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Welcome to the blog and site of Iowa Author Buzz Malone. I always enjoy hearing from readers. Please leave comments and send me emails to let me know what you think. Your opinions matter more than you might think. Your words inspire me more than you could ever know. To find out more about my writing and books, please click above on the book titles or email me at buzzdmalone@gmail.com

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Monday, March 4, 2013

A Writer's Spring Always Nears

  Prelude from my novel, Silence of Centerville.  

     My sons do not like that I still live alone in this old house. They worry about me. They worry that the roof leaks. They worry that I still heat the place with wood. They worry that it is cold, and drafty. But mostly, most of all, they worry that I am alone. They worry that something will happen to me or that I will get lonely between their visits.

     It’s funny to me that they should worry about such a thing. They know nothing about being lonely, not like I do. I know what it means to be genuinely lonely. A man does not find that kind of lonely living in an old house by himself. To be lonely, really lonely, you have to be among other people. I know a little bit about being that kind of lonely. It is the worst thing in the world, I think; that kind of lonely. 

     That’s the way it was for me when I was younger. That’s the worst time for that sort of thing, too. It is the time in your life when a man should have hopes and dreams. Not to say that I didn’t have hopes and dreams; I had them. I also knew that my hopes and dreams would never come true. That was the hardest part of it all. 

     I knew that my life would never have a fairy tale ending or that I would never live happily ever after or any of those things. I knew for a fact from an early age that no matter what I did, that the world would pass me by like a fast horse, taking any chance I had for love or laughter or joy right along with it. It wasn’t always that way for me, but for so many years of my life I lived just knowing that there was much I would never have; so many things that I would never experience. And those were the loneliest years of my life. 

     I lived in a world where I knew all of those things every morning when I got out of bed. It was a terrible time for me. It was as if God had singled me out to suffer. Blackness set over my soul like the wall cloud of a mighty summer thunderstorm and there was no escaping the darkness of its shadow. 

     It’s horrible to go through the world that way; knowing the limitations of the life you are living. It is as if you are stranded upon a desert isle in an ocean where you know that no ships will ever sail, and no planes will ever fly. It is that sort of hopelessness and that kind of loneliness that I lived with every day. What’s worse, I knew that it would never get any better.

     The funny thing is though; everything that I thought I knew then...was wrong. 

If I were a more famous author, or even a famous one, literature professors would study those words and try to find clues to the symbolism and hidden meanings in them, even if none were meant to exist. However, it is a rather straight forward piece that says what it means and means what it says.

And what it says is that even though there is a foot of snow outside my door right now, that another spring is just around the corner. It means that life, despite all obstacles, can be beautiful if given the opportunity, and the only thing that we must do to see it is to keep living, keep breathing, and keep trudging through the snow covered parts, toward the spring that awaits us round future's coming bend.

Henry Herbert Knibbs
I use this metaphor often in my writing and my thinking. During long, cold winters and difficult times, and long bouts as a writer where it seems as if rejection letters are your only link to the world outside of your writing room. I remember that I need only keep putting one foot in front of the other a while longer, and something good will come of it all, and the warm spring sun will melt the snow, just as sure as the sun will rise in the morrow. 

"...But I'm jogging along, jogging ahead, perhaps I'll find it mate." 

Those are words from Henry Herbert Knibbs' poem, The Sheep and the Goats. This also happens to be my favorite poem as long time readers will have undoubtedly seen it before...

    I don't mind working to earn my bread,
         And I'd just as soon keep straight;
    I've listened to what the preacher said
         About rams and sheep at the gate;
    I like to sleep in an easy bed,
         But I tell you this, old mate:

    A man like me, what you call a Bo,
         Can blister and sweat and save
    All his life, and earn just enough of dough
         To prove that he is a slave,
    And have, when it comes his time to go,
         Well, enough to line his grave.

    Say, mate, have you ever seen the mills
         Where the kids at the looms spit blood?
    Have you been in the mines when the fire-damp blew?
         Have you shipped as a hand with a freighter's crew
    Or worked in a levee flood?

   Have you rotted wet in a grading-camp,
         Or scorched on a desert line?
    Or done your night stunt with your lamp,
         Watching the timbers drip with damp
    And hearing the oil-rig whine?

    Have you seen the grinders fade and die,
         As the steel-dust cut them down?
    Have you heard the tunnel-driller's cry
         When the shale caved in? Have you stood by
    When his wife came up from town?

  Have you had your pay held back for tools
         That you never saw or could use?
    Have you gone like a fool with the other fools
         To the boss's saloon, where the strong-arm rules,
    And cashed your time for booze?

