to be back indoors. It was -31° C this morning when I took this photo.


In my first post, Getting Started, I talked about the prohibitive cost, for me, of hiring an editor. But I have an even greater concern about editors than the cost.

My concern ties in with Chandler’s notion that writers only need to ready themselves, then wait, and the magic of writing will begin to happen on its own.

I think he may be saying what many, if not most, writers have been saying for centuries. Ideas come to them from somewhere. Creative writing, they say, is not primarily a conscious, lockstep process.

The ancient Greek and Roman writers, for example, believed their creativity came from divine spirits, which they called Daemons, or Geniuses, or Muses. Those guardian spirits guided them as they wrote. Sometimes they understood the spirits as an inner voice, sometimes as an outer voice, and sometime as both.

Today we realize the ancients were speaking metaphorically. They had no choice. They were trying to explain the inexplicable.

And writers ever since have been speaking metaphorically, as well. They still have no choice. They still don’t understand exactly where their ideas come from. But the ideas do come, nonetheless.

It is not surprising today when writers say their characters often create themselves, in part at least, and then often take on a life of their own. And when their characters do that, they can take their novel in directions the writers had not anticipated.

When that happens, they say their job is to stay out of the way, and to quietly and unobtrusively observe the interactions of their characters while writing everything down, almost as if they were taking dictation. Back to the Greeks and Romans, right?

And back to Chandler: That magic will happen, if you’re ready.

But how does that happen? Where do the ideas come from?

There are probably as many answers to those questions as there are writers. But I believe my ideas come from my unconscious. I also believe my unconscious is most of who I am. My conscious mind is only the proverbial tip, a very small tip, and it has no idea what the rest of me, down below the surface, is doing.

Nietzsche, my main hero, says that by far the greatest part of our spirit’s activity remains unconscious and unfelt. And the thinking that does rise to the conscious level is only the smallest part of that activity.

I agree. I don’t even think today’s social neuroscientists with their fMRIs could find me down there, although they might spot the odd footprint in the sand and maybe even a discarded apple core.

Many of the scientists I’ve been reading lately, who study how our minds work, no longer accept the Freudian or Jungian assertions that the unconscious contains the things we’ve forgotten, as well as all the bad things that have happened to us and all the things we’re afraid of that we’ve buried there.

Nor do they believe, as Freud and Jung did, that we can access that unconscious realm through some form of willing, or meditation, or therapy.

But they still do believe everything that happens at the conscious level has its roots in the unconscious.

I like all that. I also like the notion that there is no hard line separating the conscious from the unconscious. Instead, there’s a zone, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, where the two overlap. And I believe my most precious ideas come to me only when I am in that zone.

In my next post, What Could Happen If I Let Someone Else Edit My Novel, I’m going to explain why I’m concerned about what might happen to those gifts from my unconscious if I hire a professional editor. And in Post 5b, How I Ready Myself, I’m going to share with you how I try to keep myself in that overlap zone for as much of my day as possible.


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What Might Happen If I Let Someone Edit My Novel?

Yoda and Nietzsche

Yoda’s explaining the Force to Nietzsche.

These are two of my favorite philosophers.


I could be quite wrong, but I suspect an editor’s job is to reshape a manuscript, so it becomes more marketable. It needs to appeal to as many readers as possible. The bottom line in the book industry is making money, and that’s fair. What else should a business’s bottom line be?

Quality aside for now, the most obvious problem with my novel is that it is 245,432 words long. The representative of one of the publishing houses, when he heard that, immediately said it needed to be cut in half. Maybe made into two books. And I’m sure he’s right. He knows the market. I don’t.

And I did admit in my second post that a novel that is almost seven hundred pages long, by an unknown writer, might not appeal to very many readers.

But here’s my concern. If some parts of my novel are, indeed, gifts to me from my unconscious mind, from a part of me that I’m learning to trust more and more, and if an editor’s conscious mind reshapes everything, what happens to those gifts?

What if my novel has some kind of underlying coherence? Is that coherence lost?

