Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 12

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I’ll be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.


Behind Anav was perhaps half a ruler’s length of space before lockers and equipment filled out to the bulkhead. There was no room for another soul to pass behind him, but somehow people kept regularly doing it. It’s as if these people could deflate and reflate themselves like balloon animals, contorting themselves into in all manner of giraffes and dogs or whatever the unseen hands shaped them to be. I would have to learn this skill to get by. But it’s not so much a skill as it is not caring about rubbing your junk up against another man’s ass or crotch. Knees and ‘bows crashing, breathe on breath mixing, belt buckles and flys catching—humans up close and far too personal. Get used to that, and I knew I could do this. But, it would take some doing some, yielding of my higher mannerisms. There was never anything sexual or weird about it, though we might crack a joke about it, and some took it too far. Closeness was a simple fact of life now. Our world of Submarine was tight and close, and just enough to live in. That’s all.

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 12 (the writing maintenance plan)

The metrics:


  • 2 chapters complete
  • 8,281 words typed
  • 1,183 (average) word count per day
  • 12:38 spent writing total
  • 1:49 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 99,143 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 2 novels complete
  • 282 pages read
  • 11:13 spent reading
  • 1:44 (approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 4:11

I missed last week. Forgive me. I have no excuse. I just didn’t want to do it. In fact, I didn’t want to do a whole host of things last week. Including, reading or writing.

So I scrapped the blog and watched movies.

Bad move.

But, I got off my pity party (guest=1) and got back into motion. I was worn down last week. Three months of hitting the writing and the reading hard got to me. It was a good exhaustion, though. It wasn’t that I intentionally stopped, either.  No, I stopped because I kept looking at the future. I let doubt creep in. The book became an insurmountable hurdle, and I couldn’t heave myself over it no matter what I did. In short, I let the pressure get to me.

Worse move.

Then I started praying and meditating on it. I started talking to others about my problems. Then, I sought help. I found what I needed from my professor, my friends, a mentor, and especially my Higher Power.

Anytime I take back the reins of my life from my God, it all falls to shit. It’s proven in my life over and over again. Expecting things to happen in the future means taking back those reins, and that’s lethal to me.

One morning, I let it go. I broke down. On my knees I buried my head deep into a chair and let my Higher Power know that I couldn’t handle the pressure. His response was immediate.


My advice to you my friends, is to get out of your own way. If the pressure of finishing a book by a strangling deadline is crushing you, ask God to release the grip. You can’t do it yourself.

It worked for me. In case of fact, I’m about to break 100k words this week, and can finally see the end in sight.

I don’t care what God or Spirit or Energy Force you pray to, or what tradition you call or don’t call your own. The best thing you can do to ensure you keep on writing is the continued maintenance of your spiritual condition. Whatever or whoever does this for you, look to it for strength. Do that, and you’ll be alright.

Be sure to check out my new writing samples from last week. I wish you all a very fine week, and we’ll chat again soon.

Keep on writing. Don’t let any bastard stop you.

You can do it.

You can.

Now, get to work!



Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 10

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I will be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.


Across from the tables was the galley, entered into through a door built specifically for garden Gnomes. It was too short overhead so you had to duck. It had a large lip on the bottom you had to step over, which constantly and consistently tripped people attempting to cross it. It was wide enough for a small Chinese woman to fit through, so naturally, I (being 6ft tall and wide like a plywood board) hated the fucking thing.

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 10 (and, ya’ know, like, stuff, and junk and stuff, man…)

The metrics:


  • 3 chapters complete
  • 3,825 words typed
  • 363 (average) word count per day
  • 10:54 spent writing total
  • 1:33 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 88,935 total word count


  • 1 novel in-progress
  • 2 novels complete
  • 482 pages read
  • 9hrs spent reading
  • 54min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 1:30

The numbers tumbled this week. Very, very busy. School, job applications, husband stuff, dad stuff, and a whole bunch of other, stuff.

Damn you stuff!

That’s how it is.

Keep pressing on, folks.

Gotta’ run.

Be sure to check out my writing sample from this week, if you please.

More to come later.

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 9 (the prize, almost clear)

The metrics:


  • 2 chapters complete
  • 5,095 words typed
  • 728 (average) word count per day
  • 14:26 spent writing total
  • 2:04 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 84,688 total word count


  • 1 novel in-progress
  • 3 novels complete
  • 694 pages read
  • 15:17 spent reading
  • 2:18 min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 0

Getting close to the end of the line, folks. Only 7 weeks to go, and I’ve still got 5 years to cover in this crazed foolery of a memoir.

Bring it.

My reading stats catapulted this week. I’m not sure why, but if I had to guess it’s because I finished Blood Meridian finally, and most novels read like Dr. Seuss compared to the angular, brooding dissymmetry of BM. Full review on BM to come later, after the school year. Promise.

The writing went down a bit this week. I’m starting off the week with a 2:09 deficit to make up. That’s ok, though. The world doesn’t stop turning just because I need to finish my book.  I have to adapt, to change, to take what may and rise above.

Life has become very hectic as of late, and I’m going to have to work all the harder to get this beast finished before graduation. I’ll get it done, but things might get a little…exasperated in order for that to happen.

I’m toying with the notion of going back to 6 hours of sleep a night, just like I did underway on my ship, in order to get the memoir finished by G-day. I might have no choice in the matter. Compounding matters is my job search, which is going to have to be put a little to the side for now in order to get this done. I won’t completely give up looking for work (Lord knows there’s somebody somewhere looking for my unique skill set), just not with the alacrity and ferocity I’ve been attaching to it these last few weeks.

Finishing the book is the prize, and Don wants his prize!

Alright, my good people, I;ve got to get to class.  I pray the sunshine of the spirit comes over you this week, that you let it in and let it move you. Keep putting words to page, everyday. Let nothing keep you from it. If you’ve got a story to tell, by God, tell it.

No one else will.



Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 9

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I will be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.

This week I doubled up. Two different samples.

Because I’m wild and crazy like that.

Watch out!


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.


            Nobody really said anything the whole trip to the hotel. It was late, and everyone was rather tired from travel. I watched as huge green street signs that I couldn’t read flew by my tinted window. Some had strong warnings on them that meant something important, but I didn’t know. To my left was the city. Manama City, actually. Large skyscrapers jetted up through the night sky, alit by halo lighting, and some even lit by neon blue, green, and purple laser lights. A Pink Floyd concert at the end of civilization. A few of the towers looked like enormous scimitars carving out the black Arabian night. The phallic demarcation of power and wealth. This was no poor country. This was shock. This was awe. These buildings were singular, not in rows like New York or Chicago. They looked like fists or volcanoes sprouting from the desert wherever they felt it was right. Below them were small buildings of a few stories, cornered in where they could. To my right was the khawr al Qulay’ah, an inlet of dark blue almost cobalt water from the Persian Gulf—my real home.

The driver was tearing along at speed, whipping through lanes, turning without notice, cursing under his breath at every new road we turned on. He was a vicious Arab, rolling down his window to shout at people in crosswalks and red lights. I didn’t care. I rocked in my seat and let my head bounce soft off the window, staring at the world unknown outside the glass. Yellow lights streamed by in intervals. I blinked each time they passed.


           After several security checkpoints at the entrance to the port, we drove down the pier to the Springfield. It was moored all the way at the end, and we passed ship after ship on the way there. A French frigate here, huge like an ocean-liner with a pyramid in the center of it. Across from it a Royal Navy destroyer, squat and compact like a bulldog and armed to the teeth. An American cruiser with white globes and antennae sprouting all over it like hypersonic pods and twigs, the big gun on the forecastle like every turret gun in Star Wars, but much cooler. And ships I couldn’t identify, but was sure the enemy would not like to see. The tonnage at this pier could spearhead a war and sustain a battle for days, weeks, months even. Big, powerful, mighty terrors of the sea. Weaponized horror from the blue at every turn of the eye.

