The Man Cave

The Man Cave
Jack's Man Cave (Click on the photo to enter the Cave)
Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Writing. Show all posts

Thursday, September 17, 2020

An Update from The Man Cave

 An Update from The Man Cave

This writing stuff ain’t as easy as it looks

      Photo by John Barkiple on Unsplash

Just wanted to thank the Followers

Yes, you know who you are, you wonderful and patient people. You took the plunge and hit the “Follow” button on the Medium Publication Jack’s Man Cave. Since then, it’s been nothing but cricket sounds. What happened?

I got a little ahead of myself. That’s what happened.

I just wanted to drop this line to update you that over the last two weeks, we here in the Home Office (still just me) have been working on the very technical stuff of setting up a Website, Blog, Newsletter, and the Email list, which are all considered necessary tools in the world of online writing.

Very soon, I hope to be cranking out weekly dispatches of such groundbreaking creative genius that you cancel your cable and Netflix subscriptions, and just wait by the computer for your inbox to “ding.”
I promise I’ll try my best not to leave you hanging like this again!

Exciting developments

In the meantime, the story about me getting bigger and bigger during the Pandemic was picked up and curated by Medium, on the Humor, Lifestyle, and Style pages.
“Curation,” though, is a bit more of a “slow burn” than I thought at first. I’m really learning something new every day about this whole “influencer” “blowing up” world of online publishing.


I would like to thank San Diego Porsche & Audi for honoring the 3-days “cooling off” clause of the contract.

I do see now that my Medium weekly earnings report is in, Tracy might have been right, and it was too soon for me to commit to a four-year lease. 

I promise though, Hans, what I said to you in the Manager’s Office is true. I really am sorry about the commission, and I’m going to make it up to you. I hope you will eventually respond to my texts when the time to buy is right.

Stay tuned for the full rollout soon!

Monday, August 17, 2020

Yesterday Was One of The Worst Writing Days Ever

Yesterday Was One of The Worst Writing Days Ever

So I bought a bunch of stuff to feel better

Photo by Dmitri Houtteman on UnSplash

Yesterday the temperature was in the 90's and unusually humid here in Southern California. As I sat at my desk in my man cave, punching the keys,  the sweat poured down from my head onto my neck and shoulders.  I was miserable.
. . .

I pretended like I came up with a good ending to my first draft manuscript of my memoir covering birth to the end of Junior High School 

I wrote a crappy half-assed paragraph, and when I got to the end of it, I said loudly in an Orson Welles sort of voice "The End."  Like I had just finished "Lolita" or "Finnegan's Wake."  

I know what I wrote is not going to be "The End." Not even close.  My utterance was just a pathetic plea to the cold indifferent universe.  I almost broke down crying.

The first 350,000 words came easy over the last four months.  But I've been struggling over the last week to write a good ending.  So in the interim, I've written a bunch of silly Medium articles about coat hangers, rescue dogs, and Uber rides.

The problem is I do not really have any clear memory of the period of time I am writing about now.  I think I blocked it all out of my mind.  

I used my go-to trick and went to Wikipedia and looked up "1983" but it still didn't help much.  Maybe I need to go get hypnotized to unearth memories from the end of Eight Grade to the beginning of High School. 

I said 

"Screw it, I better start editing this thing."

So I read a bunch of "How to Edit your Manuscript" articles on Medium

There are lots of helpful articles about editing on Medium.  But it still sounds like a lot of work, and I am confused how to most efficiently do it.  

It comforts me when I read things like "your first draft is just a data dump" or "don't even worry about your first draft, worry about your fourth!"

But any transitory comfort soon evaporated when the next thought came.


"Wait a sec, you mean I have to completely rewrite this entire 450,000 word pile of . . ?"  

I typed my manuscript in One Note. Mistake?

I typed all my Manuscript in chapters on One Note.  Now I need to cut and paste all those chapters into one giant Word Document.  

I want to have a big manuscript to be able to carry around, and throw on the table at Starbucks.  Or at the holidays, when the family asks me what I've been doing during the pandemic.

But I want to cut and paste the One Note material to a Word document in the most efficient and logical manner.

I knew what I needed to do.  I needed to buy things.

. . .

I bought a bunch of things to make me feel better, and feel like I was being productive

Some of the editing articles said to use Grammarly Premium, and Hemingway Editor.  So I ripped open my Velcro wallet and bought both those to make myself feel good.  

