Oct 282013

For some reason I was thinking about Paul, an old coworker of mine. Hadn’t heard from him in 20 years.

Paul eked out a living in a Laughlin, NV casino at the same time I did. His job, like mine, was selling rolled coins to the slot machine players. Not exactly brain surgery, but the pay was pretty good.

He was from Tennessee or Alabama, one of those states that makes Charleston look like a it’s populated by bunch of Yankees. Good man.

Anyway, I was in the process of getting married and he offered to do the cake. Then he told me his story.

He had a bakery back home, and apparently it went bust. That’s when he dug out and moved to Nevada. But it seems he had a real talent for decorating cakes.

I think I took pictures of his work, but trust me. It was a work of art. I felt bad about cutting that thing, it looked so good.

As it is, the marriage did outlast the cake. Not by much, though. That’s another story that ties in with occasional manic moments.

Some time later, the casino fired Paul in an apparent power play and I lost track of him. One can only hope he landed on his feet, though. Maybe he even got back into the bakery business? Again, there’s that hope.

Getting fired or laid off can be the best thing to ever happen to a guy like Paul. Or to me, for that matter. It means I can quit screwing around and wasting my life on a so-called career for the short money. and get on with the real business.

Listen, I got laid off from a railroad gig some time ago. It still escapes me what I was doing there in the first place even though I did the job well. But I tried my hand at a couple of other things since then, enough to afford beans and a hunk of side meat. Helped a friend tear down trees. Did some landscaping. Even played a weekend music gig on the road as a fill-in.

Mostly, it was time for me to get serious about writing and to make a living at it.

Some Web content to keep the lights on. A little hustling for side work. A few ebooks, now four in number and a fifth on the way. This blog, plus another new one that shows promise.

Would I have done those things if I kept that railroad job? Probably not.

I still would have been talking about what a hot writer I once was. What kind of life is that?

I wouldn’t have done a thing with the actual writing. Maybe a blog to keep my hand in, but that’s about all.

Ebooks? Forget it.

Freelance writing? Why? Had a perfectly good job, a lot more respectable one than writing.

Hopefully, it won’t take something drastic to force the action, like a firing or layoff for a person to get started.

What’s wrong with pursuing something while still working a job?

Most of my ebook writing has been done an hour at a time, scratched out on a legal pad with any moment I can steal. On a bus ride. While waiting for the doctor. Standing in line at the supermarket checkout counter. Even speaking your thoughts or humming that music composition into a portable recorder while driving to work (speaking from experience, it’s a lot safer than writing on a legal pad at 75 mph). Shoot, I could have done that with two jobs, as long as I don’t get complacent.

Maybe even helping a friend out, like Paul did.

But just start.

# # #

What say you? Have you been making good use of those stolen moments? Please leave a comment and testify.


Announcement: My latest ebook, Hard Reboot, is now available on Amazon. Covers some of the same territory as this post. Paul’s story is not in it, though. I thought about that later.





Oct 222013
When that thing breaks, all sorts of things happen.

When that thing breaks, all sorts of things happen.

Yesterday was the day from Hell.

Five hours’ sleep, so I was cranky.

Lots of creative work that day, so my brain was fried.

Bike out of commission, so a lot of walking.

Finished up some for-pay work, so I’m drained.

Feeling every one of my 29 years. Or something. Couldn’t even tell good lies.


So when I got home for the nightly writing session on a longer project, forget it.

I’d been going 1,500 to 4,000 words every day for several weeks straight. Nice average.

But last night?

Started without really being interested. Sick of the project. Sick of writing.

OK, so it was time to write, but it’s sort of like taking those meds. Don’t want to, but have to. This is going to be my absolute minimum, 250 words. For me, 250 means not really showing up. A token appearance, like when the President hops from one inauguration party to another. Hello, shake a couple of hands, pose for another picture, see ya.

Cranked on the computer, vision in a fog, fingers hurting, head hurting, everything hurting. Even 250 was gonna hurt.

Then wrote.

Don’t have any idea how it happened, but something did.

The Muse dropped by to say howdy.

Logged 1,500 words, or 1,250 more than I intended. Even roughed out some notes for today, about 100 words’ worth. Only total fatigue forced me to stop.

I got it just from showing up.

* * *

This is a long way of saying that’s what happens. Thoroughly uninspired, you show up anyway.

Then something happens.

The dam breaks.

All the time I’ve had this blog — and long before — I’ve been writing about just showing up for work. But to see it happen for real, live and in person, it still amazes me.

Sitting around waiting for inspiration is a crock.

The artist or writer who needs to feel inspired is a wanna-be. A never-was.

Inspiration shows up when you do. And if that crazy lady doesn’t visit, you’ve still got something. Something is always better than nothing.

(Wrote these lines with maybe a sip of coffee in me. Just got up from a hard sleep. Medication hasn’t kicked in yet.)

# # #

What say you? Have you ever seen what happens when that dam breaks like that? Isn’t it fun? Please share your experiences.