Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 7

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.


      I walked down to the NEX and got some notecards and pens (and cigarettes, of course.) On my way back to the barracks, I stopped at a little used smoke pit behind a building. I chain-smoked three of four cigs, totally lost in revelry. Thinking. I never had any time to simply think, or plan, or just absorb anymore. I looked up at the cold New England Sun overhead, letting the blustery coast winds breeze up on my cheeks. I listened to the sound of my inhaling and exhaling chest, the rhythm of my lungs. Smoke bowled out from my lips, rolling up like grey thunderclouds over the plains.  Seabirds traped by overhead. I was beginning to enjoy their constant company. Occasionally a few would land nearby and peck at the grass or sidewalk. Whenever one got a morsel the others would snap at its beak, engaged in some form of concrete cabotage between one another. They’d croon for a second, then lit off to places high above and beyond my reach. I heard groups of sailors walking by in the distance, generally amused and happy. When the wind shifted just right, I could smell the brackish waters of the Thames down the hill from me. They let me know they were waiting. “Follow me” they called, the ocean, the continents unknown, the entire planet laying beyond its banks. It was all there, and I needed to see. All.

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 7 (pip-pip and all that)

The metrics:


  • 1 chapter complete
  • 4,408 words typed
  • 630 (average) word count per day
  • 12:23 spent writing total
  • 1:46 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 71,514 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 2 novels complete
  • 344 pages read
  • 11:39 spent reading
  • 1:38 min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 1:53

Saturday nights are family time at the Clark household. My wife generally picks what we do. This time, it was movie and junk food night. Per the rules of my contract (with myself, of course), I am only allowed to watch television/movies/Netflix/etc. when asked by her or my son, or when the social occasion calls for it. This rider will stay in effect until the end of the 16 Week Writing Challenge, or until I finish the book — whichever precedes the other, naturally.

Anyway, enough of the that, and why does my writing take on a British parliamentary air when talking about contracts?


My writing numbers went down this week. I’m in the hole 1:37 starting tomorrow. I never want to be in this position on Monday, but sometimes there’s nothing I can do. My quota, if it can be called that, is fourteen hours a week of good, hard-nosed, new writing. Most of you that follow me already knew that. This is equal to two hours of daily typing. This week, however, was all about resumes and job hunting.

I graduate this May. My wife is going back to school when I’m done. My kid won’t stop outgrowing his clothes. We like to have a roof over our heads. Running water is always a plus. I’m a fan of food, too. So’s my family.

I need a job. Simple as that.

But this doesn’t give me an excuse to stop writing. It’s just another thing to manage. I’ve rather liked the job hunting experience so far. So many choices for a recently graduated writer, especially if you’re experienced in a plethora of different fields like I. My hope is that these Navy credentials of mine, and all that technical stuff I learned over those six years in the service, are finally going to pay some dividends.  I can only pray this will be true.

I did fit in a good bit of reading though this week, all my numbers up from last week’s shameful performance. My goal for the next seven days is to finish Blood Meridian at all cost. It really is an incredible novel, and will be studied for years. But when I’m done, I might have to pick up the latest Mitch Albom just to restore my hope in humanity. Whoa! This book is violence. Period. Now you know.

Oh, and writing through a cold or sickness is a must. This is not an excuse to lay off the words. I’ve been sick for over two weeks now. Finally getting over it, as I always do. Never stopped writing no matter how red my nose became, how gravelled my throat felt, or even when my coughing woke everyone up. I write, I write, I write.

So should you.



Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 6

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.


           “Well, Clark, I got one question for you, and you’d better answer honestly, or there will be serious consequences. Understand?”

            “Yes, chief,” the ball in my throat popping out my lips.

            “Clark” he said, doing that fucking leaning in close shit they must teach somewhere at military intimidation school.

            “Yes, chief?”

            “Are you a fucking Russian spy!”

            “No! I swear, I don’t know what that form is. I really have no idea. Honest, chief, I’ve never seen that shit before in my entire life. I swear to Christ, I’ve never seen it before!”

