Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Friday, August 18, 2017

Taking Out the Trash

Sometimes more courage goes into taking out the garbage than climbing Kilimanjaro.



You know the sort of trash I mean: from haunting regrets to lingering messes we made years ago, then allowed to remain.

Getting rid of the trash may prove tougher than lugging two bags to a dumpster. But, as I learned yesterday, the relief makes it well worth whatever it takes.

I had three messes I needed to clear from my life. And doing so took up a good part of my day: phone calls, emails, certified mail, running here and running there. At the end of the day I was lighter by three messes I'd come to accept as 'my life'. Lesson learned.

Taking out the trash may prove painful. Or costly. Or just difficult to do. We may need to write off a beloved old friend who no longer wants to be one. We may need to find a way to make peace with something we've done...or not done. We may need to take guilt, shame, envy or anger to the dump heap.

The price may be high but it's worth it. When the time is right, set aside a day for a test of your own.




Saturday, July 29, 2017

If Women Don't Look At Men's Shoes First, They Should

When's the last time you walked into a shoe store and found a clerk who knew his or her stuff...or even found a clerk at all?



While we're on the subject, when's the last time you regarded shoes as a top priority and were willing to hunt till you got the right pair, regardless of the cost?

A screaming purple pinkie toe last night straightened me out on the subject of shoes. My new job, you see, keeps me on my feet all day and I walk between 8-10 miles per shift. So, naturally, I jumped at the company's offer to provide a pair of slip-resistant work shoes from their mail order supplier. What size? Hell, I've been sold 11.5 or 12 size for all my adult life. So I ordered 12's, thinking that I could return them or slip in some insoles. Relief either way from the toe-pinching sneakers I'd bought for a song at Ross Dress For Less.

Smart women will avoid all men who buy mail order shoes and/or wear any shoe that doesn't fit.

Tell me about that! For a week I'd been wearing the poorly fitting but 'free' work shoes, in discomfort from the start. By last night, I could barely walk and came home to see that my right pinkie toe had turned to a dark purple bordering on black. The pinkie looked far worse than this and other toes too were afllicted with blisters.



My brain teemed with the worst panicky thoughts. Might I lose the toe...or foot? Would I lose my job if I took time off work? What if I needed a couple of weeks? Could I afford a first-rate, properly fitting pair of shoes--and where would I find them? In my experience, department stores were as useless as discount shoe outlets. 

Late night decisions: come morning, I'd call work, explain my situation and spend as much time as I needed to find my first real pair of quality shoes.

Bright and early, I called work, encouraged to take whatever time I needed. Next, Lady Google: I started by researching a store I'd passed by many times: The Walking Company. Their reviews were strong and I noted that they specialized in what they call custom orthotics: insoles tailored to an individual's foot size and walking patterns.

This store was my first, and last, stop. The prices were steeper than I'd hoped, but I let the sales clerk do his thing. He showed me several styles offering a wider 'shoe box' (front of the shoe), so that my toes wouldn't be pinched. Then he showed me how they size one's foot and pick the right orthotic, using a digital screening device. 

I tried the shoe on without the orthotic--then with. 


pinkie toes


Tomorrow I'll return to work, when the pinkie's toned down from purple to a paler shade of pink.

And this is good. But better still is the change in my outlook that came with the shoe. And here are the reasons I think that women should first check out a man's shoes:

1) Good shoes aren't accessories. They're fundamental reflections of a man's care and respect for his bod.
2) Good shoes aren't an extravagance. A man who buys and looks after the best is an enlightened pragmatist. For cheap shoes end up costing more in foot, knee or back pain...and eventually doctor's bills.
3) Good shoes are spirit as much as fashion statements. A solid, first-class, grounded look paves the way for a splash of color or a touch of whimsy elsewhere. 

So, I guess, in a way I need to thank the purple pinkie toe that filled my eyes with tears.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

My Broadway Debut

A bit later in my life I've had the good luck to go Broadway.



Now, Broadway can be anywhere and mine happens to be in Seattle. It can also be in almost any venue: from writing to acting to singing to driving a limo.

Broadway's where to become a great star you'd better damned well act like one from the moment your feet hit the ground. And my true debut on Broadway came about in an unusual way and in an unusual place I will call simply The Store.

