To new visitors to Tim Allen Stories, welcome. And to returning visitors, welcome back!

In the afterword to my last post, I said that for this post I was thinking of doing a fantasy/mystery, and that the effort would take a while to complete. 

Wow, what an understatement!

(Introduction continues after Shortcuts)


The story I decided to do is an update of a novella that I wrote several years ago called “Castles in the Air”. (Actually, I intended “Castles…” to be a short story instead of a novella, but you know me: I write “long”.)

My only copy of the story was a printout, so I had to transcribe it to electronic form first. And while I was at it, I’d fix a few minor issues that have been bothering me ever since I wrote the original version. However, what I didn’t expect to happen when I started making revisions, was how difficult emotionally it would be for me to finish.

The problem I encountered as I revised, was that I began to notice all the flaws and missed opportunities in the original story. And the more I began to fix flaws, the more the story bogged down and refused to be fixed. I soon found myself paralyzed with self-doubt. I mention this because you might have the same experience with your own writing.

It didn’t matter that I knew the original story was very well received by my old writing group, whom I trust. Or that I could equivocate and simply transcribe the original without fixes. I was still paralyzed by doubt, and it was getting worse. So, what was holding me back?

A few weeks ago, while I was still suffering from writer’s block, my wife and I attended a major, juried, regional art fair held annually in a well-to-do nearby town. Several hundred painters, sculptors, woodworkers, and textile artists from around the country attended. Many of the artists return year after year (except when there’s a pandemic and the fair is cancelled).

Although I can’t afford most of the art I saw, and my wife and I don’t know what to do with all the small pieces we’ve already accumulated, I do enjoy talking to some of the artists about their technique, process, and backgrounds. This is especially fun if my wife and I already own some of the artist’s more affordable work. And if possible, I try to offer something in return in the form of supporter feedback or news about artists who do related work.

While looking at the work of a world-traveling, large-format landscape photographer I’ve admired for the last few art fairs, I struck up a conversation. I told the photographer how much I enjoyed his art, and wondered how he handled the business side of art since I surmised his kind of photography is very expensive to produce. 

What the artist told me was that he had been doing this kind of art for only a few years. By trade, he had been in advertising and only got involved in photography as a hobby. But over time, he discovered how much he liked photography, and gradually gave up advertising.

He further went on to say his business expertise wasn’t that beneficial to his art business. What’s more important is that you’re passionate about your art. You’ll figure out the business side when you need to.

I was surprised. “Follow your passion” is a modern cliche, but I took it to mean, “Get out of your own head and do what’s important.” That advice seemed on-point since that’s what my best social and literary advisors were telling me repeatedly, and what my wife and friends were telling me delicately, not to mention what the latest philosophy floating in the zeitgeist was telling me. 

Well, even I couldn’t deny what everyone and everything in the zeitgeist was telling me, even if I couldn’t quite believe it. So, on blind faith I gritted my teeth and finished revising the first part of “Castles in the Air”. Since the story is novella-length, this post is only part 1 of 3. 

Now I have to get to work on parts 2 and 3 (although I don’t believe they’ll be as hard to do, and take as long to finish, as part 1). I hope you enjoy it.

Subscribe for future posts


Try Gene Ambaum’s Library Comic, a web comic about… libraries. Gene and a cadre of his favorite artists, such as Willow Payne (see the “About” page on his site), publish a humorous web comic that is ostensibly about libraries, but is as much about human nature as anything else.

Trust me. Try it. Have a laugh. Maybe discover a new book or some amazing merchandise. Check out Library Comic.

Library Comic is now published twice a week, on Monday and Wednesday. And  book reviews are also published twice a week, on Tuesday and Thursday!

Tell Your Friends

Tell your friends about it!
Then make new friends, and tell them!

Moebius Theater (paraphrased)