Me with the bust of Emperor Trajan at the Vatican in 2012
The Vatican houses so many treasures from the Roman Empire that it's simply staggering. Touring the Vatican is like touring any Smithsonian Museum, you just can't do it justice in one day, or even one week.
I would go back to Rome in a heartbeat, even with the long flights. Great history, Italian food, and Italian wine? Does it get much better?
"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book. ~ Henry David Thoreau, Walden
I've often asked myself why write fiction. Does fiction enoble anybody? Does fiction writing teach anybody? Does it serve any kind of useful purpose?
Anyone who has read J.R.R. Tolkien, Ayn Rand, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, or any of the other great writers in history knows the answer already. Fiction is a medium worthy of time and effort. For those talented writers, they could change the world for their readers.
I'm not about to place myself in their company. I've written off and on for years, but it's always taken a back seat to the rest of my life. Now I've moved writing up in my priorities - it gets time every week, and every day if I can!! I still have work, I still have a wife I adore and with whom I like to spend time, and the house and plants still need attention, but writing gets time now no matter what.
Writing is an extension of one's philosophy, and philosophy is the guidance by which we live our lives. I submit to you all that if you do not know by what philosophy you live, you cannot live fully, and you cannot write fully. I have come to understand that there are no contradictions in life, that if you find yourself facing a contradiction, you need to stop and examine your premises - one of them will be wrong. I have examined every facet of my life and worked to eliminate all contradictions in my belief system. It's ongoing, of course. The human animal has amazing capacity for self-deception.
My favorite topics of study are philosophy, politics, and religion. Since most people prefer not to talk about these topics, my only outlet is through my writing. Through the characters, their decisions, and the plot of the story, I aim to please my readers while providing a strong structure that is easily related to their own worlds. If my readers gain some understanding of their own lives through my work, then I've accomplished something good.
I don't discuss my personal or work life in this setting - or any online setting. Only my love of writing, both my own and others'.