Compared to The Store, any other job I've had has been at best Off-Broadway. And more than a few were Off-Off. But the lines in The Store are huge...the energy is dazzling...and the stakes are as high as the profits. On my first work day--after a pleasant, low-key orientation--I got the message loud and clear: I needed to learn quickly and was expected to work on my own within a week. I needed to move quickly and constantly strive to do more. The first two rites of passage were the three month and nine-month reviews.

I went home exhausted but with a solid checklist. Lessons that can apply to any form of Broadway

1) You are you what you pretend to be--so behave like a star to become one.
2) Move, speak and act calmly and decisively, no matter how flustered you feel.
3) Put a positive spin on everything. You don't feel exhausted, you're 'getting your legs'. You don't feel confused, you're working it out.
4) Never blame your age or inexperience for any shortcomings or slip-ups.
5) Over and over, with gusto, repeat these words: It's



Sunday, July 2, 2017

Calorie Stalking, Nate Miyaki and MyFitnessPal

There are those we've never met who change our lives forever. Currently ruling the roost for me is San Francisco fitness guru Nate Miyaki. Why? Good question. Two reasons:

1) Nate's book The 6-Pack Checklist is the best thing I've found on the subject:



Point by point, he tackles all the things you need to know in a slender book that's a model of both clarity and depth. You begin with a daily calorie deficit if you're looking to lose fat and weight...find the right balance for you between protein, carbs and natural fat...find the right feeding timeline for you to stagger your calories through the day and night, always staying in the black...and work out 2-3 times a week, adding cardio at the end of every session to keep your body from feeding on muscle, not fat.

I know. Your head is spinning, just thinking of  how you'll keep track of all that--after you've done all the necessary math: workout frequency/intensity...your daily calorie goal...the infernal ratios of protein to carbs to fat..




Me too? You betcha. Physically active since my twenties (but over-fond of the bottle back then)...I've had one fitness dream since my thirties: a lean-bean look with six-pack abs. I've come close several times, though always retaining a mini-roll I couldn't lose. More often, I've come closer than many. But always I've slipped and returned to the fold of big-armed but thick-waisted men tormented by dreams of that elusive six-pack.

I couldn't understand the math and lacked a sustainable diet. Thanks to Miyaki, I've now 'got' the math down and have a diet that works--even at 1870 calories daily (my deficit mode for now). But I had miserable memories of all the logs I've tried to keep--and they could fill a bookshelf! Sweat-stained workout logs, abandoned because of the effort of finding the right pages for last weight used and last number of reps. Diet logs abandoned because I had no idea of the fat/protein/carb content of my meals and snacks.

But I trusted Nate Miyaki, who walks the talk and also talks the walk.


Nate stood firm on the need to have a plan and to log our efforts daily. Log, at least, till we reach our goal and know in our blood and bones exactly what we're eating. This is done through daily practice and logging calorie counts. But this needn't be a log nightmare. He suggested a phone app that was new to me: MyFitnessPal.



And this baby has made all the difference. MFP knows the nutritional breakdown of nearly everything I eat: from a Kind snack bar to an Oikos Triple Zero yogurt to a veggie burger to a small /Caesar salad (no dressing). I receive kudos for wise protein or carb choices. Alerts for sugar (even fruit sugar) and fat warnings. Cardio calorie burns (this morning's 45 minute brisk walk) are deducted from my calorie goal. My walk, for example, up and down some San Francisco-style stairs, credited me with 220 calories.

When I think of how stupidly hard I've worked for too many years, I could weep. But because of all those failures, I do have it down in my blood and my bones:

--At least 80% of abdominal work is done or undone in the kitchen.
--10,00 crunches won't defeat daily scones or Oreos.
--Abs needn't be worked any harder or more often than any other muscle.
--Miyaki is right on the money with his 'inverted pyramid'. He turns the traditional big breakfast/medium lunch/salad for dinner approach on its head. And I knew from experience how miserable I always was starving myself every day after noon, avoiding dinners with family or friends. I eat mainly fruit in the mornings, enjoy a light lunch (a whole wheat pita veggiewich with an apple and some shredded carrots, an Oikos Triple Zero yogurt topped with some crushed walnuts)...and save the bulk of my calories. So far I've succeeded in always staying 300-500 calories under my limit.