            “Is that so?” he said, standing back up straight. “Well, that’s funny shipmate, because your signature is on the bottom of it!”

            He flicked the paper to me. It landed on the deck. I picked it up. My signature, unmistakably penned in my own stick-fence handwriting, was signed on the bottom. The date stamp told me I had signed it with PO Krotsky, back when I was enlisting. The rest of the document was, indeed, typed in a foreign language. They thought it was Russian. To me, though, it looked more like a computer made up its own secret language one day, just to curse its human masters.

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 6 (the bathymetry of word)

The metrics:


  • 2 chapters complete
  • 6,795 words typed
  • 971 (average) word count per day
  • 15:53 spent writing total
  • 2:16 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 67,106 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 1 novel complete
  • 278 pages read
  • 6:06 spent reading
  • 52 min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 0hrs

All my writing stats went up this week: word count – up 1,500; total time – up 2 hours; daily word count – up 200 words; daily writing – up 20 minutes.


My reading stats, however, plunged. Like, Marianas Trench deep. That’s what happens when all your professors, probably with only evil intent in mind the bastards, simultaneously assign great swaths of new books to read, which accompanies the even greater tracts off homework-landfill you must complete. I wish I was Jewish just so I could, with proper dignity and right, shout “Oy vey!” heavenward. But, my fists aren’t that strong.

College: The most expensive book recommendations you will ever receive.

Thanks, Oprah.

Anywho, till next time, you crazed hounds.

Keep writing, keep reading, keep fighting!

Easy does it…but do it.


Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 5

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.


I’d heard off the Kursk accident as well, which killed all 118 hands on board, but that was Russia’s business — not ours. Somehow, though, I’d never heard of these total tragedies from the past. I simply can’t imagine the impact losing a submarine today would have on the national conscious. When the Thresher went down, it was big fucking news. The nation mourned. President Kennedy made a statement. The national ensign was ordered at half-mast for three full days.

The truth was, from triumphs to tragedies, you couldn’t get away from U.S. Submarine Force history on base.  Most of the roads are named after WWII era submarines that went down in battle, or others that were lost at sea. In fact, each street marker lists how many hands were lost when she went down. You see their sacrifice at every turn, and every intersection.

            That’s reverence, America. True reverence. Get it?

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 5(and the Vonneguts claim another)

The metrics:


  • 1 chapter complete
  • 5169 words typed
  • 738(average) word count per day
  • 13:42 spent writing total
  • 1:57(average) spent in daily writing
  • 59, 694 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 315 pages read
  • 10:15 spent reading
  • 1:56 (approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 0hrs

This data does not include things I have to read and write for school, the writing time I spend on this blog and other projects, or the reading time spent every morning in meditation & prayer. The only data accounted for is the writing done for my novel, and the reading I choose to read.

So, I’m back on track this week. Last week was all catch up, and the week before that saw life kicking me down a well. I’m happy to “be back up where we belong” (you’re singing it, admit it.)

The numbers aren’t really comparable from last week, due to the catch-up pace I ran at. I”m at an hour deficit though, due to my son’s strep throat, a cold, and actually seeing my family for a few fleeting hours this week. I did notice that some of my writing  was slow, measured, even weighted at times these last few days.

I dealt with some heavy subject matter the last two chapters. It took some serious thinking to work through what I needed to, and I’m no philosopher. I found myself thinking on the page more than once, a normal occurrence for me. When that happens I get prose-drunk, and can’t leave a paragraph, sentence, or word alone, till it’s nice and toxic. Those lines should never drive home, but dammit, that’s the most powerful stuff I got. So, I indulge. 

‘Afore me knows it, two hours are gone, and I have to study for everything that is not what I want to do—such is college.

McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is spellbinding. Yet, at times, I find myself asking “how come you don’t have to use quotation marks, or normal punctuation,” and “there is a limit to how many times the word ‘and’ can be used in a sentence, and you, sir, have exceeded it!” Alas, Harold Bloom never seems to be wrong, and he lauded Blood Meridian as the modern Moby Dick. I can’t put it in that company, I refuse to put anything in Melville’s company actually—even DFW— but the book is mind-boggling. I could read it for its prose style alone. Now throw in perhaps the most “beautiful” violence ever in a book (trust me), and a madman that does indeed have smacks of Ahab about him, and I’m hooked. If you haven’t read it, and you want to be a literature snob like I, get to it.

On the other hand, Jonathan Safran Foer’s latest, Here I Am, is painstaking (most of the time) to get through, which is a real drag because Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close was the first great post 9/11 book on the topic. A masterpiece through and through. Everything is Illuminated is wonderful as well. But this one… I dunno. Seems he might be succumbing to the Vonneguts— that is, the crotchetiness of writers as they grow older. 

This is a miserable tale, told in almost sitcom-esque episodes. Not horrible, but man, it’s rough going to finish. Foer has an incredible knack for tying pathways far back in history to what’s happening in the present, real or made-up, no matter. This time around though, it doesn’t seem there will be any catharsis, and if there is, the price is too high. Perhaps that’s what he’s going for, but how much misery can one take before saying enough? I’m at my limit, but have very little to go to finish. Who knows, perhaps he’ll pull it off in the end.

I sure hope he does, because he is one of our best. Period.

That’s all.



Sample from my upcoming memoir. Week 4.

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.


        At first, the sermons Chaplain Scrubbin’ Bubbles gave were distant, far away. The stories he’d preach on were like fuzzy marbles, ricocheting around my memory banks from long ago. They’d tease my synapses, just a hair, but would leave again as soon as they came. The things I did recall from my boyhood were small, childish. Jesus wanted people to be nice to one another. They didn’t want to do that, so they crucified him. He was resurrected on Easter, and born on Christmas. Noah brought animals aboard the big pirate-ship. There was a rainbow. A garden at the beginning. Adam, Eve, Cain, Able—they were all people that did stuff. I remembered a drawing I saw as a kid of David slinging a rock at Goliath. I guessed that was important. Definitely knew the whole water into wine trick. Thought that was about as righteous as it got.

Week 4 of the 16 Week Writing Challenge (destroying the kiddie film industry, too)

The metrics:


  • 1 chapter complete
  • 8000 words typed
  • 1,142 (average) word count per day
  • 18:25 spent writing total
  • 2:37 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 54,342 total word count


  • 1 novel complete
  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 397 pages read
  • 13:34 spent reading
  • 1:56 (approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 1:46 total

Hey, what’d ya watch, Mister?

My son wanted to see the Lego: Batman movie, so we did. Per the terms of my agreement…with myself, I can watch a movie if my son and/or wife asks me to, at my own discretion. I’ve spent 0 hours with my son in the last month, and feel like a total fucking bastard for it. Plus, I miss the little dude. So, we went and saw the Lego:Batman movie. 

It was stupid, nonsensical, perhaps mildly funny at best, but still a whole lot better than the shitfests the studios are rolling roll out these days for children (“Trolls,” anyone? Or maybe “Sing.” I here they use songs like “Baby Got Back” and “The Humpty Dance,” which is totally ok because kids need to here about people “getting busy in a Burger King bathroom,” or tickling another person’s asshole with their nose while they 69 them. ” But they don’t play the whole song, certainly not those parts. What’s the big deal? ” The internet plays the whole song, and your kids know how to use it. )  I digress, though, my hatred for the children’s entertainment industry burns too hot and far to bright to contain in this blog.

All I wanted was to hear my son laugh, watch him eat his fruit snacks, and load up on daddy’s Dr. Pepper.

A perfect day if there ever were.

The best news of the week is that I got caught up. My writing deficit of six hours and some change is now history. It took me chipping away at it everyday, plus my regular workload of two writing hours daily, to get there. Alas, I did, vicious scoundrel that I am.