And if an editor does reshape my novel to match the 2017 market, what happens in 2018? Or 2019?

Over the years, many authors have insisted their novels be published as is. The market, of course, was kind to some of them, but not kind to others.

Many other authors have allowed all sorts of editing. And likewise, the market was kind to some of them, but not kind to others.

Right now, I’m thinking of the word crapshoot. I could be damned if I do, and damned if I do. (That’s not a typo.)

But this is all about outcomes, isn’t it? Outcomes that often seem whimsical and capricious. And I am not responsible for outcomes as I said earlier. Remember? I’m only responsible to be in my room totally focused on my writing, distraction free, for three to four hours every day of the year except Tuesdays.

I’m only responsible to create possibilities.

So, hire an editor? Or not? Those are, indeed, the big, big questions. And at this point I think I’m going to go with Horatio, “If your mind dislike anything, obey it.”

And my mind, at this point, dislikes what might happen if I let someone edit the gifts, which I believe have come to me from my unconscious.

Maybe, for now, I’ll just trust my unconscious. Yoda trusted The Force. Aristotle trusted the Divine Within. B.K.S Iyengar trusted pranayama. And look at how their unwavering trust paid off for them.

Bottom line: If unwavering trust worked for three of my heroes (I have a lot of heroes), maybe it’ll also work for me. It has in the past, so why not now?


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How I Ready Myself

Waiting in the zone.

Waiting in the overlap zone.


I mentioned in Post 3b, How I Suspect My Writing Takes Care of Itself, that I try to spend as much of my day as possible in that zone where my conscious mind and my unconscious mind overlap. That zone is where my most precious ideas come to me.

And those ideas often appear suddenly, when I’m on the treadmill, for example, or lifting weights, or out driving, or just sitting quietly and looking out at our trees moving in concert with the high winds that sometimes come to us from the mountains.

But I have to be ready for those ideas. That’s my job. I like to think of it this way:

A little kid comes running up out of my unconscious with a note for me. But he doesn’t see me, and he’s come as far as he dares.

Finally, he turns and goes back.

I was reading, perhaps, or visiting with someone, or listening to music, or working on my budget for the month. I was mostly in my conscious mind.

If I had been in the overlap zone, though, he could have given me that note.

But I failed him. And I failed myself.

Before I go any further, however, let me say really clearly that I’m describing what helps keep me ready to write. I am not suggesting what I do would work for anyone else. I only know that it works for me.

OK. Here’s how I try to stay in that magical zone. I base everything I do on two quotations, which I keep before me at all times. Nietzsche says it is absolutely essential, if you wish to lead a worthwhile life, that you fully commit to one thing and to one thing only. Not two. Just one.

And Tolstoy says exactly the same thing. In Anna Karenina, he has Constantine say that a worthwhile life consists in choosing only one of the innumerable possibilities that life offers and then committing, wholeheartedly, to that one choice.

Yes to the one. No to the many. Always. And for me that means no newspapers, no magazines, no radio, no television, no music, no vacations, and no leaving the house, if possible, other than Tuesdays when I head out somewhere to photograph – with the sound system in the car turned off.

Involvement with any of these distractions immediately rips me out of that overlap zone where I want to be and where I need to be. Because if I’m not there, waiting, I end up missing that little kid with all his notes.

So throughout the day I always have my fountain pen and my trusty red Moleskine right beside me, just in case. And when I’m out driving I have Voice Notes on my iPod cued up and ready to go, just in case.

I even have a waterproof notebook stuck to the wall of the shower, just in case.

“The readiness is all.”

I truly do believe my unconscious mind is most of who I am. And by far the most important part. And if I ever begin to disconnect from my unconscious mind, I believe I would begin that horrific slide into what Viktor Frankl calls the existential vacuum.

All of this readiness, this commitment to one thing and to one thing only, is especially crucial, of course, in the two hours between my getting out of bed in the morning and my sitting down to write. And also during my three to four hours of writing.

