The Life in My Years

An anthology of life

To the delight of some, the yawns of others and the chagrin of many, The Life in My Years is back in business.

Well, that was a short hiatus.

Some may ask, “Why?” Others, “Why can’t you just stay away?”

I had originally planned to suspend the blog indefinitely, if not shut it down permanently, in order to write a book.

Well, along the short, book writing road I’ve travelled I was reminded, rudely mind you, how hard writing a book can be.

Don’t get me wrong, writing, period, is hard. At times writing a simple blog post is like trying to drive a ten penny nail into solid oak by force of will.

Writing a book is harder. But if you don’t believe me, take it from someone who actually does it for a living.
“Writing is a hellish task, best snuck up on, whacked on the head, robbed and left for dead.”
~ Ann-Marie MacDonald, author, The Way the Crow Flies

I knew that writing a book about a six week road trip would be daunting. I realized that extra research, combing through notes, listening to hours of recordings, organizing it all and then trying to determine an acceptable format would take the kind of dedication required of a full time job. And then add to that learning how to present a manuscript to someone who might think that it would be worthwhile reading, worth even killing a few trees for.

I’d grasped just how hard the work would be. Well, maybe I did.

What I didn’t take into consideration is that the process is thankless – fucking thankless. There are no rewards until you hand the manuscript, or at least a sample, to a friend or colleague who in turn tells you it’s great stuff. Beware of friends and colleagues. They’re the people who tell you that your barbeque is so good that you should open a restaurant – the one that fails within months, because your barbeque isn’t so great. The real reward, or at least some inkling of a reward is when someone, a real player in the game, says, “Sure this looks pretty darn good. Here’s a tiny check for your huge troubles. Oh and by the way, there is more work to be done.”

And what if that someone tells you to take your work and go kick rocks. And then many someones after that tell you the same thing. Well, hell, I don’t even want to think about that.

I do though.

And I’m in good company. No less than Stephen King, Norman Mailer and William Least Heat Moon were tracked by doubts while writing their works. I’d say that it drove Mailer to drink but he drank before, during and after writing.

There were times while staring blankly at a computer screen that I thought that there’s no end game here, at least nothing within sight. Too many times I’ve been floating in a vast lonely ocean, dropping a hook and line in the water hoping to catch inspiration and have come away starving. Other times it’s like dropping a net and pulling up a bounty. Either way, I’ve no real idea if what I’ve put down in a document is worth a damn. The end game is acceptance or rejection, pass or fail, and the process takes so damned long. It’s like taking the SAT – for months, or even years.

None of this was helped by the fact that there was an ongoing crisis in the domestic circle since July. It worsened when I returned from the Midwest, and it dominated my waking hours, rudely shoving away creativity. It all came to a head just around Thanksgiving because that’s when a family crisis is, according to some spiteful law of human nature, supposed to come to a head. After some shuttle diplomacy it seems that a détente has been achieved. It was like having a straight jacket removed. Well, I guess it was. I’ve never been confined to a straight jacket and hence never had one loosened, despite the opinions by some that one ought to be a permanent accessory to my wardrobe collection.

Does reviving the blog mean that I’ve quit the book?


Well, not yet anyway.

Recently It occurred to me that what I need in order to keep fecundity from coagulating like a diet of deep fried Twinkies and clogging the creative flow is something to keep me engaged with readers.

The blog.

With nearly every blog post, except the ones that you realize during the writing process are trash, there’s light at the end of the tunnel. Even emptying the trash is arriving at an end that leads to another beginning.

And there’s gratification, feedback, even if a comment runs along the lines of, “I could eat alphabet soup and shit a better piece.” What the hell, at least I made a connection. Right?

And so, I’m back in business, just in time for the holidays. Depending on your point of view, think of it as the gift that keeps on giving – or like getting COVID for the second time around.

“Writing is easy. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter and wait for drops of blood to form on your forehead.” ~ Gene Fowler, author and journalist

Banner photo: The window at Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In, Seligman, Arizona

34 thoughts on “Sorry, We’re Open

  1. I for one am glad your back! Your and sometimes sarcastic humor always puts a smile on my face. 😀 Keep at it!!

    1. Forgot to add wit!

    2. Anonymous says:

      Love your writing !!!!

      1. Paul says:

        Thank you so much.

    3. Paul says:

      Thank you Carolyn. I’m glad to be back and putting a smile on your face. When all seems to fail I like to fall back on puppies, sunsets and a little self-flagellation.

  2. Glad to see you back, Paulie! Hope the book works out.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Audrey, I hope so too. I do know that after a month or so of frustration and nothing seeming to work, just one blog post seemed to break the logjam.

  3. Don’t give up the book yet, Paul. This summer I finished my novel after, well, several blood transfusions and many years of work, including editing, murdering critics, re-editing, a life sentence and re-re-editing. But! In the end, there it was! My novel, and I was happy! So keep the book alive, and good to have you’re blog back.

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Peter, You certainly do paint a rosy picture of the prospect laying before me. It might just drive me to take a page out of Mailer’s manual and just start drinking. The book lives and just one blog post has reenergized me. Thank you as always for your kind words. Congratulations on your book. Title?

      1. Good to read your book is still alive, Paul. My novel, written in Dutch, is named: De Winter van het Plan. That translates in English as, lo and behold, The Winter of the Plan. (Wich shows the Germanic languages derive from the same roots). It’s about an art colony on Mallorca, where foreigners settled for several reasons, among others the cheap housing and beer. A young man from the native inhabitants gets back to his village after a study on the mainland. Shortly after his return he developes a plan…. (suspense! 🙂 ) … that will disturb the peaceful life of the artists. Shocked they think of ways tot kill the Plan. There’s a lot more to it, but this in short is the plot. 🙂

  4. Jane Fritz says:

    You are definitely a gift that keeps on giving, Paulie. I’m delighted to see you back! You’ll get there with your book, and I have every expectation that it will be worth however long the wait is, but writing a book is a journey. You need to find a way to make it as enjoyable for yourself as the original journey was. Don’t rush it, savour it!

