More about Having a Thing

More about Having a Thing

One of the strangest things I think I’ve seen on social media is an almost rage from some when someone shares with them something they associate with that person. By this I mean…let’s just say someone is really into flying kites. Articles about kites are written every spring and people share the articles with the kite flyer…who’s probably seen the articles because they’re really into kites. Instead of a polite, “Thank you,” and moving on, it becomes this:

People, I am really into kites…do you not think that I haven’t seen the things you share with me since that is my thing?! I see these articles weeks before the rest of you — there’s no reason to keep sending me these things, so stop!

The Horror!

If the New York Times, Forbes, or someplace else has an article about podcasting, chances are several people will share it on my Facebook wall or email me the link. The rare juggling article: I’ve probably seen it weeks before the people forwarding it to me, sure…but how hard is it to say, “Thanks,” or even — if one feels the need — “I’ve seen this already, but thanks for thinking about me.”

Because that’s why people share some things, and why I can never get mad when someone sends a podcasting article I’ve already seen 10 times: it means in the minds of people who share these things that I am what they think of when they think about podcasting.

Stuff about Amtrak’s writer residency program I received, recently, means people think about me when they think about writers they know.

If a juggling video shows up on people’s feeds, it’s often sent my way because people associate me with the juggler they know.

The Thing(s)

I recently wrote about the power of having a thing. These are the things that mean the most to me in life:

  • Being a good husband, son, friend
  • Being a good writer
  • Being a good juggler
  • Being a good podcaster

So if people send me articles about writing, juggling, or podcasting, it means I’m doing my job on some level. It also means if they hear about an opportunity for any of these things — chances are — they will come to me with the opportunity before others.

Really…how bad is that?

Body of Work II

Body of Work II

I’ve talked before about creating a body of work before (even used an image of piled wood to make the point). In fact, that post was in honor of the 25th episode of the Men in Gorilla Suits podcast. Today marks Episode 53 — our one-year anniversary!

Whether hit with overtime at work, sick, busy with other things that come with living life, or even just wanting a weekend or two off, we produced a weekly show for a year — never skipping a week! Looking at the Podcasts page of the site really is a bit like looking at a pile of stacked wood. Everything said in that first blog post about creating a body of work is true: sticking with something regularly results in the ability to look back and see a big pile of work you created!

In this case, it’s a weekly podcast, but it’s not much different than restoring a car over time, creating illustrations or paintings, or piling up pages of a book. The formula is simple:

Effort + Time = Body of Work

Speaking of Books…

The last time I posted, here, was to announce that I was taking a break from social media, and even slowing down with blogs. I wanted even better focus and clarity in the work I do. It did not take long to find both. With the focus of really getting back to the novel-in-progress, I was able to see that the book I’m writing is really three books. So instead of one big book about June’s life and rise to fame as a magician, it will be several books about June’s life — and that excites me more than I’ve ever been excited about anything I’ve written.

For the sake of word count in a single novel, there were things I wanted to stick with longer, but had to move on to other things to avoid a ridiculously large book. June is born in a circus, and circus life lasts only three chapters in what I was doing. I’m now able to spend more time in the places that shape June as she grows into a young woman on her own by the end of what is now the first book of three.

In all the years I’ve been writing, I’ve never enjoyed it more…

There’s Something In The Bushes

There’s Something In The Bushes

Last night, my wife called me to the bedroom to look at something outside.

“What is that?” she said.

In the bushes, something glowed.

I said it looked like a reflection, but as a car passed by, the object seemed to emit its own light. Light from headlights didn’t affect it at all.

My wife said, “I wonder if someone threw a cigarette in the bushes?”

“It’s kind of…up there,” I said. “Like it’s floating.”

“Well, if there’s a discarded cigarette in the bushes, best to head down to put it out.”

Downstairs

Standing before the bushes, the light was gone. What was there a moment before had vanished. Could it have been a one-eyed cat looking directly at a light on an angle different than the road? Maybe the cat heard us approaching and took off?

“Is that a cable?” my wife said.

It definitely looked like a cable in the bushes.

And if it had been glowing, I wanted to be sure it was done. I got a much closer look and saw a metal clasp — the source of the reflection. I realized it wasn’t a cable; instead, it looked like…shoelaces? As I pulled on the black cord, I felt something swing out of the bushes.

At the end of the lanyard now in my hand was a key.

My First Thought

Upon seeing the key, my first thought was, “We need to look for the trap door beneath the bushes that this key opens!”

In my mind, we had found a key to a different realm. Then I realized someone probably just lost their apartment key…or maybe a kid prone to losing their key was forced by their parents to wear it on a lanyard. Maybe bullies grabbed it and threw it in the bushes? Regardless of how it got there, it didn’t open a secret door.

And that made me kind of sad.

Sunday Night Sorrow

There was a time when Sunday nights depressed me. Sunday nights meant the weekend was over and a return to the day job was near.

I like my job these days, so that feeling is a thing of the past. But last night, in that moment of thinking, “This key is special,” it reminded me that I had a long weekend full of adventure. I saw people I cared about, and my wife and I spent a lot of time together. We even did this. So for the first time in a loooooooong time, I felt my heart sink a little bit at the thought of returning to work.

I’d spent five days living the life I imagined when I was 20 years old. I spent a little time traveling. I spent time writing. I spent time with my wife. Full time — not interrupted by any schedule but those we agreed upon.

Strange Perspectives

The feeling didn’t last long because, now that I’m in my 40s, I know the life we imagined at 20 is an unlikely thing. The day job is good and affords the luxury of a fun day trip, time with my wife, and time to write and make other things I enjoy making.

But finding that key — if only for a moment — represented something more. Putting the adventure through a magic portal thought aside, the key still represented open possibilities on a Sunday night. Not knowing what door it opened, it could open anything I imagined. Instead of ending a great and long weekend to return to work, that key could have opened something bigger than the usual routine.

My Key Ring

That key — that glowing key — represented so many possibilities. Of course, so does writing and all the other things I do.

If I look at a story, a novel, 4-5 podcasts a month, blog entries, and other things I make…I’m like the guy with a big key ring [full of possibilities]. And because I make these things regularly, a day is more likely to come along when one of those keys will open something really cool.

The Hell Comes With Wood Paneled Doors Podcast

The Hell Comes With Wood Paneled Doors podcast is live!

Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors is the first novel I ever wrote. It’s a humorous coming-of-age story about a family traveling cross country in a possessed station wagon.

In episode 1:

When Michael O’Brien’s father, James, buys a new car just in time for the family vacation, he signs away more than his old ’74 Gremlin as a trade in.

I hope you’ll come along on this 21-week ride. Think of it as summer vacation dragged out through the cold months coming up.

If you like the Hell Comes With Wood Paneled Doors podcast, I hope you’ll tell your friends about it.

Podcast

I’ve wanted to podcast my first novel for a couple years. I’ve wanted to do a bi-weekly podcast for The Juggling Writer since I started the blog almost a year ago.

My first novel, called Hell Comes with Wood Paneled Doors, is a humorous coming-of-age story about a family traveling cross country in a possessed station wagon. Check out the podcast here.

I’m still knocking around ideas for the The Juggling Writer podcast, but it’s something I’d really like to do.

I just found myself unemployed [again] after working for a month following a 7-month bout with unemployment.

Hopefully this time around with no job won’t last more than a week or two, but while I’m looking for work, I may as well put the time to good use and start figuring out how to get the best sound for podcasts.