I’m very protective of that time. I would never consider opening my emails, or answering the phone, or responding to a knock at the door.

But my evenings are quite different. My wife and I have a wonderful Blue Ray DVD player, a humongous Samsung screen, wireless Sennheiser headphones, and a few shelves of classic movies. And in the evenings, when we’re not playing cribbage, we sometimes fire up one of those movies.

But even then, I still have my red Moleskine on the floor right beside me.


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How can I become as wise and as focused as this old owl when I always seem so scattered?


I’m starting to feel quite overwhelmed. Actually, I think I feel more dislodged than overwhelmed. Getting involved with social media, so far, has been interesting and a lot of fun. But I’m not sure that’s who I am. I think I’m more the person I talked about in my last post, How I Ready Myself.

And the scary thing is that I could easily see myself getting addicted to surfing all those really interesting posts I’m finding. For sure I’d want to join most of the writing groups and most of the photography groups. And if they had photography groups exclusively dedicated to Nikon’s 50 mm f/1.2 lens, as Flickr does, I’d want to join them all.

But when would I write? When would I be able to spend time in that zone where my conscious mind and my unconscious mind overlap, that zone where I wait quietly for the little kid to bring me notes about my next novel?

I sure don’t want to fail that kid. And I definitely don’t want to fail myself.

I feel absolutely comfortable in that zone, absolutely at home? And that’s where I need to be.

Hence, the two big questions are, I suppose: Do I want to write? Or do I want to be a writer? Do I want to say Yes to the one thing? Or do I want to scamper after the many.

Right now I’m working really, really hard at being a writer. But as a result, I’m doing very little writing. And I’m not sure I like how that feels.

As well as working on my website, I now have accounts with Facebook, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Tumblr. And I’m considering Goodreads. Apparently, I’m supposed to have all these accounts, so I can let people know I have a novel they might enjoy reading.

And those accounts also help optimize my website for the search engines.

Earlier on, I talked about this being a journey from finishing my first novel to having it published. And I’m starting to wonder now if that kind of journey, for me, is a bad idea.

Originally, I had planned to put my novel on the Internet and simply give it away to anyone who happened to find it. And I intended to suggest that people who enjoyed reading it might consider making a contribution to a charity of their choice instead of sending me anything.

I don’t have a lot of money, but I don’t feel I need any more. I’m quite a bit like BJ, one of the characters in my novel, who’s just moved in with Charlie:

That evening, over a beer, he commented on how little she’d brought with her.

I’ve told you before, Charlie, I don’t like to own things. If I own things, I have to maintain them. And pretty soon it feels as if those things own me. They take my time and attention.

That’s why I’ve always rented furnished apartments.

I don’t know. I just feel freer without things, other than the tools I need for my job, of course. And that 50 mm lens you keep teasing me about.

I don’t have any jewelry or paintings, for example, so I don’t have to insure them. And I don’t have to worry about losing them or having them stolen.

And that’s freedom, Charlie. For me, at least. Not being tied to things.”

She paused and smiled at him. “Recognize it? Recognize my favorite Rhodes Scholar? Freedom? Not being afraid of losing things?

He smiled and nodded. Bang on. His old buddy, KK. And hers too? Weird.

She knew he knew, and she was pleased.

The things you own soon own you. I really believe that.

But maybe I should just keep working with social media until March 23. Then I can get back to writing. At that time, they tell me, maintaining my media accounts should only take a half hour or so each day if I have them set up properly. I think I could live with that.

But of late, I’ve been thinking more and more about people like Vivian Meyer and Emily Dickinson.

And in my next post I’d like to tell you why I’ve been doing that.


(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Anybody Want a Free Novel?

A sunset

If I just gave my novel away, I’d have a lot more time to enjoy sunsets like this one.


That’s right, a free novel. I’m getting really close to just giving this one away, so I can get on with my next one.