                                                                      *****

          Enough about me, though. Let's talk about you. 

You may not want or need a 6-pack. You may recoil in horror from a daily cal count of 2000 or less. And I salute you if you do. At my age, I don't need the competition from scores of washboard-abbed young buck. Seriously, whatever your goal, you should still give this cat Nate Miyaki a look. He'll help you find the right diet for you and set you straight, in the most delightful way, about the great carb vs protein debate, among other things.

Miyaki's blog is a fun place to start:

http://natemiyaki.com/about-3/

And here's the book that got me into gear:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B013SC4GOC


Sunday, June 18, 2017

On Missing The Naked Bike Race

For a moment I entertained a glum thought when asked if my weekend plans included a visit to Fremont. See, it's the Solstice weekend, including a parade and the Legendary Naked Bike Race.


And, hey, while I was there I could also visit one of Fremont's microbreweries or...

The idea of seeing a few hundred nudies on bikes doesn't really float my boat. And I no longer drink. But I entertained the glum thought nonetheless, thinking back on my more adventurous life years ago.

I hope adventures still await.  Along with a good deal more money. But once the glum thought took its leave, after a stern mental boot to its butt, I looked forward to the quieter adventures of this weekend:

--The continued fight against ageism as I attempt to change jobs before my office moves to Renton.
--The slow, demanding work of typing the first draft of my WIP.
--The scores of challenges involved in producing a spin-off from an established series.
--The daily task of staying true to a demanding new eating plan
--The weekly task of adhering to a rougher, more strategic workout regimen

I know, I know. That sounds boring to you. And, for all I know, it may well be.



But there are internal adventures, as challenging and thrilling, as climbing the Alps. Or engaging in a cage fight with a bruiser twice your size. Staying sober, getting thinner, completing a tricky new book...To my changed way of thinking, these are at least as cool and worthwhile as watching naked bods on bikes.

But nowhere near, I'll still admit, mud wrestling with a goddess. 



Back to work. My mind's clear if not clean.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Breaking a 10-day Fast




Breaking a fast is an art, and a challenge, in itself. First, the stomach will have shrunk and it mustn't be overloaded. Equally important, the body will take whatever we put into it as a fabulous reward. So we'll suffer worse than indigestion if we start off with scones, chips, candy or other old familiar treats.

Some recommend taking up to 4 days breaking a fast, beginning with juices, then adding fruit, yogurt, yogurt topped with nuts, then advancing to whole foods gradually.
Wikipedia offers this detailed plan:

http://www.wikihow.com/Break-a-Fast

I modified this as follows: light juices on days 8-10, yogurt on day 11, etc.

Observations and conclusions:
1) It isn't that much harder to fast for ten days than it is for three. That is, on one condition: try to arrange it so that the first three days--the hardest--are dealt with when you're off work. For a longer fast, even arrange a couple of days off at the end, when you're starting to feel faint.
2) Weight loss has always been about ten pounds at the end of the third day. At the end of the tenth day, I'd lost 25 pounds.
3) Even a 3-day fast would be an excellent way for anyone who's overweight to kick-start a weight loss program.
4) Cravings create cravings...so cultivate great cravings. The long fast was, for me, a chance to reprogram my appetite. And it's been working wonderfully. I feel no sense of deprivation. I don't miss the salt-laden frozen foods I cooked. I look forward to fruit, cold oatmeal, salads and mainly veggie treats, a little chicken and/or cheese as a condiment.
5) A positive long-range plan is also a must. Any of my past attempts to become a Vegan or raw foodie or 100% vegetarian were doomed by my cravings for things that others ate...and which I had enjoyed. The hostility and ridicule I met with didn't help much either. But in the end, it was my show--and I couldn't sustain completely exclusive approaches. If you too have ever fallen off the wagon...