At the very end, sticking up in the horizon just a tad, sat a small black column against the strengthening haze of the mad Arabian sun. There she was. The USS Springfield. The black ship at the back of the classroom, sticking her middle finger up to all bigger ships in front. A primed torpedo ready to attack; a mechanized death machine ready to sink any ship, anywhere; a silent eviscerating apocalypse of black iron, cold steel, and precision engineered brutality.

The clandestine baby of the atomic age.

Offspring of Cronos.



Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 8

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I will be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.



          “ET1, can I pick the last Pearl Harbor billet?” I asked.

            All through school they told us that if we were married, we would not be able to choose Pearl Harbor as our first home-port assignment. It’s too much of an investment to move junior sailors with dependents to Hawaii, because the wash-out rate for nubs is high and the government views it as a waste of money. A ‘wash-out rate’ meant that more than a few times, when a new guy got to the boat, he gave up after a few weeks because he couldn’t cut it. So, for us young dudes with wives and kids, Hawaii was out of the question.

            “Not unless you gonna’ swim there, shipmate,” he said.



16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 8 (or why Papa and I shall never share a sunset)

The metrics:


  • 2 chapters complete
  • 7,679 words typed
  • 1,097 (average) word count per day
  • 16:44 spent writing total
  • 2:39 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 79,593 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 1 novel complete
  • 325 pages read
  • 11:15 spent reading
  • 1:36 min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 3:42

The good news, gang, my writing numbers went up, up, up! The bad news, because this strange planet has to have bad with the good (always), is I’m still 2:25 in the hole carrying into this coming week.

I was out of town these last few days. I haven’t spent time alone in a foreign land (foreign to me at least) in well over a year. I was out and about, doing all the touristy stuff one does on vacation (though this trip wasn’t for vacation—but every trip kinda’ is, isn’t it?), and there was a Half-Price Books across the street from my hotel.

That’s party time for this guy.

Wow, that’s sad.

Anyway! I was in Dayton, Ohio, wrapping up some military garbage I still have to deal with, and took in the local scenery. The U.S. Air Force Museum was out of this world! Guys and gals, they have a room there just brimming with intercontinental ballistic missiles. They stretched five stories to the ceiling like giant fists from hell.


You can also walk on a space shuttle there. It’s not an actual shuttle, but the whole front compartment is the real thing. Also, I walked through several different iterations of Air Force One, all used by names like Kennedy, Reagan, and Roosevelt. If you have kids, get out there. It’s absolutely free, but make sure you have more than a few hours to go through it all because it’s just damn enormous.

So, aside from the museum, and my nightly visits to HPB, I managed to get some work done. But I didn’t write for two days, which I now have to make up this week. So be it, as long as the work gets done.

My reading is around the same as last week, a little lower perhaps. I read Hemingway’s “The Sun also Rises,” and I have to say, I still don’t like him.

I’ve read three of his books now (the others being “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Old Man and the Sea”) but I can’t seem to get into his work. I admire his prose style, his clarity, his acumen for choosing the simplest words and conveying complex themes through them. But, his stories never seem to go anywhere, never seem to wrap up. Most see this as a strength. I do not. If his language was brighter, if the words jumped off the page, like Kerouac for instance (whom I’m still on the fence about), then maybe he’d be for me. I know I’m in the minority, and who am I but a lone writer trying to ply his craft against the backs of our most elite here, but he and I weren’t meant to be friends. Yet, Hunter S. Thompson, Ray Bradbury, and countless others mark Papa as a huge influence. Perhaps the next one I read will show me why.

As for the movie/TV/Netflix time; yeah, I was bad. “American Psycho” was on HBO in my hotel room and I couldn’t resist. “It’s hip to be square” though, right? And, I watched “Arrival” per my wife’s request. It was good, but nowhere near all the hype it got, in my correct opinion.

Anyway, friends, I’m spent. Keep on writing, please. You have to. If you don’t, the art will just shrivel up and die, and text message lingo will become the new standard.

Don’t let them get away with it.