Five AM should not exist

I awakened at 5AM this morning, a few hours before I normally have to (and on my day off, to boot!) so I can drive a ways past the village to get blood drawn and urine collected for testing. Had to switch to a new doctor for a few resentful reasons that won’t be explicated here. So the bleedin’ and the peein’ was requested at my physical a few weeks ago.

Five ante meridian does not exist on my homeworld. Denizens of my planet need sunlight to awaken, otherwise we are foggy of brain and need mass quantities of coffee later. So foggy was I that I almost opened MS Word instead of LibreOffice to write this post’s draft.

The world looks almost post-apocalyptic that early in the morning, when all is dark and sentients are missing. There are all these buildings standing about, but few humans anywhere. Those that are about, all look, well… as if they have agendas that differ from the norm.

I’m back home after a nap, and as I’m too blurry-brained to be able to do my Morning Prayers (not even the Rosary) all I’ve been capable of is to fly through StumbleUpon sites. I picked my “Fantasy Books” and “Fantasy Art” categories as I’ve reading “The Lord of the Rings” again.

This post is an attempt to get over my typical “blogger’s block;” that feeling that if I haven’t blogged in quite some time, I can’t again, ever. It’s usually cured by forcing myself to write about something, anything, and then the block is broken.

I sincerely wish to blog most every day, across my three blogs (see feed links in the sidebar). But I’ve been saying that since I started blogging in 2007. {{{sigh}}} Perhaps someday.

Off to pray.

Posted in Blogging, Outside, Personal, Prayer | 1 Comment

Writing to discover

In my exploration of the culture of Catholic writing, I’ve been reading Flannery O’Connor.

I find much inspiration in her approach to writing as a Catholic and I’ve discovered two quotes of hers that I can relate to. I think all writers need inspiring quotes from other writers to keep themselves going. ;-)

I have to write to discover what I am doing. Like the old lady, I don’t know so well what I think until I see what I say; then I have to say it again.

I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.

Both are via QOTD.org.

I’ve discovered what Miss O’Connor talks about stir within me as I write. I sometimes do not know where I am going with the plot until the plot itself takes me there. This may sound odd, but I think other writers will understand this.

While I am writing, stuff from deep within me wells up from its dwelling place and pours forth into the story. It could be something autobiographical, some minor bit from my past brought out for character or plot development, or something I’ve read that is an interest of mine that fills a need for the story.

Like the novel that I’m working in that I mentioned in this post. The original story idea was to explore why something at work might have happened; but the story has borrowed heavily from my beliefs and interests. I had no idea that they’d have to be made manifest in it. This might make more sense if I discussed the particular story details, but I’m not going to for the moment. The story started out as one thing, and as I wondered about this or that, I just drew upon miscellaneous knowledge of mine, and finally they’ve fleshed out the plot to be something greater than the original intent. The original idea is still there and is at the crux of the plot. But the novel is becoming so much more than the original idea.

And I’m loving the fact that as the story is progressing, plotlines are now coalescing into a cohesive whole; there are coming together at an appropriate point to give the novel direction. Rather than a whole bunch of different plots all contained in the same file, they are now giving the novel its identity. Meaning, I think I’m at that point where readers will enter into the “meat” of the plot. All the main characters have been introduced, the plots laid down and now stuff is happening to drive it forward towards its conclusion.

Which I have no idea how it will end, but thats OK. Based upon what Miss O’Connor said up above, the ending is somewhere within me, waiting to be discovered.

To paraphrase Miss O’Connor: I will write the novel to discover what the ending is. I won’t know what the ending is until I see it. (And this next may fall under my belief that “writing is therapy”, and I won’t paraphrase her, but repeat the quote): I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.

Posted in Catholic Writing, Flannery O'Connor, Me, Novel, Writing | Leave a comment

It wants to be a novel, but perhaps later

About a year ago I wrote this post on a short story that decided by way of creative inspiration that: It wants to be a novel.

It was going fairly well, then some things in life got to happening and it was set aside.

And then earlier this year I got a new real-world job, details to be disclosed at some other time.

And then… Something happened at this job that got me to thinking creatively. Someone did something that I thought was odd, and that there JUST HAD to be a story behind it. So I got to thinking about the possible story behind the event, and decided that it had to be explored. Writing about seemed to be the best way and so off I was, on to another story.

