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A new blog for a new book

Still here? It's over, go home. Go.

No, amend that last statement (which, I hope you know, I took from Ferris Bueller). Don't go home. Instead, go to the new blog for my new book, Cheeseland, coming May 29 from Eckhartz Press. There you will find the latest news about my upcoming book and my latest ramblings. 

So, please, again, don't go home. Go, instead, to www.cheeselandthebook.com. You'll be glad you did.


New life for an old book

Yesterday, I downloaded Lost in the Ivy to my iPhone. I paid Amazon.com $9.99 for the right to download by own book. It’s a steep price to pay to read a book that you wrote, but it’s kind of cool that now when someone asks me what I’ve written, all I have to do is pull my iPhone out of my pocket and show it to them.

Six years after my book was released as a paperback, it has been given a new life as an electronic book, available now through Amazon’s Kindle store and for an extra $4.72 through Google’s eBookstore. Why Google is charging more for air than Kindle is I have no idea. The ebook landscape is still being charted and no one can be sure where it’s going, but I’d be stunned if the prices for ebooks don’t drop dramatically as they increasingly gain a stronger foothold on the market.

Ebooks give old books a new lease on life, and that’s a step in the right direction. All they have to do to take a giant leap forward and make that new life one worth living is to take a lesson from the music industry and do the right thing: drop the price.  


New life for an old man

Back in the fall, I started a quest to regain two things I’d loved and lost: running and writing.

When I first wrote about this quest, I didn’t reveal everything behind it. I didn’t want to tell all because I was afraid I was setting myself up for failure, that I wouldn’t be able to achieve the goals I had set for myself. One always wants a happy ending, and I couldn’t be sure that I would have one.

I kept to myself that when I started this quest, I would be reaching a milestone age the next year. That next year is now this year, and later this year I’ll hit the half-century mark of my life. My goals were that before I reached the ripe age of 50, I would run a marathon and finish my second novel.

I’ve always likened writing a novel to running a marathon, and so joining these two goals had a sort of synergism. Both require determination and perseverance, an ability to keep pushing on in the face of adversity. In running, you hit a wall. In writing, you get a block. If you let that wall or that block stop you, you will never finish a marathon or a novel.

I’d finished a novel before, so I knew I had it in me. I’d never even tried running a marathon. The longest competitive race I ever ran was 10 miles, not even half of a marathon. So I was not as confident that I could complete a marathon, especially since I was battling back from knee problems that had sidelined me from running for five years. The odds were definitely against me. A couple times over those five years I had tried to revive my running only to have my knees kick me back to reality.

When you’re staring up at age fifty, you look back at all of the things you’ve done and all of the things you still wanted to do. The two things I really still wanted to do were to run a marathon and finish that second novel. The novel I’d started about the same time I’d stopped running. I seemed to be stuck, and I started to wonder if I’d ever finish it.

Then came the idea, spurred by a book given to me by a dear friend, to bring these two lost loves, writing and running, together. To see if I could get them back.

If you read this blog, you know that I stopped writing about this quest a little over a month after I started it. The last post I wrote about it told of how my running quest had been slowed by a mini-vacation and the sickness I brought home from that vacation. But I was optimistic and eager to start running again and even had geared up for the cold weather to come by buying $300 worth of fall running wear.

I didn’t write another entry after that because, well, as I already noted, no one wants a sad ending to what is supposed to be an inspirational quest. The second day I hit the pavement in my fancy new running wear, my knees gave out on me. I tried resting them. I tried Ibuprofen. I tried hot and cold therapy. I tried a knee wrap. But I couldn’t run without pain. So I quit. I gave up my running quest. My goal of running a marathon was over just like that.

Jump ahead a little over four months. Like a lot of others, we (my wife and I) bought a treadmill right after the new year. Two months later, I’m still running on it. Without pain. It’s a good feeling. My knees can’t take the pounding of the pavement but apparently they can take the tread.

Through all of the running ups and downs, I kept pounding on the keystrokes. All of that pounding has finally paid off.  A couple days ago, I wrote The End on that novel. I know that story is not over, and in some ways, it’s just begun. Trying to find a publisher for a novel can be as tough if not tougher than writing it.

I’ve still got several months before I reach that half-century mark on my life. I’m more ready for it to come than I was before, because I’ve already accomplished one of the two things that I wanted to do before it came. And, best of all, I’ve gotten back both of those lost loves.


Reality Check

Running faster than a speeding bullet. Writing with more power than a locomotive. 

In my fantasy world, that's how this one month update to my personal running-and-writing quest would have begun. 

In the real world, it goes more like this... 

Running faster than a trotting turkey. Writing with more power than a loco burro (translated: crazy donkey). 

In all seriousness, I thought this quest would go better than it has. I started it with what I considered realistic ambitions. I knew I wouldn't be able to run every day and write every day. But I at least thought I would be able to keep up a strong, steady pace. And I did. For the first three weeks. 

Then the reality check came. We took a short trip to Orlando to hang with Mickey, Goofy and those pesky Florida love bugs. That knocked out four days. But I tried to make up for that with extra running and writing leading up to those four days. What I didn't count on was coming back sick.  

Ah, there it is...the reality check. 

Early on in this quest, I foolishly wrote that one can always make time for the things one really wants to do. You just have to make those things a priority. 

What I failed to account for in this equation is that things happen to get in the way of our priorities. It can be your job demands. It can be your family demands. Or it can be sickness.

 When you're sick, it's hard to do much of anything, other than lie in bed and feel sorry for yourself. It's hard to think. It's hard to even move.  

I'm fortunate, though. The kind of sickness I have isn't the kind that will be around forever. I'll get better and I'll get back to that quest. Hopefully sooner than later. Because if I don't, the $300 I just spent at Dick's Sporting Goods on fall running wear will be a real waste of money.


Fear Factor

Time, or the lack of it, is an easy scapegoat.

We don't do something because, well, we don't have the time for it. We're juggling too many things and something has to give. Right?

Wrong. I've come to believe that blaming time for not doing something is a cop out. There's always time. If there's time to watch the Bears play the Lions on Sunday afternoon, then there's time to write.

Sure, we're busy. But there's always time. If you don't do something, it's not because you didn't have the time for it; it's because you didn't make it a priority.

I used to blame the lack of time for not writing. It was a lot easier to use this excuse after I became a parent, because, well, there was a lot less time to do the things I want to do. A lot of that time that used to go to me goes to my son. That's a reality of parenthood. 

But that doesn't mean that I don't have time to write. I do, as long as I make it a priority. Something, of course, has to give. You might have to skip that Bears game, or do as I did today and hold off on tuning in until the last five minutes. As it turned out, that last five minutes was all anyone needed to watch. In those last five minutes, the Bears scored to take the lead and the Lions scored to take the lead back only to have the touchdown taken away, giving the Bears an ugly W.  

So the question becomes, why wasn't I making writing a priority for so long? The answer, I think, is fear. Fear that I'm not going to be able to find the words. Fear that I'm wasting my time. Fear that I'm not good enough.

The only way to overcome that fear is to acknowledge that it exists and to confront it. In other words, you've got to face your fears.

I've come face-to-face with two fears that I'd let control me for two long. One fear that if I kept running, I'd be crippled by the time I was sixty. And a second fear that I'm not a good enough writer.

Who knows, maybe if I keep running, I will be crippled by the time I'm sixty. And maybe I'm not a good enough writer. I'm just not going to let those fears stop me from doing the things I love any more. I'm not going to let the fear factor beat me any more.