Getting Help on The Companion

I’ve been working on the rewrite of The Companion since I received the manuscript analysis back in February. It’s been a real slog trying to change it from third person past tense to first person present tense. On October 4, I received an email from the people over at Save The Cat! to participate in a Beat Sheet workshop.

I became involved with the Save The Cat! people back in 2020 when I purchased the book Save The Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody. Jessica is a successful writer of over 20 novels. My involvement was limited to reading the book. Unfortunately, I didn’t apply any of the instructions to my story-writing process.

So, why should I see if Save The Cat! can help me with The Companion? I suppose it’s because of a change that occurred in narrative of The Companion last week. Having the planet Orcol struck by a sizable interstellar asteroid similar to 1I/2017 ‘Oumuamua that visited our solar system back in 2017.

The other reason is simple. I’ve been a pantser in my story writing for as long as I’ve been doing this. I’ve fought being a plotter, but maybe now is a good time to see if I can get this rewrite going with the Save The Cat! process.

Through a glass darkly

Went to the Seattle VA Emergency Room this morning on the advice of the VA consulting nurse who I spoke to last night. Complaint this time is diminishing vision in my right eye. I don’t know what it is to go blind, so, maybe, I don’t have a serious problem. I definitely can’t see the laptop screen with only my right eye.

The ER doctor said that it was obvious I wasn’t having a stroke, so, maybe, it would be a good idea to send me home and let me try to get an appointment in the Eye Clinic to see an ophthalmologist. Going in today I was under the assumption I’d see the on call ophthalmologist. Since I didn’t have any of the signs of a stroke, they thought it best I go home. I don’t know what it is with ERs that prospective patients have to be near death before someone takes notice.

So, I have my left eye doing all the work. Hopefully, it will continue doing double duty until I can get an appointment at the Eye Clinic.


I made it to 73 last Saturday night at 11:30, which I believe is quite remarkable considering my physical and mental states. I’m beyond overweight, but very short of grossly obese. Basically, I love to eat all the things I shouldn’t and don’t eat enough of the things I should. Also, I don’t get enough exercise. I’ve joined a gym here and hope to get back into a steady pattern of exercise. Mentally, well, if you’ve come here often enough you know I’m basically nuts. Schizoaffective disorder, bipolar type, is about as crazy as you can get without actually going insane. Lately, though, I’ve been having feelings that maybe something else might be affecting my psyche. Dementia or Alzheimer’s? I’m certainly at the age.

My father died at 52 from prostate cancer, though he wouldn’t admit that. He told my mother and everyone else he had hip cancer. His death was fairly easy being that he was able to die at home. Even though my mother knew he was dying, she was devastated that he should leave her so unexpectedly. I was in the Air Force at the time and came home on emergency leave. My Uncle Lyle and Dad’s best friend Larry met me at the airport. When I arrived home, Mother was inconsolable in her bedroom with my Aunt Hilly and Larry’s wife Annie at her side. Larry handed me a small glass half full of whiskey to help me get my nerves in order to I could help Mother in the days ahead.

I’ll admit it right now, I did not cry at my father’s funeral. If fact I didn’t cry at all when I was home. The night after I returned to Dyess Air Force Base, where I was stationed, I got drunk and we out with a bottle of whiskey and tried to burn down power poles. The base police picked me up and tossed me in their lockup. The following morning the air wing admin officer got me released. I thought they would give me at least an Article 15 administrative action, but I was sent to the base psychiatrist instead. My days of being considered nuts began.

My mother died at 83 from metastasized breast cancer. She originally got it 15 years earlier and beat it then, but as cancer often does, it hid from view slowly spreading to her abdominal wall, spinal cord, brain, and numerous lymph nodes throughout her body. When the cancer made its status known, Mom went to an oncologist. Since I wasn’t a part of her life because she hated my wife, I wasn’t a part of her final years. The last time we spoke, she said my son, Nate, would handle everything. She also had friends who helped her until she went to the nursing homes. Then they stopped seeing her.

After Mom died, the Neptune Society had her cremated and they gave her ashes to Nate. That was when I was driving long haul, so I couldn’t be there and that’s the reason Mom chose Nate to handle everything. I did my part by keeping my wife away from Mom. Mom’s desire for her ashes was to have them spread over the summit of Stormy Mountain overlooking Manson, Washington, the place of her childhood and early adulthood. Once again, I wasn’t there because if I made the attempt, my wife would desire to go too.

And, so, I’m 73. Will I make it to 74? Who’s to know. My body could give out. Or, just as easily my mind could go by going into psychiatric crisis and having Nate call 911. That would trigger a police response, which would end in a shower of bullets. Or, that feeling I’m having in my head could be Dementia or Alzheimer’s and I’ll enter a downward spiral to oblivion. Maybe, my heart will give out. Or, maybe, cancer will come my way. There’s always the chance COVID could infect me, and, maybe, I’m healthy enough to beat it. Only time will tell.