I haven’t listed what I’ve read since January, so here it goes:

  • Hondo, Louis L’Amour
  • Call of the Wild / White Fang, Jack London
  • Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz
  • The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis
  • Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance
  • The Book of Joy, by the Dalai Lama, Desmond Tutu, and   Douglas Carlton Abrams

Novels currently in progress:

I’m going to review all these once I find the time. Probably flash review style.  Everyone on the list is a good one, except Hillbilly Elegy. Way too much dry politics, and way, way, way too much telling instead of showing (it’s like one drawn out essay. No thanks.)

Alright, friends. Disagree with my views on something? Or maybe you actually liked something you saw. Whatever it is, the comment box awaits.

As always, I wish you peace, laughter, and a heart bright as sunshine this week.

Till next time.



Sample from my upcoming memoir. Week# 3.

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.

“Eight-Count Bodybuilders! Begin.”

I dropped down like a bullet traced my scalp. I started into them. I was a machine unbalanced, pressed, at its limit. My operator was exceeding the threshold. Any minute now springs, bolts, and sprockets would fling off into the compartment around me. I was sick to my stomach. My innards were only tethered together by skin. Soon, it would rupture. Sacks of blood and pus and liquidated bone-marrow would start flooding out of me. I couldn’t breathe. I was shaking. My body was crashing. The heat. Damnit, the heat of the compartment at that time was edible, and I was devouring hot by the mouthful.

Persevere, or Perseverate: Week 3 of the 16 Week Writing Challenge

This was a rough one. All my numbers went down. Abysmal, really. I only got about half the word count from last week finished. My reading hours were also cut in half.

So, what gives?

This week was relentless. My son got an ear infection. He isn’t supposed to get these anymore because he had tubes inserted, but one fell out. Now, back to  infections. The transmission on my car went. Lucky lad that I am, I had enough green to cover the cost of a rebuild. It took it all though, savvy?

The main reason my numbers are so poor this week, why my long-face should certainly be screaming through my words by now, is I had to put my dog down last Friday. That’s her pictured above. Bella was her name. She was fifteen years old.

The last six months of her life, watching her march toward death, were agony for my family and I. She suffered from end-stage liver disease, and breast cancer. The tumor on her belly ballooned to the size of my palm. On such a little dog as she (miniature dachshund ), that tumor weighed her down all the way till the end. She could barely see or hear anymore, and many a morning I awoke to clean up her shit, piss, and vomit off the living room floor.

There isn’t a thing on earth I wouldn’t give to clean up her mess right now.

My family and I have taken the blow rather hard, yet we persevere. Life keeps moving, no matter how bad I try to nail the fucker down. We keep on, and deal.

It is not my intention to eulogize my beloved Bella here. I haven’t the words. The point is that I kept writing, everyday, through the whole ordeal. I can hold my head up high for that.

Now, the problem. I’ve come up 4:15 short of my weekly writing minimum. I shoot for two hours a day, everyday of the week. If I don’t hit this mark, I run a deficit until I get caught up. By Sunday, I should have at least put down fourteen hours of solid writing time, my bare minimum. This, did not happen these last seven days.

I see three options to take. You may see more, but this is how I’m running it.

  1. Forgive and forget. Hey, no one will blame me for cutting myself some slack for a death in the family. None, that is, except me. I don’t like that. This one, is out.
  2. Stay up late to get the writing done. If I started right now, I would finish at 3:06a.m. I wake up at 5:30am every weekday. If these lack of writing hours were due to my own negligence, then I would inflict this penalty on myself. They aren’t, though. Life was out of my hands this week, and there was nothing I could do. So, I’ll put this one away till needed (hopefully, never.)
  3. Carry over the hours into next week. I’ve got to make up the writing time somehow, and I think this is it. So, I start out the week with a 4:15 deficit. I’ll get caught up. Just have to take it one day at  time.

I wish you all well this coming week. If you’ve got a pet, maybe give him or her an extra squeeze tomorrow. Love them with all your heart. Keep writing.

Till next time.