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Showing posts from March, 2017

Chipping Away

It is an interesting time on this writing road for me at the moment. Much is happening, though nothing is happening.

I am in the middle of my second edit of my "House Manuscript" for lack of a title. It is absolutely amazing to me how every time I go through this thing, I find more errors, redundancies or stuff that I just don't like. One of the things I find more and more frequently is what my Monday night writing friends call the "Word of the Week". It's amazing that sometimes you can use a word like "door" ten times in a page and not see it.

And then there are cases where, because these stories were written as stand-alone pieces, I refer to something three times in three different chapters. The same thing - spun three different ways - in three different places. Enough already, man!

But that is the nature of a good editing session. As a writer, you tend to fall in love with your work the first time out.

"Oh, this is so good. I amaze myself!…

The Crappy Paragraph

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I am a firm believer of taking stock of one's life from time to time. I'm not talking about the New Year's Resolution kind of stock - looking back at the year - but rather just a day to day assessment of where I'm at, where I'm heading and where I've been.

And when I do that from the place that I am in my life right now, I see almost exclusively good things. The best gauge of all of it I guess, would be to rank my level of happiness. In my day to day life am I happy? If so, how happy?

To which I would have to answer, extremely happy. (Well at least lower case extremely. Ha!)

This is for a number of reasons.


I have been blessed for coming up on 27 years with a wife and friend who loves me despite my me-ness and puts up with all that I am not. She knows what I value and shares many of those same things. She is my rock and I laugh as hard with her as I did the day we first met. Watching my kids go to college and prepare to go to college makes me incredibly happy. Th…

Strawberry Roll Ups and Coffee

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One of the cooler things I've seen people do on Facebook is call out or recognize a friend who has been either a good friend for a long time or someone who has carried them through a tough time. I have many of both, but want to make it a point to blog about some of them over the coming months. They won't be in succession, but rather periodically as I feel inspired.

I want to start with a long-ago friend who I still consider one of my best friends. His name is Pat and he lives in Minnesota. Pat and I went to St. Lukes grade school together, then on to Cretin High School after that. The two of us and a couple of other friends were inseparable in high school. In fact a couple of them even made it into my book, Dirty Shirt as part of the high school trip debacle.
One of the things we did with a fair frequency in college was "road trip" up to St. Cloud Minnesota after I got off work at 8:00 PM to go out for a couple of beers. We made the trip in his VW Beetle, which was l…

Spell Check Insights

Saturday afternoons have become my "anchor time" for writing. It is these two to three hours every week that keeps my book on track. Sure, I write through the week, but it seems that I need time at the library or a coffee shop to really get stuff done. Weeknights at home are filled with distractions and it seems that by 8:30 lately I start thinking about how good it would feel to be reading in bed. So, Saturday writing it is.

This past Saturday I was going to start a complete edit of my entire 75,000 word, 240 page manuscript for the second time. What occurred to me though was that I had never run a spelling and grammar check on the whole document, so I thought that might be a good use of my time. It revealed lots of fun little things.

Things like:

When I'm writing dialog, I'll often drop the g's off of words. Words like coming turn into comin' and going turn to goin'. It's not wrong from a writing standpoint, but it pains me a little to even write bad…

Late Winter Yard Sale

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I would consider myself a fairly active adult for my age. I fake my way through a 20 minute yoga routine every morning, walk or bike to work every day (3.2 mi. round trip) and do a fair amount of biking and kayaking during the spring-fall seasons. Winter is typically hard for me because I tend to dial my activity back and pack on a little winter fat. I might not show it, but trust me, I feel it. I carry around five to eight pounds every winter that I just can't seem to shake. Not a ton, but enough to make my pants annoyingly tight.

In an attempt to alleviate some of these issues and maybe keep the winter blues at bay, I got some new cross country skis for Christmas this year. I love to ski, but my old skis were just that, OLD.

Ironically enough, when I got them, I jokingly said that everyone could put away their snow blowers for the year, because it would mean no more snow - this prohibiting me from skiing. Well, it almost happened. Until this week, we've only had probably 3 i…

Time Well Spent

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There are ebbs and flows to parenting. Times of high concentration and focus on one or the other of our kids happens cyclically it seems and with the prospect of an empty nest in our immediate future coming this fall, I am especially in tune with these moments with my son, Ben. During my wife and my Saturday morning coffee yesterday, we agreed on how nice it was to have a couple of one-on-one years with Ben, while Sarah is off to college. Despite the door always swinging with his comings and goings, the time we do have with him has been rich and gratifying.

And while I love both of my kids. this week was one of high contact with Ben and I have to admit it was what I needed. We tend to cruise through our day-to-days sometime and forget to stop and talk - catch up on where each of us is really at. So this was good.

It started on Wednesday evening when we went to the Journal Sentinel Sports Show. This has become an annual event for the two of us over the past five years. We usually go ou…

Lining Up Future Words

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As part of my ongoing writing goals I try and keep things rolling with regards future projects. Of course, back when I first started writing this wasn't a problem. My goal back then was to write a story about the boundary waters canoe area. Then, the next week, write another.

In a weird chain of events, I am now a book and a couple of poetry collections into it and trying to keep the muse chugging along. I am finished with the writing of what I refer to as either the "Portland book" or the "house book," so am starting to look at what's next. I have a few ideas.

The first one came to me just the other day and is kind of unique, at least I think it is. I'm thinking of writing another memoir about my years attending an all male, Catholic, military high school in the late 1970's. The reason I think this would be interesting is mainly because when I tell people that as my high school experience, their eyes typically bug out - like I told them I went to H…

Ode To Teachers

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I am friends with, or related to, a number of Teachers. (I intentionally capitalized Teachers because I think their jobs are so important that they require a capital.) Both of my longtime closest male friends are Teachers, one teaches high school history and government (and is also married to another Teacher), the other is a physical education Teacher. I also have relatives on both sides of my family that teach. My father in-law taught math for more than 30 years.

I know I could never be a Teacher. It takes a special breed to do the job. Most will admit they do it for the love of teaching - the desire to make a difference in kids' lives if you will. And thinking about everything they have to deal with reminded me of a few Teachers that impacted my life. I think everyone has at least one that stands out. Some have many. Here are a few that made a difference in my life.

Wally Wescott - Wally was my sixth grade math Teacher. In addition to teaching, he also coached the football team, …

Almost Showtime

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We are in the midst of a big decision for my son in the coming days. His most recent acceptance at UW Madison completed the trifecta of ideal colleges for him, the other two being UW Milwaukee and the University of Minnesota. All are great universities and none would be a bad choice, in my opinion anyway. I have friends and family that have been to all three and all have nothing but good things to say about each.

I can't help but feel my son's angst about making this difficult decision. Like me, he is an "experience person" who doesn't want to miss out on something - wants the whole experience.

He's even said, "I feel like if I go to Madison, I'll never get to experience where you, and my uncles and Sarah went to school. At the same time, if I go there, well, I really like the feel of Madison too."

I get that. Knowing both places like I do, there's huge things at both that I'd hate to miss.

And then I think back to when I was looking at …