There's this book that's turned my thinking around:




https://www.amazon.com/VB6-Before-Weight-Restore-Health/dp/0385344740/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496608497&sr=1-1&keywords=vb6

It's misleading to call this a diet, it's not. The VB6 Solution would be more accurate: no calorie counting or forbidden foods involved. You don't become a Vegan but you eat like one until supper, or 6--then you're free to add, if you like, dairy and meat. Till 6-ish, you eat fruit, salad, whole grains...

This works for me because I don't need to avoid dinners with friends or family. And it works because following a plant-strong diet has erased the old cravings for starch, sweets, meat...

Ah, it's Sunday. 2 p.m. Time for a lunch of low salt lentil soup, salad and a meatless Burger.

In another week or two, I'll need to new pants, another size smaller.

Banzai!


Sunday, May 28, 2017

My Fast Has Slowed Me...Nicely

If you've ever thought about fasting, know this: It's much easier after the third day. And if you decide on a longer fast, there's nothing to it on the ninth--except for your moving more slowly. And needing a few extra naps.

But why would you want to fast, you may ask, for even a couple of days. Here are the best of all reasons for me:



and



Breaking the chains was my prime mover this time. In the past, I'd pulled off two long fasts like this. And the results had amazed me: from weight loss to improved complexion to an augmented sense of well-being. In each case, when I broke the fast, I found myself craving superior food--fruits and salads and natural soups--instead of SAD (the Standard American Diet). And in each case I'd lost about thirty pounds in 10 days. I ended up with my own law:

Cravings create cravings...so cultivate great cravings.

But in each case, I drifted back to SAD--a personal or family crisis...or too many little daily slips to pacify my friends (Go on, have a piece of cake!). Thereafter, my many shorter fasts from one to three days reflected the power of the chains. Also, the shorter fasts were compromised: undertaken to lose weight, not for the positive reasons that launched the last two big ones.

Lesson: successful fasting is not an act of Not, not eating things we enjoy:


Instead, it pays to turn our thoughts to all the foods we can enjoy--in just a few more days--once we've broken the chains of SAD...and our taste buds start to tingle at the thought of superior food. Think: there'd be no point in fasting for any length of time if we returned to the same foods that had run us down and fattened us and enslaved us for so long. 

My own ten-day fast ends tomorrow. I know from experience and research to break the fast lowly--3-4 days starting with juices, then slowly adding fruit...then yogurt...yogurt with chopped walnuts...then moving on steadily. So some weight loss will continue for that time.

But my steely sights are set on my master goal: finding and staying with the foods that are right for my body and soul.   And when I look, I see a mainly plant-based diet with meat now and then as condiment, not as the main course.



Next week I'll post my conclusions, plus tips and lessons I've learned through the years.

Today I'm enjoying the gifts of the fast:
--The right knee that's been stiff for ages is flexible again, pain-free.
--My metabolism feels slower. I feel relaxed and non-hyper.
--My concentration feels enhanced.
--I've felt a fresh surge in confidence with each day of the fast.

Till next week!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

On the Move Again

Some dreams take longer than others, as you already know. 30 months ago, I escaped from Charlotte, with a purple trunk and four boxes on board a cross-country train. Destination: Seattle.

My dreams: a studio or apartment in Capitol Hill





and a job at the Elliott Bay book store.



Things didn't go quite as planned. To get my feet, I took a studio in the 'historic'--old and sketchy--part of town known as Pioneer Square.


And, no job offer from the bookstore, I worked at a couple of loser jobs before finding an okay one in...Capitol Hill. Terrific, except for a couple of things: I'd grown tired of seeing throngs of Walking Dead homeless and drug dealers in Pioneer Square. And my workplace is moving to Renton in late August--a three-hour round-trip daily commute.



The time had come for action--the all-out, full-speed, damn the torpedoes kind.
1) At work I learned from a coworker of a studio just a few blocks from the office.
2) I viewed it and decided to take it the next day, though it's a few hundred bucks more than I've been paying. I could make up that difference, I figured, by no longer using Uber.
3) I completed the online application.
4) I reapplied at Elliott Bay Book Company, this time handing the application to a manager.
5) I gave the necessary 2-week notice on my month-to-month studio.
6) I began checking online for cheap but well-reviewed movers.
7) I started scrapping all furniture and furnishings except for the best of the best.

