Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 8

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I will be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.



          “ET1, can I pick the last Pearl Harbor billet?” I asked.

            All through school they told us that if we were married, we would not be able to choose Pearl Harbor as our first home-port assignment. It’s too much of an investment to move junior sailors with dependents to Hawaii, because the wash-out rate for nubs is high and the government views it as a waste of money. A ‘wash-out rate’ meant that more than a few times, when a new guy got to the boat, he gave up after a few weeks because he couldn’t cut it. So, for us young dudes with wives and kids, Hawaii was out of the question.

            “Not unless you gonna’ swim there, shipmate,” he said.



16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 8 (or why Papa and I shall never share a sunset)

The metrics:


  • 2 chapters complete
  • 7,679 words typed
  • 1,097 (average) word count per day
  • 16:44 spent writing total
  • 2:39 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 79,593 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 1 novel complete
  • 325 pages read
  • 11:15 spent reading
  • 1:36 min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 3:42

The good news, gang, my writing numbers went up, up, up! The bad news, because this strange planet has to have bad with the good (always), is I’m still 2:25 in the hole carrying into this coming week.

I was out of town these last few days. I haven’t spent time alone in a foreign land (foreign to me at least) in well over a year. I was out and about, doing all the touristy stuff one does on vacation (though this trip wasn’t for vacation—but every trip kinda’ is, isn’t it?), and there was a Half-Price Books across the street from my hotel.

That’s party time for this guy.

Wow, that’s sad.

Anyway! I was in Dayton, Ohio, wrapping up some military garbage I still have to deal with, and took in the local scenery. The U.S. Air Force Museum was out of this world! Guys and gals, they have a room there just brimming with intercontinental ballistic missiles. They stretched five stories to the ceiling like giant fists from hell.


You can also walk on a space shuttle there. It’s not an actual shuttle, but the whole front compartment is the real thing. Also, I walked through several different iterations of Air Force One, all used by names like Kennedy, Reagan, and Roosevelt. If you have kids, get out there. It’s absolutely free, but make sure you have more than a few hours to go through it all because it’s just damn enormous.

So, aside from the museum, and my nightly visits to HPB, I managed to get some work done. But I didn’t write for two days, which I now have to make up this week. So be it, as long as the work gets done.

My reading is around the same as last week, a little lower perhaps. I read Hemingway’s “The Sun also Rises,” and I have to say, I still don’t like him.

I’ve read three of his books now (the others being “A Farewell to Arms” and “The Old Man and the Sea”) but I can’t seem to get into his work. I admire his prose style, his clarity, his acumen for choosing the simplest words and conveying complex themes through them. But, his stories never seem to go anywhere, never seem to wrap up. Most see this as a strength. I do not. If his language was brighter, if the words jumped off the page, like Kerouac for instance (whom I’m still on the fence about), then maybe he’d be for me. I know I’m in the minority, and who am I but a lone writer trying to ply his craft against the backs of our most elite here, but he and I weren’t meant to be friends. Yet, Hunter S. Thompson, Ray Bradbury, and countless others mark Papa as a huge influence. Perhaps the next one I read will show me why.

As for the movie/TV/Netflix time; yeah, I was bad. “American Psycho” was on HBO in my hotel room and I couldn’t resist. “It’s hip to be square” though, right? And, I watched “Arrival” per my wife’s request. It was good, but nowhere near all the hype it got, in my correct opinion.

Anyway, friends, I’m spent. Keep on writing, please. You have to. If you don’t, the art will just shrivel up and die, and text message lingo will become the new standard.

Don’t let them get away with it.



Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 7

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I will be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.


      I walked down to the NEX and got some notecards and pens (and cigarettes, of course.) On my way back to the barracks, I stopped at a little used smoke pit behind a building. I chain-smoked three of four cigs, totally lost in revelry. Thinking. I never had any time to simply think, or plan, or just absorb anymore. I looked up at the cold New England Sun overhead, letting the blustery coast winds breeze up on my cheeks. I listened to the sound of my inhaling and exhaling chest, the rhythm of my lungs. Smoke bowled out from my lips, rolling up like grey thunderclouds over the plains.  Seabirds traped by overhead. I was beginning to enjoy their constant company. Occasionally a few would land nearby and peck at the grass or sidewalk. Whenever one got a morsel the others would snap at its beak, engaged in some form of concrete cabotage between one another. They’d croon for a second, then lit off to places high above and beyond my reach. I heard groups of sailors walking by in the distance, generally amused and happy. When the wind shifted just right, I could smell the brackish waters of the Thames down the hill from me. They let me know they were waiting. “Follow me” they called, the ocean, the continents unknown, the entire planet laying beyond its banks. It was all there, and I needed to see. All.

