Archive | April, 2017

Sweet Melancholy and Syncronicity

25 Apr

Yes, I recently changed the format of this blog. It was not your imagination if you noticed.

The thing is, I’m a storyteller.  There is no sense fighting it, or acting like I’m something else. I love the rich tradition of storytellers over our history as a species, and I enjoy being a part of that tradition. So I’m switching this blog more towards storytelling and the lessons to be learned from those stories.

I hope you don’t mind too much.

TODAY’S STORY

I played baseball in high school and college.  Loved the sport. Still do.  My dad started me on that path, playing catch with me when I was very young, hitting balls to me, great father and son moments that will forever be in my memory.

About the time I turned eleven I declared I was going to be the greatest pitcher in history.  I would be drafted out of college, go on to be Rookie of the Year in the Major Leagues, then MVP, Cy Young, and on to the Hall of Fame.  Simple as that!

I worked hard that first year, throwing fastballs at a cement wall, working on my control, and I was seriously pumped to get my career started in that first game.

I got lit up!  The harder I tried to throw, the harder those batters would hit the ball. My God, it was like a track meet around the bases.  Mercifully, after three innings, the coach came out and took me out of the game. Thank God!

As you might suspect I was heartbroken.  My dreams of a baseball career were shattered at the age of eleven.  I figured maybe some other sport would be better, something not quite as hard as baseball . . . and then my dad sat me down.

“I stink, Dad!  The harder I threw, the harder they hit it.”

“No doubt about it, buddy,” he said.  “You stunk up the field today.  Now I suppose you’re going to quit, right?”

This wasn’t like my dad.  No way he’s that calm about his son wanting to quit something.  I was confused.

“What am I supposed to do, dad?  You saw me out there.  Everything I threw they hit.  If I can’t throw hard enough to get it by them, how am I supposed to win a game?”

He ruffled my hair.

“Bill, you need to pitch smarter, not harder.”

He then went out and taught me how to throw a knuckleball and a curve.

And I made it all the way to my junior year in college before my shoulder finally said enough and I was medically incapable of pitching again.

DAD’S LESSON

That lesson has stayed with me all these years…learn to throw smarter, not harder…and a larger lesson…don’t give up….find a way….if you want it bad enough, work your ass off for it.

I miss my dad!  He died just about the same time my shoulder died.  There is great synchronicity in that fact.  And sweet melancholy, of course.  J

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

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How Very Lucky I Am

18 Apr

REFLECTIONS

When I was eighteen, the summer before my freshman year in college, I got a great job at a fruit & produce warehouse.  The job paid $10 per hour and, please note, this was in 1966…that was great money back then and, in fact, it was more money than my dad was making at his job.

Anyway, my job consisted of unloading boxcars of produce, loading trucks, bagging potatoes for grocery stores, putting orders together . . . it was hard, physical work, but I was in good shape and like I said, the money was superb.

I came home from work one hot summer day and I was complaining because I was asked, at work, to sort through a particularly nasty load of potatoes and sort out the rotten ones.  Now I don’t know if you’ve ever encountered a rotten potato before, especially one that has sat in a hot boxcar for a few days, but trust me when I tell you the smell will gag you.  So I was not a happy boy when I sat down at dinner and commenced to complain to my parents.

That complaining went over about as well as farting in church.

My dad, who left high school his sophomore year to ride the rails looking for work during the Great Depression, was not impressed with my complaining.  In fact, he hit the roof!  He informed me, in rather colorful language, that I was getting paid damned good money, money many people would gladly take, and it was honest work and I should shut up and do what was asked of me, and I should do it well, the best I could, and I’m sure he went on telling me that people were dying of starvation around the world, and single mothers worked three jobs to feed their kids, and, well, you get the point.  It was not a pleasant meal!

But the lesson was learned!

It’s been fifty years since I had that lesson force-fed to me over dinner, and I haven’t forgotten it.  I do my jobs without complaining.  Every job is important.  I am grateful for the jobs I have. Thank you, Dad!