And on and on and on. Before the move to Seattle, I'd needed six months to pack and prepare. This time I have just a couple of weeks. 

Next up: a new job in Capitol Hill.

It's good to be back in action again.




Sunday, April 30, 2017

3 Sticks, a Cat and a Mouse

If you look like food, you will be eaten.
--Clint Smith




Live long enough and you'll soon start to see that you're looking mighty delicious to young jackals out roaming the streets. Mugging's the most obvious worry, since you're in no shape to sprint in pursuit. But money's just one thing you're likely to lose--the attempted thefts of dignity seem to come more often as your head starts to hang and your posture grows slouched. Hey, look, it's a Crinkly--charge!

 For a couple of months I'd been toting the massive Ten Shin walking stick put out by Steven Seagal.



44" long, it weighs about two pounds, and is made of nearly indestructible polypropylene. It can be used as a sword, a spear, a lance--even swung with the handle like an ax. No one troubled me when I carried this stick. Even cars were less likely to cut me off while I was crossing. On the other hand, it attracted a fair share of negative feedback ('You looking to bash heads today?") and even more negative vibes. The jackals were scared but they wanted to jump. I could see it in their eyes. Just as bad, it seemed highly unlikely I could carry the Ten Shin on a plane or bring it to most offices. Furthermore, it's too big to stow in most lockers.
Ten Shin score: one thumb up and one thumb down. Good for hikes and late night walks.

I mail-ordered an alternative: a classy wood cane I could take anywhere. Or so it seemed to me. But this is what I got. Length: 36". Shaft size 18 mm. Weight: .9 lbs.


Attractive but featherweight. And it projected weakness, inviting trouble--which it did. The first night I went home from work, I grabbed my favorite light rail seat at the end of a side bench. Another guy sat at the opposite end. This left room for an average-size person in the middle. But twice in the course of the ride bruisers looked at the opening, looked at me...and slammed themselves down into the too-small space, then started jostling for room. The finger-thin shaft of the cane had signaled easy prey.
Feeble cane score: two thumbs down.  

I had words with the two men, protecting my space. And yet I got to thinking: How could I look less like food at my age?  Or: how could I walk in peace and grace while reducing the risks and the hassles?

I brooded.

I Googled.

I ordered.

Result:



You're looking at the Bubba Stik. You can custom build your own on their website, choosing from a variety of styles, woods, with or without the name branded, And there's no charge for cutting the stick to your size. The shaft is 1". The stick weighs 19.2 ounces. And it's seriously elegant with rugged hardwood shaft and gleaming brass hame knob.
Bubba score: two thumbs and eight fingers up, with a rowdy Rebel yell.

Today, my first day with the stick, I can say: it can be taken anywhere, even on a plane (I checked). Combined with a strong gait and confident air, it commands attention...and respect. Twice, people ran out of their way to open doors for me.

Where I go, there goes Bubba now. Make your own choice, certainly. But whatever you do, as you grow older, make sure at all costs you do not look like food. The jackals are waiting for you, be assured.


Here's the Bubba Stik website if you'd like to check it out:

http://www.bubbastik.com/about.cfm

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

My Outrageously Sexy and Action-Packed Life

People often envy the thrilling life I lead. And I've learned to speak humbly about it.

The many fantabulous mountains I've climbed.



My bloody bouts of MMA.


My passion for riding the rails.


And, God help me, the insanely beautiful women I'm always making love to.



So, even on an average week I'm strapped for time to post here. But for the past two weeks my kicks have been curtailed by the sort of adventures I hate to describe.

I'm ashamed to admit that I've been holed up for the best couple of weeks--and not brawling or bedding or riding the rails or wrestling alligators. Holed up, I say! Like a lowdown lonesome scribe!


And what does that entail, if not yet another party at the Playboy mansion?

God forgive me:
--I've been proofing The Alcatraz Correction for Hold Fast Press to convert into Createspace format.  The second Boss MacTavin mystery will soon be available in paperback.
--I'm completing the outline for the fifth MacTavin mystery--one that takes the franchise in a brand-new direction.
--I'm also working 40 hours a week while looking for a new job before the present one moves out of town.

