The Irony of Writing Time

I woke up this morning to a text message from Saudia Airlines, telling me my flight itinerary to Greece in May had been cancelled. I had planned a self-derived writing retreat, where I was going to split my time between the island of Poros and Athens for nine, sublime, uninterrupted writing days.

But like the rest of the world, well, yes; we know what’s going on. Travels, jobs, nerves have all been frayed by the little novel virus, which decided to wreck havoc on many untold and told plans. You know the Jewish proverb: Man plans, God laughs.

However, there is a bit of irony about this situation for me as a writer. It was not long ago – no more than two months – that I was lamenting to whoever would listen that I did not have any time to write. I had for months been busy with teaching and producing shows – all of which I love – but I was feeling it deep down in my being that if I did not get extended writing time in the near future, I would experience some severe life fatigue. Yes, writing is my release. Thus, I booked my trip to Athens. I’d at least have nine days.

Little did I know how the world, let alone my little writing plans would be thwarted and changed. Ironically, my 9 writing days in Athens has been multiplied. I did not see this coming. Ever since my country of residence (Saudi Arabia) clamped down to fight the virus, time has been one thing I have had. All flights have been cancelled. All school is virtual. Evening time is under a curfew starting at 7. Low and behold, my writing time has a bank ledger brimming in the black. I have so much time, I am starting projects I didn’t know I’d ever get to!

In the past two weeks, I’ve edited and compiled three play volumes I’ve been wanting to produce for years. My first play volume was published in 2016. It’s been four years, and now, all of the sudden, I have three new volumes which will release all at once. More on those later.

Now I’m staring down 9 days of spring break (I was supposed to be in Turkey) where I can begin a brand new writing project. And I still have those 9 days in May where I will be able to write from here.

My how things have changed. The tragic circumstances of the coronavirus is nothing to be thankful for, but one never knows when time, the most valuable commodity we have in this life, will give itself back to you. Please make the most of it. I know I plan to do so.

Theatrical Duets: Now Available on Kindle!

After way too long, my collection of theatrical duets is now available on Kindle! Included in the volume are twenty-two plays great for forensics competitions, stage shows, or theater classroom. It includes several award-winning plays including “Words to Say at the End of the World.”

Only $5.99 on Kindle

Also in Paperback

Pass this on to the theater-lover in your life! Thank you.

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Bernie Tells a Whopper About China

Oh, I try to stay clear of politics these days. You know, yeah.

But sometimes, someone makes such an outrageous claim that I can’t help myself from chiming in. This post is courtesy of Bernie Sanders, who said the following in an interview recently on CNN:

“China is an authoritarian country … but can anyone deny, I mean the facts are clear, that they have taken more people out of poverty than any country in history. Why you criticize when I say that — that’s the truth. So that is the fact. End of discussion.”

First, the fact. Yes, China has taken more people out of poverty than any country in history.

Second, the non-fact. End of discussion. Nope. Not in a million years. Not until Bernie answers this one question: How did China relieve its destitution and poverty?

Answer: capitalism

So you see, Bernie has just disproved the over-arching thesis of everything he says about economics. He is crediting authoritarianism (and socialism??) for China’s growth. Major whooper alert.

Here are the other facts that Bernie has eschewed.

During the years that socialist command economics were under full-force in China, how many people were brought out of poverty? That’s the wrong question. How many people died because of their oppressive policies. Uncountable.

From Mao’s take-over in 1949 until the wakening years after his death thirty years later, China was severely impoverished. GDP per capita was among the lowest in the world. They were isolated from the world economy. The great famine of 1958-1961 killed millions. Their army was in tatters. When they attacked northern Vietnam in January of 1979 (hey, weren’t the Vietnamese their socialist comrades!), they were embarrassingly rebuffed by their southern neighbors who were actually poorer than they were!

So what happened? What changed? How is it that the impoverished China of the early 1980s has grown into an economic powerhouse?

I have to say it again: capitalism.

Economic reforms loosened the strings on individual achievements which were muzzled under the socialist command economy. And while the authoritative communist regime continued their hold onto power with a death grip (think Tienanmen Square 1989), the new economic freedoms allowed unprecedented growth and unprecedented foreign investment.  In other words, capitalism started doing its thing.

Let me leave you with an example from Vietnam, who following China’s lead, also implemented market reforms in the 1980s that began to raise the Vietnamese out of poverty as well.

In 1984, there was famine in parts of Vietnam. Their lush farm lands couldn’t even feed their own people. They had to import low-quality grains from places like Bulgaria. I’ve had many Vietnamese families tell me about those years living under a socialist command economy. The common Vietnamese word they use is “kho” – meaning miserable. And then the market reforms hit. The government began allowing farmers to exceed their government quotas of rice in order to sell the excess or plant other cash crops. What happened when farmers began to have incentive to grow more knowing that they would actually benefit from it? Production soared. Within a few short years of allowing people to pursue their own personal interests, Vietnam went from not being able to feed their own people to being one of the largest rice exporters in the world.

