No NaNoWriMo Update.

We’re slightly beyond the halfway point of November and it is painfully obvious to me that the goal of writing 30,000 words this month is on the fast track to being a failed effort. Life, in all its messiness and complexities, has thrown lob after lob, each one landing square in the middle of my ability to knuckle down and write.

My initial inclination is to resist the urge to absolve myself. I set a goal, I should have done whatever it took to reach it. That, however, is the antithesis of the life we are trying to live and model for our children. Rather than a slacking off due to minutiae masquerading as busyness, there were genuinely more pressing matters to attend to which made it nearly impossible for me to sit down and focus enough to write those 1000 words a day. That’s before I’ve paused to further put things in order to serve Thanksgiving dinner to my family five days from now.

Time for a revamped strategy which will, unfortunately, have to wait until after the New Year is underway. That’s a slightly disappointing prospect as I generally frown on using the New Year as the answer to beginning anew what should be easy enough to accomplish in at any time of the year.

One thing I will be trying to accomplish is devoting significant amounts of time to reading and research so that when I am ready to dive back into writing in a few weeks, I’ll be more prepared to power out some significant portions of writing. To that end, I’ll close with this prayer by Thomas Aquinas; Ante Studium. I will be drawing on its inspiration as I move forward with my project:

Ineffable Creator, Who out of the treasures of Your wisdom appointed treble hierarchies of Angels and set them in admirable order high above the heavens; Who disposed the diverse portions of the universe in such elegant array; Who are the true Fountain of Light and Wisdom, and the all-exceeding Source:  Be pleased to cast a beam of Your radiance upon the darkness of my mind, and dispel from me the double darkness of sin and ignorance in which I have been born.

You Who make eloquent the tongues of little children, instruct my tongue and pour upon my lips the grace of Your benediction.  Grant me penetration to understand, capacity to retain, method and ease in learning, subtlety in interpretation, and copious grace of expression.

Order the beginning, direct the progress, and perfect the conclusion of my work, You Who are true God and Man, Who live and reign forever and ever.  Amen.

Have a wonderful weekend! I hope to have a book review up early next week.

Valley of the Sun: Frontier Stories

valley of the sunValley of the Sun, by Louis L’amour, collected and published posthumously in 1995.

I encountered this book the way I encounter many; simply perusing various genres on the shelves of our local library. It had been a while since I read a Western, and since I ain’t never met a gun slinging tough guy character that I didn’t like, I figured I’d mosey on home with this collection of short  stories by the acclaimed Western writer.

The stories did not disappoint. However, they don’t rank as high on my L’amour scale as earlier works published when he was alive, such as for example, The Daybreakers. Of course, these are short stories, so perhaps my comparison is less apt given the levels of character development novels offer when compared to short stories.

With that disclaimer on record, I highly recommend Valley of the Sun for readers not deeply familiar with the Western genre. It offers the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet while enjoying the work of a writer who is arguably the best Western writer…ever.

The stories have all the elements of great Western tales. The strong honorable men, willing to draw to the death for the protection of what is right and just in the face of men of low honor and even less sense of justice. Women with intestinal fortitude, yet who understand the value of their soft power.

Cattle rustlers, law men, spectacular descriptions of the wild, Western frontier, and character  tinged with humor and insight. Consider character Ryan Tyler’s analysis of cattle baron Jim Lucas upon their first meeting in the introductory story, We Shaped the Land with Our Guns:

Lucas was a medium built man who carried himself like he weighed a ton. He sat square and solid in the saddle, and you could see at a glance that he figured he was some shakes.

Those 35 words are worth an album filled with photographs, as an instant picture of Jim Lucas develops in your mind’s eye.

The vivid imagery makes the old west come alive in story after story and whether you’re a long time fan or reading Westerns for the first time, Louis Lamour’s Valley of the Sun is sure to satisfy.


Content disclaimer:

Violence: It’s the wild west. Lots of gun slinging.