That's it, you ask? I know, I know. But trust me. I'll return to form soon, I promise. And once again I'll live the life led by all self-respecting Real Writers.

Reb MacRath, Action Hero.

This is my report.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Perception: Gaming the Odds


                                                                  ----------------


Here's a job search challenge you'll face one day, if you haven't faced it already.

Imagine that you're preconceived as being somewhat dated. Why? Let's say your last experience in the field that you hope to re-enter was fifteen years ago. And let's also say you've had several jobs since then.

With a chronological resume, your job skills might not even be seen.

40 years of reading resumes has taught me that most of them get less than a minute of review. The creative ones, the ones that yell out "Hey, look at me." are the ones who get more notice.
--John Jurkiewicz






You may try to better the odds, starting with your strong suit (way back when)--then flashing forward, as it were, to your present job and working back. But the jumpy timeline's as likely to leave employers dizzy as it is to work.

What to do?

And Double-Whoa what do you do if the company you're approaching has its own app form, requiring a chronological approach?




The MacRath Solution:

I decided to honor the company's requirements--while at the same time designing and ordering a simple but catchy attachment. And that attachment, I believe, will get me an interview: a 4x5 card on premium stock, giving the names of two bookstores I worked at for ten years. I provide my contact info and state 'Any hours/days, including holidays'. (That's a big issue in retail.)

Finally, on the back of the card, I added a little something extra that should further whet their appetites...and inspire them to see me as the brightest light.





Stay tuned for the results. I'll receive the attachment cards by 4/7 and hope to complete the application next weekend.

Come on, Lady Luck, goose Reb MacRath!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Courage in the Little Things

We all want to be action heroes. And when the time and place are right we even plan to try. Some will be this way:


And some will be thus:




I've had moments of my own: 25 years of martial arts until my body gave beneath the weight of accidents and breaks...a half-dozen cross-country moves, including the latest to Seattle at an age when most men are winding down...the discipline and spiritual stuff to keep on keeping on after my publishing luck headed south...

But I've come to a curious crossroads. On August 21 my office will move to Renton, Washington...a daily round-trip commute of three hours, The new environment, an office park, will be sterile in comparison and corporate to the letter. There are no cafes nearby, where I might write before or after work. So I would in effect become a weekend writer, after having grown accustomed to writing a couple of hours daily before work, then another hour after.

Then again, I've grown accustomed to the security of benefits. Plus weekends and holidays off have been nice.

I called the crossroads 'curious' because dilemmas of this sort don't call for this sort of courage:




But there's no lack of courage in finding the guts and wherewithal to get out of the way of disaster.



Getting out of the way in this instance requires shifting my focus from the benefits I'll lose to the stark reality of a three-hour daily commute to an office park.

Wanted: a better position in town without long loss of benefits or writing time.

Required: superior planning, timing and execution of the search. And this can't be an occasional thing. It must be relentless and also all-encompassing--from an updated resume to every aspect of my professional image.

Writing strategy: protect the new book at all costs. Complete first draft by mid to late July.

A relentless, daily siege respecting even the tiniest things. Or as Vincent put it:




Sunday, March 19, 2017

Rain City Blues




It hasn't rained this much in Seattle, they say, since 1961. And I'm of two minds about that. It's a tough choice at the moment between:

Jerry Seinfield
“Seattle is a moisturizing pad disguised as a city.”


and

Tom Robbins
“In the deepest, darkest heart of winter, when the sky resembles bad banana baby food for months on end, and the witch measles that meteorologists call ‘drizzle’ are a chronic gray rash on the skin of the land, folks all around me sink into a dismal funk. Many are depressed, a few actually suicidal. But I, I grow happier with each fresh storm, each thickening of the crinkly stratocumulus. ‘What’s so hot about the sun?’ I ask. Sunbeams are a lot like tourists: intruding where they don’t belong, little cameras slung around their necks. Raindrops, on the other hand, introverted, feral, buddhistically cool, behave as if they live here. Which, of course, they do.”


It should feel more like spring now. Why?

