Tuesday, December 14, 2010

On the Right Track

Will Rogers once said, “You can be on the right track, but if you just sit there, you’re gonna get run over.”

I have that quote taped to the wall above my computer. The simple truth of Mr. Rogers’ wisdom applies to everything in my life. You see, I like to “just sit there.” Listen to the birds. Feel the cold steel of the track while basking in warm sunshine. In the distance, a freight train blasts its warning as it approaches some street crossing. Am I alarmed? Nope. Like most procrastinators, I figure I’ve still got plenty of time.

My current manuscript rests somewhere in a literary slush pile in New York. It’s also being ripped apart by a screenplay writer in hope of becoming a movie. It’s been six months since I decided to get this story into the mainstream book media. The process resembles Chinese water torture . . . tic, tic, tic . . . days drag into weeks. Months pass without any constructive feedback. Then, it dawned on me, I’m sitting on the writing “track”, waiting for something to happen, and there’s a train a’coming. If I don’t keep moving, my writing aspirations could end up splat across a literary cow catcher. Without more stories in the hopper, each rejection slip takes on artificially greater importance. What a wake-up!

The sequel to my sci-fi story, The Last Human War, had been calling to me from the deepest recesses of my imagination, but I wasn't listening. My main characters from the first book fell in love, got married and Kelly is about to have a baby as the sequel opens. In the first chapter, her premature baby is kidnapped by an alien cult and her husband, Simon, begins a quest to find his child. Unfortunately, the evil Heptari Empire chooses this terrible time to enact Rotaga’s Revenge against the Tanarac Empire and its human allies. While I was sitting on that metaphorical track, all this galactic angst was begging for expression. Well, I followed the advice of Will Rogers and got to work helping Simon find his baby. Unfortunately, Prime Skah Rotaga beats him to the child, bringing this sequel to life with unexpected complications that I have yet to solve. More importantly, the water-torture of the publishing process vanished in a cloud of creativity as I discover the fate of Simon's child, humanity and the Tanarac Empire.

In addition to the sci-fi sequel, I dusted off an old cookbook that I wrote back in 1978. It’s called Kids, Pancakes & Sunday Mornings. Well, it’s not so much a “cook” book as it is a pancake design manual for kids. I can’t believe how long I let that book languish in my file cabinet.

So, while my current manuscript, Jihad: The Breath of God, languishes in slush piles and screen play development, I left that comfortable place on the train track. Yes, I look back longingly, because I do enjoy procrastination, but I’m not ready to watch the author-train go roaring past. I’d rather be the guy who’s way up front, laying new track for life’s train. So, thank you (yet again) Mr. Will Rogers, for the reminder. “You can be on the right track, but if you just sit there, you’re gonna get run over.”


  1. I actually wrote a blog today about being tired of waiting for the writing "fate" to catch up with me. I'm making my own destiny!

    Great piece. I greatly enjoyed it!

  2. Hi CL Parks,

    I'm glad you enjoyed my take on Will Rogers wisdom. Good luck pursuing writing as your career. It's a noble and difficult ambition.

    You sent another post to this blog that I authorized, but for some reason (I don't have a clue about these things) it did not show up. Vanished into the same computer ether where several chapters of my writing remain trapped. Anyway, my answer to your question is that I would be honored for you to repost my thoughts above and reference my blog. Thank you for the offer and I look forward to wandering through your blog.

  3. Whoops...I found your other post. It was on a different blog. (face red with embarrassment for assuming both posts came under one blog)


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