Plus, I need to get my novel, The Companion, rewritten.

Is This the Start of Something?

I’ve moved back in with my son in Gold Bar, WA.

In other words, the psychotic episode of 2020 is now over. The bogeymen didn’t find me because I had run away, far, far away.

I enjoyed myself being in Plano, TX, but being alone down there was not good for me as a whole. An orthopedic surgeon brought up the possibility of getting new knees if I’m able to get my BMI down. Unfortunately (or fortunately) that was untenable being alone in Plano. The simple fact was I didn’t have anyone to get my mail or grocery shop for me.

So, I’m back in Washington.

I’m not saying I’m going to do anything different from the last time I was here, except not attempting to find a child to become a pseudo-grandchild of mine to shower with gifts throughout its life.

I’m an introverted procrastinator who has gotten along by myself all my life. I wonder if it’s something common to only children.

However things work out, I will always have my writing. The Companion is fourteen chapters into the rewrite. WillĂ­ is in Bongos Castle as the Formal Companion to Viscount Bongos. The Earl of Melder (the viscount’s father) is his sadistic self. Lady Apello has yet to make an appearance. WillĂ­ has stepped on the red house slug and is about to lose that foot. He’ll be a gimp. In the eyes of everyone and everything that is Schtickist, he’ll be less than a purebred entertainer. He’ll be lucky to find a willing female Schtickist to mate with him, giving him the eggs to combine with his sperm, to make babies in his womb. But all of that is in the future, the far future of sequels, if I live that long.

Maybe, I’ll write those sequels and leave them to others to get published.

Things Were Going So Well

When I first moved into the apartment building, I had my Amazon, FedEx, and UPS orders delivered to my door because the building is relatively secure. This worked just fine. Then we were given a new manager and assistant manager.

One of their first changes was to encourage residents to use the lockers down by the lobby for package deliveries. It seemed like a good idea to me, so I signed up. Amazon delivery people generally utilized the lockers for their deliveries, but some just left the packages on the floor beside the lockers. FedEx and UPS delivery people generally continued to deliver to a resident’s door.

The apartment manager gave the leasing agent the responsibility to manage the lockers, especially when the Amazon deliveries ended up in the floor. That worked for a few months until the leasing agent quit. Then it fell onto the assistant manager to handle the lockers.

I didn’t have any problems even though things seemed to be in total disarray.

Then yesterday my recent order was delivered. According to the Amazon delivery person, my order was left in the mail room. There was a picture of it in a locker. Unfortunately, the delivery person didn’t send the code I need to open the locker. I went to Amazon Customer Service and communed with the chat line app. It’s sending me a refund for my order. I reordered my product and we’ll try again.

A Touch of Depression

Although I take 150 mg of Wellbutrin for depression, there are times when it simply won’t go away, like today. It’s not so bad that suicide is an option, but it’s still weighing heavily on my consciousness. I have an urge to go away for awhile. Just get in the car and drive for a few days hitting motels wherever I find them.

Of course, I can’t go this weekend because I’m having my new mattress delivered tomorrow. And, I can’t be gone next week because my new computer has shipped from the factory in Chongqing, PRC.

So, maybe once I get the new computer up and running I can take a little road trip. I’m thinking east would be a good direction. Go see the Atlantic. Maybe, go see St. Augustine. But, maybe not there considering the neuropathy is bugging the heck out of me. My feet are tingling something fierce and walking around something historic doesn’t sound like fun.

Then there’s my novel The Companion that needs to be rewritten into first person. Maybe a trip to the ocean is what I need to do first. Load the car up with CDs to listen to Richard Dawkins and James Patterson. Then there’s all the music CDs I have. It doesn’t have to be like the drive down here from Gold Bar, all a big rush. It can be a slow drive.

I wonder if a drive to, say, Palm Springs would be a good idea. I’ll have to think about that. Think about anything except for how depressed I think I am. I’ll see what my new PC thinks about it. I’ll see what my new PC thinks about everything. I certainly hope he’s better than Dr. Aziz. Oh, well, new mattress tomorrow, new PC appointment on Tuesday, new computer sometime next week, and then think about a little trip to clear my mind.

Stubbornness Is Not An Asset

So far in my old age project to write novels, I’ve written three that have been flops. Why is that? I have to admit I’m a pantser. It’s not bad being a pantser, but it’s not an efficient process in building a novel. It’s OK for short stories like I’ve been doing at for the past fifteen and a half years, but pantsing doesn’t translate well into novels.