   Well, those are the games—I've played 'em all—
         That a man like me can play.
    And this lovely world is a hard old ball;
         And so at the last I took a fall
    To the right and proper way;

   And that is to see all the sights you can
         Without the admission price.
    That's why I've changed to a traveling man,
         With a quilt and a rope and a kind of plan
    Of hitting no one place twice.

   I do no kicking at God or Fate;
         I keep my shoes for the road.
    A long gray road-and I love it, mate;
         Hay-foot, straw-foot, that's my gait!
    And I carry no other man's load.

    For I'm free! Oh, the lowlands by the sea
         To the mountains clear across
    On the other side, they belong to me;
         A man owns nothing unless he's free,
    And I am my own good boss.

   I don't mind working to earn my bread,
         And I'd just as soon keep straight,
    But according to what the preacher said,
         I'm a ram—and I've missed the gate;
    But I'm jogging along, and jogging ahead,
         And perhaps I'll find it, mate.

            Henry Herbert Knibbs

Remember, that as writers we are both students and professors of life. We must learn before we can tell and teach. Every ounce of hardship and bad luck, and every rejection we receive, all only serves to make us stronger voices, and better writers in the end. A hundred years from now, no one will know what your troubles were or how many times you were rejected or what your credit score was. They will only be left with the words... 

Thanks for Reading,



  1. After reading your prelude just the other day, Buzz, I put Silence of Centerville on my must-read list. I have four books ahead of yours but I will get to it - and I look forward to it. Not only are you a funny man, but you impart some amazing words of wisdom. The poem reminded me of my Grandad - a time when people worked hard, took responsibility for themselves and appreciated what they had.

    1. Megan,

      It does my heart good to know that I have made the top five! I definitely understand your pain. I have a pile of books on the nightstand, another on the dresser, and a growing list beyond them. What's worse, is that many of my reads are non-ficition and each of those seem to lead to yet another from the notes. If I live to be a hundred, I may well get caught up.

      The poem was introduced to me by an old labor union man who traveled to wherever a strike was going on and sang songs and read poetry. But it speaks volumes to me about life. I carry a copy of it around with me these days for comfort and encouragement. Thank you once again, for reading, and for commenting.


  2. You're a fantastic writer, Buzz! Silence of Centerville is definitely on my list of books to read. Best of luck with your writing :)

    1. Amelia,

      Thank you for the kind words and the encouragement. It means a lot to me. You might be surprised how I return and read comments and emails of encouraging words sometimes, just to keep me writing through a difficult spot. Thank you for reading.


  3. hi there, Buzz! I love this...a lot! Your books are on my list, esp. Silence of Centerville. Also, thank you so much for putting my novel in your "picks" thingy-bob up there. How wonderful to be there, and even more wonderful to begin my day reading your words. Happy writing, my friend!

  4. Hello Maggie! Thank you for putting SILENCE on your reading list. But please, leave the other "books" of mine on the shelf. They were early productions and need to be retooled (can't get them off of amazon for some reason).

    Hope you're enjoying the winter and all is well. Thank you for reading, Maggie.


  5. Hello Buzz,
    I just love your style and must buy the book. A few things that struck me as I read:

    Well, you painted the loneliness so well I was pained. My throat ached, my heart hurt and my eyes blinked away tears. I had to keep reading to see how you fared. You then enthralled me with warm words of spring and I imagined the sun shining hot on my face. I read through to the end and enjoyed every word.

    The prelude's ending: perfectly time. You left me hanging -- so very well done!

    Here's to the book's success!


    1. SK,

      I am going to assume that this is author Stephen King (SK) and that you do not wish to be identified.

      Either way, thank you so much for your kind words and thank you for reading. It warms the heart of any writer every time that we receive a word or two of encouragement. Thank you again.


      P.S. Stephen, if that's you, please email me. I need to talk to your literary agent! :)

  6. Buzz, who would have guessed that such a funny guy could evoke a well-spring of tearful emotion in your writing. Well done. From mine and other blog readers' responses (including maybe that well known SK??), I would say you are on the verge of an amazing novelist career. Add me to your "must read" fans.

    1. Carmen,

      I'll let mother know that she isn't alone any more. Thank you again. Lorri (my smarter, better, more enlightened half) were just admiring one of your pictures of people hang gliding over a warm ocean somewhere...and watching it snow outside.

      Thank you again, Carmen. You never cease to inspire.

      And as always, thanks for reading!


  7. Hi Buzz...i really like what you wrote here. It makes me want to read your book very soon. Every word simply touched my soul as at this point, I am addled where my journey in life leads. The poem inspired me as well. Two thumbs up for good writers like you...

    1. I have some bad news for you, clover. I visited your blog...


      You made me feel something there AND I wanted to know more. Like it or not, I think you might be a writer. I'm sorry I had to be the one to tell you.

      Best wishes and thank you so much for the kind words.

      Thank you for reading.