Thursday, February 24, 2011

John Calderazzo

When I was in college I took a creative writing class and met a fellow named John Calderazzo and we got to be pretty good friends during the class. Of course, we both wanted to be writers and often talked about it. That was over forty years ago. Over the years I often wondered if he had pursued writing and had published anything. I'll never forgot his saying he'd like to write just one classic like The Old Man and the Sea. Of course, wouldn't we all. Then, maybe ten years ago, I was trying to break into writing travel articles and doing my own photography, so I had subscribed to various magazines to learn their style, etc. And there I saw an article entitled "Water Babies" by John Calderazzo in Coastal Living magazine. I learned more about him and that he was a professor of writing at the U of Colorado or Colorado State, maybe, and he had written at least one book on how to write non-fiction, which had become his specialty. I also read a book he wrote about volcanos. I was just very impressed. I often wanted to contact him, but was afraid he wouldn't remember me, and I had not attained any kind of success. So I never tried. But I'm proud of him and hope he's still alive and well and writing.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Publish your book for free on (3)

My book of short stories is now available on as an ebook. It's titled Battles and other stories. The author's name is listed as Richard Hughes. This is not what I meant it to be. I wanted it to be R Patrick Hughes, so I obviously did something wrong. I'll leave it the way it is for now. I priced it at $2.99. I'm now trying to figure out how to link it to my blog. And there is much more to learn. I may eventually make it a POD book as well. But it's kind of short, at about eighty-five pages. I plan on adding to it as time goes on. If any of you read the book, please give me your feed-back, even if you don't like it. That's one of the ways for me to learn and improve.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Do prescription drugs for depression interfere with creativity?

Do prescription drugs for depression interfere with creativity? Do they interfere with productivity? Or do they help? As someone who takes Prozac for depression, it's a serious question. It was a fear of mine that taking anti-depressants would block my creativity, and I suffered from depression for more years than I needed to because of that fear.

Has taking anti-depressants blocked my creativity? I've been taking anti-depressants for at least fifteen years, and during that time, mostly during the past ten years, I've written three new novels and revised another one. I've written short stories and travel articles. So I feel that it has not blocked my creativity. There's something mysterious about creativity. I don't think we can control it. We can deny it or ignore it, but we can't control it. It exists of its own accord and by its own rules.

There may be some drugs that can block creativity, but probably by blocking our mental functioning--putting us to sleep or making us sick as a side-effect or something like that. Many people have undergone chemotherapy and survived their cancer and wrote wonderful books about it, or wonderful novels. But those drugs aren't designed to affect your mood, whereas anti-depressants are in some manner doing that.

William Styron wrote his wonderful book "Darkness Visible" about his decent into depression. Drugs were of no help to him. Only time, and maybe therapy, pulled him out of it. So often I wish it were possible for me to just stop taking drugs and gradually get better and better, but it just doesn't seem to work that way for me.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Publish Your Book for Free on (2)

Well, I finally decided to do it. I've published a collection of short stories "Battles and other stories" on I'm using the pen name R Patrick Hughes. It should be available by tomorrow. I thought about those stories that were just sitting in a drawer gathering dust, stories that will probably never be published in magazines or in any other way. They've all been read by my writing group, and I feel they'll never undergo any more revisions. They're history. So why not publish them?

Deciding to publish them was the first decision. The second decision was how much to charge. I could give them away for free, but I see no reason to do that at this time. Maybe in the future. I thought about charging 99 cents, but that seems cheap to me, as if I don't value my own work. I decided on $2.99, which may be too high, but I feel that my hard work is worth something.

I don't plan on making a lot of money on the book. For the most part, short story collections don't sell. I'm an unknown. And I've got to figure out how to make it known to the world that the book is available.

I feel good about it, but I'm realistic. Self-publishing is not the same as publishing through the writer-agent-publisher matrix. I'll continue to try the traditional method for my novels. But, if I feel that the traditional method is not going to work, I'll self-publish my novels as well.

For me, self-publishing my short stories is a learning experience, one I'm sharing on my blog. The first lesson learned was the mechanics of publishing it. The next learning experience is how to advertise it. I think for me, that will be more of a challenge than the first lesson.

