Category Archives: Cartoon

You Have To Write It


WITCHESNo, sorry. It doesn’t work that way. You have to sit and write it and there’s no magic in the world that’s going to change that.

As much as we love to write, you have to admit that there are times when you wish you could just snap your finger and there it is. Life keeps happening no matter what and sometimes as much as you want to sit and bleed that ink there just seems to be no time. And maybe…just maybe…you have time and are simply making excuses. Either way, it isn’t going to get done unless you park your butt in that chair and start banging away at those keys.

I’m writing this to myself, by the way. If you feel that it pertains to you, too, then by all mean continue to read. I realize that this is a universal problem. Okay, maybe not the whole universe, but certainly here on this planet wherever there happens to be a writer.

I sit down and look at the book I’m working on. It says at the bottom of the screen that there are about 9800 words to it, so far. How can that be, I ask myself. I’ve been working on it for months. It should be done by now! Why isn’t it done?

Because you haven’t been working on it, I answer.

Ah, well yes. That makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is why I find it so hard, sometimes, to sit and do something that I actually like to do.

Maybe, because it’s work. When I was flying I never hesitated to head out to the airfield and jump into my little airplane. But that was pure exhilaration. Nothing but enjoyment. Writing is different. I enjoy it, but yet it’s not always enjoyable. I suppose only another writer could understand that. It makes you work. At least it does if you are doing something worthwhile that you really care about. And that’s the thing. It’s hardest if you really care about it. And I’ve cared about all that stuff I’ve written. Wouldn’t be bothering if I didn’t. And because I care, I want to get those words out so perfectly that it hurts.

So there’s that anticipation of pain. That might be why we find it so hard to plop ourselves into that seat and start. We know the pain is coming at some point. That’s why you sometimes take a deep breath before you begin and say, “Okay, here goes.” It’s like waiting for that needle at the doctor’s office.

And yet it’s so rewarding once you’re rolling and move on passed the pain. But to begin rolling you have to sit down and start. No excuses. Just start. Again, this is to me but its fine if you are listening.

So forget magic. And praying won’t work either. You can pray, before you go to bed, that when you wake up there will be a 100,000 word manuscript in your laptop all ready to go. But when you get up in the morning to check, the same 5,000 words that were there yesterday will still be there.

Because like it or not. You have to sit and write it.

Writer’s Angst


BECOME A WRITERWhen I read about the tormented lives of some of the world’s great writers, I can’t help thinking that I may be too normal to make it as an author. Oh sure, I have my strange little quirks. Just ask my wife. Okay…no, on second thought don’t do that.

But Hemingway, Poe, F. Scott Fitzgerald, George Orwell…oh hell, I could go on and on. Hemingway, as you know, was an alcoholic and probably a manic depressive. He wound up blowing his head off with both barrels of a shotgun. Orwell was a genius, of course. Just read ‘1984’ if you don’t believe me. But he’s another depressed author whose writing is filled with sadness and misery.

Tennessee Williams was a brilliant playwright but there again, torment and angst. A lot of it having to do with repressed homosexuality. He finally had a complete mental breakdown and died a few years later.

This would be too long a post if I was going to name them all. Suffice it say that the lives of the great writers was very often filled with depression, alcoholism, drug addiction, violence and suicide. And sometimes total and complete insanity.

And yet here I sit in my, not yet completed, writing room. I’m not an alcoholic, although I did have a beer with my dinner. Mmmm…Fat Tire. But no, one beer doesn’t do it. And I’m not depressed. I was a little unhappy yesterday because I broke the windshield on my car. Yeah, like a dumbass I was loading some wood into the SUV and…oops! That doesn’t count, though, does it? I don’t take drugs. Hell, I don’t even smoke legal cigarettes. And I have  absolutely no intention of committing suicide. Should I even be bothering to write? I mean, can I turn out meaningful pros when I live such a dull and uninteresting life? Angst, I need angst!

