Built like a Ram 3500.
Style straight out of Rooster Cogburn’s wild west.
Work ethic of a plow mule.
Soul of an artist.
Charles Gramlich produces an amazing output of words on a weekly basis while holdng down a job, a family, and a life. He teaches biological psychology and experimental psychology classes at a small university in New Orleans. A prolific blogger, his communication skills and “netiquette” attract a loyal following. He’s an enthusiastic motorcyclist, muscle-car owner and gun handler. Ten published works bear his name, each one an open window on Gramlich’s inner world.
Look in if you will…
W hat has always impressed me, is not just the volume of Gramlich’s output, but the quality. His PhD is helpful of course, along with iron-clad self-discipline, but there’s another tool he uses. It’s a writing diary. Yes, a self-monitoring daily record of output. Writing about writing? Really? This is where I decided to look closer.
May 26–Thursday: Some writing, but not a lot of progress. Finished polishing chapter 9 of “Ember Star” but I have a lot of questions about where I’m going from there. My critique group met and went over chapter 1, “A Hot Time in Old Towne Tonight.” Comments were generally positive but it’s clear that several members of the group really have no feel for SF. They neither read it nor like it. Not an uncommon experience for me in groups I’ve been in. In the evening I did a lot of thinking about “Ember Star” but not a lot of writing. Got an email from another writer who likes my stuff and will be in my area this summer. He suggested we get together for a brew and I agreed. He sent me one of his stories and I read it. Pretty good, and I let him know I liked it. Emailing back and forth with Elaine Ash. Looks like she might do a blog interview with me. Posted an installment of my trip report on my blog.
May 27–Friday: Right after midnight, dealing with emails and blog posts. My Novel Spaces blog post on “Space Opera” went up at midnight. Amazon sent me my monthly report on “Killing Trail.” Made a whole $10.35. But hey, better than a kick in the teeth. After sleeping, I visited blogs and then wrote for a while on the deck before it got too hot. I realized I had to go back to the start of “Ember Star” and work my way through it to regain momentum. Finished going through about half of what I have so far. Although it doesn’t feel like a lot of forward progress, I added a lot of detail and clarified a lot of points for myself . Read and commented on a vampire poem someone sent me.
May 28—Saturday: Blogging in the morning. Then grocery shopping. Worked a lot on “Ember Star” and made good progress, solving lots of issues with the plot. I’m happy with what I’ve got and can see how to move forward. Sent Elaine a response to a question she asked. Very tired late. Eyes are burning from too much computer work today.
Elaine Ash: What exactly does keeping a writing journal do for you?
Charles Gramlich: At one time I did keep a handwritten journal but my handwriting is so bad that it just became impossible for me to read what I’d written so I went to the computer.
The journal does several things for me.
First, it provides a record of what I’ve done and when so that I can refer to it as a kind of historical record. When did I finish such and such a project? When was X published. After 20 years of writing that becomes a necessity at times. Memory will not work unaided.
Second, it motivates me. When I’ve been lazy or played too much of a video game, I say so in my journal, and when I go back and read it over the next day or two I’m motivated to stop wasting time.
Third, it gives me an idea of about how long it takes me to finish projects of a certain type and certain length, and helps me plan for the future. How much time will I likely need, for example, to finish some particular article or story. It’s never 100 percent accurate but it has been a big help to me, especially in nonfiction.
By the time gray dawn came creeping like a fog he had mastered himself. He lived in the place that all warriors sought, where death and life and sex and hunger were one. Where you created your own reality and no one else’s could intrude. Where you became a god, or a demon. And you didn’t care which.
The moonlight settled over the December beach like snow birds coming in to roost on an arctic plain. And the midnight world was brush-stroked in white, the white of sand and shells and stones, the white of bones and ghosts. In the midst of that white was a splatter of black, or what could have been red in brighter hours. It reminded Kyle Dupree of a snowflake in negative, and he thought it was incredibly beautiful until he realized what it represented. Then he dropped the cigarette that he’d walked out on the beach to smoke, and he reached down with his thumb to unsnap the strap that held his Colt Trooper in its holster.
He climbed toward wakefulness through scarlet-tinted dreams, rising up to a morning sky that burned pink outside his window, like watermelon flesh. A hundred images cracked and ran as the dream period ended and heavy lids shuttered back over eyes that were yellow-brown scars in an otherwise pale face. The empty pupils dilated suddenly with pleasure as he slid from beneath sticky wet sheets and stood looking down, his body finger-painted red.
The ravens gathered, their voices as harsh in the twilight silence as the turning of ungreased axles. It was to a dead place they flocked, a place of white bone and spilled blood, a place where warriors had come in the morning and stayed until late at their work. But it was to just such places that ravens were drawn, and these scarcely stirred when the woman rode from the forest and joined them among the slain.
Excerpt from “Wine and Swords” also from Bitter Steel:
The night sands whispered with rain and hooves as shadows moved in the dunes and steel slid softly from leather and silk. Trailing wings of the rare shower lifted equally over the cloth tents and camels of a mendicant’s caravan, and over riders with charcoaled faces and blackened swords. Among the tents, they thought all sounds were children of the rain, and they died for that mistake when raiders came from the darkness.
Elaine Ash: I wanted this article to represent Charles’ writing and also a bit of his personal style. Below is a picture of his famous hat and guns–what I call “accoutrements.”
ACCOUTREMENTS – NOUN, French, circa 1549
Ash-KOO-trah-ments (English pronunciation), Equipment, trappings,
a soldier’s outfit including clothes and weapons.
Charles Gramlich: The western style piece (foreground) is an 1873 Uberti single action Cattleman revolver with brass backstrap. Uberti is a well respected Italian manufacturer. I got it in .357 caliber to match with my other pistol, and with a rifle that I have. I just bought it a couple of years ago.
The other revolver is a Colt Trooper Mark III, also in .357. I like the .357 catridge. It’s got a lot of stopping power. And you can also shoot cheaper .38 shells in a .357 pistol for target practice. I’ve had this one since I was 18.
The smaller black pistol is a Sig Sauer P228 9 millimeter semiautomatic. I’ve had it about 10 years.
The leather hat was purchased in the French Quarter many years ago.
Charles Gramlich, thank you so much. — Elaine Ash
Charles’ blog Razored Zen can be found under my Blogroll list upper right. Photography kindly provided by Lana Gramlich.