Showing posts from January, 2017

An Author's To Do List

As you probably know by now, I am well into the writing of my second nonfiction book. It is a memoir about my boyhood home in St. Paul, Minnesota in the 1970's and early 80's. I am 220 pages into it and am hoping to finish it by year end 2017. It is at the "I hate everything about this book" stage right now for me as an author who is clearly too close to it. Everyone in my writing group loves it and keeps cheering me on as I sulk away threatening to send it to its room for six months like I did with Dirty Shirt.  I'm really trying to avoid doing that and I plan to keep plugging onward with it, but that doesn't mean that I can't think about what's next or what else I want to work on.  Knowing this is how I feel, I've compiled a list of books I want to write before I'm dead and gone.  Here is that list: Books I Still Want to Write A (posthumously) Co-Authored Book. My uncle Jack wrote a couple of books in his day and never had

Something From Nothing

The creative process continues to amaze me. (Eight years ago, I would have said I don't have a creative process, barely a creative gene in me. I've come to change that self-criticism.) I came to this (recurring) realization last night as I sat going between the vitriol that is Facebook politics and staring at the white space of a blank Microsoft Word document. I kept flipping back between the two until I finally shut Facebook and focused on writing a bit of poetry. I've been trying to write a poem a day in January, and it hasn't worked out to quite that yet. In fact, I'm at 13, which works out to exactly one every two days. This is what happens when you don't have a "real" deadline must-meet goal hanging over your head. This challenge was to be on my terms, and well, I hit 50% and I am alright with that. Anyways, so once I shut down the social media cesspool, I started writing a poem about my house. Now, I've written a few poems about my hous

Championship Style Disappointment

I am sitting here watching the Falcons first carve up my Packers through the air, and now, with a comfortable lead, grind them down with the running game. It was 24-0 at halftime and, judging from the way things were going, over at halftime as well. It hasn't gotten any better at 37-7 well into the third quarter. I now have the sound turned down (it helps) and am obviously doing other things. This is what kills me about being a football fan. You follow a team all year, experience the ups and downs - like the Packers slumping, then nearly "running the table" - only to have them kick you in the privates in the NFC Championship. One game from the BIG ONE! Now, people will say, "You should be glad you're there - look at our team, we're sitting at home." Well, that helps but getting to the NFC Championship and forgetting that you have to win to get to the Super Bowl is kind of like going to prom in your jeans and a t-shirt. You look bad. And believe me,

Vintage Pastimes

Last Sunday I was getting a bad case of cabin fever before the start of the Packer playoff game against the Cowboys. I was tempted to try out the new skis, despite the probable poor conditions at Lapham Peak, a park that boasts a small system of trails where the snow base is man-made. The park is a 20 minute drive from home, and I wasn't sure I wanted to commit to what might be a disappointing experience. So, instead I went skating. We have a park near us that constructs a rink every winter. It is not huge, but I knew it doesn't take much to tire out this 55 year old skater, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I was trying to determine the age of my hockey skate and I narrowed them down to being about forty years old. When I googled them, one eBay site labelled them as "Vintage Bauer Big Chief Skates." I'm the proud owner of "vintage," I guess. I think I got them in about 1977 and, because I never skated more than a few times a year, I never saw

An Entertaining System

This afternoon I will sit down and watch another Playoff Packer game - one of my favorite winter pleasures, especially if they play well and win. It's what I will be watching it on that is a little funny. If you know my family, you know that TV is not a high priority. It's barely a thing, actually. I remember when HD flat screens came out, and I'm not talking the kind that you hang on your wall, I'm talking about tube TV's that had a flat screen instead of curved. Well, we had an old 25" Magnavox that had a curved screen and we were VERY late to the party in upgrading to the flat screen HD TV that we currently still use. We tend to drag our feet on upgrades around here until something breaks, especially something that we don't use much. So we bought our 300 LB tube-based HDTV in part because our in-laws had the same model and we loved the picture. At the time it was the waning technology with "hang on your wall" thin TV's on the cusp of

Half Winter

I'm not sure exactly where we are in regards to the length of the winter season, but I'm going to call it the halfway point, for lack of a better gauge and not wanting to count days. Based on that declaration, I thought I'd give a quick assessment of how it's going - because you may recall an apprehensive post a few weeks ago about the coming cold and darkness. In a nutshell, so far so good. We have had a fair amount of rain recently and little to no snow. At this point, even the snow on the ground is almost all gone. This is a mixed blessing for me. I just happened to get new Cross Country Skis for Christmas so I would like a chance to use them. I joked when I got them that everyone could put away their snow blowers for the year. I was just joking, but so since that time all we've had is either rain or warm enough weather to melt it. At the same time, I hate shoveling/snow blowing it, so I am okay with it not being here at all. So it is a dilemma. Suffice

Words With Friends

A couple of nights ago was the quarterly AllWriters ' Friday Night Free For All event at Cafe De Arts in Waukesha. The event features students of the writing studio reading their work in front of an audience. They read from a bunch of different genres and styles including, Poetry, Memoir, Fiction, Short Story and Novel. And while I live the reading part, sometimes I get as much enjoyment out of the half hour before and half hour afterward talking to other writers. It's the closet extrovert in me. I enjoyed talking to Lila about her soon to be released book about her brother that she wrote using HIS point of view - something I've never seen too much before in memoir. She conducted interviews with him for much of it and it sounded like a fascinating way to write a book. She has worked hard getting her book finished and published and I am super excited to see it come to fruition. And I loved talking to Jocelyn, the newest member of the Mighty Monday Nighters group that I

Good Things Happen In Threes

We are in the midst of a bit of a deep freeze here in the Upper Midwest - not unusual for January, just unlikeable. It's the kind of weather where your car never really warms up and your dog who gets walked every night of his life looks at you like he'd like to go out even though you know he would make it about 40 feet and want to turn around. Despite the frigid weather, it has been a weird week in a strange way. New Years is always a time where I take stock of a lot of things in life. Sometimes I try and shake up my routine, but other times I just work on shaping my outlook. It keeps me sane in the darkness. This week has helped in some way because of a few small incidents or pinholes of light for lack of a better term. The first happened a couple of days ago on Facebook. A friend of mine made a conscious effort to send out good messages about people close to him in his life. He did his mom and some of his friends which included me. I've only met this guy once, but w

Resolute Adjustments

Now that we've put 2016 to rest for good, I'm choosing to look to the coming year for what it promises to bring. We talked at church today a bit about how our actions, routines, thoughts and reactions shape what our realities become. Depending on what fuel we're throwing into the fire, we can change the outcome. Knowing this there are some things I want to do, and do better, in 2017. Here is a short list - not resolutions mind you - just adjustments or wants. I want less social media. There's only one person who can fix this problem, and I know who it is. Nothing against any of my Facebook friends, but frankly, we've been spending way too much time together lately.  I want to read books again. I've been trying to read more these past few weeks and I am realizing how much I miss it. For me it is complete escape and fantasy - a bit like the movies. It will also help me be a better writer - you can't do one without the other. The ability to have more time