For the last eternity, it feels like, I’ve been trying to figure out the jargon used in the social media world, and how to upload photos, and how to get my posts to post the way I want them to, and how to maximize my stuff for the search engines, and how to . . ..  – I don’t know else yet, but I’m certain there’s much more to come.

I recently watched Finding Vivian Maier on Netflix. Maier, who spent forty years working as a nanny, died in 2009. During her lifetime, however, she took over 150,000 photos with her omnipresent Rolleiflex camera, mostly on the streets of Chicago’s North Shore. But not one of them was ever published.

People around her knew she took photos, though they had no idea how serious she was or how good she was.

And after she died, all of her boxes of photos could easily have ended up in the dump had it not been for John Maloof and a couple other collectors who happened upon them.

Maier had over 100,000 negatives, as well 700 rolls of undeveloped color film and 2,000 rolls of undeveloped black and white.

But why undeveloped? And why did she never publish anything?

She could have been famous and wealthy instead of working as a nanny all those years and then dying alone and penniless.

Today her photos hang in galleries around the world, and she’s often ranked with such greats as Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Garry Winogrand.

One curator concluded that, quite simply, Maier only did exactly what she wanted. And she just wanted to photograph.

The same goes for Emily Dickinson. She wrote over 1,800 poems, though virtually no one knew she was writing. She did publish ten or eleven poems in her lifetime, but they were anonymous.

One critic concluded that Dickinson simply preferred her own company, alone, in her own bedroom.

So Maier photographed. She was not a photographer. And Dickinson wrote. She was not a writer.

And both were world-class artists.

But given their decisions not to publish, neither of these women ever had to experience the frustration of trying to create the equivalent of a website, or trying to figure out how to post things on social media, or trying to build a platform.

They chose to abjure the world of business and to bask solely in their worlds of artistic creation.

And they were obviously content with that.

Maybe I’d be content with that, too. Maybe I’d be happiest just quietly waiting in that overlap zone for the little kid to come running up from my unconscious with notes for me, notes that would likely blossom into pages in my next novel.

But I’m going to give this social-media thing a bit more time.

As I concluded in Post 6b, maybe I should just stay the course for now and not make any rash decisions. At least I know the bailout option is there.


(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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I’ve Changed My Mind for Now about the Free Novel

Eagle-eyed intensity

The eagle’s eye might represent what focusing on one thing looks like. Total eagle-eyed intensity.


Upper Waterton Lake
A photo of Upper Waterton Lake that I took yesterday.

I finished the second reread of my novel on December 23. Then I set it aside for three months to distance myself from it, so I could come back to it with fresh eyes. The first reread took me three months. I made lots of changes. The second took a month.

Today is March 23. That three-month hiatus is over. Now I begin my last two rereads, which, I hope, will make my novel ready for copyrighting, an ISBN number, and publishing as an e-book, assuming I can find a reputable publisher.

For the last three months, my world has been turned totally upside down, just like that photo of Waterton Lake. But as of today, my world is going to right itself.

Today, I’m back to writing for three hours first thing before I do anything else. No checking on Trump. No emails. No phone calls. No answering knocks at the door. From the moment I get up until I’m done writing, I just stay in the zone with my one-thing-only-eagle-eye-intensity, waiting there for that little boy with the notes.

Once I’ve done my three to four hours of writing as well as the treadmill (yesterday was weights), however, I’m going to try to link my website to Goodreads, Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit. I already have accounts with Instagram and Tumblr. And I’ve already linked my website to Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

All this social media stuff still makes me feel as if part of me is living in an alien land where I don’t even speak the language. I said in my “About” that as of January 23rd, I knew nothing about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Google+. I don’t even have a smart phone, as you may remember?

But it feels so good to be back in that overlap zone where I want to be, and where I need to be, and where I feel so comfortable and so at home.

I really was becoming concerned about Frankl’s existential vacuum. The possibility of sliding down into that vacuum is almost as terrifying for me as it would be to slide down the sandy slopes of the Great Pit of Carkoon alongside Luke Skywalker into the tentacled mouth of the Sarlacc and to be slowly digested over the next thousand years.

