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:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Writer in Search of Self--No! Wait! I Found Me!

                              Here I am. This is me.  I'm standing on the dock of the Bay. What next?

A man travels the world over in search of what he needs and returns home to find it. ~George Moore

All men should strive
to learn before they die

what they are running from, and to, and why.
~James Thurber

Dear Mr. Thurber:

This is what I'm running from and to in stream-of-consciousness, no-rational-sequence format:

Look at me. I'm sixty-four. I'm grizzled. I've got an incipient paunch. I can still run three miles. I work out regularly. I'm retired. I can play the guitar. I can play the harmonica. I'm in love with my wife. We've been together for almost thirty-one years. Today I finished writing another novel--maybe my ninth or tenth, I can't remember. Today I'm very happy. My goal is to come to terms with death so that when my own approaches, I'm not afraid. That's what I'm running to, Mr. Thurber.

I believe life is all about accumulating wisdoms, great and small. I've learned a lot since I turned sixty. I believe many old people have not bothered doing this. With old age comes wisdom, but in most cases old age comes all by itself.

I embrace a Buddhist philosophy up to the point of reincarnation. There's not a shred of rational evidence to support a belief in reincarnation. I think cynical people live stunted lives. I'm a humor junkie. I have often embarrassed myself telling dirty jokes in wrong venue. I'm embarrassed by my loud voice.

I flunked algebra in high school. I've written a short story that won an international prize in Paris. I wrote another story that was published in Prague. I've written three fantasy-adventure novels. Two have been published, number three is "upcoming" as my publisher says. As a senior in high school, I lost my position on the basketball team to a freshman. Our team seldom won a game.

I didn't die in Viet Nam like two of my friends did because I played the game of staying out of Viet Nam and still serve in the Army and I won. I just visited their graves. They were both twenty years old. I was once an enlisted man in the Army and an officer in the Air Force. I started flying jet planes in the Air Force and then quit pilot training. Sometimes I regret this because I wanted to be a hero. I graduated with as a Distinguished Graduate from School, Military Science, Officer in San Antonio, Texas in 1974.

I graduated from college with high honors. I have two beautiful, successful children. I'm a good sailor. I have two boats. I love the old house and small town I live in. I love good scotch and I love good bourbon. I love good wine. I don't drink much anymore because of the below described problems:

I have a cardiac arrhythmia called atrial flutter. I've had it operated on twice. I have high blood pressure, controlled by medication. I have high cholesterol, controlled by medication. I have high hopes, controlled by reality.

I have a Masters degree in speech-language pathology and worked at the profession for thirty-two years. I'm proud of that. I should have started writing as younger man. I never had a job I loved until I found writing. I hate crawling down in the bilge and working on boat problems. I hate being hot and sweaty. I need a hot shower and a cool, clean sheets. I crave adventure but hate being uncomfortable. I've sailed my own boat to uninhabited islands in the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes I am afraid. The loneliest I've been was at sea, as the captain of a small boat, at night, alone, on watch, looking up at the stars. That kind of loneliness manifests itself as a feeling of being permeated by cold.

I have spent twenty-eight years of my life living overseas. I love being back home. I lived in the Republic of China for two and a half years. I live in Iceland for two years and Germany for twelve. I lived on the island of Guam for eleven years. Does that add up? I've been around the world. I took the Trans-Siberian Railroad across Russia and we drank good vodka and I lost at chess to a pretty Russian woman. I drank water from Lake Baikal.

When I was in the Army in China, I earned a black belt in karate (Wado). I'm advanced open-water SCUBA diver. I once sat in the cockpit of WWII Japanese plane 110 feet below the Pacific.

I would like to have twenty additional I.Q. points. I would like be taller and wiser and lose twenty-five pounds--but only one of those things might happen. I would not like to be young again. I have a bridge I wanna sell you.

I am a nonthiest/sceptic because there's not a shred of rational evidence to think any other way. Really. Think about it. No, really think about it.

What I Googled myself, I found a website that published some things I wrote. Here's the most important thing I found on that website that I said. It's about writing. I love writing:

One rule of good writing is anything goes if it works. Stories are supposed to have a beginning, a middle, and an end. An arc, like a word rainbow, like fireworks, like a love affair. Maybe. I've read a few good ones that didn't.

Whatever else it is that makes a story unforgettable, there are two real necessities: compelling characters and some alchemy in the process of weaving of ideas into words that gives the reader a distinct feeling of intellectual pleasure--that boy-that-was-great feeling. Who was the fairy tale character who could weave straw into gold? That's how to write.

So, Mr. Thurber, it's been a pleasure taking your advice. I'm now off to have a glass of good red wine and eat my supper.


Doug Arvidson

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