Monday, December 31, 2012

Reflections & Assumptions

Hello again, dear reader. I am roughly 11 hours away from the end of one year and the beginning of another. By the time this gets posted, it will be closer. And so, as old and new come closer together, I reflect. I reflect on the passage of the past 365 days. And along with reflection comes assumption...the assumption that the next set of days will be different. So please, reflect along with me. But please don't assume with me....oh forget it, I won't bust out that tired old joke. Here we go then, dear reader. Reflect and assume.

2012. It seems that the older I get, the faster these increments of time disappear. Maybe it's because the more I age, the more fun I have. They say time flies when you're having fun, so that's the only logical explanation. Yes, this past year was a fun year, and a tough year. As a family unit, we had many enjoyable events that led to treasured memories. As an individual and as a part of the family, the struggles in different aspects of life have been ever present. And through good and bad, the blessings of God are most evident.

I think that one of the many highlights of the year would have to be the trip we made to California. It was my eldest brothers birthday in May so we decided to fly there and pay him a surprise visit. It was a magical 5 days. The drawback was that Dad couldn't be there, but Mom was as well as my other two siblings. To be able to do this from a practical and financial point of view is just one example of the rich blessings we receive.

I have watched my children grow another older, and with that growth comes change. Personalities develop a little bit more, interests are pursued with more vigor, and the interaction between parents and children changes. I watched my son careen towards the cusp of that awkward time when he's not a little boy, but not a teenager. He's a wonderful child who shows signs of incredible maturity, but yet in his heart still is young boy. I've watched and listened to him grow as a musician. His love for music and his affinity for the pipe organ is spell-bounding. He played for an audience on no less than 3 occasions this year...twice playing the postlude after a Sunday worship service and once playing the recessional for a choir concert. Blessings? In an over-whelming abundance.

My daughter too has an ear and a love for music. She has come a long way in her lessons and is showing signs of having a beautiful singing voice and an incredible sense of timing and rhythm. She's a playful girl who loves to laugh and have fun. And as she enters this next set of months, she more and more becomes a 'girly-girl', and I mean that in the nicest possible way. She loves things to with hair and dolls. We have been blessed with an amazing daughter!

Many of you who have read my stuff over the past number of years know about the well documented battle against cancer that my wife fought. It has been almost 4 years since the diagnosis. All signs point to her cancer being 'not active', and that is the best we will ever hear from her oncologist. There are still many side effects from the treatments she had and the drugs she continues to take, but she deals with those in faith. As a family, we support her and each other as much as we can. But without our faith in God, I don't believe we would be where we are. He truly is the great healer, and blessed us with access to excellent medical care and a facility that is second to none to receive treatment in. Our 'new normal' has been defined, and this past year has proven that it is marvelous. Yes there has been some medical bumps (pun intended) in the road. But that's ok. It was meant to happen that way. It's all part of God's plan.

Personally, I've had a good year. I've been fortunate to serve my church community in a couple different capacities. I've experienced the ups and downs of being an author, from getting published in The Rusty Nail to going through a drought where the words weren't working. I've developed new friendships, maintained current ones, and re-kindled old ones. Social media has played a big role in this....there is a large writing community that I try to interact with, to learn and grow as an author. Oh, I've had my share of struggles, most of which I share with no one. That is where there is room for improvement.

Which leads me to the assumption part of this article. I am going to assume that the positives and negatives from 2012 will lead to growth and improvement in 2013. The things I need to fix will be a project. The things I want to learn will be a WIP (work in progress). and every aspect of my life falls into one of these two categories, sometimes into both. An assumption is that this will happen. My belief is that God will help me make it happen. I don't make resolutions as I head into a new year. I make plans. And God willing, I will have the strength to carry these plans out.

And so, dear reader, this is the final article of the year of our Lord 2012. I thank all of you who have read my stuff, encouraged me, criticized me and inspired me. I thank my friends, my family, my church community and my co-workers for everything. Everybody helped in shaping the past 365 days into a memory. Most of all, I thank my God, who has blessed me with so many people and so many opportunities and gifts. Without Him, I am nothing.

From my family to you and yours, we wish you a very happy New Year.

God bless.