But now no existential vacuum and no Sarlaac. I’m back to writing.

And I’m so excited about being back that I might just celebrate tomorrow morning by topping up my steel-cut oats with a few bran buds. Or not. I certainly don’t want to overdo it.



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(© 2017 Glenn Christianson. All rights reserved.)

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Congress Sings the Swan Song of the United States of America

Windmills - An Alternate Energy Source

The windmills on the other side of that canola field are one of the alternate energy sources in Alberta, Canada, that Charlie  has talked about with BJ on several occasions.


Lately I’m being reminded of something I wrote three or four years ago. Long before I’d ever thought about my website,, and when “No trump” was a bid in a card game.

This particular passage in my novel is set in 2010.

Charlie, one of my main characters, has been talking with his partner, BJ, about alternate sources of energy. He’s been talking mainly about zero-point energy and over-unity devices. He admits he doesn’t really understand quantum field theory, but he trusts that his son, John, does.

John says a few physicists are claiming that we might soon be able to use over-unity devices to tap into the zero-point field and syphon off unlimited power, which would provide more than enough energy to run everything in the entire world.

Use the Force, Luke. Turn off your computer.

Use Zero-Point, World. Turn off your reactors and your oil wells.

Amen. That’s it. I’m done, no matter how much you beg for more.

BJ says once again that she’s not convinced. But Charlie insists that some companies have already developed prototypes of the over-unity devices, and that they work.

You’ve got to be kidding, Charlie. That’s insane. It’s just not possible.

Possible or not, some multi-nationals are starting to show an interest. And if they start funding zero-point research, this whole field will absolutely explode.

A lot of what I know about this comes from John, of course. He told me that he wants his company ready to jump in the second it looks as if these claims about over-unity are true. He said he’d gladly risk a million or two because over-unity would be worth billions and billions if it works. And he thinks it might.

And how many companies, like John’s, are about to start investing their millions, BJ?

He’s also watching cold fusion. We don’t hear much about cold fusion in North America. Know why?

She shook her head. At least she didn’t roll her eyes this time.

John says that according to various websites, good websites, the US Department of Energy has been pressuring their Patents and Trademarks Office not to ratify cold fusion patents, and they have also been threatening universities that if they fund cold fusion research they’ll lose their funding for all their other programs.

And who’s been pressuring the Department of Energy? Perhaps the very same folks who took the US into Afghanistan and Iraq to make billions for themselves.

At least that’s what John thinks.

Most of the world, he says, is really into cold fusion research. Japan, for example, has issued over a hundred patents for it, and Toyota, Mitsubishi Heavy Industry, Toshiba, Fiat, and the French and German governments are all funding the research.

As are tons of others.

BJ, when I think of zero-point, and cold fusion, and the good ol’ USA, one of the images that sometimes comes to mind is that of a large, opulent stage in an opera house in Washington, DC, filled with most of the Republicans and many of the Democrats who’ve all been bought by their oil-rich, military-rich handlers.

The politicians up there on stage have just finished singing the swan song of the United States of America. The lights begin to dim. The orchestra pit is close to silent, maybe a couple soft violins.

And as the final curtain begins to fall for the final time, the audience leaps to its feet, cheering wildly. Proud to be American. Even though every person in the audience knows that those politicians and their handlers have betrayed America for personal gain.

Nonetheless, they cheer wildly. That’s just what Americans do.

To get elected, almost all US politicians need the backing of the military-industrial complex. That’s how their system works. They need tons of money for their campaigns, and that means they need Faust.

Faustian bargains have worked that way since time immemorial.

And, of course, alliances with Faust invariably end in swan songs.

Consequently, US funding, at this point, only goes to oil and uranium. And that, of course, grows the fortunes of the few über-rich. Alternative energies do get token support. A tad. But zip for over-unity or cold fusion. Not yet. Maybe soon, but not yet.

A tragedy, BJ. An absolute tragedy. And everyone saw it coming. They have for decades. That’s what’s so bizarre. Everyone saw it coming.

