Skip to main content

A Simpler Time

The only thing I'm going to say about this next piece is that kids should play outside more, like I did when I was a kid.

We spent two weeks gathering supplies to build our raft. After our parents would go to sleep, we would sneak into the garbage and withdraw empty milk-jugs and two-liter soda bottles and store them in our secret stash behind a bright blue tarp, our makeshift fort, strung up between fence poles into a sort of lean-to in the backyard. When a stiff wind would come in from the valley, it would blow up and down in the air and make thick, thunderous sounds that scared the neighbor’s children in the middle of the night, but we didn’t care, we were teenagers now.

Once we’d collected an entire garbage bag full of plastic bottles and jugs, we set out to the dollar store with our saved up pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters to purchase six-dollars worth of duct tape and various odds and ends, lengths of rope and the like. Then we raced back home on our bicycles and got to work.

The body of the raft would be an old, hollow door that my dad had put on the side-yard during our last remodeling effort and hadn’t yet had time to take to the city dump. It was deep chestnut in color with a wood grain printed on what seemed to be Formica or balsa-wood, though we couldn’t tell the difference, either way it was perfect for our vessel. We went to task taping all of the bottles shut, airtight, and arranged them on the bottom of the door, taping them in long, neat rows like corn in a field. Then we added another row of bottles and jugs beneath that, leaving us with a solid eight to twelve inches of flotation device below the wooden door.

“Do you really think this’ll float?” Jared asked me, as though somehow I was the ringleader, even though it was his idea all those many days ago.

To continue reading, please purchase this short story for the Kindle. It appears as part of the collection of short stories "A Simpler Time: Six Mostly True Stories"

For those without a Kindle, it's available via .pdf by clicking the link below.



9 comments

Popular posts from this blog

Anatomy of an Opening: The End of the Affair

Instead of breaking down a scene from a movie, this time we'll break down the opening of a book. (Previously, I've done scenes from City Lights, Citizen Kane, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.  I've also broken down the opening to Starship Troopers.

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair is absolutely one of my favorite books. The writing is lyrical and story heart-wrenching and beautiful. Greene's style of writing is such that he always has me gripped, whether it's the beginning of the book or the end. And he shows you so much about the character in his opening lines.

So, here are the first two paragraphs from the book:
A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which, to look ahead. I say 'one chooses' with the inaccurate pride of a professional writer who - when he has been seriously noted at all - has been praised for his technical ability, but d…

The Symbiotic Relationship Between Art and Politics

Art is inherently political.

Let's just get that out of the way. We all have things we want to say (or things we want to not say) in our personal lives that shape the art we make. And artists, more often than not, are trying to say something with their art, even if their goal is to not say something.

There is no doubt that this has been a turbulent week in the country I live in. There are many of us that are confused and shocked and afraid of what might be to come in the future. That's understandable. As artists and writers, I feel like we're typically more empathetic than the general population. It's easy to think about what it's like to be in someone else's shoes because we spend so much of our creative time almost literally in someone else's shoes. And we need to pass that understanding on to our readers or viewers or however else they're consuming this art.

I've seen this troubling idea, though, that art needs to be purely for escape and that p…

50+ Rules and Tips About Writing I've Collected Over the Years

I have twenty or thirty notebooks and journals filled up with snippets about writing, my plans for stories, bits of dialogue, interesting ideas, plotlines, scraps of short stories, and a dozen other things. I carry one with me at all times and it takes me a couple of months to fill one up.

One of the things I've kept in one of my notebooks was a collection of writing tips and rules that I've collected over the years in my travels. From teachers, from books, from wherever. Most of my career has been spent screenwriting, so a lot of these are most applicable to that, but I wanted to present them so they might be of use to you as well.

I've never stopped collecting these over the years and I never will.

To start the list are Kurt Vonnegut's eight rules of writing. They are the first in my notebook and, I think, the most useful. I'll add a star to those I think are applicable most to screenwriting. Some of these aren't applicable to everyone in every situation, but…