Rod E. Kok

Christmas is Over

It's over. It is really
almost over, this
season they call
Christmas. Soon enough
the trees will be
piled in the alleyways
of memory, the shiny
new toys will be
dulled with use, and
the Christmas cheer will be
gone with the last drop
from the bottle.
I love Christmas, I really do.
Or should I say, I
love the day
It was perfect that day
our own little corner
of pure happiness.
We had our time that day
Food, games
fellowship. Family.
Us four...together.
Yes it's almost
over. We have our
memories, hopefully
never forgotten.
New traditions replace
old ones.
Love. Peace. Joy.
We remember the
reason. The reason
for the season.
The Christ child!
Yes it's over.
No more trees,
the lights have dimmed
the two month long
barrage of music
is silenced.
It's quiet. Peaceful.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Terror Tried...and Lost

This is my little way of expressing myself after the horror in Newtown. I pray for the families.

On the day that terror reigned
I hugged
my loved ones.
Far away from it I live
but rarely does something
touch so close.
Tears. Anguish.
My heart breaks for
those who have lost.
That empty pit feeling
deep down into
my core…my grief
cannot match theirs.
Evil traipsed in
the hallowed halls
of learning. Children
were taught the meaning
of fear. And loss.
It’s hard to see,
but love was there also,
in all it’s sacrificial glory,
losing the battle yet
winning the war.
Love survived.
The devil chose the
wrong playground.
The name of God
should be honored.
For Lucifer will
eternally die. Soon.
Hearts break, families mourn.
A country weeps, the world
groans under such travail.
And yet there is hope
in the humanity that gave
to save. There is hope
that love will conquer.
Grieve. It is your right.
Mourn. It is natural.
Hope. Something good
will come of it. Just believe.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

December 18, 2012

Once again, it's been a few days since I've posted in my journal. But it's not for a lack of words. No, it's because of an abundance of distractions. I have done some writing and some editing in the past couple days, yes, it has been pretty good. I edited 500 words out of a short story, and then I decided to start the whole thing over again because I didn't like it at all. I wrote a new poem, and changed a couple things in some I wrote a while ago. I even posted a new poem, and linked it to Open Link Night at So, I have not been lazy in my writing, and I most definitely have not been blocked. I am writing.

Our Words are Music

Written for OpenLinkNight at the pub at dVersePoets.

Softly in the background
the music played.
Singers sang the words
that made the people
Emotion brought on by
different voices,
the haunting tunes,
melody and harmony;
words that cut to the quick.
Chords were made alive
resonating through us all.
We didn't know that the notes
lived in us, through us.
Put your words to music
is what the writer wrote.
What notes need to be struck?
A dirge or a ditty,
how will it sound to those who hear?
What you say shows the bar
filled with halfs and wholes,
quarters and eighths.
Lines up, lines down,
it doesn't change the sound
of our words or the tune
that accompanies them.
Rest. Breathe. Sing.
Forte! Double forte!!
We long to be heard,
our passion is the sound
of our own voice.
Our love is tied
to what we speak.
Sing of love, of desire.
Sing with a smile.
Speak from the heart.
Write your song,
speak your heart.
Our words are music.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

December 12, 2012

I highly doubt there will be any more writing done today other than what I put in this journal entry. If you follow me on Twitter (@fifafan1969) or on Facebook, you will have read that I had a dilation test done on my eyes. This is diabetes related, and I get it done every year at this time. Thankfully, the results of the test were very positive. My eyes are in very good shape. I am clear for another year. And I am very pleased. I am also very pleased that I am getting back onto the trail of writing again. My most recent poem has been published, and I can feel the juices of creativity starting to flow, albeit a little slowly. But, I am writing. And my confidence in my words is growing. Slowly.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

December 11, 2012

I wrote a poem today. That is a big step forward for me. Remember the other day I mentioned something about a 'fugue state' that I go into when I pen a decent poem? I was there today. I have no idea what brought it on...maybe my mind was clear of negative thoughts, maybe the moon aligned with the orbit of Jupiter's umpteenth moon, may our moon pulled my brain to the front like some tidal force...whatever it was it worked. And I was so pleased with the outcome. It's weird because when I write whilst in that 'fugue state', the words that come out need very little (if any) editing. The poem I wrote and posted today (you will find it under the  My Poems section of this site) received no editing. It just flowed, it worked. And I wrote a poem. I am pleased.


