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I am full of words

Flew up to Portland today to deal with some new house related paperwork over the next week. I’ll skip over the joys of getting up at 3, flying first class (worth it, probably more so if I hadn’t passed out for most of it), and my first Lyft ride (yeah, I’m an old man, I know).

Why was today full of words? I didn’t actually write any, let me start there. But I did get to have a nice, long lunch with Ken Scholes. I don’t know if I could recount half of what we talked about, partly because I was operating on less than three hours of sleep. I’m glad I was coherent. I think I was coherent? The best part of meeting with Ken was that it was like we were old friends reuniting.

Then came dinner.

Jennifer Willis and her husband took me out with Curtis Chen and Laurel Standley for some great Lebanese food. Did we maybe over stay our welcome a little after we paid the bill? Sure. But we had a blast doing it. Like lunch, there was talk of writing, along with everything else.

Today was the first time I felt a sense of community. This was one of my first in person, extended visits with other writers. It was illuminating, enlightening, and occasionally humiliating. I definitely walked away feeling more inspired, more motivated, both to write and to submit. And so as the end of my first day of my forty-second year comes to an end, I am full of words.

The Effect of Seasons

I think the seasons affect my writing, and a lack of them is a detriment to my productivity.

Looking back, I have almost four years of data on daily word counts. Like any activity, there are ebbs and flows in my productivity, but before our move to California there was a definite cycle to my output. Fall and winter I produced large volumes of fiction. Springtime I slowed down to a tickle, and summer’s were typically quiet until I ramped up again in August/September.

I think a lot of that was the psychology of the seasons. The problem is, once we moved to California, we have lived in a near permanent spring. I can see that in the tracking of word counts – since our move, I have large stretches of low to no word counts. The few knolls and hills in the chart are short-lived.

I’m not trying to imply that you can’t be a writer and live somewhere like California, or a tropical island, etc. Plenty do and are far more successful than I am. I am only suggesting that something in my conditioning – winters being a time of holing up, reading and writing and playing games so that you’re ready to stretch your legs again in the spring – precludes me from successfully writing now.

While it’s been nice to not have to ever deal with snow, or a cold snap, or random road conditions, I’m not sure my brain has adapted. One of the appeals to our pending move to Portland is that there will be seasons again. I really hope that means you’ll see more from me on writing. At the very least, more than these almost but not quite weekly blog posts.

 

Gearing up for the Age of Enlightment

In just under two weeks, I will be entering the Age of Enlightenment.

That’s right, I’m turning 42. To celebrate (not), I’ll be flying up to Portland for a week to finish settlement on our new house. I won’t say I’m not excited, but I’m not thrilled about being away from the wife and kids for a week so I can sit around to sign some papers.

I used to think getting older would bother me, but to be perfectly honest, I’m not even convinced I’m that old. I just don’t feel old. It still feels like yesterday I was only twenty something, getting ready to set out into the future with my best girl at my side. I look in the mirror and I don’t see the wrinkles I expected, and only one white (not grey) hair. I still feel young, despite how tired I get between work and kids and life.  We have had a few kids since then, but at the core, we’re still exactly the same. How can I be turning 42?

But maybe I am getting older. I’ve certainly grown more introspective in the last few years. I’m realizing just how good I have it, between work and family, but most importantly, with the woman I love. There’s a line in the Princess Bride about True Love, and to wax a little romantic, that’s exactly what we have. But I haven’t forgotten how lucky I’ve been.

On my BART ride home Friday night, I sat down across from a gentleman. We nodded at each other, and then he told me how they cut his hours at work. Like any public transport system, there are categories of people you find yourself riding with. Commuters and travelers are the more common, but there are also the beggars, the homeless, etc.. I am ashamed to admit that my first thought was that this man might be a little off. Didn’t he know the boundaries of social interaction for strangers on a subway?

But we continued talking, and I quickly realized this poor man was just scared and talking to the first friendly face he met. He told me how he was dropped from SSI in January and had to get a job for the first time. He was proud to be a dishwasher, but you could tell he was scared too. We talked for an hour, much to the annoyance of our fellow travelers who would rather no one spoke. I’m no fountain of wisdom or life guidance, but for this young man forced to go out into a world he wasn’t ready for, even trite reassuring words from me seemed to help.

When we parted, I realized how much I appreciate how good I have it. Appreciating what you have is a step to enlightenment, so maybe I do know a little something about life, the universe, and everything. Maybe I am ready to be 42 after all.

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