A New Life in Seattle

A New Life in Seattle
August, 2018

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.”


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: