Writing Questions

I’ve been writing for a long time. Well, it seems like that to me, and for most people, 14 years isn’t anything to sneeze at. That’s a quarter of my life.

If you’ve been a reader of my various blogs, then you are somewhat familiar with my story. If you haven’t heard it before, here it is in a nutshell. At the age of 39, after dabbling with writing on-and-off for a couple of years, I got serious about my craft. Much of this newfound motivation was a result of reading Stephen King’s well-known book about writing, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. I followed his advice in establishing a routine and adopting discipline. About a year later, I had an essay published. Three years later, my award-winning first book, When Towns Had Teams, came out. That was in 2005.

I continued on through two Moxie books, the period I called “the Moxie years,” and in 2012, decided it was time to move on to something more personal—a book of seven essays touching down on my life experiences, with several centered on my hometown of Lisbon Falls. That book was a failure from a sales standpoint, even though it contained my best writing to date.

During the last decade-and-a-half, I’ve also spent extended periods freelancing for local newspapers, regional magazines, alt-weeklies, and a few websites. I’ve gathered a file of clips, with my most recent ones posted here. Continue reading

Looking Back and Moving Ahead

All week, I’ve felt pressure from being behind the eight ball of work and deadlines. How was I going to juggle each of the balls I had in the air and not drop at least one of them?

Thursday happened to be my day for visiting two communities in rural Franklin County. They are where I’m engaged in a part-time grant project focused on Maine’s aging population.

Every other week, I leave my house just prior to 8:00 AM and usually don’t return until 6:30 or 7:00. I have two community teams I’m working with. I also end up logging more than 200 miles of windshield time.  I am enjoying getting back to grassroots organizing and connecting dots. Continue reading

The 8-Week Book Project

I’m meeting a brand new group of writing students on Tuesday night. Many if not all of them are likely asking themselves three questions. Can I really write a book in eight weeks? Am I capable of writing one at all? Do I have what it takes to finally get that book of mine out of my head into narrative form?

The answer to all three of those opening questions is a hearty, “hell yes!” Continue reading

Forgotten Writers

When I first got serious about writing, I was especially interested in people and the geography that defines who they are. This was particularly germane to Maine, my home state, and the first book I ended up writing, about the history of town team baseball. Those small towns where baseball was played on  warm July evenings, the lights rimming the diamond burning brightly somewhere in the middle of a small village, drew me back to the place and time, capturing the memories of the men who inhabited similar patches of grass and dirt across the Pine Tree State. Continue reading

Whither Goest Baseball?

Baseball fans seeking autographs get creative.

Baseball fans seeking autographs get creative.

Sports have occupied a significant swath of my own personal history. Baseball is the one that has garnered the majority of that attention.

Baseball was the first sport that I played; it was the sport that my father handed down to me and in turn, I passed on to my own son. I was a talented player throughout high school and into college and continued to play some form of competitive baseball until the age of 39. I then coached and ran a local college-level summer league for five years. I even wrote a book about baseball and its history in Maine, post-WWII. Continue reading

Life is like publishing a book (part I)

Book publishing teaches many life lessons.

Book publishing teaches many life lessons.

What motivates people to make changes in their lives? Why is it that some people embrace self-improvement and personal growth, while others stay stuck in the same old rut?

As mentioned before, I was stuck in self-defeating patterns of behavior for a good chunk of my young adult life. Even in my early 30s, when I began looking for answers not bound by spiritual precepts, I had a hard time accepting the power our minds hold over us. Often, how we think, and what we choose to fill our heads with sabotages the best laid plans. Continue reading

The University of Autodidactica

Ben Franklin was an autodidact.

Ben Franklin was an autodidact.

An autodidact is someone who is self-taught. In today’s parlance we might call them a “self-directed learner.”

Autodidacts were common in Colonial America. Many of our founding fathers were autodidacts as well as polymaths. Ben Franklin might be one of our nation’s most famous autodidacts. Franklin abandoned formal education at age 10 and we all know how that turned out. Continue reading

Think before you publish

Earlier this year, just after I began “the big transition” that defined 2012 for me, I told someone they should think about writing a book. Here was a person who was an excellent marketer, an entrepreneur, and someone I recognized as having the requisite skills and personality required to be the kind of savvy promoter that going the independent publishing route requires.

I think there are many people who are quite capable of writing and publishing their own book. In fact, I remain bullish on the idea that many are missing the boat when it comes to getting their expertise out in book form. Despite social media’s minimalist approach to every jot and tittle, there are still a wealth of niche markets for books and publishers who can spot them. Continue reading

Paul Bunyan’s gaze

Paul Bunyan, keeping watch over Bangor.

All of us have a special place, or maybe a couple of locales that hold a unique position in our personal geography. Often, hometowns hold both special memories, as well as memories clouded by family conflict and the struggles that go along with coming of age in that place where we’re born. Continue reading