The afterglow of retail therapy did not last long.

Grammarly Premium pass-through

I've been using the free version of Grammarly since I started writing articles for Medium in June 2020.  So I am familiar with the Grammarly interface, and I find it fun, like a video game. 

I cut and pasted the first chapter of my Memoir onto the Grammarly webpage, and ran it through the Premium version.  I started with a score in the low 80's, and when I made most of the suggested changes I got up into the high 90's.  

I felt good.  Yeah, really good, I thought

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" - Loa Tzu

. . .

Hemingway Editor sweep

Then I cut and pasted my first chapter from Grammarly Premium, to the Hemingway Editor.  The Hemingway Editor highlighted every single word of my chapter, in various shades of highlighting. 

"Hard to read" - Pink

"Very hard to read"- Red

"Passive voice"-Yellow

"Are you sure you really want to do this?"-Light Blue

"You're better at math than this, right?"-Dark Blue

"We'll refund your money, if you act fast and quit now"-Green

Oh my God.  This is bad.  Really bad, I thought.

. . .

I got so upset again, that I was dumb enough to try to create a WordPress website myself

I needed to buy more stuff to feel better.  So I somehow wound up buying a "free" WordPress website.  

After 47 minutes of trying to put a photograph of myself on the home page, I finally felt the first tear fall.

I felt it on my thigh because I was wearing a Speedo.

 Copyright © 2020 Jack Clune

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

If I Can Help Just One Person with My Novel, I Will Have Succeeded

If I Can Help Just One Person with My Novel, I Will Have Succeeded

Deep thoughts on a beach

The Author

Most of the "Writing Tips" articles I read on Medium, end with the advice that my writing should offer something to the reader that will help them in their life.

This idea caused me to hit the "pause button" big time yesterday. I decided, before I go any further, I need to assess just where my novel based on biographical information is going.

Am I Just Navel Gazing?

Yesterday I found myself writing a long paragraph about a very important moment in my life, and it occurred to me that what seemed so important to me, might not be as important to anybody else.

I caught myself, and I grabbed myself by the scruff the neck and I said (to myself):

"Listen Self! Is this really important to anybody else (besides myself)?"

My Eureka Moment!

I took a long walk (by myself) on the beach today, while my son was at soccer practice. It was somewhat distracting that my sunglasses kept fogging up because of my mask. But as I walked through the thousands of college kids, pressed close together, high-fiving each other, and singing loud and drinking out of each other's cups, I heard a voice in my head:

"If my book can help just one person out there, I will have succeeded!"

This is My Truth

The moment that I was writing about yesterday, was the time that my father forced us to change lanes while we were stuck in a long line of cars trying to cross the U.S. Border from Mexico. After we changed lanes, the old lane we were in started moving fast, and the car that was behind us got across the border almost a half-hour faster than us. I'll never forget that.

Feel My Pain

If there is one other person out there like me, who ever experienced things like these- I want to let them know, they are not alone:

If your "best friend" told you the road was clear for you to ride your bike out of a blind driveway, and then you got hit by a car;

And if it was the first day of summer, and you had to wear a leg cast for like 11 weeks, and the car was a Lincoln Continental (the biggest car ever produced); and

If you were the only boy in your whole elementary school who dressed up for Bicentennial Day in 1976, in a full Minuteman outfit made by your Grandma, complete with neck and wrist kerchiefs;

And they made you stand on a chair at a school assembly, so that everyone could get a really good look at you;

Or if you still walk around angry that the San Diego Clippers basketball team moved to Los Angeles;

If any of these things happened to you, I think my book will help you.

Smooth Sailing From Now On

When I got back to my desk tonight it was with a new sense of passion and purpose. I opened the laptop and hit the "This is Chuck Mangione" playlist on my Spotify heavy rotation list. I told my wife Tracy:

"I'll be up late tonight Tracy. I've got a lot of unpacking to do. And a lot of people to help."

© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Writing Your Memoir?

Writing Your Memoir?

Here are the four questions from family and friends that will make you change it to a novel

iStock by Getty

[At the outset, I want to apologize. This is my first article on Medium and I am having technical problems. When I cut and pasted my article, many of my edits slipped through. Please ignore the bracketed material. I appreciate your patience].

. . .

When the pandemic hit, I ran out of excuses not to write the memoir I've been [threatening] planning to write for years. Holed up in the house with a laptop, there seemed no better [way to avoid doing planks, sit-ups, and squats, than to tell my family it was] time to start work on the Great American Novel.

In the past, friends told me "Oh, that's such a [embarrassing] funny story, you should write a book." So over the last three months, I did write the first draft of a memoir. [Let's see how funny they think it is now!]

But as a result of some [harassment] pointed questions over the last few weeks from friends and family, I am [disappointed] very proud to report that my book will now be a novel, "loosely based on some biographical information."

When I tell people that I wrote 2,000 words a day for the last three months, amounting to over 114,000 words, and 438 pages in 20 point font, here are the questions they ask me, usually in this order:

1. "What's the title?"

This question seems to be a subtext for the following questions they really want to ask:

a) Are you bitter?

b) Can I tell by the title if I'm in it?

c) Is it self-serving, boring self-improvement stuff that I won't read?


d) Does it have a lot of sex and shameful secrets in it that I can't wait to read?

2. "How far along are you?"

What really seems to interest the questioner is:

a) Can I stop this if I need to?

b) Can I add stuff to it if I want to?

c) When will [you/I] know you are done with it?

d) How hard is what you are doing?

e) Could [I/have someone else] write my [memoir] "loosely biographical novel"?

3. "Have you written anything about me?"

After a short time, they just come out and blurt this one. I can tell by looking in the person's eyes that this is what they are really asking:

a) Do I need to get a lawyer to sue you?

b) Is it bad?

c) Is it good?

d) How can I make sure I [read/edit it] before you [publish it/show it] to anyone else?

4. "What is your goal?"

This is what they really mean:

a) Are you trying to get revenge (on me)?

b) Is there a chance you might get rich and famous from this?

c) Do I need to [distance myself/or suck] up to you?

. . . 

The Answers to All the Questions

The truth is, when I began writing, I did not know [any] many of the answers to these questions. It was only during the vigorous process of writing every day that I learned some of the answers.

1. No Title Yet

I thought of a few prospective titles to my [memoir] novel based loosely on biographical facts, but I am still [not telling anyone] keeping an open mind about it. I [could not think of a cool enough title yet] certainly did not want a title to guide 114,000 words, rather I want the words to suggest the title to me more towards the end. So many book titles seem pretentious and overblown to me. [Mine will be too.]

2. Just A "First Draft"

My [memoir] novel based on loosely biographical information covers my childhood to the point right before I enter high school. I knew I was done with the "First Draft" when I felt [exhausted.] like I had written about most of the [traumas] "teachable moments" I could remember. There were other [terrible decisions] events I could have written about, but I was pleased I touched on as many [regrets] poignant memories as I did.

3. Yes You're In the Book, But No You're Not.

If you were one of the very rare persons who were kind to me, you have nothing to worry about. [Just kidding.]

My book is about [me] my main character, and [his, now] her reactions to events that occurred. It's [me] her, not you. [I don't want to hurt people unnecessarily.]

I just saw a great documentary on Philip Roth where he said "Life is not good enough," meaning that a writer has to [exaggerate] amplify what happened for the reader to be interested. Roth also said "A writer has to be shameless," meaning that [hopefully my family understands] there can be no self-censorship.

Only when you write the [most dirty] deepest thoughts and emotions is anyone going to [buy] care - no matter how [twisted] vulnerable. You can [and heaven knows I should] have shame in your personal life, says Roth. But shame and caution [will not get you a publishing deal] have no place in your writing.

4. My Goal- To Exorcise the Demons

"Writers are the exorcists of their own demons" -Mario Vargas Llosa

It does not matter why I started writing now. I uncorked the bottle, I have to write, otherwise [I have to go back to real work] I don't feel good. That is the only justification I need for writing.

I tried to write in the past, but [I was always afraid to say what I really thought] what came out sounded fake. Now I am mostly just trying to tell the story. When I read my writing now, I do not cringe as I did before, when I was younger trying to write "literature."

. . . 

There were some days [when I was a little hung over] that were a slog, and I was not pleased with the writing. On those days, I mostly felt that I was "telling" not "showing" the reader what happened. I will [never revisit] work hard to fix those passages during the edits. It was far more fun to read the passages where I put the reader right there into the movie themselves, rather than in the back row eating popcorn.

There were other days, however, when I felt the dialogue was cracking, or a poignant truth popped out as if by magic during a scene. On those days, I was, as Bukowski says, "with the gods." I can't wait to go there again.

© Copyright 2020 Jack Clune

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