How the Creative Muse Clipped Mah Toenails

I’d like to state that each and every link, video and/or picture within this post and all preceding and following posts are the property of the entities in possession of said links, videos and pictures, and in no way should I be recognized as the source or creator of this content. I just ain’t that good.

I have wanted to be a published author since I was twelve years old. At that age, when I was in the sixth grade, I began to write short stories about the adventures of a group of boys (my friends and I, naturally). This was during the initial flights of the United States Space Shuttle program, the height of the Cold War era, and the beginning of the Reagan Years, so I was influenced mightily by the spirit of adventure, conquest and technological know-how that saturated life back then. All of that colored my stories greatly.

They generally revolved around very young yet incredibly intelligent minds crafting larger-than-life combat machines that were sometimes disguised as exploratory vessels (thank you, James T. Kirk for the template that was the U.S.S. Enterprise), and setting out with the blessings of the U.S. and its sitting President to challenge and conquer every nefarious foe that came blundering along. No job was too big, and neither were the warships we…uh, they…piloted. Three-hundred-foot-long land battleships? No problem. Four-hundred-foot-long arctic-traversing death machine? Already halfway built. A constellation of geosynchronous factories spurting out prefabbed components in precision drops to surface destinations? Boooooring…. The things that we…dang it!…they!…designed, built and flung into battle were as huge and endless as the rivers of tax funds pouring into black budget programs that paid for them.

Looking back I smile at the many sources of inspiration for my ideas back then. I mentioned Kirk’s Enterprise, but I was fortunate to see OUR Enterprise, the Space Shuttle number OV-101, up close and personal at Huntsville, Alabama’s Marshall Space Flight Center. That was during one year that I can’t remember with my brother and my parents, and it was also a big influence on my young imagination. It was linked in my mind to the space shuttle that Gil Gerard got all time-lost in, and that led to a whole host of other imagination motivators. Weird little R2-D2 derivative, anyone?

Those hundreds-foot-long land ships were inspired by a much smaller sorta’ hippy-ish survival RV television personality that I really wish I’d got to see more episodes about before it disappeared forever. I say inspired by, and that’s true. But the ideas that germinated and grew into what would later be huge story props with personalities as big as anything on TV, actually began with a pair of…nail clippers.

Yes. Nail. Clippers. The slightly larger-than-normal kind. My dad always carried a pair. I suppose it should be called, “a pair of nail clippers” like it’s, “a pair of pants”…in his pocket, and when I would get bored in church I’d get them and just like a stick floating in a stream becomes an ocean liner, the nail clippers became a roaring death machine financed by the U.S. government. The flights of fancy I dreamed up playing around like that became the stories that I’d write later. You may be laughing, but inspiration doesn’t care how or where it strikes.


Not so crazy when you see them side-by-side, huh? How many ideas have I lost to reality…my wife just shakes her head every time one of them becomes “real”.

For the full story on the real nail clipper battleship, click.

I guess the kick in the teeth award for stealing my thunder on a future invention-turned-reality is based on the TIPS-N and TIPS-C ideas I came up with back in the early 2000’s. Those ideas saw the light of day in a “real” story entitled, The Mysterious Cargo, that I began flirting with in November, 2003 and finished up back in July, 2014. I write kinda’ slow. Good thing they pay a million dollars per story nowadays.

The acronyms stand for Transitory Image Projection-Navigation and -Camouflage. Have you ever seen this? That’s TIPS-N in action. Or maybe you’ve heard of this? That’s TIPS-C travelling right along into someone else’s invention bag.

Oh, well. We all have problems.












As my retinas slowly burn away like Fourth of July sparklers, I’ll put it out there: I’m trying to wrangle thirty-some-odd years of ambitions into an actual novel. You know, the kind that gets published and that people read. Henceforth and hitherto I’ll be a-walkin’ you through the cow pasture of my mind, guiding you around the steaming landmarks and mushroom-sprouting idea piles therein.

And I’m even still on theme…there’s nothing more mechanical than the book writing procedure. It revolves around machinery. The typewriter, the word processor, the computer. The every-man tablet and pen. Even the Craft is a device in which the reader is transported across worlds. But it’s a harsh taskmaster to the author. It demands satisfaction that can only be achieved by pouring the soul through the sieve of a pen barrel. My favorite writing quote of all time is by the wonderful Roy Blount, Jr.:

Twiddle-twiddle away at my softly clicky keyboard for a while, making twiddly adjustments all along- and then print what I have twiddled. Glare at the printout and snarl and curse and scribble almost illegibly all over it with a ballpoint pen. Go back to the machine and enter the scribbles. Repeat this procedure until I hate the very meaning of every word I know.

Ah, good times.