With You By My Side

Written for Open Link Night at Dverse

I went for a walk
by myself.
I got lost in my thoughts
and on the streets.
I had no idea
where I was.

You were with me
in my mind,
beside me
supporting my every
misguided step.

It was your steady hand
that stopped me
from stepping off the precipice,
a fall that I may not have

Alone I wandered,
with you by my side.
We talked and laughed
somewhere in my head
it all made sense.

I bumped into a
light post as I gazed
into the dark corners
of my mind where
you exist.

I ambled blindly.
I stumbled about
like a drunk man
well into a fifth
of cheap scotch.

I couldn't see you.
I didn't see you
anywhere outside
of my dreams.
I fell.

I cried, a weeping
I was lost and
very much alone
with you by my side.

Alas, the street
led to a light
that shone upon
an angelic figure
that was you.

You. Me.
Together! My wandering
led to to the place
I wandered from.

I went for a walk
on the cold, dark
streets that have no name.
And you were with me,
by my side. Forever.

Monday, December 10, 2012

December 10, 2012

Ok, so I mentioned the other day that I was working on a story. And I have worked on it, but I am running into a problem. I suck at writing dialogue. And of course, dialogue in a story is quite important. I have a pretty good idea where I want this to go, but I am not sure how I am going to get it there. I've never really had the chance to write this sort of thing, because I have mostly written poetry. So, this is very new for me. I suspect that there will be a lot of editing, a lot of reading and a lot of paying close attention to how the books I read carry out their conversations between two characters. This is my stumbling block right now, but I am determined to get over it. It will be a lot of work, but I will do it. And it will be a decent story.


Sunday, December 9, 2012

December 9, 2012

Yesterday I mentioned that I was working on a story, and that I had written around 1100 words. I did work on it a bit today, but also decided that it needed a massive edit. This even before I'd finished it! I don't like the beginning at all. However, I will not re-write it until I finish it. Then I can take the finished draft and edit it to my hearts content, but I will not edit an incomplete first draft. I don't know if this is a smart choice or not, but it is what I have decided to do. In other exciting news, I did pen a first draft of a new poem. The WIP title is Rage. I am not sure where it is going to end up, but it does need some work. And more often than not, if my poem needs work, it doesn't ever get posted. That has to change, and I will work on it. In the past, my 'best' work has been the stuff that comes off my fingers while I'm in some sort of fugue state...I write some words and when I read them back I have no clue how I got them. Anything I've 'forced' out has been crap. And so I wait patiently for the fugue state to come upon me again so I can write another poem. In the meantime, I have a story to write.


Saturday, December 8, 2012

December 8, 2012

Today was a breakthrough of sorts. A seemingly innocent and fun conversation has turned into almost 1100 words of story. Oh, trust me, it is not a well written story, but I do believe it has potential. I will continue to write it, and I will finish it. I suspect it will finish at no more than 2500 words, but I could be wrong. And once it is written, I will keep it as a WIP, and I will probably re-write it again and again until I have the tale told in manner which pleases me. And then I will post it. When will that be? I don't have the foggiest. I think I wrote enough today to give me a a good grasp on where I want to go with it, so I shouldn't forget or abandon it. I am determined to see this one out. As for my poetry, it is still on hiatus. I really hope it makes a comeback soon. It would help my confidence a lot, for that is a big stumbling block right now. Confidence. What a fickle thing. I really think that a good chunk of my problem is that I think I can't write, and thus I don't. Deep down, I know I am full of crap. I just need to convince my creativity of that. And then I will write. Today was a great start. I wrote.


Friday, December 7, 2012

December 7, 2012

Another day, another post. And this one will be a rambling mess, I suspect. But that is ok, because it is what I need to do. I need to put words on paper (in a manner of speaking). I was given advice on twitter today to just write. The exact quote is this: 'No style, no judgment, no censoring. Just write stream of consciousness thoughts and ideas. See where that takes you.'. I owe that tidbit of wisdom to Tiffany Coffman, an author I follow (@tlcoff). And that is exactly what I am going to do. And so I sit here on my couch, the fireplace channel is on TV, the family is all in bed, and I am trying to gather the energy to make a (diabetic friendly) hot chocolate. There might possibly be some video games tonight, or maybe an early night to bed. Tomorrow we head to the in-laws to celebrate MIL-s birthday. Hopefully the roads are good. I will be home on time to add more drivel to my journal. For now, I'm done rambling.


