April 30, 2016

I went to the Chicago Pen Show. I had a great time. I learned a few things:

  • Fountain pens are far more popular than I ever knew. One dealer told me about 90% of the pens he sells are fountain pens, followed by rollerballs and then, my favorite, the ball point.
  • Pens are expensive! I picked up a few that were in the thousands. Everything I liked was too much for me.
  • Young people seem to be into fountain pens. I didn’t know what to expect really, but I would have guessed it would be mostly older folks. There were plenty of us, but more younger folks than I would have guessed.

April 27, 2016

  • Gray day. In the 50s. It’s supposed to rain today. The last few times they predicted rain, it didn’t. Now we could use some, so I hope it does.
  • The rain arrived around 2:30 and it’s been at it pretty steadily for about 4 hours now.
  • I read friends’ blogs and have to say: my life is so boring and lacking drama! I kept busy today. I dropped off an edited hour-long TV show at BATV. I went to the health club. I did stuff. I suppose I should be grateful that my life lacks drama and is dull. I guess. Hopefully I find more interesting things to write about than the weather in future posts.

April 25, 2016

  • We have two flowering trees in front of our house and when they flower they are beautiful together. I made sure I got out and got this picture today because we’re expecting storms tonight and if they arrive, the show will be over.
  • 38 people shot, six killed over the weekend in Chicago. I wish I had some ideas, some answers. I doubt more gun laws are going to help anything – either tighter controls or looser restrictions. Perhaps legalizing drugs might help.
  • Trump supporters said they liked him because he “tells it like it is.” But on the Today show recently he told Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie (watch the video) that he was just having fun, that it was just entertainment. So, now what? How can Trump’s supporters now believe this guy? How can they have any idea what he’ll really be like, and do, if elected?

April 22, 2016

The day started out cloudy and misty. The skies cleared and it turned cool and dry. I cut the grass and my left eye feels almost swelled shut. I love the cool dry weather, but I do not like the pollen.

* * *

I don’t think there is any truth. There are only points of view.

Allen Ginsberg

This is a sentiment shared by many besides Mr. Ginsberg, but I do believe it has led to some serious problems. Now, everyone has an opinion and all opinions are equal. That isn’t true and it isn’t good that people think it is true.

* * *

DSCN0516-2
His highness, Elliott, during one of his many naps.

April 21, 2016

1.

The weather is about the same as yesterday.

2.

I am almost finished with another book project. I have been formatting books for authors for almost a year now. I finished the print version of my latest project yesterday and hope to have the Kindle version (already formatted and ready to go) up by Monday.

Kindle-EdwinaCoverEdwina Frost, popular writer of horror fiction, dies a lonely death in her farmhouse cellar. Her politician nephew asks poet Maria Pell to write Edwina’s biography, but hints there are episodes in her life requiring sensitive treatment. At the same time, a tiler digs up a child’s bones on the Frost farmland. Maria intuits a connection between the child and Edwina, whose soul has not gone on to a sweet reward, but roams the earth as a troubled spirit. As Maria closes in on the child’s identity, Edwina’s spirit threatens to claim her. Maria fights a fierce battle for her sanity. The paperback version is now available on Amazon.

3.

I have formatted other books recently:

Murder on the Floodways
The Fifth Floor (Kindle version)
Good Enough for the Richest and Open to the Poorest (I did the cover for this one too!)

If I can’t write a book myself at least I can help people get their work out in the world. It’s satisfying to see the author’s reaction when they see their work in print for the first time.

I have two poetry chapbooks underway and expect to receive another Julie Oleszek novel, Just Like Izzy, and Harold Walker’s book, The Grotto, in May or June.