But then again, J.K. Rawlings doesn’t seem crazy. And she’s certainly successful. I just read that her net worth is one billion dollars. Yes, you read that correctly. She’s not a starving artist and doesn’t seem to be filled with angst. Just money. Lots of money.

Of course, some would argue that she’s not a genius in comparison with let’s say, Jack Kerouac. He’s another tormented soul who finally died due to excessive drinking. And some internal bleeding due to a bar fight he’d been in a few days before didn’t help.

But maybe there is some internal strife going on that causes my need to write. Maybe I am tormented and I don’t want to admit it. You know, that’s probably it. It would explain a lot. Like I told you, my wife certainly thinks I’m crazy. So do my kids. And I’ll bet a lot of other people I know think so too. It’s just that, unlike my wife and kids they’re too nice to tell me.

I’m going to get back to my writing, now. I may have a shot at fame, yet!

Writing And The End Of The World


end of the world

Well, I’m sitting here wondering whether or not I should complete the novel I’m working on. Not because it isn’t good. I’m very happy with it, so far. It’s just that…well, the world is supposed to end on Sunday evening. Or Monday morning, depending on where you live. So, you can see that there isn’t much point. I mean, not unless I can finish it and get it published within the next couple of days. The way I write, though, that isn’t going to happen.

It has something to do with the blood moon that will occur that night. Or that morning. This is supposed to be the one, everybody. I had just stopped worrying about the asteroid that was supposed to hit and destroy most of North America on the 28th of this month. NASA decided that wasn’t going to happen. Whew! What a relief. Now I read about this moon thing. For Pete’s sake!

Seems that I’ve heard this before, though. Remember Y2K? People were stocking up on water and buying guns so they’d be ready for the collapse of human civilization. What happened there? And I was sweating out that Mayan calendar issue, let me tell ya’! The Mayans were pretty smart. If they tell you that time is going to end on a certain day you know they are going to be right. Well, okay, they were wrong.

And there have been plenty of other predictions of our demise by various people and groups. Nostradamus has been a favorite amongst the doomsday types. He has predicted our end several times according to those who study his “quatrains.” There’s something about this kind of thing that people just love. I think it’s the same reason that they get on a roller coaster even though it frightens them to death. They enjoy being scared. It makes life a bit more exciting, I guess.

So I don’t know. Considering the accuracy of all of the past predictions maybe I should just keep writing. At least it will take my mind off of the end of the world. And besides, I read another article right after reading the ‘Blood Moon’ story. It seems that a monkey named Naruto, way over on a wildlife reserve in Indonesia, managed to take a selfie of himself with someone’s camera. The picture of Naruto wearing a big grin went viral. Now PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) wants to sue the wildlife photographer who released the photo to the public. Naruto, they say, is the sole owner of the picture and releasing the photo was a copyright infringement. Yes, they are actually saying that, “Naruto has the right to own and benefit from the copyright to the same extent as any other author.” They are taking this to court.

So I’m not worried anymore. I think that maybe the world should end.


The Cliché

cliche man

My family and I sat down and watched a movie last night. ‘San Andreas.’ It starred Dwayne Johnson who some of you may know as “The Rock.” Glad I didn’t pay to see it in a theater. Not that I would have. This type of thing is best held off ‘til it’s released on DVD.

One recurring thought kept going through my mind as I watched this film. Clichés. Good Lord. They threw ‘em at you one after the other. Almost literally, really, because the film was also released in 3D.

But, don’t get me wrong. I wasn’t expecting a great film. First of all, it’s a disaster movie. Secondly, it has The Rock. Now, I actually like the guy. Back when I used to watch the WWF (World Wrestling Federation), he and Steve Austin used to be my favorite wrestlers. But no one is ever going to accuse him of being a great actor. He knows that, though, so he knows what kind of movie scripts to pick. He’ll never do a remake of ‘A Streetcar Named Desire.’ Boy, just think of it. The Rock as Stanley Kowalski. “Stellaaaaaaaaaaa….”

He wasn’t the problem with this flick, though. It was the writers. I kept wondering, as someone who now writes, how they can look at themselves in the mirror after penning this stuff. Okay, I know. It’s those huge Hollywood paychecks. But, still…geez!

First of all, we have the hero pilot. That would be The Rock. We are witnesses to his awesomeness early on in the plot (I use this word very loosely). We soon learn that he and his wife are getting a divorce. All of the clichés you know of are used, here. The ex-wife and her boyfriend are getting married. The Rock puts on a hurt face. “I’m sorry, I meant to tell you,” she says. The boyfriend seems like a great guy, but we later find out he’s a complete creep and coward. You didn’t see that coming, did ya? He gets killed, of course. Another shocker.

One by one the clichés fall all around you like the debris dropping from the wrecked buildings in the movie. Think The Rock and the ex will get back together before the movie ends? Need you ask? Will they find their missing daughter amongst all of the millions of people in San Francisco? Will she be alive inside all of that wreckage? Stay tuned!

The writers made no attempt to surprise the audience. You’ve seen it all before. Every word has been spoken, every scene already done. And how many times can you pull that tired old trick where the car falls off of the cliff just as someone gets out, the building collapses just as our heroes escape it, the bridge goes down just as they cross it. I mean, after a while…c’mon!

When I write I try hard not to do something everybody else has done. I don’t want my characters to be all that predictable. I don’t want the reader to say, “Oh, I know what’s going to happen, now.” I want to hear that they said, “Wow, I didn’t see that coming.”

I couldn’t write the kind of character that The Rock played in the film, either. He was almost super-human: never messed up, did everything right. The perfect hero. Unrealistic and two dimensional. My heroes will always be flawed individuals. They make mistakes. Sometimes, big ones that get people killed. They are unsure of themselves. And they often find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

No, I thought, as I viewed this with my wife and kids. I couldn’t write this stuff. Not with a clear conscience. It was painful to watch. It did have one good thing going for it, however. The special effects were nicely done.


Be here next week for Captain Cliché’s first adventure!

Listen To The Voices


Oh yes, they can be mean, those voices. They’ll lead you down the primrose path and then, suddenly, they’re gone. Like a tribe of helpful desert nomads who have agreed to take you across the Sahara. You wake up one morning and they’ve abandoned you to the vast, endless, sea of sand. You find yourself alone. They didn’t even bother to leave you a compass.

They come back, though. At least, they have for me. But I’m aware of the fact that there have been those extreme cases where they didn’t return for years. I can imagine that would be a bit of a problem if your writing is paying the mortgage.

But, most of the time they just leave for a while. Question is; do they really leave or do we stop listening to them? I think, sometimes, what happens is that we stop paying attention to them and head down our own path. As if we know better than the voices. They were doing fine but somewhere along the way we decided that the voices were wrong. The voices hate that.

I wrote a story, a while back, that involved a character going to a gypsy camp to steal a potion that his friend desperately needed. The friend could not go because he knew the gypsy witch who had the potion and he knew that she would not give it to him. They had a history, you see. It was going great and the words were just flowing out of me. I was really in the zone on that one. I got to the point in the story where he was about to get the potion and I decided that the story needed some action. “No,” the voices insisted. “It’s not that kind of story.” I told them they were wrong. I decided that he was going to snatch the vile from the sorceress and there would be a thrilling chase through the woods on horseback with whips slashing and guns blasting. But, no matter how I tried, it wasn’t working. I just could not get it to where I wanted it. I stopped writing and paced up and down, complaining to my wife that the voices weren’t talking to me. It was their fault, of course. She told me to let it go for a while.

“Forget it for tonight,” she said in her infinite wisdom. And I did. We watched a movie and I went to bed.

The next day I went back to it. I was ready to listen to the voices, again. “Okay,” I sheepishly said.  “What do you want me to do?”

It was simple. The sorceress would just give him the vile. She’s a witch. She knows why he’s there. And for whom. “How did you plan to get it?” she asks him. “Grab it and run? Your throat would have been cut before you even left my wagon!” And, laughing, she simply hands it to him! It was perfect. I also realized that the action scene would have taken a lot away from the surprise ending. Yes, the voices had been right.

That hasn’t been the only time I’ve tried to ignore them, I must admit. There have been others, and yes, it always went badly. Always I returned to the original direction. I’m getting better at listening to them, though.

Now, there are times, of course, when we can’t hear the voices because we have too many other things on our mind. Real life has a habit of interfering with our writing. That can’t be helped.

But sometimes you’ll find yourself stuck in the middle of the desert with no oasis in sight, only endless sand dunes. Most likely its because you tried to tell the nomads which way to go. They hate that.



immortal cavemanWhat’s the most important part about getting published, to you? The money? Rolling around in all that green paper? Fame? Having people say, “Are you the one who wrote…?” Or maybe it’s the sheer satisfaction of having, “made it,” as a writer.

Hell…all good reasons. Why not? Money is good. Don’t let anybody kid ya’! And it would be cool to have someone recognize you from a picture on your book cover. And, of course, we all want to “make it.” It all means that you’ve reached the summit, as an author. Or, at least, you can see the top.

But I can’t also help thinking that being published makes you sort of…well…immortal.

Imagine long after you’re gone. Okay, nobody likes to think about that but…yeah, we’re all going. No one is here forever. I just read a news article that said even the Universe is slowly dying. But don’t panic! It’ll be awhile.

Imagine, though, that one hundred years from now, someone is reading that book you published. They saw it on whatever people will be using to buy books and they ordered it. Now they’re sitting at the space center waiting for the next shuttle to Mars and they’re reading your book. How cool is that?

All right, most likely it’ll just be someone sitting in their living room. But they are reading something that you wrote and it might even have your picture somewhere. Words that you’re writing, right now, could be entering a person’s head over one hundred years from now. It’s hard to even think about that without it blowing my mind. Your name is being mentioned by someone living in the year 2115. “What are you reading,” someone asks them. They tell them the title. “Who wrote it?” comes the next question.

And then…wait for it…they say your name!

Yes, someone in the year 2115 is saying your name.

It’s not true immortality, of course. But you will never be truly forgotten as long as something you have done lives on. We’re still reading the works of men and women who have been gone for hundreds of years. Everybody has heard of Mark Twain. He’ll live forever within the pages of his stories and books.

So, think about that as you write. You could be writing for the ages.

But I like the idea of that person at the space center, waiting for the next Mars shuttle.

He’s reading a book on the holographic reading app that he’s wearing on his wrist. It’s also a phone and a computer.

“What are you reading?” asks someone.

“It’s called, ‘Jenny,’” he answers.

“Who wrote it?”

“His name is…” wait for it… “Joe Bucemi.”

You hear that? Someone in the year 2115 said my name. I’m dust, but my name is still being mentioned.

“How is it?” they ask.

“Ah, it’s okay, I guess,” he says with a shrug.

Just okay. Oh, well. At least I’m remembered. Someone waiting to go to Mars in 2115 is reading my book. How cool is that?

Are Writers Crazy?


Why do I write? Why do I allow myself to agonize over typing words onto this laptop screen? I really don’t know. But it seems that I need to do it.

It can’t be because I’m hoping to get rich by doing this. Let’s face it; I’m sixty-three years old. According to Amanda, who heads our Twisted Writers writing group, you need about ten titles out there before you really start to see a significant amount of money from your efforts. I’ll never get ten books out at the rate that I write. I’ll be about eighty or so by that time. Closer to ninety most likely.

So, why bother? Why put up with the writer’s block that makes me want to scream, sometimes. Why drive myself crazy from the pressure of trying to finish a novel or a short story? Why do I subject myself to the indignity of hoping that someone likes what I’ve written? I don’t know, but I seem to like it.

It doesn’t really make sense. There are more reasons not to do it than to do it. When I’m trying to write and the words just aren’t coming it can put me into the sourest of moods. And so I stop and then I’m in a lousy mood because I’m not writing. It’s like I’m out of my mind.

But when it’s working and the thoughts are flowing out onto the white surface in front of me then all is right with the world. You may not be able to tell by looking at me as I write, because I may look the same as I do when I’m in a bad mood. But it’s different. This time it’s because I’m not here. You only see my body. My mind has passed over into another plain of thought. You should never bother a writer when they are in this mental state. It’s like waking a sleep-walker. It can be dangerous. You never know what they’ll do! Again, it’s like being out of your mind.

So, I have to ask myself that question again. Why do I want to do this? Is it because I am out of my mind? So, is that the answer? Are all writers, nuts?

No. I don’t think so. I actually think that we have to write to keep from going crazy. We are people with vivid imaginations. We have characters in our heads and even entire worlds and stories about it all that have to be let out. If we don’t…then we start going crazy.

Of course, having people in your head who need to come out may very well be one of the definitions of what crazy is!

So, okay. Maybe we are a little off. But walk into a library or a book store and look at all that great stuff written by all of those lunatics. It’s a good crazy. With the condition that the world is in, maybe everybody should sit down and let all of their stories out of their heads.

Kids Need To Read



Enough said!

Opus Is Back!



Opus is back! What do you mean, “What’s an Opus?” Opus is not a what…he’s a who. He’s Opus the penguin. One of the best and funniest characters to ever grace a comic strip page. He was one of the stars of “Bloom County.” And in my humble opinion, he was the star.

Bloom County was a terrific strip. Written and drawn by a cartoonist with the unlikely name of Berkeley Breathed, Bloom County was peopled (not all were people) by some of the most unforgettable individuals on the comics page. Yes, page! There were newspapers then. That’s how you got your news. Well, there was also the television. But that was it. No. I’m not kidding. There was no internet and people didn’t walk around, and drive around, staring into little hand held screens. You younger types can stop looking at me as though I’ve lost my mind. It’s true. Ya’ can’t make this stuff up.

It was popular as all get out. But then, twenty five years ago, Breathed decided to call it quits to the horror of all of his fans. I was one of those horrified millions. I’m sure there were millions. I hugged my stuffed Opus doll all night.  Let’s see…I would have been…um, thirty-seven. So I was thirty-seven years old and had a stuffed Opus doll. So what!?

But he’s back! And the whole crew that populated Bloom County is back with him. I found out when I jumped into Facebook a few days ago. Breathed has decided to put the strip out on Facebook for some reason, and I think it’s great. Some suspect that the return of Donald Trump to the race for the Presidency has also brought about the return of Bloom County. The comedic value of this cannot be overlooked. Every cloud has its silver lining, they say.

I was a real fan, back then. And yes, I really did have a stuffed Opus. Bloom County even made me want to do a comic strip. I came up with an idea and submitted it to a cartooning syndicate. I got a very nice rejection letter. I’m still a fan, of course. And I see, on Facebook, that so many others are too. How can you not be?

Opus’s followers are legion. Breathed himself has said that he can’t understand how so many people can become so infatuated with a character that isn’t real. His exact words were, “I will go to my grave in a state of abject endless fascination that we all have the capacity to become emotionally involved with a personality that doesn’t exist.” I think he’s being humble. Opus’s combination of mischief and innocence makes him  fascinating and hard to resist. If you aren’t familiar with Bloom County, start following it. Or look up the old archives on the internet. Or pick up one of the many Bloom County books. You’ll soon want a stuffed Opus doll of your very own. I may even get another one!