--I've completed and published my new Boss MacTavin mystery, Seattle Red.
--On Wednesday, March 22, I'll be interviewed by Pam Stack on her live podcase, Authors on the Air.
--I've nearly finished laying the foundation for my next novel.
--I've joined a great local, affordable gym a few blocks from my apartment.
--Hold Fast Press has just issued a beautiful print version of Southern Scotch.
--Print plans are in the works for the three remaining Boss MacTavin mysteries.

And yet...



My brain's swimming in rainy day thoughts.
--I should have accomplished more at my age.
--Thinking of time, I feel a growing sense of urgency.
--Within six months, my workplace will move to distant Renton, requiring a far greater round-trip commute.
--The new job site is an isolated office park sending out smothering corporate vibes.
--Goodbye to the gym if I go there and goodbye to the writing time before or after work.
--Goodbye to my benefits, though, if I go and return to temp work.

Yeah, yeah. Boo-hoo, boo-hoo. When it rains, it pours, Reb. But why don't you also remember:



And Caesar wept, recalling that Alexander had ruled the earth before he died at 33.

So even the greatest had rainy day blues. And the blues may hold keys for an excellent spring.

--I can accomplish more if I find a new job in the city, either part time or an easy commute.
--I can reap more from my efforts if I can set up a schedule allowing time for both writing and savvy promotion..
--The sense of urgency is good....as long as it includes more attention to personal relationships.
--And where it belongs, near the top of the list, the time's come around again for:



Years have passed since Juliette died. It's time again for a kitten--for which I'll need a lot more time.
So you see how it all comes together: from rainy day blues...to thoughts of elusive Success...to loneliness and the need for more time...

Yes, I see a spring kitten coming...so I'd better get cracking again on my work.






Saturday, March 11, 2017

It's Bi-Way or the Highway When It Comes to Books

A lot of writers out there prefer the other expression:



And, let's be honest, so do a lot of readers.

A My Way writer expects crowds to follow wherever his book wants to go--screw any and all expectations or rules. So readers run into undisciplined books filled with boring or madcap digressions...promising scenes that peter out or veer off in other directions...characters that disappear or are completely inconsistent...Or the novels seem unending--hundreds of thousands, even millions, of words. Literary circuses of font colors and typographical stunts.

A My Way reader wants a book that resembles other books written the way s/he feels books should be done. I met a lot of My Way readers in the ten years I worked in two book stores. In the Mystery section, some readers were ultra-specific. They wanted books by either male or female authors only: Sue Grafton, Jonathan Kellerman, Sarah Paretsky, Robert Crais. Or they wanted mysteries set in particular cities with male or female heroes who work in their own professions: banking, advertising, etc. Furthermore, they wanted books written in the Right Style: cozy or hardboiled, slowburning or quick, character or plot-based.

This isn't meant to ridicule either My Way writers or readers. Still, the extreme My Way writer resembles a delusional online game tyrant. In the 80's, when Horror was huge, a few of the bigger names liked to proclaim: Screw your agent and/or your publisher if they give you any grief--write whatever you want and then move along if you have to. Some writers took it to the next level: screw the reader too--our job's to write, their job's to read. There's no read to wonder where such writers are today...or their books. The real world, including the real reading world, simply doesn't work that way,

But don't stop there. The extreme My Way reader resembles a porn aficionado.



Extreme My Way readers can't get into a novel that fails to meet all their specifics--from the hero's height to where s/he works to the style of the prose. A repeat experience is the supreme goal...just as it is with adult films. Take your pick from endless lists: black, white, Asian...oral or anal,..soft or garish lighting...splashy or unsplashy...

Getting back, though, to writing and reading: Bi-Way or the Highway offers more elegant kicks and rewards.



A Bi-Way writer finds freedom in following--and occasionally breaking--the conventions of his/her art. When s/he breaks the rules, it's with the reader in mind, a shock-enhanced experience. Whether s/he writes plainly or likes to ride the purple page, again it's with thoughts of the reader's delight. 

A Bi-Way reader seeks a fresh, not a repeat, experience. This reader has a comfort zone that s/he likes to indulge. There are types of rides that s/he likes best. But s/he is always open to something totally different...so long as it's done well. The style may be plainer or packed with more word play, more thoughtful or thought-free than his/her usual fare. S/he doesn't mind. S/he only cares that the writer does ask with his/her pleasure in mind: