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A Quick Note April 15, 2013

Posted by rwf1954 in books compared to movies, books into movies, fusion jazz, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, medieval period, movies based on books, music, music commentary, mystic jazz, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade, writers.
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This is a quick update for my blog followers (or any other interested visitors) who are accustomed to seeing more frequent posts from me. The posts will be a little less frequent for a few months. I am at work on getting The Sultan and the Khan ready for publication. This is the sequel to my award-winning novel The Swords of Faith. The Sultan and the Khan will also be published by Strider Nolan Media (the folks who brought you The Swords of Faith). I’m also at work on the third novel of his trilogy, The Ghosts of Baghdad, set around the time of the Fourteenth Century “Black Death.”

I am also recording tracks for my CD “The Richard Warren Field Songbook.”

The track list:

1 – Fishbowl 4:28 (original)
2 – Hotel California 6:23 (cover)
3 – Magic 6:20 (cover)
4 – Mystic Tide 4:17 (original)
5 – Up from the Skies 5:03 (cover)
6 – A Hundred Thousand Friends 5:35 (original)
7 – All Blues 9:48 (cover)
8 – Chase this Mood 4:22 (original)
9 – Black Hole Sun 5:47 (cover)
10 – Purple Haze 3:52 (cover)
11 – Shanghai Noodle Factory 6:01 (cover)
12 – Avalon 6:36 (cover)
13 – Live Your Dreams 4:14 (original)

I hope to have this ready for release later this year.

But this blog will not be without posts! Coming up during the first part of May will be my final post on the nature of music, concluding a series of posts that turned out to be a lot longer and more involved than I thought it would be. And, in mid-May, I will post a Books-Into-Movies on “The Great Gatsby”—I’ll compare the book to the new movie release and to the Robert Redford movie of 1974.

Thanks for stopping by. Drop me a line any time at rwfcom@wgn.net.

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2013 – What I’ll Be Offering This Year at this Blog January 7, 2013

Posted by rwf1954 in books compared to movies, books into movies, fusion jazz, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, medieval period, movies based on books, music, music commentary, mystic jazz, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade, writers.
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2012 was a year of many posts here at CreativeEccentric, living up to the impulsive name I gave to my blog in 2010. My 820th Anniversary “Third Crusade” series, pertaining to my award-winning novel The Swords of Faith, came to its conclusion, followed by a bonus Christmas post. (There will be two more intriguing bonus 820th Anniversary posts coming up early in 2013—stay tuned.) My monthly posts on the selections from my “Issa Music” CD also concluded with my recent January 1st post on Track 13, “West Meets East” (the final track on the CD). My series on the nature of music and music’s possible link between to physics and metaphysics is coming to its conclusion—I ended up with a lot more posts on this that I had foreseen. (Here’s a link to the most recent post on this subject, which has links to all the previous posts.) 2013, I suspect, will be a year of fewer posts. But with traffic multiplying as the posts multiply, readers can be assured I will continue posting on popular topics for the foreseeable future:

  1. Books-Into-Movies posts will continue—they are among the most popular pages here. There are two coming up in January—on “Anna Karenina” and on “Lincoln.” I will pick and choose these as they strike me. They may pertain to upcoming movies (and television miniseries), or to past classic movies. They will usually have a historical aspect to them.
  2. I will be posting commentaries about books written by authors I know. This will expose my readers to books they may not have heard of anywhere else, but may very well enjoy.
  3. I will be producing one, maybe two CDs in 2013. This will lead to posts about music (in addition to my concluding posts on the nature of music).

Beyond that, there is always the unexpected. Anyone who has been with me over the last the 2½ years of this blog will attest to that!

I hope everyone has a happy and productive new year and enjoys what I have to offer here, and through other creative outlets.

*******

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CADD™: A Personal Confession August 24, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in creativity, historical fiction, Issa, Issa Legend, music, mystic jazz, The Swords of Faith, writers, writing.
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The Diagnosis: Creative Attention Deficit Disorder 

The Prescription: Focus™ 

Yes, I have been struggling with CADD™ for most of my life, from the time I realized I am a creative person, maybe ten years after I was born. I am pleased to have identified this condition after all this time. There is little doubt this condition has shaped who I am, how my life is gone, and most importantly, what I offer to the public. All right, so what does that mean? Let’s take a look at it.

What is CADD™?
Creative Attention Deficit Disorder refers to bouncing from one creative interest to another, splitting attention between very different creative projects. In an age of genre-fication and specialization, those with this CADD™ condition can find carving out a life in the creative spheres to be difficult. We are supposed to seek out niches, and build audiences in those niches. For example, historical fiction as a specialty for a writer is no longer enough. Historical romance or historical mystery is even better, and historical romance or mystery set during a specific period, a whole series of books, is best of all. But we CADD™ people are niche jumpers—we’re easily bored with a narrow set of interests and are impulsively drawn to where our curiosity and inspiration take us.

What is the Treatment for the CADD™ Condition?
The medicine we are told to take is called Focus™ (generic substitute -“stay on one thing, stupid”). I’ve tried taking Focus™.  I just don’t tolerate it well. Because to “focus,” I need to choose. Even now, I wouldn’t know what choice to make even if I decided to take Focus™. Do I set aside my writing? My recent novel, The Swords of Faith, won three awards, and I have completed a follow-up novel (set six years later) with clear ideas for a third, and other follow-ups. Or do I set aside my music?  My CD “Issa Music” has over 300 fans around the world on internet radio, fans on every continent except Antarctica. This fan list is growing. 

So Will I Take the Medicine Now, At Long Last, Now that I Have a Diagnosis?
You can probably tell from the previous section—I’m not going to take this medicine. As I said, I have tried it before, and it hasn’t worked for me. I am now embracing my CADD™ condition. I will work with all the energy life grants me to go in every creative direction that feels right to me. My blog reflects this—my posts are all over the place here. I am not going to beat myself up over this anymore. I ask people only to consider what I have to offer without taking into consideration my CADD™ condition, that I am not a genre-fied specialist. If my writing works for you, enjoy it. If my music works for you, enjoy it. If you like it all, that’s fantastic. (And why not?) You may come to see connections. I am one person, so connections are bound to be there. Podcast interviewer Ron Hood, of Ron’s Amazing Stories, spotted a connection and we spoke about it during his interview with me. (Ron Hood was the best-prepared, most insightful interviewer I have ever had the pleasure to encounter—check out “Ron’s Amazing Stories” for his work with me and with others.) But it is still a broad connection, not an obvious one like those who have the skill to genre-fy/specialize.

The Consequences of Untreated CADD™
So for me, CADD™ is terminal. I will never cure it; I will never recover from it; I don’t want to. What has this meant? When you won’t grab that niche and stay there, it is harder to find success in the marketplace. We live in an increasingly cluttered and decentralized world of multiple communications channels. Specialization/genre-fication allows people focused on your interest to find you through those channels. But the generalist, the “Renaissance man” (or woman), has a lot harder time reaching an audience under these circumstances.

For me, this has meant I’ve been unable to make a living with my creativity. I have perceived this in the past as the profound failure of my life. (I am not whining here—everyone has failures. My life is abundant with wonderful successes and I am fine where I am now.) This has reduced my time for creativity. But I read something recently that brought me a lot of comfort, even a smile, as I think about this. (This was in the comment section of an article on the whether social media will remain an effective marketing tool.) There are many creative people in the world. Society does not have the resources to provide a livelihood for every creative person. (In primitive societies, story-telling and music-making were not specialties. They took place in a group setting with individuals contributing to the creative activities after their tasks to sustain the group were completed.) So, society arbitrarily supports some creative people over others. In our society, the marketplace generally decides who gets that support, though academia and government grants also play a limited role. And it is not necessarily the best who get the support! That is an important consideration in looking at all this. And looking back, this is true through history. Some creative people were paid—some had other occupations to sustain them. Some creative people whose work is now considered to have stood to test of time, achieving a consensus label of greatness, died destitute while others with lesser talents thrived. So as I have said before, I’m through beating myself up over this. I accept my CADD™ and its consequences.

Going Forward
As I said, I will indulge varied creative impulses with all the energy, talent and time I have available. My website displays what I have to offer. I invite people to enjoy whatever they find appealing. At this time, I still support myself with a “day job.” But that is even winding down—I can see ahead the day when I will “retire” from that. (I will never “retire” from creative projects—that’s impossible!) Now, if I hit the market right, I would love to make a living with music, or writing, or both! But, if that doesn’t happen, I’m still at peace with my CADD™ condition.

Do you have CADD™?
I do not believe I am alone, the only person “afflicted” with this CADD™ condition! If you see yourself in these words, in my story, I invite your comments. Share your own story. Share your thinking. We are being crowded out by the genre-fiers, by the specializers. Let’s speak out for ourselves, support each other, and continue to create. Over-specialization/over-genre-fication, narrows perspectives. The world needs CADD™  people because we are more likely to bring broad perspectives, big-picture, out-of-the-box thinking, to the world. We are important. CADD™ “sufferers” unite! We have nothing to lose but our apologies for our short creative attention spans!

Previous “Personal Notes” Posts:

2012 – Personal Notes: What I’m Offering This Year at this Blog, and Elsewhere January 1, 2012

Posted by rwf1954 in Ayn Jalut, Baybars, books compared to movies, books into movies, fusion jazz, historical fiction, Hulegu Khan, Issa, Issa Legend, Mamluks, medieval period, Middle Ages, Mongols, movies based on books, mystic jazz, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, Saladin, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade, writers.
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What to Expect at this Blog Over the Coming Year

  • Two continuing series: (1) The 820th anniversary posts commenting on key moments in the Third Crusade (the confrontation between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin during the late Twelfth Century) will continue up to October of this year when the series will end with a post commemorating the 820th anniversary of the end of the Third Crusade. Of course, this series springs from The Swords of Faith, my award-winning novel that tells the story of this event through the eyes of Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, and two fictional characters. (2) At the first of every month, I’ll offer a full-length selection from my Issa Music CD, just released this week. The music was inspired by the “Legend of Issa,” the story of Jesus making a journey to India while forming his spiritual vision. If true, this suggests a spiritual connection between East and West that goes back two thousand years. The music celebrates the idea of East blending harmoniously with West.
  • Books-Into-Movies will continue; these posts are among the most popular at my blog resulting in thousands of blog visits. I’ll look for films with a historical or big-themed angle based on a novel or non-fiction book (not a novelized movie). I’ll reach back for more classics, as I did last year with “Ben Hur.”
  • Music: Given my recent rediscovery of a passionate love for creating and playing music, I will continue offering comments on music at this blog. Some posts will discuss the poetry of lyrics like the posts about Jimi Hendrix and Yes selections. But I will expand this to comment on other musical topics. Expect some surprises here, one or two coming up soon! One topic I’ll explore will be the nature of music itself, and why humans seem almost universally to connect with it. I will be consulting help on that topic—I will comment on books addressing this subject from numerous different angles.
  • I will continue posting about physics and metaphysics as I did on August 30, 2011 and October 7, 2011.  The next post will refer to some recent reading so my reflections on this esoteric and intensely complex topic do not seem to come out of thin air!
  • And I expect to come out with some posts on completely new topics. The world is supposed to come to an end this December. I expect to survive this event and post the day after the end of the world. I look forward to many visits and comments from others who have also survived that day! We also do have an election coming up later this year in the United States. I may wade into those treacherous waters. I’ve been there before—just take a look at my Internet Column and my 1997 novel, The Election. Don’t expect me to follow any conventional approach, “left” or “right.” That’s what’s great about blogging… I’m free to set my own rules! 

*******

What to Expect from Me Creatively this Year

  • I have completed writing and revising (for now) The Sultan and Khan, my novel about one of the most neglected battles in world history, the battle between the Muslim Mamluks and the Mongol dynasty in September of 1260. I will work toward an announcement of when and where The Sultan and Khan will be available as details develop.
  • I’ll begin reading and research for the third novel of The Swords of Faith trilogy, The Ghosts of Baghdad. (I expect that to lead to some interesting blog posts.)
  • Look for news of some music performances this coming year as time permits me to schedule them.
  • I plan to produce a Christmas CD. I had been working on it when the end of the year caught up to me! But I have warned my family to expect to hear Christmas music during January and February as I build on the momentum I have developed late during 2011 and start building some tracks. 

*******

Happy New Year to everyone. May 2012 be a year of joy and fulfillment, a year of great expectations realized, of love experienced and shared for all. 

