I'm afflicted

One of my goals this Spring Break was to finish the first draft of novel #3 in the Thomas O'Shea series. Just a few chapters, going back a bit and making minor revisions, forging ahead. Well, I did it. I finished the final chapter, Chapter 30. I tried to avoid finishing it, to be honest. I have what the great James Lee Burke calls "corrosive self-doubt," which is an affliction all writers suffer.  I dawdled. I dallied. I thought of other things I could do besides finish that last, short, chapter. I played "monster" with my dog, chasing her around the cottage, a game she loves. I got on Facebook for a while. I read up on the Hawkeyes, the Red Sox, political scandals. I went back to my computer.   I finished, immediately followed by a sense of satisfaction, a sense of imminent doom, a bit of sadness that it was over. But I finished. Next step? Well, I mean to put it away until May, and then I'll go full bore making revisions, some major, most minor. I have to get all the names straight, the timelines accurate, the details nailed down, maybe more research to review, the loose ends tied up. But I love that part of being a writer as well.   Next step after that? Off to my publisher and start to write again.   Being a writer is an affliction, but it is a delightful one, especially when a work is finished. And I did that. Now I can spend my valuable time watching March Madness. Of course, there's some writing I need to do.

The beat goes on.

We're gonna cheer until we hear the final gun

I love college football. Autumn colors, crisp air, joyful crowds, fervent tail-gating, peppy bands, and noble competition on the gridiron among mostly-amateur student-athletes. But the main reason I love college football is this: If there were no college football, there would be no Iowa Hawkeyes college football team.

Being from Iowa, being a University of Iowa grad (stunning many of my high school teachers), and being from the same neighborhood that produced Kenny Ploen made it inevitable, and delightful, for me to love those Hawkeye football teams forever.

You might be asking yourself, who is Kenny Ploen? First, his last name is pronounced "Plane." (His first name is pronounced "Kenny.") Next, he was an All-American quarterback at Iowa. Finally, he quarterbacked us to our first victory in the Rose Bowl, 117-2, against Southern Cal (I might be fuzzy on the details, but we did beat someone from out west. Mark Twain said he had a perfect memory, even for things that didn't happen, and I kind of like that.)

I was a mere child at the time and, later, when I got to shake his hand and get his autograph at a church dinner, I was over the moon happy. And that cinched it.

I was hooked on the black and gold, and have remained there ever since. Living in South Carolina makes it difficult for me to get to Nile Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, which is named after the 1939 Heisman Trophy winner, Nobel Prize winner in Literature, former Governor of Iowa, and concert pianist when he wasn't performing open heart surgery with a Swiss Army knife on the battlefields in France.

But I do have a satellite dish and a wide screen HD television. And I do get to watch their games from the comfort and convenience of my living room, where I wear my Iowa regalia and shout encouragement to my Hawks, even though Lisa reminds me that, "They can't hear you, John." And I can record the games to watch again and again.

This year begins on September 1st. In Chicago's Soldier Field. A new season. Another chance to go undefeated and unscored upon.

And if you listen carefully beginning at 3:30 Eastern Daylight Time, you just might be able to hear me shout "GO HAWKS!" They can hear it, and you can, too. It takes faith.