Archive for the ‘Non-Fiction Writing’ Category

I Didn’t Always Write Fiction

December 6, 2012

G. Washington Article An Article Written for the December 1983 Issue of “GM Today” © R.L. Herron

The headline of today’s entry is somewhat misleading. I’ve actually written fiction (and poetry) since I was seventeen. Most of it, with the exception of a couple of short stories and some poems, never saw the light of day in any publication.

In fact, most of it never even garnered a rejection slip.

Just like with today’s wannabe authors, rejections were not acknowledged … they were ignored. Somewhere, in a dusty brown cardboard box in the dim recesses of the basement, I’m sure I still have copies of most of the ones I did get. Sad, yellow-brown pages brittle now with age.

There were a few mimeographed (read xeroxed, for those too young to remember mimeos) and unsigned rejection letters, but those were infrequent and have long since been tossed into the same abyss my original submissions went into.

However, I did write and publish:

    The cold darkness was broken only by the sound of cargo boats being poled across an icy river. Desperation was written plainly in the faces of the men sitting in the boats. A young general stood in the lead boat staring ahead into darkness.

    Suddenly, there was a flash from shore. The entire group slumped. Instantly the shoreline came alive, not with cannon fire, but with conversation and activity.

    “Cut! Let’s do it again; and tell those people not to use flashbulbs again while we’re filming!”

The date was November 21, 1983. The scene was the re-creation of George Washington and 2,400 of his troops crossing the Delaware River on Christmas Eve 1777 on their way to attack the Hessian garrison at Trenton.

The original action was one of the first important victories for the Continental Army during the American Revolution. The re-creation is also a first for General Motors.

I found this example of one of my articles, published in the December 1983 issue of “GM Today” … an internal monthly newsletter distributed to all GM employees. The print run, at the time, was over 800,000, quite a respectable distribution. I remember this article very well.

The editor didn’t like it at all.

He’d sent me to cover a portion of the filming of the GM-sponsored made-for-television mini-series about the life of the young George Washington, starring Barry Bostwick and Patty Duke. I met and interviewed them both … and the director, Richard Fielder, on location at the filming of the re-creation of Washington’s historic crossing.

From his comments when I returned, my editor thought the article was too story-like and not the nuts-and-bolts information he wanted. Thankfully, the PR Vice President had seen … and liked … my article or it would have found its way into the waste receptacle, too.

Is the world today better simply because the article ran almost exactly as I wrote it?

Probably not. But my memory of it is.

“Reichold Street” a book trailer video © R.L. Herron


Ready. Set. Go.

January 2, 2012

“Hopscotch” © R.L. Herron

I made a resolution (sort of) to write in my blog every day in the new year. Here it is the second day of 2012 and I’ve already failed.

I didn’t miss by much, but this is my first official blog post of the new year so my batting average has already dropped to .500. There’s absolutely no way now to bring it to 1.000.

Looking at a brand new year stretched out in front of you this way certainly makes it seem daunting.

Does that mean I’m abandoning the effort? Of course not. I can still shoot for a respectable finish. Like most other large projects, it often takes breaking it into pieces to make it seem less intimidating.

Even the most organized-seeming among us have moments when they try to see too far ahead. Moments the most well-educated guess of what’s-to-come misses the target entirely. What do you do when that happens?

If you’re good at what you do, you pick things up, toss the stone again and shoot for the next square down the line. Simple as that.

The goal may not move, but the path to it often does. In the world of business, or just the game of life, you need to learn that and play the game accordingly.

I’m getting ready to e-publish some of my creative work. I have been for months.

Yet, I’ve hesitated for weeks as I waged a war in my head over publishing it in that way instead of following some of the more “normal” publishing avenues.

Then it occurred to me. What’s normal any more?

I remember, not that long ago, when many people (myself included) declared digital photography would never replace film … but it did.

Even more recently, another ill-informed prognostication – electronic readers will never replace books – was on the tongue of many well-meaning mystics. I myself couldn’t see giving up any of my beloved hardcover tomes for an e-Book.

But I did.

Oh sure, I was reluctant at first. I was going to be away from home for six weeks and knew I could not carry enough reading material to keep me occupied, so I bought my first Kindle. To get me through this inconvenience, I told myself.

Then I discovered this new way of reading was every bit as satisfying, much more efficient and a damned sight more convenient. The signs are all there.

Libraries are hurting for funding (I do find that distressing). A major bookstore chain has folded. The largest bookseller on the planet is Amazon, and a significant percentage of the content they sell is digital. Who am I to say it ain’t ever gonna happen.

Particularly since it already has.

I need to quit procrastinating and get my stories and books online before the next wave of change, whatever it may be, rolls over us all and I have to start thinking about it all over again.


New Year…Again

December 30, 2011

“Patterns” © R.L. Herron

I’ve probably used this image before. It looks familiar, but so do my New Year resolutions.

When I looked at last year’s list to gather hints for this year, I realized most of my 2011 resolutions are not yet done.

Sigh. Did I really think they would be?

Well … yeah, I did. That’s why I made them.

Looks like I’ll have to make them again. I’m not sure why I keep doing this to myself. Is it because other people expect it, or because I do?

My lovely bride is after me again to shed some pounds. She’s even solicited help from my white-haired mother. Oh, she’ll deny it, but the two of them have a similar mantra.

Coincidence? I think not.

I have to admit, it’s a resolution I would enjoy keeping – except for the work and exercise part. And the forgoing of fried food. Or cookies and cake. And the occasional beer or other alcoholic beverage.

Then there’s my writing.

I did do a lot more of that in 2011. Not here, of course. But I did it. One of my poems “Woodland Avenue” was actually published in a respected online journal, Slow Trains.

I have almost 67,000 words written on my novel. Another 10-15 thousand or so and I’ll be ready to edit. I also have a collection of short stories that is now up to 36,000 words.

Nothing published yet, so that’s still a to do.

I’ve submitted poetry and short stories to about a dozen venues this year. Nothing accepted yet, so I have to re-submit elsewhere in 2012. Plus, I participate in an online writer’s forum every day.

Seems like a lot. So why doesn’t it feel satisfying?

Oh, I attended the Rochester Writer’s Forum again this year, so I can check that one off. Why are you smiling?

Almost forgot, I traced my family lineage back to 1617 in Ireland (I always thought before I was German). My first paternal ancestor landed in Virginia, in 1635. That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?

I meant to do some traveling, and I have. We spent about 11-12 weeks of this year in Florida, with the grandkids. Maybe next year we’ll go somewhere just for the two of us.

There was also something I know I said about avoiding political commentary. It’s hard in such an overtly political climate.

I’ve managed to keep most of my friends, so I must be doing all right on that score.

Then again, maybe not. There’s a group of us who said we’d meet for lunch once every quarter, and we’ve only met twice. I don’t see us getting in the other two meetings tomorrow.

So, for 2012, I guess I’ll just polish off last year’s list (changing all the 2011 headings to 2012, of course), and try it all again.

Maybe next year I’ll find a publisher, or at least gather enough cohonies to e-publish something myself. Maybe next year I’ll avoid political disagreements altogether (I can already see this one failing).

Perhaps I’ll even do a little traveling and get together with all my old friends. Next year. Why does that sound so damn familiar?

Maybe I’ll finally get around to my original “Blog365” idea, with a short piece of writing every day.

Whoa…wait a minute. Next year is a leap year. There’s 366 days in it. Damn. There goes that idea, too.

Take care, my friends. Happy New Year.

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