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:

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Meta Dreaming and the Writer's Bliss: The Controlled Dream of Writing Fiction

Writing at the Kitchen Table: Bacon and Eggs and Literary Fiction

After all my travels and wandering and jet lag, I'm trying to settle in again to my personal space--my home, my bliss. There a certain hangover quality to all this. I can't get my grip on it. Bliss is, after all, illusive.

A writer's routine is a fiction writer's life blood--no routine, no writing. Routine is responsible for the warp and woof of good fiction, for the depth of the knap of the word-woven carpet. The brain/body duality loves routine. But I don't know why.

Something about brain waves, I suspect. I do notice this: During the process of writing hard and close and uninterrupted for a few hours, my brain switches gears. Then, when I stop and move on to something else, like say, driving to the supermarket, it's a struggle. I'm in a sort of fog. Easy, habitual physical acts don't work right. I forget where I'm going, have to think about simple, reflexive movements and decisions. My poor wife worries that the old man is losing something important.

After a few hours, things are back to normal. The writer's brain surrenders. The practical, non-dreaming brain takes control again. Tomorrow morning, early, I will try to summon the dreaming brain again by settling into my writer's routine. In the early dawn, as I drift slowly up from deep sleep, I've learned to allow myself to float along with the rising of consciousness, of increasing awareness. But then I can stop at a place where the dreaming continues but the awareness of the dreaming is real: I know what is happening, but the mind is taking me places I would not be able to go later when fully awake. I call this meta dreaming.

The secret then, is to bring this state of mind with me down to the place where I write. To drink my coffee and sit back in my big, soft chair and continue the controlled dream of writing fiction.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

June 2nd, 2013, and the Writer is Getting Along Just Fine

All at sea: Sailing as a Metaphor for the Writing Life

We live, of course, with curve balls, sinkers, sliders, and high inside fast balls coming at us, unannounced. But that's just the baseball metaphor for life. As a writer, a husband, a father, grandfather, and a sibling, I prefer the life-as-a-voyage, cruising sailor metaphor. To wit, here I am, last month, all at sea, and happy about it, holding a freshly caught mahi in two hands and sitting behind an equally fresh bunch of bananas. (Yeah, I know; I used this photo in the previous post, but it is just too cool.)

The fish we had just caught off the stern rail, the bananas were a last-minute gift of a friend who was seeing us off on our voyage. Both were pleasant surprises, and both were consumed in good time and both made the 1,250-mile voyage from Guam to the Philippines all the more memorable.

You really can't beat ocean voyaging as a metaphor for serendipitous happenings that make life, at least momentarily, wonderful. Then comes all the other parts of the metaphor, if you extend it out, as we must: the squalls, the rain, the long, cold night watches, and the accompanying sudden jolts of fear, etc. etc.

Now, back on the East Coast and land-bound on this, a particularly fine late-spring morning (let me describe it, briefly--a quiet country setting, cloudless blue sky, green grass and leafy trees all around glowing in the soft morning sun, the air a marvelous 70 degrees, carries a small breeze and bird chirps, and then, my wife, sleepy-eyed and soft, comes into the kitchen in her wonderful pink-striped pajamas.....), I take the dog and the cat for a morning walk across the field to the wood line and back and then I feel like reading a short story and some poetry on the Prague Revue and posting something to this blog.

It's times like this--the calm-seas, mahi-banana times--that, if we're smart, we wallow in and, through the magic of mindfulness, extend for as long as possible.

(Brothers of the Fire Star, my novel about two boys, WWII, and the secrets of the ancient Pacific navigators, has been selected as finalist in the 2012 Book of the Year awards. I will be in Chicago on June 28 for the announcement of the winners. You can also see more of my "creative non-fiction" on the Prague Revue: