This Is Not a Blog About Paul LePage

As tempting as it is to keep writing about issues and politics, I just don’t feel like taking on immigration this morning. I know the president gave a speech about it last night. I’m sure that half the country is aflame with hate and spewing vitriol this AM, but I just don’t have the heart or the energy to do the usual binary shuffle this early in the day. Although……

Speaking of vitriol, me and the newly re-elected governor rarely see eye-to-eye on any issue—that being said, three of my best five days for blog stats in 2014 involved posts centered on good ole’ Paul LePage—like this one on NASCAR and economic boondoggling. The next four years should be good ones for anyone buying stock in the LePage Blogging Industrial Complex.

Actually, today I’m going to throw a bone to the aspiring book writers out there. Having taught a course in writing a book in 8 weeks (when in reality, it takes about 8 months), I know that the topic of writing and publishing a book is one that many are interested in.

I found this link on Twitter, courtesy of a tweet by Tabitha Reimer (@WordsbyTabitha), and it prompted me to craft today’s short post. Reimer’s link got me thinking about the “break the project down into bite-sized pieces” philosophy, especially as applied to writing a nonfiction book, via Nina Amir.

The10 tips highlighted by Amir, founder of National Nonfiction Writing Month, also known as the Write Nonfiction in November Challenge, are terrific. In fact, #10 is the process I utilized—motivated by the students I was trying to inspire—in getting The Perfect Number: Essays & Stories Vol. 1 out the door.

Essays are a good short book project.

Essays are great for attempting a short(er) book project.

Amir’s short books format as proposed could certainly allow someone with some writing skill (and who is used to writing regularly) to crank out a manuscript that might become a book, in one month—and she’s chosen November as her month to promote that very thing. Of course, the challenge becomes, what to do with the manuscript once it’s done. That’s where Publishing 101 comes in, an area I know a little bit about. There’s my version of it, which draws on my own experience of more than a decade, and then there are other excellent ones out there, too, like Guy Kawasaki’s (along with Shawn Welch), and what they call, “artisanal publishing.”

I also think Amir is spot-on about why blogging is important for anyone aspiring to write a book, or two (or four). Sounds counter-intuitive, but it’s not. Take it from someone who uses blogging to keep the words flowing.

The governor and me getting our Moxie on.

The governor and me getting our Moxie on.

Luck Makes the Man

His story isn’t new. However, it’s one that’s been embellished. Sometimes it’s important to shine a little truth around, to at least temper some of the misinformation.

I find it telling that Governor Paul LePage, the recipient of largesse from benefactors when he was in his teens, continues to further his own twisted ideology and war on the poor, this time on the backs of 19 and 20-year-olds. In essence that’s what he attempted to do, except that a federal appeals court ruled that it was illegal, on Monday. Continue reading

Elimination

We all have a finite period of time here on planet earth. No one knows if there’s an encore, or not. I’m betting there isn’t.

Given that our days, breaths, and narrative arc runs up against “the end” at some point, why do we piss away so much of our productivity and creativity? That’s the kind of existential question that warrants a much longer treatise than I’m going to give it today.

Richard Ford has a new book. It’s another meditation on the life of one Frank Bascombe. I haven’t devoted much time to Ford’s writing, but based upon Wednesday night’s intriguing interview with Fresh Air’s Terry Gross, I’m likely to read the new novel. Continue reading

Culturally Clueless

We’ve just stumbled through yet another mid-term election. As if the weeks of candidate commercials and political advertorials weren’t enough—we’ve now had to endure a week’s worth of hand-wringing and Monday morning quarterbacking coming from the pundit class.

What happened?

What happened?

If you aren’t Republican (I am not), then waking up Wednesday morning left most of us lefties scratching our heads. Some were even depressed about the results, talking about moving somewhere else. While progressive issues like raising the minimum wage, legalizing pot, and rejecting the passage of personhood won out in many states, this was a minor palliative for non-conservatives, with the counterpoint being that a Republican wave washed across the national landscape. Is this a sign that voters still have some progressive inclination? Better, it might demonstrate the schizophrenic nature of those going out to vote. Continue reading

Hat Season

Back in 2009 when I lost nearly 60 pounds and went from being the typically overweight white guy approaching middle age, to a slimmer version of that guy, I’ve become “cold-blooded.” When I say, “cold-blooded,” I don’t mean in a Truman Capote, killer sort of way, either. I mean that when the weather turns cold—like it has in the last week—I’m always freezing.