Thursday, December 6, 2012

December 6, 2012

Day two of my journey back into some meaningful writing comes with perspective. I just read an article written by someone I know of (but don't really know), and she wrote about writers block. The perspective is that she suffered this phenomenon for five years or so...and it was not that she wasn't writing, it was that she wasn't writing well. And that sort of sums up where I am at right now. My confidence in what I write is at an all time low. I read what I write and I don't like it. I've been told to write and to post what I write, even if it's bad. That's how to grow. Partially I agree with that. The problem is that I won't post until I fully agree with that. And therein lies my struggle. It all comes down to confidence. I'll work on that aspect. If I can find that back, then I will write again. I hope it will happen.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December 5, 2012

Good evening. Here we go again...writing 100 words minimum every day. I know I got away from this habit for quite some time, but now I have to get back into it. If you've read my blog post from yesterday, you'll know why I am doing this. It is so I can write again. I am stuck in such a rut that I have no words at all. And so, I write. I write anything right now. Just to get the fingers used to typing the thoughts the brain comes up with. And if it's crap, so be it. But I'd really like to be worthy of the hashtag #AmWriting. Because I am afraid that I #AmNotWriting and if I don't I won't. So I will. I'll be back. But for now, this is where I write. Let the words flow...eventually.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

#AmWriting #AmNotWriting

Hello again dear reader

It has been some time since I have put anything in this category of my website, and the way things are going, it will be quite sometime before I manage to post anything worthwhile. You see, I am in a place where I haven't been for a while, and it is scaring me a little. And so, here I am. Writing. Call it an exorcism of writers block, call it a kick in the ass of creativity, call it whatever you will. I am writing. And I will take the spanner out of the works, and get to a happy place again. Come along, dear reader. Come with me as I write my way down the first leg of this journey.

If you've read my stuff going way back, you will know that I have been in a similiar place before. Do you remember the start of 'My Journal'? Yep, it was started for the sole purpose of writing every day. And it worked! I was doing a lot of writing, the words flowed into poetry, into some stories I was working on...I felt really good about it.

So what happened? Why am I now a little bit scared? After all, I have declared my love for the written word. I have posted many poems on various websites (including this one) to varying degrees of success. I have had two of my poems published in The Rusty Nail magazine (, and a third is scheduled to be in print in the new year some time. I have had 4 poems rejected by another magazine, and 2 submissions simply not acknowledged by a magazine. There is some experience there that puts me ( in my most humble opinion) on the same stage as other writers. And these experiences have all been positive, even the rejections. It's a part of writing that I can deal with. My question was 'What happened?'.

The answer is simple: I don't know. Or, if I am perfectly honest with you, the answer should be: I know, but I don't want to admit it. And so, dear reader, here's the hard part. Fixing it. It's broken and it needs repair. A firmware upgrade is needed, because I found some bugs in the old code (you techies will understand that). There are a few things that need fixing, and the main one is attitude. I think I became complacent. After all, I was writing! And I expected too much. I expected that the creativity would always be there, that I could write with little prompting. I was very very wrong. Maybe this period of time is good for is giving my head a shake that I really needed. It's a good wake up call.

The second thing that went south on my was my effort. I was only writing when I thought I had something to write. Someone I follow on Twitter (@kseniaanske) gave the advice today to write. Her tweet read as follows: 'WRITE. Every day, write. And the lid held over your well will fly off. And the stories will flow.' And it is so true, and it really struck me. And that means that I will once again start writing in the 'My Journal' section of my site...100 words per day. If I don't write, I won't write. I had forgotten that, so thank you @ksensiaanske.

And there we have it, dear reader. The first step on my journey. This step could take a while, but I will be back. I will produce poetry again, I will add to the story of Lionel Aber, and I will write. I will be able to use again the hashtag #AmWriting. Thank you for your patience.