She was finding his enthusiasm very interesting. She’d never seen him revved up like this before. She was thoroughly impressed. She reached over and massaged the back of his neck.

In 1795, 1795, note, James Madison, the father of the US constitution, warned that all standing armies are dangerous. They’ve always been created to protect the people, but they’ve always ended by tyrannizing them instead.

Think military-industrial complex, BJ.

Madison went so far as to suggest some at the top might even start wars. Wars create debt, of course, but it’s the many at the bottom who have to pay off those debts, while the über-rich warmongers, who probably pay no taxes, amass offshore fortunes.

President Eisenhower, in his farewell address in the early ’60s, said the same thing. A military-industrial take-over of the US looks inevitable, he said, unless the voters keep a very close eye on every politician with ties to the industries that supply the matériel for the war efforts.

Are you still thinking military-industrial complex, BJ? Eisenhower called them on it.

Get into power. Declare war. Supply the matériel. And become unimaginably rich.

And it has already happened exactly as Madison and Eisenhower feared it might.

A few political families, and everyone knows who they are, have amassed great wealth by betraying the US citizens and by setting the US on a course of political and financial decline. The US is rapidly dwindling from world leader to world follower. It’s a has-been.

And now it’s being sold off to other countries. More and more US industries, more and more US resources, and more and more US real estate, are being swallowed up by owners in other countries.

All that in the last fifty years. And despite being warned, the American people have simply sat back and watched those families and their nefarious cronies destroy the very country they pretend to love. Watched as each day more and more parts of the US take on the characteristics of third-world countries.

And now, goldarnit, because those few at the top won’t allow funding for cold fusion and over-unity research, the US masses are being impoverished even more, while the oil-rich and the military-rich are secreting away billions and billions and billions in foreign countries and private islands to which most of them will probably move fairly soon.

Charlie, when do I get a turn here.

Sorry, BJ. You’re on. I’m done.

First of all, I’ve never seen this side of you before. I like it. I like you this way. But I think you’re being quite unfair to the American people. Maybe a little too black and white. Maybe a little too simplistic. And don’t forget that you’re living with an expat, and that I’m the one who usually makes your coffee. Just think about that, big guy.

But secondly, what I’m most concerned about is your over-unity claims. Surely you don’t really believe that stuff John’s been feeding you. He has a very vivid imagination. I’ve heard you say that any number of times.

I don’t really know where John’s coming from, Charlie, but I think I know where you’re coming from. And I just can’t see you really believing in over-unity.”

We’ll see, BJ. I’m pretty sure I do believe in it. I’m pretty sure it’ll work. And I suspect we’re not going to have to wait long to find out.

John says we’re getting close.”

As I said at the outset, recent events have led me to remember Charlie’s image of that large, opulent stage in an opera house in Washington, DC. The final curtain is falling for the final time. The lights are dimming. The orchestra pit is close to silent. Maybe just a couple soft violins. The swan song had ended.

And we have to ask ourselves, Is Charlie right about the swan song? Or even close to right?

Is BJ right when she disagrees with him?

Or is all this so complicated that we just end up spouting a lot of — nonsense.

An astute comment on politics
The hawk feels better. At least it’s done something. It’s made a contribution, of sorts.



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I’m Concerned about Infringing on Other People’s Copyrights

Up This Proverbial Creek Without A Paddle

Note the implied S-curve. I could be up this S-creek without a paddle if I’m not careful.


Just as I started my third, my penultimate, reread of my novel, I happened upon an article about copyright. And now I have even more to worry about.

According to the article, the music industry, especially, targets people who may or may not have infringed a copyright and who don’t have the money or the pluck to fight back. It’s often called lawyer bluff. You look at their battery of lawyers, and you just give in. You pay them what they’re asking.

And I could really easily be buffaloed, bisoned actually, by even one lawyer.

The bison's daunting eye
Could you look into that eye and say, ‘NO’? I’d probably just give him what he wants.