The transformation was remarkable. And yes, it all happened under an authoritarian communist regime.

But it’s not the regime that gets the credit, it’s the individuals (and also government entities) who took a risk to invest money, to solicit investment, to plant extra, to think big, to dream for a better life for their families. There was profit to be had by the people. And they did it. They used the mighty tool called capitalism, even within a tightly controlled economy, to better their lives.

So let’s make this very clear: socialism didn’t build China’s wealth. Not by a long shot.  Socialism doesn’t pull anyone out of poverty. It just holds back growth potential. Imagine where China would be today if Mao allowed entrepreneurship back as early as 1949?

So, Bernie, your China example is just disproving your point about capitalism.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. China has been experiencing their own brand of this for the past thirty years, no thanks to socialism.

What happened in 2019 …

Another busy year of writing and related endeavors. It’s always nice to look back at what was accomplished before looking at what’s ahead. So here goes:

Writing:

Finished and published book 3 of The Forgotten Child Trilogy: A Parting in the Sky.

Wrote novel #9: Moses the Singer. (now heading into final editing stage before a mid-2020 publication date.

Wrote several short plays, most of which either have or will be produced soon.

Published my first baseball short story: The Hundred Pitch At-Bat  (much more to come in this vein)

Plays:

I directed and produced three plays in 2019:  Stories Vol 1 in April, Stories Vol 2 in October, and Seussical: The Musical in December.

I saw my plays produced in Columbus, Ohio in January; Portland, Oregon in March; Penang, Malaysia in November. I even picked up the Festival Director’s Award for my play in Penang.

I updated my book Theatrical Duets, giving it a 3rd Edition distinction with several new plays.

In 2019 I also realized one thing: I don’t have enough time to write. Even my writing months in the summer were over-taken by a variety of other tasks (including settling into a new house). All of these tasks were great and needed, but I wasn’t able to accomplish several of my other writing goals. You know the old saying: you can only do what you can do. But the main point is: do! Don’t ever lament about what you didn’t do. Just continue to do.

Travel: 

I was fortunate enough to travel to Cairo, Egypt and Athens, Greece … in addition to my summer travels to the USA and my normal life in Jeddah. Traveling is wonderful fodder for writing. It brings ideas to life, and it will be fun to see how these places make there way into some of my future writings.

I’ll leave the year with a couple of my favorite photos. At Olympic Stadium in Athens and at … well, you’ll recognize the geometric shape.

mark athensmark egypt

The Forgotten Child Trilogy Box Set Finally Here!

I’m happy to announce the imminent release of the Kindle version of THE FORGOTTEN CHILD: THE COMPLETE TRILOGY. It will be available from Amazon on December 5 and can be pre-ordered starting now!

PRE-ORDER HERE!

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The definitive box set of The Forgotten Child Trilogy includes all three novels – A MAN TOO OLD FOR A PLACE TOO FAR – THE AFRICAN CONNECTION – THE PARTING IN THE SKY. Follow the exploits of Bee and Ash, two mysterious creatures from the realm beyond, who chose to use the old Manhattan curmudgeon Francis Frick to do their bidding. What ensues is an around-the-world, time-travelling adventure to find the forgotten child and right the many wrongs of Francis Frick. From Manhattan, to Scotland, to Germany, to Cambodia, to Rwanda, and Romania, The Forgotten Child Trilogy is an adventure unlike you’ve ever come across before.

Praise for THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY:

“5 Stars. This unusual series blends magical realism into a high octane adventure!” – Author Colleen Chesebro

“5 Stars. Beyond the imaginable … I loved this series and can’t wait to see what he publishes next!” – Inspirational author Dolores Ayotte

“”A unique, entertaining, and deftly crafted novel by an author with a genuine gift for imaginative and engaging storytelling.” – Small Press Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

 

PRE-ORDER HERE!

Win a Kindle Fire or an Amazon Gift Card

Win a Kindle Fire or an Amazon Gift Card

I’m pleased to have partnered up with the Kindle Book Review on their  September Meet & Greet promotion where you can enjoy some cool prizes if you have a little luck or magic in your veins.

They are helping me promote my Forgotten Child Trilogy in the process.

CHECK IT ALL OUT HERE!

Can you pick me out of a lineup!

Capture september meet greet

Thanks for all your support.

Here’s a link to the trilogy. Stayed tuned. Book 1 will be offered for free in the next few days. Limited time offer.

THE FORGOTTEN CHILD TRILOGY