Friday, December 9, 2016


I am not much of a gambler, at least not with money. Except for a small investment in mutual funds and an occasional lottery ticket for a charitable cause, I don't gamble with my money.

As a writer, however, I gamble with my ego regularly by facing rejection every time I send out a submission to a magazine, writing contest, or book publisher. "Submission" is an interesting term to use for the act. We literally submit our precious product to an authority whom, most often, we do not even know, however much we research the publisher. Like most writers, I have faced such rejections hundreds of times. By now it may be in the thousands. I stopped counting many years ago. Probability, so far in my experience, always favors rejection with every individual submission. But bruises heal, and they are a small risk to take for the many rewards of exploration and discovery in the writing process itself and for the possibility of occasional publication or contest wins.

Such rejection is an especially small and personal risk compared to the risks we humans both individually and collectively take with social justice, our environment, our economy, and our politics where policies and decisions are so often made on the basis of perceived possibility of limited and temporary gains than on evidence-based probability. A headline in a local newspaper this week reads, "State geologist favors smart mining." It's not clear from the content of the article what is meant by "smart mining."  Smart for whom and for what?  It's possible that an open-pit mine at Bald Mountain could trigger an economic boom. It could create hundreds of good paying jobs as promoters of the mine promise. Those are certainly possibilities.

In all my research over the last several years, I have not found any reason to believe that an open-pit mineral mine at Bald Mountain can be smart for protecting the environment.  The evidence-based probabilities are that it will pollute the pristine waters of our area, likely require tax-payer maintenance in perpetuity to minimize damage, and destroy the sports industry, a major part of the local economy. Any posssible economic boom will end in an economic bust when the minerals are exhausted or the mining company goes bankrupt. In these situations, it is foolish to enact legislation on the basis of risky possibilities as the mining supporters are attempting to do.

In politics and the economy, risky possibilities for economic and political gain too often win, and probablities for harm are too often ignored.

Personally, though, I often need to take more risks on possibilities, make a choice, take a chance. Take a stand for justice against prevailing opinions and send in that Letter to the Editor. Write that story you always wanted to tell but were afraid it would be too revealing, and then submit the manuscript.

Here is a taste from the forthcoming chapbook, Chance and Choice:

Within minutes of his birth, his mother
had to choose.  Resuscitate or not?
Without it, he would die, mercifully
many said.  With it, tubes would invade him
again and again—through nose, mouth, veins
and arteries.  50% chance he might die anyway;
of those who live, more than 30% have some degree
of life-time handicap—blind, retarded, palsied.

90% have major complications.
The only certainties—quick death if no,
months-long suffering and disease if yes.
She didn’t hesitate—help him live.

Amid high-tech glare and urgency,
a tracheal tube cut off his cry.

March 3, 2017 is the release date for the book. Advance sales which end January 13 will determine the size of the press run. If you are interested, please place your order now at .


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