Show of hands, how many liked gold stars in grade school? Me too.
My friend, Rosi Hollinbeck, who blogs at The Write Stuff http://rosihollinbeckthewritestuff.blogspot.com/, honored me with a Stylish Blogger Award, which is a kind of updated gold star for the information age.
What I have to do now is tell you seven things you did not know about me and then pass on the award to other bloggers I enjoy. So…
Seven Things You Did Not Know About Me
1) I was born in Poughkeepsie, NY, home town of at least one celebrity, Ed Wood, the cross-dressing director of Plan Nine From Outer Space who was played by Johnny Depp in the 1994 movie.
2) My first ambition in life, formed in early grade school, was to be a Paleontologist. I’d read a biography of Roy Chapman Andrews, who made important discoveries in the Gobi Desert, and I had visited the New York Museum of Natural History. Camp out in the desert, not wear a tie, dig up dinosaur bones – even today, that sounds like a pretty good job description!
3) When I was 15, my father’s work took the family to France for two years. Not only did I get to soak in the atmosphere and art of Europe at a very impressionable age, but I also absorbed a huge dose of cultural relativism. Since that time, I tend to experience every environment as an outsider – uncomfortable sometimes, especially when I was younger, but as a contemplative and a writer, seeing the ordinary as strange, and the strange as not so unusual has come to seem like a normal point of view.
4) I started writing stories about animals in the fourth grade. In the fifth grade, I wrote a sequel to Wind in the Willows. In high school I edited literary magazines. When I went to college, I majored in English – a bad move, I am convinced, for someone who wants to be a writer. English was so dry and the visual arts so compelling at that time, I transferred schools and majors in my junior year. This was either (1) an unfortunate detour that took me away from writing for several decades, or (2) a necessary path of self-discovery, depending on how I look at it. Most of the time, I see it as #2.
5) I taught drawing and photography at Butte College from 1980-1983, but after severe budget cuts, I went into computer graphics – not the whizzy, Pixar stuff, but engineering graphics, which proved to be a fortunate choice and a good way to make a living over the last quarter century.
6) A mutual friend had been trying to introduce Mary and me for some time, but she did not want to meet me. Only John’s threat of cutting her off from his excellent Sunday brunches persuaded her to come. Luckily for the both of us! If all goes well, we will celebrate our 35th anniversary in June.
7) At the end of December, I retired. A long chain of fortunate events and good karma allowed me to leave my day-job to work on pursuits like this that are closer to my heart. I have not written about it before this because I’m still not used to it. On Sunday afternoons, I still find myself thinking, “Oh crap, I haven’t done half of what I wanted to this weekend!” Only later do I realize that Mondays are not as tough as they used to be.
Some Favorite Blogs
1) Fiction after fifty: Interesting ideas, trends, hints aimed at writers starting out later in life. http://fictionafter50.com/
2) “I’ve noticed that blogs are mostly about the news, but I am going to go with The Olds. Like my erstwhile Concord neighbor Thoreau, I prefer to reflect upon the timeless.” So begins the brief introduction to the blog of Lama Surya Das, who reflects on these timeless concerns from a unique point of view, informed by Tibetan Buddhism, but accessible to anyone: http://surya.org/wp/
3) Dr. Amy Rogers, a fellow member of the local chapter of the California Writer’s Club, writes and reviews medical and science thrillers, everything from The Andromeda Strain to Hound of the Baskervilles on sciencethrillers.com: http://www.sciencethrillers.com/about/
4) At Tracking The Words, you can check the daily progress of a writer who has decided to self-publish this year. You can find numerous links to the rapidly changing technology and attitudes toward ebooks and other non-traditional methods of getting your story into the hands of interested readers. http://writingcycle.wordpress.com/
5) The Writer Unboxed: A very active site with a rich store of interviews with authors and people involved in publishing. I got some of the information for my post on Donald Maass from pieces on this site: http://writerunboxed.com/
There are far more interesting blogs than hours in the day to discover them, so I will continue this later.
Poughkeepsie, huh? I guess we have more in common that writing YA. Dave and I lived in Poughkeepsie from mid-1966 through mid-1971. I received my A.A. from Dutchess Community College in Liberal Arts. Pretty useless degree. Thanks for the blog suggestions. I don’t have enough time sinks in my life. 😉