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Book Commentary/Review – Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman November 24, 2011

Posted by rwf1954 in book review, books, crusades, historical fiction, literary commentary, medieval period, Middle Ages, Richard the Lionheart, Richard Warren Field, the crusades, The Swords of Faith, third crusade, writers.
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(Richard Warren Field wrote the award-winning novel,
The Swords of Faith. Read why this book will make a great movie.)

Sharon Kay Penman’s Lionheart tells the story of Richard the Lionheart’s mission to the Middle East to take back Jerusalem for Western Christendom, commonly referred to as the “Third Crusade.” Lionheart delivers Sharon Kay Penman’s usual attention to research—she may write in the genre of “historical fiction,” but readers can always depend on Penman’s story-telling to contain accurate history to go with whatever fiction she has added. Being closely familiar with this period because of research on my own novel, The Swords of Faith, I can attest to the accuracy of the historical detail provided.

The story begins in Sicily, not with Richard, but with Richard’s sister Joanna. Readers discover quickly that though this book is about Richard the Lionheart, his story will be told from multiple points of view. Two prominent viewpoints are Joanna’s and Richard the Lionheart’s potential future wife, Berengeria. This multiple viewpoint technique brings gusto to the legendary aspects of one of history’s most dynamic characters by giving readers the chance to witness Richard through the eyes of others.

When we think of “Crusades,” or of Richard the Lionheart fighting Muslims, we think of battles in the Middle East. But Penman has the courage to delay delivering readers to that expected setting until halfway through Lionheart, staying with the accurate history. This rewards readers with a richer, more dramatic story. Because the “Third Crusade,” for Richard the Lionheart, was much more than fighting revered Muslim Sultan Saladin for Jerusalem. Getting to the fight (and returning from it, which could be an even more dramatic story Penman will tell with her follow-up to Lionheart, Ransom) is as compelling a story as the fight itself. On his way to fight Saladin, Richard chooses between two possible wives and marries his choice, seriously alienating his main European ally. He rescues his sister, widow of the late king of Sicily, held in dubious circumstances by the successor to the throne. He rescues his sister and fiancé after a shipwreck puts them just off the coast of Cyprus, within reach of the unprincipled despot ruling the island. What Richard does next in Cyprus as a result of this confrontation will change the history of the island, and factor into his own future activities. So readers will be too caught up in the drama of Richard’s journey to be impatient for arrival at the Middle East.

Penman remains loyal to the history once the story arrives in the Middle East, again relying on the true facts of one of history’s great confrontations to provide the drama. It is hard for me to understand why writers feel they need to change the facts of Richard’s crusade—it is a great story without any help! In the hands of a skilled story-teller like Penman, intimately familiar with the time period so able to re-create for readers the physical settings, as well as the mental settings—the attitudes of the age—all that is needed is to place the characters in the events and let the story unfold. This is what Penman does, and she delivers entertainment and accurate history bundled together.

Penman avoids a major temptation other storytellers have succumbed to when telling this story.  These two iconic historical figures never met face-to-face. For over a year they were locked in an intense military and diplomatic struggle with lives and the future of their faiths on the line. It is tempting to try to heighten the intensity of this story, of this personal rivalry, by putting these two men face-to-face. But history did not put them face-to-face, and neither does Penman. The resolution of their head-to-head battle takes extraordinary twists and turns without a personal meeting between the two. This includes harrowing battles with Richard’s life in jeopardy, life-threatening illnesses at inopportune times, negotiations that take peculiar diversions no author of fiction would dare to invent, and even a bizarre assassination that thwarts a potential negotiated peace. Through all this, Penman takes us through the events as experienced by Richard the Lionheart, and by those around him, including his sister and his new wife, struggling for Richard’s attention through these history-making events. This guarantees maximum entertainment even for those familiar with the events.

Sharon Kay Penman leaves us at a logical stopping point, the resolution of Richard’s conflict with Saladin. All Richard the Lionheart has to do now is get home. That, as I mentioned earlier, will be much easier said than done.

Lionheart is definitive reading on the topic of Richard the Lionheart during this part of his life.  It is entertaining while maintaining historical accuracy, a difficult task to accomplish, a task accomplished well by a master of her craft.

Now for Some Personal Comments
I would be a fool not to mention that my award-winning novel The Swords of Faith, released about a year before Penman’s Lionheart, tells the story of the events of this same “Third Crusade” that is the subject of Lionheart. With that mention comes the question of why readers should ever consider reading The Swords of Faith now that Lionheart, written by a master historical novelist of this particular time period, is available. The answer is simple. The story is handled completely differently in The Swords of Faith. In fact, these two books complement each other. Readers enthralled with this story will enjoy my alternative approach to the same history. And not an alternative approach to the facts—I share Penman’s choice to stay with the actual history. As I have indicated in this post, the real history needs no embellishment. But my interest in the story is not a biographical interest but an interest in the religious confrontation. So I do not offer nearly as much detail about Richard the Lionheart and those around him, choosing instead to offer Saladin’s point of view, as well as providing the points of view of two fictional characters who experience these events through the prisms of their own religious orientations.

Other comments concerning Lionheart and The Swords of Faith:

  • Stylistic comparison—there are two big differences between the story-telling style of Sharon Kay Penman and my style in The Swords of Faith. Penman uses a lot more narrative exposition, so provides a great deal more narrative detail. My style utilizes episodes/scenes, with as little narrative exposition as possible. (This is a deliberate choice, used in writing on subjects as varied as The Swords of Faith, Dying to Heal, and my 1997 novel, The Election. (I comment in detail on this style choice at my web site and at Lisa Yarde’s blog.) This is not to imply that one approach is better—I would not want to be seen as even hinting at that idea when comparing myself to a well-respected and successful author. But the styles are different, and readers interested in the subject can enjoy a fresh take on the material.
  • As I have previously indicated, Lionheart is a richly detailed biographical novel, fair and accurate, about one of the most intriguing characters in history, and one the best-known and most familiar even now. The Swords of Faith addresses the same events with an eye toward religious fanaticism and the impact it has on historical and fictional characters of the era. A theme of The Swords of Faith is that the less fanatic the behavior of the main characters, including Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, the more successful they are thriving and achieving their own goals. True even then, as we certainly see it is true now.
  • Is The Swords of Faith more historically accurate than Lionheart? No. Is it as accurate as Lionheart? The honest answer again is no. Is The Swords of Faith more historically accurate than most of the historical fiction written about this, including recent films (“Kingdom of Heaven” comes to mind)? Yes, and this includes the classic Sir Walter Scott novel The Talisman, though in fairness to Scott, he was not attempting to be historically accurate. There is no doubt that Sharon Kay Penman has a lot more patience with research than I do, combing through primary sources, some difficult and/or expensive to acquire. She could certainly provide informative lectures to scholars on this era. This depth of research allows her to take to task Steven Runciman, a writer of one of the most acclaimed histories of “the Crusades,” for his treatment of the slaughter of the Acre hostages. My research relies on the work of people like Runciman, as well as scholars and historians Penman cites in her bibliography.
  • I’ve had the pleasure of exchanging some e-mails with Ms. Penman, some as she worked on Lionheart. She asked if I was going to continue to write about this era. She mentioned how she feels “at home” in the 12th Century. I admire her dedication and mastery of this era (as do her legions of readers). But the events attracted me because of the clash of religions. I’m off to a new century—a few generations later in The Sultan and the Khan. (And I won’t stay there long either.)
  • Did I enjoy being sandwiched between two novels offered by mainstream publishers on the same subject? The Swords of Faith was released one month after Shadow of the Swords by Kamran Pasha, and about a year before Lionheart by Sharon Kay Penman. (I have previously written about Shadow of the Swords.) That’s fine. They’re all companions, taking three very different approaches to the material. The more interest generated in the characters and their stories, the better.
  • And I may bump into Conn Iggulden as his Mongol novels reach the third generation of the Genghis Khan dynasty. That’s fine too. Again, I’m certain our approaches to the material will be way different. 

So I hope an interest in Lionheart generates an interest in The Swords of Faith, and vice versa. It’s an entertaining time of history—Richard the Lionheart, and Saladin, are intriguing people to read about, and to write about! 

