The Journal, Thursday, 12/1

Hey Folks,

A brand new month! Yay!

I received an exciting email yesterday from Claudia Benitez Garcia. Claudia is the editor of the Cultural section of a beautiful Mexican magazine called Este País (

Two or three years ago, I received another email from a gentleman named Pedro Poitevin. He asked my permission to translate my triolet (poem) “God?”. Permission? Are you kidding? Of course, I was honored and told him so.

Then in yesterday’s email, Claudia wrote, “[W]e are going to publish a Spanish translation of your poem “God?”, done by Pedro Poitevin. By the way, we really like your work and for us it is an honor to publish it.” She added that they would send me a few copies of the magazine.

Well, I was thrilled. I’ve always loved the Spanish language (especially Latino Spanish) and welcome the opportunity to immerse myself in the magazine.

She also asked whether I would be willing to submit any new, unpublished short stories to the magazine. Yes, yes I would. Although right now I have no unpublished stories. Of course, I can remedy that in a few hours.

This is better than money, folks (not that there won’t be money involved). As I’ve written here before and as I preach constantly, if you write what you are passionate about, readers will come.

To satisfy any curiosity that might be out there, here’s the poem:


If you are there, bequeath a gentle snow
to blanket grass and hills and trees and us,
the weary ones who really need to know
if you are there. Bequeath a gentle snow,
and let it drift to comfort us below
these endless marble rows, victorious.
If you are there, bequeath a gentle snow
to blanket grass and hills and trees and us.

* * *

A Brief Topic: And / Then

A while back I read an article or note somewhere in which the author advised writers to never use “then” as a conjunction. To always use “and” instead.

Of course, as I do with most blanket policies, I disagree.

Yesterday in the topic I wrote that all words in the language serve a purpose. That’s especially true when writing in English, in which the entire meaning of a sentence can hinge on a nuance.

In my WIP, I just wrote a sentence that provides a very good example of this concept:

She nodded and shivered as if cold.

This sentence means nodding is a sign of being cold. It isn’t at all what I wanted to convey.

Now it reads

She nodded, then shivered as if cold.

Using “then” in this way establishes a sequence: first this, then that. It also identifies only “shivered” as a function of being cold.

Purists (especially those who adhere to the notion of keeping “then” out of their writing) might point out that the addition of a comma before “and” would have created the same effect.

Almost, but not quite.

The coordinating conjunction “and” still connects (coordinates) the two verbs. So using “and” and a comma would necessitate the insertion of the same subject again (she).

Note again, this is a nuance. The connotation is only slightly different, but it is different.

Is this something you should consciously look for in your writing?

No. Absolutely not.

Do you have to “decide” on a case-by-case basis whether to put a period at the end of a declarative sentence or a question mark after an interrogative?

Of course not. But you learned those things long ago and they seeped into your subconscious. So now they come out automatically when you write.

So it is with this “and / then” conundrum, and so it is with all other words that one person or another advises you to omit from your writing.

Trust your subconscious as you write. Let your characters tell the story they want to tell.

When you aren’t actively writing and you’re in the mood to be a student, consider (or reconsider) and learn new things.

Those that are useful to you will seep into your subconscious and come out “automatically” as necessary when you write. And those that don’t, won’t.

* * *

Today in addition to my usual email, Facebook etc. I did a couple loads of laundry, etc.

Laundry creates custom-made breaks in writing to fold stuff, put it away, etc. But mostly today I’m dedicating to writing. I want and need a good start for the month.

I’ll try not to get too sidetracked with Other Things today. We’ll see how that goes.

Later today during a break I’ll also endeavor to find and break out my Pimsleur System Spanish language lessons. Mona and I are really looking forward to beginning our study of that beautiful language again, though I can’t be sure her Hoosier tongue will ever get the pronunciations quite right. (grin)

Of Interest

If you wanna see something really cool from a NaNo participant (who’s also a professional fiction writer), check out Dawn’s Final NaNo Report (

Dean’s post Fiction River Volume #20 Now Out ( is interesting. Plus kind of a neat short video in Dean’s 11/30/16 Daily. To find that, just scroll down on the Home page.

Today’s Writing

After messing around the first few hours of the morning, I started writing again on my WIP at around 9. Took a brief break around 9:45 to fold and put away a load of laundry.

Not as good a day as I’d liked, but I’ll take it. The story is coming along well, but I cycled back a few times to add some things when what I thought was going to be secondary characters took center stage.

Back tomorrow.

Fiction Words: 1934
Nonfiction Words: 970 (Journal)
So total words for the day: 2904

Writing of Ray Acuna (tentative title)

Day 1…… 2058 words. Total words to date…… 2058
Day 2…… 3752 words. Total words to date…… 5810
Day 3…… 1934 words. Total words to date…… 7744

Total fiction words for the month……… 1934
Total fiction words for the year………… 681628
Total nonfiction words for the month… 1934
Total nonfiction words for the year…… 258870

Total words for the year (fiction and nonfiction)…… 940498