Everyday is #WritingWednesday


Soon I will be a full-time writer which, frankly, scares the crap out of me. As I phase out, over the next few months, my time as a professor, I will be face to face with what I always wanted to be, 


 I was going to be, and now 


 be; that is, a writer. Not a part-time dalliance, not a self-absorbed "hobby," not anything else but one of those odd people identified as - a "writer." No excuses. Time to produce. So be it.

Gordon B. Hinckley said, "All writers should be put in a box and thrown in the sea." He might be right, but I will not be thwarted.  I will have to learn to say so long to procrastination, excuse-making, and most of my time on Facebook. I will have to produce. I will have to be a bit selfish with my time. I will have to be disciplined! A novel, and then another. Maybe a short story. A new novel.

I have no expectations of best-sellers, movie contracts, interviews on TV, ever-aware of Flannery O'Connor's quote about expecting too much which produces a softness that can lead to bitterness. I will write, revise, edit, and send off my work. Then I'll start something new. How weird is that?

I will develop a thick skin.

I will be disciplined. I will put in the research. I will seek critique from honest people I respect.

But to be honest, I'm not so sure I can avoid what the tremendous author, James Lee Burke, calls "corrosive self-doubt" that afflicts all writers of all genres. That's the ugly thing that can intimidate.

I'll keep you posted, dear reader, as I gradually ease into my new life as a writer. Shall I purchase a beret?

Keeping 2016's Resolution

It's another New Year, and we all know what that means, other than starting to think about taxes, paying bills from Christmas, and considering trading in a cat for a puppy at the rescue shelter. It is other things, too.  Studies show that 127% of Americans come up with New Year's Resolutions that, somehow, involve the body.  Building muscle sounds like too much work, cosmetic surgery might be considered, but the majority of us are thinking about losing weight.  I am thinking about it, probably doomed to failure after giving up on, oh, around January 13th last year.  My problem is that, when I lose weight, I reward myself with food.  Lost three pounds since the last weigh-in, go ahead and slather some butter on brats and go to it.  That's like rewarding an alcoholic with Cutty, water back, for staying sober for a couple of weeks.

I never said it was logical.

However this is a good year because, on odd-numbered years I resolve to lose 15 pounds.  And on even-numbered years I endeavor to gain 15 pounds.

And this is 2016.  We will not discuss how I did last year.  That would be bad form.FR-Sept-19-25-12-217-Beer-Braised-Bratwurst-w-1--510x300

First Friday Fun

No television, no radio, no music, no video games. Just conversation. What!? Every First Friday of each month at the Carenen Cottage in northern Greenville, my long-suffering wife and I host an informal gathering of people beginning at 6:30 PM and lasting until the National Guard moves in and make us disperse. We provide beer and wine and pizza and maybe brownies, and people show up and sometimes bring snacks and hang out and have conversations in the cottage, around the firepit, on the front porch and, when it gets warmer, we'll probably find folks on the deck in back. It is a beautiful setting, especially now with blossoms all over the place. Crabapple, azaleas, dogwood, tulip trees, hyacinths, and many others adorn our little spot up against Paris Mountain. And what do people do there? Converse. That's it. Oh, we occasionally burn a heretic after dark, but there is no other entertainment. Just people talking.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines conversation as "a talk, especially an informal one, between two or more people, in which news and ideas are exchanged." We are informal for sure. And we talk and laugh and tell stories and lies and converse about politics, religion, sports, cat-choking, and a general love of dogs.

No television. No radio. No video games. Conversation. Imagine that.

Sternums Ain't Sexy

Recently, while going through the checkout lane at my favorite supermarket, I scanned the magazines available for purchase while the lady was checking me through.

Two headlines on women's magazines caught my eye. One said, simply, "Suddenly Slender." The other, also simply stated, proclaimed "Instant Bliss."

It's not as if women in this country aren't constantly harassed with lies about how they should look. So "Suddenly Slim" lie didn't surprise me. It just made me angry. You ladies need to understand that red-blooded American males are not turned on by seeing where your ribs attach to your sternum. Please don't wear low-cut dresses that reveal a skeleton if you are interested in attracting Y-chromosome attention.

On the other hand, I identified with the "Instant Bliss" message. I didn't read the article, of course. I already knew. "Instant Bliss" can be attained. It's hot brats and cold beer.

By the way, the lady checking me out had a nice figure. No need for her to be desirous of becoming suddenly slim. I was buying olives for my wife, peanut butter for me, and marshmallows for the dog (that's how she takes her meds). The lady announced the total, then took a look at what I had purchased.

"New diet," I said, attempting to be humorous.

"Oh," she said, genuinely interested, eyebrows going up as she reviewed the items as she bagged them. "Maybe I'll try that."

I smiled and left, striding out into a gray, cold, and drizzly day.