One example used in the article is the song “Happy Birthday to You.” The song, a simple little song, may or may not have been written in 1893 by two sisters who lived in Louisville, Kentucky.

It was published in 1912, or not, copyrighted by a company in 1935, for sure, and Warner/Chappell Music bought that company in 1988. At the time of purchase, the copyright for “Happy Birthday” was probably worth about five million USD. Since then, the song has earned Warner around fifty million USD, perhaps making it the highest grossing song in history.

Did you know all that? I didn’t. I could easily have quoted a line or two from a song in my novel and perhaps have been sued.

After a battle in the court that cost millions, “Happy Birthday” is now in the public domain.

But although Charlie, one of my main characters, doesn’t mention “Happy Birthday,” he does refer to other songs. And that, as I said, is what worries me. Or maybe paranoid would be a better word than worried.

So, I’ve read all six parts of Ottawa’s Guide to Copyrights in Canada, and their A guide to copyright, and the information on their Justice Laws Website.

And I’ve gone to the Canadian Intellectual Property Office, and to the Copyright Board of Canada, and to cippic, for information about Bill C-60 and Bill C-61, and to The Canadian Encyclopedia. All online, of course.

And I’m not even going to mention all the other websites, such as legalzoom, Mapleleafweb, and

But in the end, all I’ve learned is that if you’re unsure about something “you should consult a lawyer with knowledge in the field.” In other words, “You should consult an intellectual property lawyer for legal advice.” (I believe I’m allowed to quote from government documents such as the Guide to Copyrights in Canada, as I’ve done here, but even doing that makes me nervous.)

I’ve also learned that you can mention real people’s names – usually. And you can quote titles of works – usually. And you can quote short phrases – usually. And you can summarize and paraphrase the content of other people’s works – usually. But if doubt, “You should consult an intellectual property lawyer for legal advice.”

However, let me be more specific. I refer to Ian Tyson. I respect him. I really like his stuff. But can I be sued for mentioning his name here and in my novel? And I refer to “Four Strong Winds.” I love that song. But can I be sued for mentioning the song title here and in my novel? I think I’m OK with his name and the title. One usually is.

But – and now I think it is likely time to see a lawyer – I play around with Tyson’s song. In my novel, Dave and Charlie had been talking . . ..

(I had a specific example here of something I thought might require legal advice, but I removed it. It had to do with an idea that’s related to Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds.” However, sharing my idea before I’ve published my book would not be wise, I’m told. You can’t copyright an idea, apparently, so including it in this post would be as good as giving it away. Sorry about the disjuncture my removing the example has caused. But at least now I’ll be able to sleep better.)

Charlie also refers to Nietzsche, Aristotle, Plato, George Lucas, Lewis Carroll, some Kristofferson songs, and more. These other references, fortunately, are more tangential. The Tyson one is the most specific.

So now what? At this point, all I can do is keep repeating Ottawa’s injunction: If in doubt, “You should consult an intellectual property lawyer for legal advice.”

I’d love to phone Tyson and buy him a beer and talk about this, but I suspect that’s a no-go. He’s a very interesting man with a very interesting history in the music industry. If you want more about that, check out Four Strong Winds; Ian & Sylvia, by John Einarson. It’s a wonderful read.

I had no idea Tyson had been friends with Bob Dylan in the early years and had had such an influence on Dylan’s career. And on a number of other people’s careers.

OK, you might ask, So how are you getting ready for your meeting with a lawyer? My answer is, I don’t know yet.

But I’m going through my novel and copying and pasting every passage I think might be problematic into a separate Word document. And then I’ll “consult a lawyer with knowledge in the field” and find out what the next step should be.

But until I know for sure, I’m not going to start revising those potentially problematic passages. Maybe most of them are fine as is. In the meantime, I can work on other stuff.

But I have learned I absolutely must see a lawyer about all this. And see her again later on to have her check out a possible contract should someone offer me one. (Oops! I didn’t mean to say should. I meant to say when.)



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