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 7 (pip-pip and all that)

The metrics:


  • 1 chapter complete
  • 4,408 words typed
  • 630 (average) word count per day
  • 12:23 spent writing total
  • 1:46 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 71,514 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 2 novels complete
  • 344 pages read
  • 11:39 spent reading
  • 1:38 min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 1:53

Saturday nights are family time at the Clark household. My wife generally picks what we do. This time, it was movie and junk food night. Per the rules of my contract (with myself, of course), I am only allowed to watch television/movies/Netflix/etc. when asked by her or my son, or when the social occasion calls for it. This rider will stay in effect until the end of the 16 Week Writing Challenge, or until I finish the book — whichever precedes the other, naturally.

Anyway, enough of the that, and why does my writing take on a British parliamentary air when talking about contracts?


My writing numbers went down this week. I’m in the hole 1:37 starting tomorrow. I never want to be in this position on Monday, but sometimes there’s nothing I can do. My quota, if it can be called that, is fourteen hours a week of good, hard-nosed, new writing. Most of you that follow me already knew that. This is equal to two hours of daily typing. This week, however, was all about resumes and job hunting.

I graduate this May. My wife is going back to school when I’m done. My kid won’t stop outgrowing his clothes. We like to have a roof over our heads. Running water is always a plus. I’m a fan of food, too. So’s my family.

I need a job. Simple as that.

But this doesn’t give me an excuse to stop writing. It’s just another thing to manage. I’ve rather liked the job hunting experience so far. So many choices for a recently graduated writer, especially if you’re experienced in a plethora of different fields like I. My hope is that these Navy credentials of mine, and all that technical stuff I learned over those six years in the service, are finally going to pay some dividends.  I can only pray this will be true.

I did fit in a good bit of reading though this week, all my numbers up from last week’s shameful performance. My goal for the next seven days is to finish Blood Meridian at all cost. It really is an incredible novel, and will be studied for years. But when I’m done, I might have to pick up the latest Mitch Albom just to restore my hope in humanity. Whoa! This book is violence. Period. Now you know.

Oh, and writing through a cold or sickness is a must. This is not an excuse to lay off the words. I’ve been sick for over two weeks now. Finally getting over it, as I always do. Never stopped writing no matter how red my nose became, how gravelled my throat felt, or even when my coughing woke everyone up. I write, I write, I write.

So should you.



Sample from my upcoming memoir: Week 6

As promised in the 16 Week Writing Challenge, I will be putting up samples of work I did from the preceding week.


From my memoir in progress, Down Ladder: A Submariner’s Tale.


           “Well, Clark, I got one question for you, and you’d better answer honestly, or there will be serious consequences. Understand?”

            “Yes, chief,” the ball in my throat popping out my lips.

            “Clark” he said, doing that fucking leaning in close shit they must teach somewhere at military intimidation school.

            “Yes, chief?”

            “Are you a fucking Russian spy!”

            “No! I swear, I don’t know what that form is. I really have no idea. Honest, chief, I’ve never seen that shit before in my entire life. I swear to Christ, I’ve never seen it before!”

            “Is that so?” he said, standing back up straight. “Well, that’s funny shipmate, because your signature is on the bottom of it!”

            He flicked the paper to me. It landed on the deck. I picked it up. My signature, unmistakably penned in my own stick-fence handwriting, was signed on the bottom. The date stamp told me I had signed it with PO Krotsky, back when I was enlisting. The rest of the document was, indeed, typed in a foreign language. They thought it was Russian. To me, though, it looked more like a computer made up its own secret language one day, just to curse its human masters.

16 Week Writing Challenge: Week 6 (the bathymetry of word)

The metrics:


  • 2 chapters complete
  • 6,795 words typed
  • 971 (average) word count per day
  • 15:53 spent writing total
  • 2:16 (average) spent in daily writing
  • 67,106 total word count


  • 2 novels in-progress
  • 1 novel complete
  • 278 pages read
  • 6:06 spent reading
  • 52 min.(approx. average) spent in daily pleasure reading


  • 0hrs

All my writing stats went up this week: word count – up 1,500; total time – up 2 hours; daily word count – up 200 words; daily writing – up 20 minutes.


My reading stats, however, plunged. Like, Marianas Trench deep. That’s what happens when all your professors, probably with only evil intent in mind the bastards, simultaneously assign great swaths of new books to read, which accompanies the even greater tracts off homework-landfill you must complete. I wish I was Jewish just so I could, with proper dignity and right, shout “Oy vey!” heavenward. But, my fists aren’t that strong.

College: The most expensive book recommendations you will ever receive.

Thanks, Oprah.

Anywho, till next time, you crazed hounds.

Keep writing, keep reading, keep fighting!

Easy does it…but do it.