Attach Seat to Chair

This sentence doesn’t know where it’s going. This sentence feels pretentious. This sentence doesn’t like serifs but knows it’s trapped. This sentence feels lucky but guilty. This sentence is retired.

After wanting to leave Corporate America for more than fifteen years, I feel suddenly overwhelmed that I have done it – the dog that caught the bus—now what? I was ready for it. I was not ready for it.

At one point – before banking – before B-school – I was an English major. And it was assumed that if anyone might produce the Great American Novel in my family, it would be me. I actually wrote a couple of books in my twenties, but they needed a lot of work which I was unwilling to invest at the time. Meanwhile, my spouse found a new lease on life as a writer and gravitated to it full time when our children came along. She started it with a discipline that she developed into a craft and thirty plus books later, there’s no longer any doubt who is the writer in the family. And yet .. and yet.. the urge is still there for me.

So through this blog, I hope to find that voice I might have had – might still have – with no silly excuses about making a living to get in the way. Once each year at Christmas, I have successfully shared insights that people find worth reading. It might not be through the Great American Novel, but when was the last time we read one of those anyway? (That seems like an excellent topic for a future blog, note to self.)

The only problem I’ve had is despite wanting to be a writer until I was 25, and majoring in English, and discussing the idea and the process and other writers at length with my parents – both of whom were experts (one had a PhD and the other a Masters degree in Lit-ra-ture) – when it actually comes to putting words on the page, the muse often fails me. This is where all fledgling writers have to put up or shut up. As my award-winning novelist spouse points out, only 2% of people with ideas in their heads actually put them on paper. And only 2% of those finish the book. And roughly only 2% of those find a publisher to put it into that world – that latter statistic much higher now in this self-publishing age. But still – the odds of going from this random sentence to putting it in front a future audience are not high.

As I said, I managed to crank out an entire trilogy back in the ‘80s (feminist fantasy, kind of like Joanna Russ meets JK Rowling… I think there might have been dragons in it, there definitely was magic). But I did not find the discipline that was required to make it well written and interesting. I also gained an incredible respect for all writers who get it on the paper, improve it through intelligent pruning and self-editing, and then suffer through the feedback and editing suggestions of others, not to mention the mechanics of getting it into print. Whenever I think about writing, I find myself thinking quite often about spreadsheets which don’t yawn with boredom or ask why there isn’t more ____ (fill in the blank as you wish, more sex, more politics, more action, more humor, more of Something Else).

All writers have that urge to share precious pearls of wisdom. And also writers share the panic and fear that it will be uninteresting. It didn’t stop Faulkner or Jackie Collins or Karin Kallmaker. So it can’t stop me!

We had a rather infamous AP English teacher in high school – Larry Frazier – (we called him Jesus because of the beard and the way he preached rather than taught). He gave us the best Two Rules for Writing ever articulated.

Rule #1: Attach Seat to Chair

Rule #2: Begin Writing

Heaven knows, after thirty years at a large bureaucratic financial institution like Bank of America, I am a Rule Follower. So no more excuses. Forward type!

0 Replies to “Attach Seat to Chair”

  1. Fabulous. Having read all two of your blog posts, including the banking one, and finding myself fascinated and not bored with the banking logo, I ask, why not writ THAT book? The book on the view from inside the distorted bubble? The view is not any better, right?

    That’s a book on the collapse that I’d actually read. Especially when you tie in the historical info (that I only vaguely was aware of).

  2. Enjoying this blog—just read all entries to date! I did the Retire thing a couple years ago, and I was surprised to find out my wife found me a bit annoying for a couple months! LOL…I was Finance Director at Mercedes, and then when I got home, I’d write for a couple hours. I usually worked from Noon to Nine p.m., so I got sent off with a packed lunch and then either ate dinner at work or had a bite to eat when I got home. Now that I’m home, we have breakfast, lunch and dinner. But, it didn’t happen smoothly!

    After about two months of being retired, my wife made an announcement: Everyone is on their own for lunch. Wha–? Who’s “everyone”? Dog gets lunch, the cat gets lunch. All arrows were pointing to me. LOLOL. OK, so on my own for lunch, OK fine. I’ll have what you’re having! LOL

    But then I heard, “I used to just have spinach and a poached egg for dinner, every night.” That, of course, was a bit of an exaggeration (sometimes she’d make a BLT), but I got the message. I was becoming a labor intensive member of the family. So after about two days of “everyone’s on their own,” it turns out the mess I make in the kitchen isn’t worth it! (Whew!).

    And from my side, I now had all the time in the world to write. Oh, no you don’t. I was pressed into household duties, running errands and keeping her company while she was gardening! Of course, I loved it and am grateful to be a part of something bigger than myself…but, but, but. Nah. Here, hand me that dish towel, er, gardening trowel.

    Now, two years later, we are happy in the “balance” that is (usually) our day! I don’t actually know how it came about, but I’m thinking Divine Intervention. And I nap, now. My wife always took a nap while I worked, but I could never fall asleep on my days off. Took me years to get the napping arts down, and now? Now I am one! I highly recommend napping for refreshing creativity, but yoga at the Senior Center may work, too! LOL

    As for writing–go for it! Your writing voice, even in non-fiction, is great! One word of advice that I’m sure you’ve heard at home: stop judging your writing until you begin to edit! Go wild, be dangerous, take risks, sounds silly, make typos, misspell words, trip over homonyms, dangle your participles! There’s not a day I don’t learn something new about the craft of writing, and I’ve been writing for decades. Indeed, if I don’t learn something new by 6 p.m., I go looking! You’re retired! Do it your way! (…and maybe go shoe shopping once in a while with that other writer! 😉 ) Best to you…tarra

    1. Tarra — really appreciate the commentary. I don’t think I put in a blog much about the little “friction” we had when it first became clear to my Other that I would be home all day, every day. But we also worked it out — through a schedule. The calendar was the FIRST thing I did, and she started using it to communicate when I should bug off and let her WRITE. I’m finding things to do away from home when she really wants to WRITE and she’s also giving me a couple afternoons at home to have the house to myself. (That’s when she can do her shoe shopping which for me would be like watching paint dry.) Because what is the point of getting rid of your children if you’re just going to bump into each other all the time. I also appreciate the note on not self-editing. It was REALLY hard to get the blog up and going mentally. It’s working because I have told myself I have to do it weekly, and, therefore, there is a deadline, and I know how to meet deadlines. So far, all the feedback from everyone has been so positive, that I am definitely inspired to keep going, keep learning, keep stretching and keep everyone engaged. So thanks!!!

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