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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.

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.

Where have all the posts gone? A brief interlude.

It seems to me that there is plenty enough for us to read about in the world these last few months. I don’t want to make this political, and I don’t know about you, but following the US election this past November, I’ve had a lot to think about.

It’s been pretty distracting to be frank.

In addition to all of that, there has been real life. Nothing sad, nothing overly dramatic, but real life will always win when pitted against less critical activities (which, in the scope of things, writing is at the moment). But more on at least one of those real life interruptions a little further down. First, let’s talk about writing some more.

I see there are still people out there reading what I write, which is a crazy concept to me. Somehow, I’m still getting nibbles on A Scent of Roses. I don’t check in on the book as obsessively as I did when I first put it out there, so imagine my surprise when I found a decent review of the book on Amazon. (By the by, if you’ve read the book, even if you didn’t like it, please consider leaving a review. Even bad reviews are better than no reviews. Thanks!). Every month, I get a small sales report – not quite Happy Meal buying sales, but a few bucks never hurts. And I’m still pushing out short stories, even though I haven’t done more than draft out a few new ones in a while.

So, what am I working on? Well, I still have a couple of almost completed manuscripts sitting here, waiting for their final words to make their first drafts complete. I’ve pulled A Mountain Fell From Heaven out and am trying to give it a proper ending before I go through and rewrite part of it (there’s a scene at the beginning that was all about me trying to be grim and edgy and adult and it just grates on my nerves every time I think about it, so I’m tossing it). I have a sequel to Chrysalis going through the early stages of the first draft (about 30k written, with a rough flow chart of where it’s going), and if I ever find the time I’d like to get back to my YA novel, A Fool’s Gold.

All of that is TBD, though. While this is all actively on my writing road map for the year, and I even get a chance to work on some of it a few times a week, it’s still a long ways off from being submission worthy. I’m still trying to get eyes on Chrysalis, though my hopes of finding a publisher for it are dwindling. I think if I make it to May without even a hint of a bite, I’m going to publish it myself, using what I learned with ASR to do it better.

Later this spring, I’d also like to re-release ASR. The decision to publish on Amazon, and the actual publication, all happened in the span of a weekend last summer. While I still can’t afford to get the book properly copyedited, and I’ve already lost sales for the people who have tried it and dismissed it because of typos, I feel like it would be a good move to re-release it, this time with some better spell checking and common/easy typographical mistakes corrected. I don’t want to change the content – that feels like it would be a cheat, even if I’m aware of at least one continuity flaw now that I missed when hitting publish. But I would like to take an opportunity to clean up the prose a little bit (drop that’s, etc., fix obviously mistaken spelling mistakes, etc.). I’d also like to add some front material (namely to explain what this revision changed), and some end material to encourage people to leave reviews and how to find me online. I think one of the newbie mistakes I made when I published was in not including a way of keeping in touch and giving feedback.

With my writing roadmap for the year pretty much determined (revise ASR, release Chrysalis myself if I can’t find a publisher, and at least finish two other novels), why am I waiting so long to do something about it? Why am I waiting until May, over two months, when I have everything at hand now?

When we moved out to California just under two years ago, we knew this wasn’t to be a permanent home. We didn’t know how long we would stay, but we were pretty sure we weren’t going to stay in the Bay area forever. While on a family vacation this past fall, we took some time to visit Portland, Oregon, and fell in love. While still on the West Coast, there are seasons, which (shocking everyone) we missed. Plus, there is an atmosphere in Portland that just fits our groove. After a lot of talk, and then a lot more talk at the office, I got permission to be a remote employee again. I have my lessons learned from the last time I was remote, so I’m not doing this blindly.

In January, we flew up to Portland again, but this time we were on a mission. We scoped out and started paperwork on a house. Occupying my time this spring, then, will be our move from the Bay area up to Portland. We’re excited (more than the kids, I admit, who see it as just another disruption after only a few years since the last one), with a four bedroom house and an actual yard to look forward to.

Which brings me back to my writing. While I am still working hard (sometimes), I am making no plans to finish or publish anything new before the move is over. But maybe I can get away with a few more blog posts. I’d forgotten how cathartic they could be.

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