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This morning, I caught one of those HP laptop commercial where someone of some import waves their hands around and images appear. Most of the images I saw seemed to follow some kind of fantasy theme. And at the end, they showed the personality’s name and a kind of title: Paul Coelho, Alchemist of Words. It all intrigued me and I looked him up on the internet.

In a short time, I got a sense of his works. Much mysticism and fable. So I downloaded samples of some of his novels to my phone. And, since the book “The Alchemist” seemed to be one of his more notable ones, I bought the whole version.

Some of what I read contained encouragement to follow one’s dreams. It also acknowledged a spiritual realm and an ultimate purpose to one’s life.

Since I have pretty much been a materialist the past few years, these characteristics usually throw up a red flag for me. But, I gave his work a benefit of a doubt. Maybe his stuff could be read completely metaphorically. Or maybe I’ll just enjoy them on an entertaining level.

It was also interesting that he pirates his books. Like Cory Doctorow, the desire to share his works is stronger than his desire to make money on them. That got me thinking that I feel the same way. And, in my head, I started to make a list of what I most wish to accomplish with my stories, in order of priority. And here’s what I came up with:

  1. Write one story, and some people read it an enjoy it.
  2. Write one story, and have a lot of people read it and enjoy it.
  3. Write one story, and make some money with it.
  4. Write one story, and make a lot of money with it.
  5. Write lots of stories that a lot of people read and enjoy.
  6. Write lots of stories and make some money with them.
  7. Write lots of stories and make a living writing.
  8. Write one story that people remember forever.

And just as I’m compiling this list in my head, my wife brings an envelope in from the mail. It’s an essay that my father has written. Briefly skimming it, it seems to be his trying to come to terms with time, change, mortality, and the afterlife. The same stuff I think about all the time. And there’s a note on the essay saying that he’s trying to get it published.

Then, I get to work and watch a couple movies. The first is of a schizophrenic and reclusive writer and artist called “In The Realms of the Unreal.” And I decide to continue the troubled genius theme with “My Architect,” about the architect Louis Kahn.

What do I make of all of this? Obviously, an impetus to take my writing more seriously, both in my stories and this blog. But it also has made me think about how I can reconcile the belief that there is nothing beyond what we can sense with our physical senses with the desire to discover something beyond our senses. I am both a rationalist and a romantic that loves stories about swords and sorcery. I’m an agnostic who still feels drawn to the esoteric worlds of Hinduism and Catholicism. I believe that our consciousness ceases to be when enough of our brain cells expire, but I want so much to continue on thinking and experiencing forever.

Can I channel any of this into my stories. Some aspects I already have in some of my stories. I deal with fate in “An Appointment With Destiny.” I deal with the all-too-rapid passage of time in “The Mower.” And maybe I will find the way to finish them. but I also hope I can find a way to express this central existential dilemma.

Who I am

I live in Whitehall, PA (outside of Pittsburgh), with my wife Monique, stepdaughter Manon, our Sheltie puppy “The Dude,” and four cats: Piggy, White Devil, Bee Bee, and Tigger.