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“By taking the time to stop and appreciate who you are and what you’ve achieved – and perhaps learned through a few mistakes, stumbles and losses – you actually can enhance everything about you. Self-acknowledgment and appreciation are what give you the insights and awareness to move forward toward higher goals and accomplishments.” Jack Canfield
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Here’s the thing:  comparatively speaking, in a world with over seven billion people, there is but a handful of people who can do what we do, and do it well.  I am lucky to be a writer.  I make a living doing something I love doing.  I make a living out of creating stories which entertain people.  I am paid money to touch the hearts and souls of people.

That is an important job and I never want to consider it anything less.

What I do is incredibly important, and what you do is important, and we really need to be thankful and do the best damned job we can.

End of sermon!

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

Limitations: Real or Manufactured?

11 Apr

When I was five years old, way back in 1953, my parents purchased a home after renting for the first eight years of marriage, and we moved to 4022 North 18th in Tacoma, Washington.  As a way of lessening the trauma of a major move, my parents bought me a new puppy.

She was a Toy/Rat Terrier, all-black with a white chest, and I named her Pixie.

Pixie was a small dog, full of energy, and I was thrilled to have her.  The plan was  for Pixie to stay in our backyard, a yard surrounded by four-foot high fencing.  It was a decent-sized yard, certainly with enough room for a small dog to frolic in.

But Pixie had a different idea.

One day I went out to feed Pixie and she wasn’t in the backyard.  I must have spent a good five minutes confirming the obvious, that my small dog had somehow escaped, and then I yelled for my mother, tears in my eyes, and she and I went around to the front yard and there was Pixie, contentedly chewing on a stick of wood under the willow tree, apparently without a care in the world.

Mom scooped up the dog, took her around to the back, and locked the gate.  She and I both went inside and watched Pixie.  It didn’t take long for the mystery to be solved.

Our backyard and the neighbor’s backyard were separated by a stone wall, and our fence butted up against that stone wall.  Pixie took a run at that corner, leapt up on that stone wall, pushed off it at an angle, and vaulted off the top of our fence to the other side.

It was pretty impressive for a miniature dog.

From that day on, we just left the gate open, and Pixie had free run of the front and backyards.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“Do just once what others say you can’t do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.” James Cook
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

There are certain things I simply cannot do in my sixty-eighth year.  I can no longer throw a fastball ninety-miles-per-hour like I did as a teen.  I can no longer run like the wind nor can I climb mountains with reckless abandon.

But I can still write, and I can find time to write, and I can definitely find time to practice my craft and become a better writer.  I have no excuses with regards to writing.

How about you?

HAVE A GREAT DAY…

Unless, of course, you’ve made other plans.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

 

The Fickleness of the Muse

4 Apr

For those of you who don’t know, my wife and I raise quail.

We recently had a new hatch in the incubators, 120 of the little darlings popping out of their eggs over the span of three days.

Quail incubate for about seventeen days.  Some will be born at Day Sixteen; most on Day Seventeen; and then there are the stragglers on Day Eighteen.

I love the anticipation of the new hatches.  I’ll stand for fifteen, twenty, thirty minutes sometimes, on Day Sixteen, waiting to see a little beak punch through the shell.  Funny thing, though, it never happens when I’m watching.  I’ll stand there and stand there, watching, waiting, and invariably the moment I walk away and start doing something else, I’ll hear the little peep telling me I once again missed an arrival.

Ideas for writing happen the same way for me.

QUOTE OF THE DAY

“When inspiration does not come, I go for a walk, go to the movie, talk to a friend, let go… The muse is bound to return again, especially if I turn my back!” Judy Collins
THOUGHT OF THE DAY

Like my baby quail, my muse shows up when she is damned good and ready, and trying to force her appearance is a fool’s task.  Luckily, I have more than enough things to do, like farming and making coloring books, so I don’t have to stare at the keyboard waiting for an idea to appear. I just go live life and wait for inspiration.

It usually comes quickly!

UPDATE ON COLORING BOOKS

My “Urban Farming Coloring Book” has officially outsold my last two novels, and it did so in a mere three weeks.

I’m not going to allow myself negative thoughts about my serious writing. I’m just going to be grateful for the sales and move forward.

But I do find it amusing, for whatever reason.

THAT’S IT FOR THIS WEEK

You’ve got things to do and I’ve got things to do, so let’s go do them. Thanks for the visit. I hope you found something of interest.

Bill

“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”