I didn’t think about length, at this stage in my life I don’t care too much about such things and am just happy that I’m inspired to get story ideas and the overwhelming desire to write them.

I guess it also means that as I’ve matured as a person (which is about time as I’m over 50) and am taking this maturity into my writing “career,” such things occurring could mean that “writing” is becoming a vocation (something meaningful to do as well as to earn a living from) and not an avocation (something meaningful to do, like volunteering).

Why? Because of the seriousness of it. It’s less and less that I’m an “aspiring” writer and more that I’m an “actual” writer.

This new story has taken possession of me. While not obsessed with it as I have marital and job duties, and so on, I am occupied with it. When not actually writing, I am thinking and plotting.

But, I am writing. And in doing so, I am learning more about the creative process and also about me.

More on the latter in another post (I have to look up a quote. a-HA! “Search is your friend.” I found the quote -actually turns out to be two of them as they’re related – and they deserve their own post).

Posted in Novel, Personal, Short stories, Writing | 3 Comments

Flannery O’Connor—Catholic writer

Flannery O’Connor died fifty years ago today. She was, and remains, an American writer of great talent. I say “remains,” because she lives on in her work; she has achieved immortality and her work is alive and vibrant to this day. If you are an American Catholic with writing aspirations, or even writing accomplishments, please become acquainted with her stories if you are not already. You will learn quite a lot about the writing craft and what it means to be a Catholic writer.

Miss O’Connor said, “The Catholic novel is not necessarily about a Christianized or Catholicized world, but one in which the truth as Christians know it has been used as a light to see the world by.”

More on that here: Flannery O’Connor’s Religion and Literature: Dogma and its Implications for Art, by Tami England Flaum.

Her fiction is collected in three volumes, her two novels ‘Wise Blood” and “The Violent Bear It Away.” Her short stories are all collected now in one volume, titled appropriately, “The Complete Stories.” There are several collections of her non-fiction, most notably, “The Habit of Being: The Letters of Flannery O’Connor.”

I have only recently become familiar with her. Despite having the above four books in my library for several years, I only just read “Wise Blood” this past week, and am now happily making my way through her “Complete Stories.” I won’t be doing reviews any time soon, I doubt I’m qualified. ;-)

The point of this post is this: if one is a Catholic writer and is interested in building up and developing an authentic American Catholic culture, and follows Pope St. John Paul II’s suggestions that Christian art should infuse contemporary culture with the message of the Gospel, then one should study Miss O’Connor’s writings. She’s a good teacher.

If Catholic writers do participate in culture-building, we must look to what those who have gone before us have done. We learn from them, offer to the body of culture what we can uniquely contribute and in turn hope that our work survives on to enrich another generation. The living body of American Catholicism adds to the wonderful breath of diversity that is global Catholicism, offering people an alternative to the sterile materialistic secular order.

Posted in Books, Catholic Writing, Flannery O'Connor, Novel, Short stories, Writing | Comments Off

I, Blog

For a blog that’s supposed to be my “main” online journal, this place doesn’t get a whole lotta love. I’m a writer, and writers are “supposed to” have a website or blog or some sort of online presence. Granted, as a writer I only have two books published and those are selfies, but there’s more to come! I always figured that with the passage of time and writing success (or effort), this place will see more activity.

Or maybe not. Whatever, I decided to do some geeking around with the site (notice that I haven’t called it by name, yet).

For starters, the “name.” I figured I’ll simplify matters and just call it “Paul Sofranko’s Blog.” It’s short, and to the point. I’m Paul Sofranko, and this is my blog. Of course, I have others, but those are specialized, “niche” blogs. (Links are in the Page tabs up top, below the title of this place.)

“Paul Sofranko’s Blog” isn’t very imaginative, but it’s less pretentious than previous names: “Writer for God,” “In the Land of My Exile I Praise Him.” “Paul Sofranko Dot Net” might have served again, but it’s just a notch higher than a minimalist, simplistic title I was looking for. ;-)

The purpose, such as there is one, of “Paul Sofranko’s Blog” will not change; still a place for me to post stuff on writing, reading and whatever miscellaneous ramblings that serve as my interests and that won’t fit into my two niche blogs.

Don’t come here looking for profound, insightful commentary on current events, Catholic or secular. There are plenty of blogs for that written by people who have the time to work out such posts for online publication. Such writings, for me, take time away from the fiction efforts I am trying to work with, as well as other writing and blogging work. I know my strengths and limitations, and I prefer to focus my thoughtful efforts where they’re best capable of being useful. Although I do reserve the right to do that here when the impulse occurs. But I have a full-time job that has nothing to do with writing or blogging for a living, and other personal responsibilities and commitments. In other words there’s a nice life that’s mine and it happens!

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The gardening season is finally here!

Spent a good part of yesterday and today digging in the field off our driveway to put in a vegetable garden. Much nicer soil than where the garden used to be. Nice, dark, rich-looking with plenty of wigglies in it. Wet, too. Veggies should do well.

The old garden had too much clay soil and things didn’t grow well. After 3 seasons, it was time for a change.

As it was still snowing just a few weeks ago, and there was a frost advisory early last week, this weekend’s developments are welcome. Long-term weather shows NO danger of frost. Finally! Going outside is safe! ;-)

I found cheap fencing today, so the original 15′ x 25′ will be expanded to be 25′ x 25′ . Some old fencing may be employed to expand on that, or may be for a smaller garden for other stuff.

I may just be tempted, for “accountability” sake, to post photos and updates throught the year. I had planned on doing that these past few years, but the results weren’t impressive.

Posted in Gardening, Outside | 2 Comments

Peter and John rushing to the Tomb

I saw a beautiful painting in an article yesterday while perusing the news online. “The Disciples Peter and John Running to the Sepulchre on the Morning of the Resurrection” by Swiss painter Eugène Burnand, is an image that draws you into it. You are just THERE.

Peter-and-John-Running-to-the-Tomb-1898-590x320

Source is right here:

The Greatest Easter Painting Ever Made.

In my opinion, John looks like Roddy McDowell and Peter kinda looks like James Farentino, who played him in the epic TV miniseries, “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Posted in Prayer, Sacred Art, Spirituality | 1 Comment

Jesus in the Ashes

Ash Wednesday was two days ago, and I took this webcam picture of myself as a part of the annual #ashtag fun. You basically take pictures of yourself after recieving ashes and post them to social media.

This was mine:

 #ashtag2014

A friend of mine on Facebook sees an image of Jesus on the Cross in the ashes. Others, myself included, can see Him also. A miracle! (Just kidding.)

Please, no need to make pilgrimmages to my forehead, the ashes are long gone.

Kinda neat to see such things. I wonder what they mean?

Posted in Me, Uncategorized | Comments Off

Strange “sightings” in Church

While at Daily Mass this morning I saw someone who from behind and to the side was a dead-ringer for a friend I knew from kindergarten through some college. Same Mr. Spock-inspired haircut and shade of black hair, same physical build. It wasn’t JJ, who passed away from leukemia in 1995. But the similarity in appearance was amazing.

This brings up something else, a phenomenon I’ve noticed at my home parish, and nowhere else: Every so often I see people who bear a striking resemblance to someone from my old, hometown parish, either a physical similarity, or “something about them” is reminiscent. Odd. It would be one thing if I experienced this at other parishes, but that has not happened, only where I attend Mass now.

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Reading and writing is cool, when you think about it in an odd way

The very idea that you can inscribe, whether scribbling by hand or banging away at a keyboard, little squiggly things called “letters” that together make things called “words” that in and of themselves stand for ideas is fascinating.

Weave these words together in some rational or artfully irrational manner and you can tell a “story.”

And that someone else can use their eyeballs and scan theses squigglies and interpret their patterns and decipher their meaning, called “reading,” is even more fascinating.

The very idea that someone else, in some far off place and time can “read” these squigglies on a page (paper or digital) and derive enjoyment or get angry just turns the fascinating into something awesome.

Writing can be quite the responsible and exciting thing, when you think about it. I mean, just ponder the wonder of it all.

I got the above idea once by just imagining “reading.” I envisioned some sort of light beam emanating from an eye to scan words on a screen or paper, and seeing the words just fly up into the eyeball and thence into the brain. And once there creating pictures and scenery and the like.

It is interesting to just think about the commonplace and wonder. I just think that the act of reading is taken for granted, and we forget its awesomeness.

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