April 20, 2016

  • Cloudy. Cooler today – in the mid 60s. AccuWeather says it is going to rain, but it hasn’t yet. Had lunch at Wildwood in Geneva and it wasn’t as good as in the past. It is time to branch out and try some new places.
  • The term blog is a shortened form of “weblog.” Original webloggers used this technology as an online diary. It seems to have evolved into quite a bit more than that now. Now it’s a source of news and opinion, an advertising platform, a continually updated photo album (remember those big books with the plastic sheets for all of our snapshots?) and still an online diary for many people. Blogging is being supplanted by other social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, etc. The concept is the same, but the mechanism is different.
  • Think less; do more. I’ve been accused over the years, by many people, of “thinking too much.” I’ll have to think about that.

Letting Go

I have a difficult time letting go. Actually, that’s an understatement. I have books I bought 40 years ago. I haven’t read them, or even been tempted to read them, in decades. I’ve donated hundreds of books to the library over the years, but this one group of books still sit there. I am, so far, unable to part with them. I have a train set in the basement. Some of those components go back more than 40 years. What compels me to hang on to this stuff?

Even more insidious, I don’t let go of my ideas of what I’m supposed to be, or how I’m supposed to live. I’ve thought I should, or at least could, be a writer since fifth grade (thank you, I think, Mrs. Hogan). Is it right? Or, is it the stupid fantasy of a fifth grader? I thought I liked music. I have a great guitar now and a great keyboard, but very little motivation to play. Was I ever a musician or was it just a short phase I went through? If the latter, why does the fact that I don’t play gnaw at me so?

Am I just being a quitter? I can get pretty down about this stuff sometimes. Do I just need to buckle down and do it and then everything will get better?

What difference does any of this make? I fear letting go. And I may have to let go in order to move forward. The years are ticking by at an increasing rate. I don’t have a whole lot of forward left!

Social Media Addiction

Like many people, I am addicted to social media. I can be pathetic. I have posted things and then, just a few minutes later, gone back on to see if there are any comments, or likes. I feel bad about this behavior. I don’t like to think I am that dependent on other’s approval, but deep down I know this is a problem for me.

I was excited about blogging when I first started. Blogging offered me the opportunity to write an essay and put it somewhere people could actually read it! I would hone my craft and get better. And, for a while I did post consistently, and I enjoyed it, and people did read them. I felt like I had a small audience and I was comfortable writing for that tiny group of people. I was hoping some would read my posts and give me feedback (hopefully positive), but I had no illusions that I would reach more than a handful of people.

Then Facebook arrived. People stopped reading my posts. For many people Facebook became the internet. I found I could share my posts on Facebook, but they felt out of place there. The idea of writing something serious seemed inappropriate. Mere words couldn’t compete with the visual / video / one-liner posts that Facebook was so good at. At one point I had almost 300 “friends.”  The concept of writing for myself changed into writing for likes. That was ridiculous. I eventually pruned the friend list, not without some unpleasant feedback. When I turned off the Facebook feed (which is off now) no one saw my blog posts – my “hits” declined drastically and I received no comments. It’s quite possible most of the hits I now receive are spambots, based on how many of the websites I deal with have been hacked!

I want to like Twitter, but I don’t. I never Tweet and links from my blog to Twitter are ignored. Perhaps I’m boring and a crappy writer (both likely) or I’m too long-winded for Twitter. I find Twitter dull. It’s rare that I see anything enlightening on it. I’ve turned off that feed too and removed the Twitter app from my devices.

The real problem is that writing turned into a competition for me. It’s no longer good enough that I write a decent essay about a topic that interests me. Now it’s all about the likes and how many comments I get. That’s on me of course; that’s my problem to solve. The technology of social media did not do that to me. That was my reaction to social media.

I recently heard Tiffany Shlain on NPR’s On Being. In the interview she tells us that her family does a weekly “tech shabbat.” From Friday night to Saturday night they do nothing online. Mobile phones are off and they stay off the internet. I thought this sounded like a good idea. It’s difficult for me to remember how I used to spend my time when every day was a tech shabbat. Most non-work days were spent completely offline – because there was no online to occupy my time. Even work days were not online in the sense they are now. I think I need to try this. I need to reconnect with the offline world again. But, my confidence is low.