Small Steps

I’m trying to rearrange the way I invest my time.

I want to take better care of myself, physically and emotionally. I want to spend more time doing things I enjoy. I’m like everybody else, trying to balance a long list of want to and must do items.

The challenge isn’t any different today than it’s been for years.  I think my approach is different now.

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Not Writing

I am always thinking about writing. All day long, all evening , and when I wake up in the middle of the night, I think about writing.

My problem is that I don’t write. I’m at a loss to explain why.

I have hundreds of ideas. Ideas for stories. Concepts for novels. Memories to share. Commentaries. Essays. Observations about people or the events taking place around me. Even the occasional journal entry.

I don’t turn my ideas into finished pieces. Hell, most of the time I don’t turn them into drafts.

I have the time to write, too. Not endless hours to write and re-write and ponder the meaning of each word, but enough time to move a piece forward, to finish a short note, or to tell a little story. I can choose to write when I have the time. I can choose to make the time to write.

But I don’t.

I find other things to fill the time. Sometimes useful, even important things, and sometimes I just waste time.

Setting little goals — a small daily word count, a short blog post, even a tweet or two – hasn’t worked. Taking a class hasn’t worked. Something has kept me from my keyboard for months, and I’m trying to fight through it and start writing again.

Here’s a start. We’ll see what happens next.

Discovering the Writer in Me

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, during the late 1970s, I made a living of sorts writing for The Ithaca Journal, a small daily newspaper in Upstate New York. It was a Gannett-owned paper, published six days a week, in a time when newspapers were the primary source of news and information in small cities throughout the United States.

The sports editor there was a veteran of 35 years in the newspaper business named Kenny Van Sickle. He hired me the summer between my freshman and sophomore year in college to work the evening sports desk and cover a high school football or basketball games on the weekend.

What he didn’t fully explain to a naïve sports fan who found writing easy was that most of those nights I’d work alone, answering phone call after phone call until 11 pm or later from high school coaches or their appointed student manager or parent “volunteer,” with information about their games. Then, the writing would start. I’d  pound out as many as 25 pages of double-spaced text, all heavily formatted with special symbols to talk to the “computer typesetting machine.” before I could go home, sleep a couple of hours, then wake for class the next day.

He never tried to explain to me that I would come to know the phone number of many, many bars and other haunts where these people, even some of the students,  could be found when they didn’t make the phone call I was expecting and needed to be tracked down for the information I sought.

I doubt he could have known how much I’d love the work and the writing and everything that went with it.

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