Friday, February 18, 2011

OCD: Self-terrorization

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a debilitating mental disorder that impacts your life in ways that actually terrorizes you. The impetous of OCD is fear, which is possibly the impetous of terrorism. OCD becomes a form of self-terrorization.

Whatever it is you fear takes on a life of its own within you, like a virus affecting your mental functioning. You're constantly running from it.

The difference between a phobia and OCD is one of location.

A phobia is a fear of something outside of us, and we avoid it--a fear of heights, or crowds, or spiders, and so forth. As long as we can avoid it, we can function in a normal way. Of course, we're always only one step away from what we fear. The possibility of what we fear confronting us is always in the background--in the backs of our minds--so we're always on guard against it. But, as long as we're not in contact with it, we function pretty normally. When we come in contact with it, our fear erupts and takes control of us until we can escape the object of our fear.

OCD is fear not only of the thing itself but also of the thought of the thing. The thought of the thing and our fear of it become connected in such a way that the thought of it becomes it. Because we cannot control our thoughts, our thoughts take control of us and we react as if the object of our fear is actually present. We think about the object of our fear, it becomes present in our minds, and our fear erupts. We cannot stop it. Fear takes control of our minds and we begin the ritual of trying to rid ourselves of the object of our fear and fear itself.

Our fear is initially a form of self-protection. We need our fear or we will succumb to the object of our fear. But fear is also the basis of terrorism. While our fear serves to protect us, it also terrorizes us, and we are caught in a bind. The rituals we perform are self-protective, also, meant to remove the object of our fear from our minds. Our rituals are our way of dealing with this double bind.

All of this is disruptive to our lives, leading us to bizarre behaviors. We do not function normally. We enter a different reality until the thoughts of the object of our fear and our fear subsides.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

On Losing My Muse

I lost my muse about six months ago after suffering a severe bout of depression. Until then I had the ability to see the entire novel, the entire story, in one vision. I could see where changing a word here affected a word fifty pages away. My muse dictated dialogue. Writing was the easiest thing in the world for me to do. It flowed. Yet, when my reading groups read my work, they always found things to fix or improve. And, I have also never been published. Since I've lost my muse, writing is much more difficult, but in some ways I think it's better. When I do manage to write a chapter, or add to a scene, or whatever, it seems much more polished than before. I'm not sure losing my muse has been a totally bad thing. I just have to work harder, but the results seem to be better.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

What Is Creativity? (1)

Many people have explained what creativity is. But, of course, none of these explanations are scientific or infallible. Their explanations are based on their own experiences and what they think it is. And so it is with me.

Putting words on paper, or color on canvas, or musical notes on scores, interpreting the words of others as an actor/actress, and so on are all creative acts as long as they are yours, not merely copying someone else's.

Using your imagination is a creative act. Transforming what you imagine into words, art, music makes the creative act more solid, more permanent, though it will probably never be exactly as we imagined it. The final product will be different, because what we imagine takes on a life of its own. The creative act becomes organic. It speaks to us. It tells us what to do. And we listen. So, in a sense, we are doing nothing--it's doing itself through us. This still doesn't tell us "what" creativity is. There are some hints: imagination, transforming, permanence, organic.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Publish your book for free on (1)

I've recently learned that you can publish your book for free on It can only be sold on their site to Kindle users, or through their Kindle softwear. You set the price and earn 75% royalty. (There are several other similar sites.) You set a low price, say $2.99 (to get the 75% royalty). You can even give it away.

Of course, there's a limited audience, but it's a place to begin testing your book's appeal. I'm considering it as an option for some of my books. I won't jump into it for the same reasons I'm not jumping into POD. I want my books to be as excellent as I can make them. But it seems worth a try. And you can't beat the cost. If I decide to do so, I'll report on it here. For right now, I'm staying the agent-to-publisher course.

I've decided to publish a book of short stories on I'll probably put a price on it of $2.99. I don't expect to make a lot of money selling it; I'm doing it more for the experience and to put something out there that will probably never be published through the traditional method, at least, not any time soon. I can learn the ins and outs of epublishing.