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Jane. Thank you for the kind words. The one blog post, actually completing something, went a long way in clearing up some writer’s block. You are correct of course. While writing is hard there has to be some enjoyment. The blog feedback is encouraging.
      Thank you again.

  5. eden baylee says:

    FUCK YEAH! YOU KNOW I’m thrilled you are still writing here. Your blogs are but snippets of the bigger picture of your writing.

    While we wait for your book, this blog will do, regardless of how frequently or infrequently you add to it. No pressure.
    Nothing good comes of something that is easy to achieve.
    If writing a book were easy, every bloody fool would be doing it.
    It’s not easy, as you know. It means accomplishing it makes it that much more worthwhile.

    1. Paul says:

      Dear Eden,
      I really wish you wouldn’t be so understated in your comments. C’mon, let it fly 😂.

      You have so often been my writing lifeline during the short time that I’ve known you. I can’t express how much your comments and encouragement have helped.

      Writing and publishing a blog post was like, oh, passing a kidney stone. Everything seems to flow again.

      “If writing a book were easy, every bloody fool would be doing it.” You’re right dammit. I’m not just every bloody fool, I’m my own, unique bloody fool 😏.

      Thank you again. The blogosphere gods were looking favorably when I found your blog.


      1. eden baylee says:

        I feel the same about finding your blog, so great to have a politico and intelligent thinker to chat with. 😀

  6. mavimet says:

    I’m glad to see you back – but happy that you are still going to be working on your book.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you so much. Doing a blog post seemed to lighten the load and make the work of writing enjoyable again.


  7. Steve j. says:

    Hey Paul! Glad to see another posting! I was wondering what had happened.

    1. Paul says:

      Hi Steve,
      What happened? Oh writer’s block, disgust and some self loathing. Nothing serious. Thank you. Glad to be posting again.


  8. nesfelicio says:

    Glad you’re open.

    1. Paul says:

      I’m happy to be open again. Thank you.

  9. Floweringink says:

    I love this post! Every word hit bone. Writing is so hard! Writing the Blog posts often inspires me to work on the other stuff too, the book stuff. am glad you’re back!

    1. Paul says:

      Hi Susan! You are so right. Writing the blog post was like lifting a load off. Thank you the kind words and I hope you are faring well.


  10. Hello Paul,
    I too want to say I am glad you have decided to resume your wonderful blog.
    Hope you and all your loved ones continue to stay safe and well.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you so much. Writing a post actually has lifted some of the writer’s block. You stay well also. Thank you again for reading and commenting.


  11. Toonsarah says:

    So great to see you back! Having met many authors in my time (I worked in children’s librarianship and had connections to a number of publishers who invited me to book launches, literary dinners etc 😀 ), I reckon your assessment of the life of a writer isn’t far off the mark. The one thing I would say is that you don’t necessarily have to wait until it’s finished to start to seek professional feedback. Often agents and publishers are willing to look at a synopsis plus first few chapters and give you an indication of whether you’re on the right lines. Have you thought of approaching any?

    From what I’ve read on your blog it’s clear you have the knack of engaging readers and telling a great yarn with a very personal spin and unique voice. I’m sure you’ll succeed, but it may take persistence, hard work, time and a bit of luck! But I think you know that … 🙂

    1. Paul says:

      Hello Sarah, Thank you so much for the kind words.

      Having read a few biographies and autobiographies of some writers I’ve been forewarned about the trials in putting together a book.

      For me, just putting together a blog post requires some heavy lifting. Editing – ugh. Still it’s rewarding and it’s fun.

      When I first started on the book, turning notes into actual copy, I found myself trying to be someone I wasn’t and that was making it difficult and frustrating. I’ve since turned to writing the book as if it were a longer version of my blog and it’s become easier and more satisfying.

      “Often agents and publishers are willing to look at a synopsis plus first few chapters and give you an indication of whether you’re on the right lines. Have you thought of approaching any?”

      I have.

      I just finished reading the book Writing Blue Highways and the author took that path. He ran into a lot of dead ends but in the end he found the path forward. I’ve still got a distance to go before getting to that trailhead. I still have a lot of research to go, touching base with some people who I met, working on a format and of course, the writing itself.
      (If you haven’t read the book Blue Highways, I highly recommend it. Great book about a long road trip. It inspired my own 8500 mile journey through the Midwest).

      I hope that you have a joyous holiday season. I must say that your photo editing has me in awe. Excellent work.


  12. Hettie D. says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts, and by the end of the month, I might even have time :). Welcome back!

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Hettie. By the end of the month, I might even have another post.


      1. Hettie D. says:

        I didn’t say I didn’t read that one;), I hope that more are coming!

  13. Chris says:

    Yay! Welcome back. Keep on bleeding. It’s worth it.

    1. Paul says:

      Thank you Chris. It’s good to be back and absolutely the bleeding is worth it.


  14. Having just discovered your blog, I’m delighted that it’s revived, and that there is a book in the offing. To compliment to your two exquisite quotes, I’ll add Voltaire’s “To hold a pen is to be at war.” But we’ll worth it!

    1. Paul says:

      First of all, I apologize for the late response.
      Thank you you so much for reading and for the kind words. I hope that my future pieces will live up to expectations.

Would love to hear from you

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