10th Anniversary Post – Theatre of Dreams

Posted on May 18, 2021

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I Looking at the stats, this blog is nearly dead. I would’ve missed the anniversary entirely if Bam hadn’t mentioned it to me on the sofa whilst watching TV. Why is this? I’ve been contemplating this for a while. Years, literally.

  • First, I haven’t been into the darkroom in ages.
  • Second, WordPress. Despite nearly unanimous feedback to the contrary (I saw 750 negative responses begging them not to before they closed the thread), WordPress has decided that people blog from cell phones exclusively and made the blogging experience truly horrendous. Like this is the most painful word-processing experience of my life. I’m about ready to take up texting it’s so bad.
  • Third, well, Amber has pretty much taken over documenting our lives, just leading me free to record original thoughts, of which apparently I have few.
  • Fourth, I can’t actually post any of my stories here because that voids the “first publication” rights making them ineligible to submit. So, eventually once I’ve given up publishing you’ll get my failures.
  • Fifth, clearly I’m not fishing enough.

But I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently. The best part of the last ten years is that I’m in a great relationship, a salvation really from some pretty bad options I had set myself upon. But since I closed Balefire, I’ve been in a funk. And when I look at things I have to ask why. I’m actually publishing fairly regularly. I’m remodeling our house at a glacial, but noticeable pace. I’m building a nice motorcycle with a good friend. I finally have some fulfillment from having a wood shop and using it most days, as Amber’s galleries will attest. And I have a “career,” working my way up from house painter to head of an Agile transformation at a major company. So what is my problem?

My problem, I think is that this is the first time in my life I haven’t worked for myself in some way shape or form. I’ve closed all my businesses and don’t even need an accountant to do my taxes anymore. I actually made more money, had more free time, and got more joy out of painting houses than I do cubicle farming. I can drive by houses I painted in high school that still look good. In corporate America I just get to make fat white men fatter; and lose my job if their stock prices fall. Like that is the fault of the people being managed and not their lack of leadership. Hardly rewarding. At the end of the day if I don’t go out and at least make some sawdust I’d feel I accomplished nothing, despite winning two awards last year from the white guys for my day job.

This is despite having ample opportunity to write. I’m writing, but I’m not writing. I haven’t embraced it fully. Or, perhaps I haven’t let it embrace me fully. I did spend 15 years getting Mikhail’s book out (shit, I posted on FB and never even blogged about it!), and I’ve been either published or edited quite a few things this year.

Books I’ve been published in/worked on this year

Hellcats, for crying out loud, is literally going to the moon in some time capsule. I won the 2019 Outdoor Writers of America Most Humorous Magazine Article. I made honorable mention in the 2020 Voelker awards. (I will win that someday.) I can literally publish almost anything I write, either in fly fishing magazines or writing to market for anthologies, a new skill that is kind of like a hooker putting on a maid’s costume and wig, but if that’s what it takes…Ironically, that all started here. The first story I published here has now been republished five times. You would think I’d still be dancing with who brung me wouldn’t ya?

But my own work, my novels, my fly fishing genre (as my friend Erik says my “fly fishing revenge genre”) work is languishing. And, as I enter the “midnight slide” (thank you Fritz Leiber for that term and that story) – the point in our lives when the time in front is so much shorter than that behind, I’m not going to promise to suddenly make this happen. Because I’m sure I’ve said that before. And it hasn’t. And I kind of have this thing about doing what I say I’m going to do, so I’m pretty pissed about that.

There is something slowly eating me. I haven’t even skied in a decade. I haven’t been in the darkroom in five years. I haven’t built a rod in two. I’m co-owner in a mothballed brewery. I have a supposedly great job, a very nice house which is getting better every day, and was very thrilled to be locked away for a year with the woman I love, thank you Covid. But I haven’t reached out and made the most of my talents. My destiny. (My friend Ellen once asked me “What is a writer?” and I said, “Somebody who believes they have the something to say and the hubris to put it out there and find out.” While the verdict may be out on if I have something to say, I’m sure their would be unanimity on the hubris.)

So, all I can tell you is that there is something out there, some other great untasted adventure. I can feel it boiling beneath the surface, a song in the marrow, a call to live free or die that is birthing as I write this. Stay posted. It should be fun.

Posted in: Essays