What’s the solution to this problem? I could just try again, or I could try something else. That something else is doing an outline. I’ve explored this route before, even going so far as to buying Scrivner, watching MasterClass videos by novelists who outline, and reading various books on the subject.

A couple days ago, I came across yWriter as a outlining tool in K. M. Weiland’s e-book Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success, but I think I’m going to try outlining on Word as a first step. We’ll just have to see where this leads.

Honestly, This Has to Change

I had plans for today. I was going to get up at 9:00, have breakfast, get cleaned up, take the Metamucil, and go over to the gym.

In reality, I turned off the alarm. The next thing I new it was significantly past 11:30 and I was still in bed. By the time I got to the kitchen to take my morning meds, it was 12:00 and I had lost the urge to go to the gym. It’s going on 3:00 now and the necessity of going to the gym seems to have been pushed onto a back burner. Maybe tomorrow.

No, honestly, my life has to change. I’m literally stuck in this apartment. I’m not getting out. I think I’ve got PAD because getting up out of bed in the middle of the night or in the morning has become a near impossibility. I’m using the compression stockings, but I don’t think I’m supposed to wear them in bed. Something about blood clots, if I remember right.

So, I guess we’ll try for tomorrow.

On writing, I’m busily rewriting the novel into First Person Present, which was a suggestion from the Jericho Writers analyst.

On reading, I’m close to finishing How Fiction Works by James Wood. I need to get back to reading before going to sleep because I seem to sleep better doing that. Also, I’m going to have to read more during the day.

On life in general, I’ve got an appointment with my shrink on Tuesday morning. I have to remember to tell him I’ve moved my Primary Care over to the Garland clinic. That may affect where I get my mental health appointments.

Getting Some Exercise

I had plans to go to a gym next week and get started on a new exercise program. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get out of the apartment building garage, but with the ice on the streets that might not be doable. That’s right. I’m iced in. Typical North Texas wintery mix storm. Almost an inch of ice covered with sleet and insulated with snow.

Still somewhat laid up with sciatica, but it is getting better. Yesterday I only had one muscle spasm and that was in my right hip. It’s a bit sore this morning, but I’ll put some heat on it later and see what happens.

My biggest problem is getting up in the morning and being able to walk. The pain is excruciating, It’s all I can do to walk out of the bedroom to the chair at the counter. I cannot think about walking into the bathroom to pee. I’ve got a bucket by the bed to take care of that problem. I suppose I could go to the doctor, but what will he do except put me back into physical therapy. My problem is not getting enough exercise. Actually, my problem is not getting any exercise.

So, I sit in the recliner typing this, exercising my fingers wishing I had the means to get to a gym.

Belated New Year’s Message

This certainly hasn’t been a happy New Year for me. It started on my way home from my son’s home where I spent Christmas. I had rented a car from Budget, but unfortunately I didn’t check out its condition. The top half of the driver’s side windshield wiper was separated from the rim. But the real problem was an empty wiper fluid tank. The highways to the airport were covered with a mixture of ice, snow, slush, and sand, which was near impossible with the tools I had to clean the windshield. Luckily traffic was slow, but that meant sitting in the car for an extra amount of time.

Then I got into the terminal where there were tons of people. It took me a while to find the end of my line, but that didn’t mean anything good. The line was so slow. Then a serious problem cropped up. For the past couple years I’ve lost the ability to stand for any extended amount of time. I could see the ticket counter, but I knew I wasn’t going to make it there. Luckily the wheelchair station was between me and the ticket counter. I felt like a fool for having to do it, but I went up and requested assistance and I got it.

My wheelchair went around the main ticket counter to the special ticket counter for employees and disabled. Soon it was at security and going through that was a snap. The guy pushing the wheelchair helped me with my computer bag and hoodie. Didn’t have to remove my shoes. Didn’t have to walk through the scanner. Soon we were on our way to the gate, which happened to be the last gate on the concourse. Lucky I had a wheelchair.

I got home without too much trouble, but I noticed pains in the back of my thighs and calves. I went to the store to get some milk and cantaloupe. The next day I did my laundry. The day after that I was going to go to the Dallas VA Med Center to get my new compression stockings, but as I opened the door to go out, I knew I wasn’t going to make it there and back home. The pain in my back, thighs, knees, calves, and feet was so bad I just went back to bed. I was stuck in my apartment for eleven days. I went out the next day, got my mail and Amazon packages, figured I go to the Med Center the next day. Well, that didn’t happen, but maybe tomorrow.

The answer in simple. It’s the sciatica acting up again. I suppose it might’ve been better if I had asked the guy sitting next to me to let me out to stand up, but I didn’t. He was watching something on his tablet and I didn’t want to disturb him.

I’m thinking if I go to my son’s place another Christmas, I’ll take the train. At least on a train you get to stand up now and then. You even get to walk through cars.