Lionheart - Sharon Kay Penman

Lionheart - Sharon Kay Penman

Personal Notes About the New Year January 7, 2011

Posted by rwf1954 in books, historical fiction, Historical Novel Society, HNS, Uncategorized, writers.
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So 2011 is here. It seems not too long ago that 2010 started. But when I look back, a lot happened in 2010! So it’s been awhile after all:

  • My novel, The Swords of Faith, was released by Strider Nolan Media in July.
  • Dying to Heal, a novel co-written with chiropractor Alan Fluger, is with the printer and will be available early this year (after much work completed during 2010).
  • I performed music again for the first time in many years. I was stopped short of pursuing this further because of a severe case of laryngitis. But my most recent visit to the ear, nose and throat doctor confirmed my impression that I have largely recovered. Both sides of my vocal cords are vibrating together again. Though the left side is still weak, the worst appears to be over.
  • I finished the initial draft of The Sultan and the Khan, the sequel to The Swords of Faith.
  • I started this blog…
  • On a sadder note, 2010 was my first complete year without my mother. I know she would have enjoyed a lot of this, especially The Swords of Faith. I miss her—she is missed by many. 

In 2011:

  • There will be continuing publicity for The Swords of Faith this year, including the continuing series of 820th anniversary dates from the third crusade. Richard the Lionheart will arrive at the eastern Mediterranean coast, and the head-to-head action of the confrontation between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin will enter its main phase.  (And yes, the blog will continue to offer book commentaries, and more eccentric posts like guest posts from my cats and comments about the poetry of Jimi Hendrix.)
  • After polishing The Sultan and the Khan, I will work on firming up a publishing home for the book. Stay with me for developments.
  • I do expect full togetherness/vibration from my vocal cords, and singing performances next year. I have seven sets of songs ready to go, whenever my voice allows. Stay with me on that as well—I’ll offer updates at my website.
  • Look for a Christmas set, and a Christmas CD, as time and opportunity allow. Four original Christmas songs will be part of this effort.
  • I will be helping the efforts of the Historical Novel Society to set up local chapters. My territory? Southern California. And speaking of the Historical Novel Society, there is a convention in Southern California in June that I will be attending.

So I am excited about this year, about what I have to offer. The idea is to bring enjoyable, thought-provoking entertainment to a wide audience. Drop me a comment, or an email.

Opportunity in Adversity: A Personal Note October 9, 2010

Posted by rwf1954 in alternative medicine, books, books into movies, chiropractors, historical fiction, laryngitis, movies, movies based on books, paresis of the vocal cords, Richard the Lionheart, the crusades, third crusade.
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I called this blog “creativeeccentric.com.” I have devoted most of it to posts about issues related to my recently published novel, The Swords of Faith. But when I got started, I knew I would want to use this channel of communication for more than just discussing my novel. I am truly a “creative eccentric.” I have interests in many areas, and I have not hesitated to go where those interests lead me.

This year was set to be a year of three major projects. The Swords of Faith, my novel about the clash between Richard the Lionheart and Saladin, was set for publication. The book, of course, was already written and editing basically complete. (The sequel, The Sultan and the Khan, was also on its way to completion and will be completed by the end of the year.) So there was time to pursue other interests.

The second of the major projects is another writing project, this one written in collaboration with my friend, chiropractor Dr. Alan Fluger. This is a novel, Dying to Heal, revolving around about the combination of conventional and alternative medicine. We expect to have this book out by the end of the year. Dr. Fluger will carry the publicity ball on that one. (But have no doubts—I am proud of my work on that book, and believe it has some timely things to say about health care, a hot issue in our society right now.)

On a very different creative track, I rediscovered my love of creating music. Back in 1977, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue the music dream. My creative focus drifted to writing, but recently, after performing a duet with my daughter at my brother’s wedding, I rediscovered just how much I love this creative activity. I started putting together a viable performance package—a drum-bass machine backing me up as I sang with a stage piano. I also discovered a love for covers I never had when I was younger. I mastered five sets of a total of over fifty songs, about a third original, the rest covers. (There are one minute clips of eleven of these songs at my website). So here was the third project. This would be the year I would start performing my music again. No, I am not expecting to play in arenas or sell millions of CDs. But baby-boomers are coming to retirement (my generation). They/we will have more leisure time, and hopefully a reasonable amount of disposable income. They will want to hear their music live. True, artists of that generation are performing, but at high prices, in difficult venues and on infrequent occasions. I will come in with familiar songs, as well as some new songs in a familiar style, at easy-to-access venues and affordable prices.