I guess those 60 pounds of blubber helping me fend off the chill of winter in ways that being not quite svelte, but by no means a fatty, no provide me with that buffer. Last weekend’s falling back an hour and subsequent early snow was a premonition of what’s just around the bend. Thursday’s dampness and temperatures hovering all day in the low 40s forced me to face the inevitable—it’s time to break out the hat collection. For the next five months, I’ll be rocking a winter hat for most of my waking hours.

When I was a teenager and concerned about what the opposite sex thought of me, I didn’t like wearing hats. Mainly this was because it matted my dark locks. This, despite being told by old-timers that most of one’s body heat exits through the top of their head (this is not true, apparently, so go figure—I’d dispute the experts on this). Continue reading

If 6 Was 9

Most mornings, I’m up and at my laptop working at 5:00 am. Being a notoriously light sleeper, I find the best time to work for me, and when my energy is at its peak, is between then and around 2:00 or 3:00 pm. So, in order to leverage my strengths, that’s how I usually structure my days, at least when I don’t have outside responsibilities or appointments that prevent me from doing so. That’s how I roll as a free agent.

When I’m working, I enjoy listening to music, usually on headphones or through ear buds. It’s a habit I’ve developed so I don’t disturb Miss Mary when she’s down below, working in her office area, before she’s out and about making sales calls.

My music sources of choice are usually radio stations (rather than music services like Pandora, although I’m not averse to Pandora) that also stream their content. One of my favorites is WMBR, which is the MIT campus radio station. I think I’ve come to appreciate WMBR more than prior defaults like WFMU and KEXP, is that their early morning Breakfast of Champions and Late Risers Club slots during the weekday provide a mix of punk, post-punk, and current indie pop and rock that jives with my eclectic tastes and the desire to stay as current with the rock genre as I can now that I’m post-50 and no longer young.

The Jimi Hendrix-Hamburg, Germany, 1967.

The Jimi Hendrix-Hamburg, Germany, 1967.

Continue reading

Fear and Hatred

Thirty years ago, I thought I had all the answers. At 21, life seemed simple in some ways. Economically, things sucked—I was working at a job that paid 25 cents above minimum wage and I had a newborn son and wife to take care of. I was 1,500 miles from my family and support system in a post-industrial part of the country where the unemployment rate was hovering around 15 percent. But I was okay because I was in the center of God’s will.

It’s interesting when you believe that the answers to life’s questions are contained in a book that was written by men who lived 2,000 years ago. Whenever things didn’t go right for Mary and me, the solution offered by our spiritual leaders was to pray, give more money to Jack Hyles, and drag a few more converts down the aisle to get baptized at First Baptist Church of Hammond. Continue reading

Boston and Book Streaks

For six years now, I’ve traveled to Boston to spend an October Saturday in Copley Square. The occasion has always been centered on books, writers, and publishers. There’s also a “streak thing” going on, too.

Books galore in Copley Square (#BBF2014).

Books galore in Copley Square (#BBF2014).

I attended the inaugural Boston Book Festival in 2009, and each subsequent one. I always meet up with my son, Mark, and we spend the day listening to authors, perusing book tables, talking about writing (along with sports and politics), and scouting out the best offerings of the myriad of publishers who set up shop in one of the Boston’s celebrated public squares, a patch of real estate hearkening back to the city’s storied past. Continue reading

So What?

I’ve been thinking about this phrase since yesterday when I heard news that affected me and some of the things that I hold dear. If I were to voice my thoughts this morning—when everything seems a jumble and so uncertain—most readers (mainly the drive-by types) would just utter, “so what?”.

Most of the time, the  things that matter to me don’t seem to affect others. It’s that “out of the mainstream” orientation that I’ve held for most of my life. I’m not a fan of the status quo because in most cases, it rarely gets to the core of the matter. Continue reading

Exploring

For six months, I’ve been writing a monthly feature story called Explore for the Lewiston Sun-Journal. Once a month, I spend a few hours in a particular locale and dig beneath the obvious to capture elements of the town that I’m writing about.

Each time I’ve done this, I came away with a much richer appreciation of the community I was profiling. Several times, I’ve featured towns that I regularly drove through, but from the high-speed highways that often whisk us through these places, I knew little or nothing about the town other than what the typical roadside detritus that most communities are afflicted by during our era of Happy Motoring, offered. Discovery always occurs when we slow down, take a look around, and real exploring begins on foot. At least that’s been my experience.

Exploring another Maine town.

Exploring another Maine town.

Continue reading