Douglas Arvidson is a past winner of the WICE/Paris Transcontinental International Short Story competition. His short fiction has been published in Paris, Prague, and in literary magazines in the United States and he was recently invited to be a staff writer for the Prague Revue, a cutting-edge, online literary journal ( The novels in his fantasy series, The Eye of the Eye of Stallion, include The Face in Amber, The Mirrors of Castaway Time, and A Drop of Wizard's Blood. His new novel, Brothers of the Fire Star, was selected as a finalist in the ForeWord Reviews 2012 Book of the Year national awards and as a finalist in three categories in the 2013 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards: Action Adventure Fiction, Historical Fiction, and Young Adult Fiction. It has become part of the pantheon of Pacific literature and is now included in school literature programs. Brothers of the Fire Star is an adventure story set in the Pacific during World War II and concerns two boys of different races and cultures who escape the island of Guam in a small sailboat when the Japanese army invades. They must then struggle to survive as they master the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators. Appropriate for young adults as well as adult readers, Brothers of the Fire Star is available on Barnes & Noble, ( and Visit the author's website:

Monday, May 18, 2009

Planning a Voyage, Writing a Book: Do I Still Have to Mow the Damned Lawn?

Our house is a very, very fine house
With two cats in the yard....
.....not to mention new little red lawn mower.
I bought a lawn mower today. What's this all about? I haven't had to mow a lawn since we moved aboard our boat 12 years ago. I was free of all that, I tell you, I was free.

On the other hand, you can get really cheap lawn mowers nowadays. I have a really small lawn. I could probably mow my yard with a good set of hand clippers, but this shiny, red machine, folded up in a cardboard box, was clean and new and would keep me off my hands a knees. $150 at Lowes. Can't beat that.

Everything I needed to know in life I learned from reading short stories and one thing a lot of short stories pointed out was that white, clap-board houses with little green lawns and white pickett fences were sure signs of the death-by-being-average, intellectual/emotion degeneracy and moral bankruptcy of their owners. I have a nagging, looking-over-my-shoulder feeling that I've sold out. After a lifetime of traveling around the world living in apartments and rented houses, hotels and sailboats, and mocking the settled-in classes, I've gone and done it myself. According to the morals in those stories, I'm shallow, soft, pasty, helpless, feckless, moribund, confused, envious, covetous, conflicted, alcoholic, tawdry, desperate, unfaithful, hypocritical, and filled with self-loathing. Now add to that list guilt at the size of the carbon footprint my little mower will leave behind.

I love literature, but maybe I take it too seriously. John Updike is dead and his suburban-dwelling, cocktail-drinking, neighbor's-wife-coveting protagonists like Rabbit Angstrom are, too. I've written 147 pages on the next book and next week, I get to go out to sea for a couple of weeks in my own boat. Out there you're on your own. No shopping malls, no hedge trimmers, no barking dogs, and once again there will be no lawn to mow, no T.V. to watch, no pickett fence to paint, and no neighbors to envy. But after that, I'll be back. And I suspect I'll be happy to be here--or any where.

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