The first half of the year went along with me pushing hard on all three of these projects: knee-deep in publicity for the July 4th publication of The Swords of Faith, finishing up Dying to Heal, and starting out my music performances with seventeen hours at the San Fernando Valley Fair in mid June, anticipating there would be more performances ahead. The second half of the year started with a focus in July on getting The Swords of Faith launched effectively. By August, I was ready to get back out to some more performance venues. The first week of August, a sore throat hit. It developed quickly into laryngitis. And the laryngitis just plain hasn’t left. I can barely speak, much less carry a tune. Music would have to wait again.

At this point, I have completed three different courses of antibiotic treatment, and other medications. The last week of September, I had a CT scan of my throat and sinuses, and a chest x-ray. The diagnosis is a paresis/ partial paralysis, of a nerve running along the side of my left vocal cord. Basically, that means the left side of my vocal cords doesn’t work, so the right side has to work extra hard to get any sound to come out of my voice. This was probably brought on by a virus. The scans and x-rays ruled out cancer, and other more exotic (no one wants “exotic” in this situation) conditions. But the doctor is saying this could go on for six months. (And that didn’t sound like any certain time frame.) That puts a crimp in the music ambitions, and hampers my ability to get on the phone or participate in other activities that involve using my voice to sell books. That is a little unwelcome, unanticipated adversity.

Let me add right away that I have been an extremely fortunate person. This is the worst ailment of my adult life. Others of my age have faced much more serious health problems. My healthy, health-conscious brother had a stroke last year (luckily with little permanent damage). My step-nephew’s fiancé, about one-third my age, faces surgery for a brain tumor. So I am not offering this as some kind of tragedy. My voice gets just a little better each day. I expect to recover completely. Unfotunately, the recovery will apparently take some time, and it does put a damper on one third of this year’s planned three-pronged creative campaign.

But, this adversity presents an opportunity. Speaking is difficult right now, with speaking on the phone being the worst. So I cannot be effective using that tool for publicity. What is the opportunity? I am not willing to roll up in a ball and wait this out. Reading and writing are not affected by my condition. I am not really ill. I become fatigued only after extended periods using my voice, especially on the phone. Otherwise, my full energies are available. So what is the opportunity? Focus.

I recently had a brief consultation with a career counselor. I told him all the things I was working on. He told me he suspected I lacked focus. Focus is difficult for me. I love it all so much, and feel I have a contribution to make in so many areas. If I let down in one area, I could be letting down in the one area that will break me through to a large number of people. This weird illness gives me focus. Whether I like it or not, focus has descended upon me.

I do continue to practice my music. I can’t sing, of course. But I have programmed a sixth set of songs (twelve) and five songs of a seventh set. (A complete list of the songs I perform when healthy is at my website.) It sometimes seems a little cruel that someone who loves performing songs would be afflicted with an illness that prevents singing. But I cannot whine about this when there are many others less fortunate than I am, with worse afflictions. I accept and appreciate the gift of focus. I will regain my voice. Until then, there are other places to direct my energies.

Where should the focus go? Into projects that require writing and reading, of course. How can I expand what I am doing now? This blog got the most views when “The Pillars of the Earth” mini-series was running, and I was offering comments about the series, particularly comparing the mini-series to the book. This was an opportunity to expose The Swords of Faith to people interested in period epics. Suppose I did that with all major theatrical releases based on a book? Well, that’s what my new Books Into Movies blog will do. Not book reviews—not movie reviews; a discussion of the comparison between the books and the movies that have been made from them. That blog will launch at about the same time as this post. I will have to step up my reading and writing to make this happen. What a shame, more reading, more writing… not! Poor, poor me… not! (Update – Books-Into-Movies was discontinued at the end of 2010.)

So a little ailment forces focus. I will perform music soon, when this ailment ends. In the meantime, I am grateful to have so many creative outlets—I can simply shift to another during this period. I am also grateful for focus. This will make me stronger!

Another Creative Eccentric Strikes the Blogosphere! June 4, 2010

Posted by rwf1954 in historical fiction.
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