It’s early in the summer, but it’s been busy so far. We’re still settling into our remodeled house, as well as trying to get the last pesky details worked out for our refinance, but it should work out all right. Just really hard to find a neighborhood like this one to raise our family in, so I’m glad we committed to staying here indefinitely. We just got back from a fun camping trip at Fort Stevens, way out on the northern most tip of Oregon. It was our first time there and we’ll definitely be going back. We walked the tunnels of the fort that suffered the only continental attack on the United States in World War II, climbed the Astoria Column, visited a fantastic maritime museum, and even saw the house in the movie Goonies. What could be better than that?
Other than that, I’m teaching the little girl to ride a bike, working with the little boy on his alphabet, and enjoying riding the motorcycle to work along the great back roads between the house and the day job.
Put a few more stories online, both for the Kindle and for online reading via my own website. Check them out in my bookstore. People have been buying, and that’s certainly encouraging. My first book, The Last Great Getaway of the Water Balloon Boys, is now available for preorder from Amazon, though there’s no cover yet.
Work still progresses on the novel, a mystery, and should have a draft in hand by the end of the month. Too close to this one right now to see if it’s working the way it should, but one thing’s for certain, I have all the ingredients of a good mystery and what might turn into a great series. That’s a great feeling, when you can see how a book is supposed to work. Whether it does or not, well, that might just be writing another draft. Or a dozen.
However, in the end it really is about the writing itself. It’s great to publish, and to share my stories with readers, but ultimately I write because of the thrill of creation and because it’s something I can never fully master. If you expend too much energy worrying about things you can’t control, it can start to sap away the joy that brought you to the craft in the first place. For me, writing is and always will be a solitary endeavor. It’s about carving out that chunk of time where I get to play god in the universe inside my head. I bring too much baggage with me inside, it really just gets in the way.
Which brings me to something else I’ve been thinking about. It’s easier than ever to be connected than it was before — both to people and to information. We’ve got 24 hours news, Google, text messaging, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, email, the list goes on. And while all of these things have value, I’m astonished at the sheer amount of static out there. The noise to signal ratio has gotten awfully high. Of course, this is totally subjective, and I understand that; one person’s static is another’s life work.
But sometimes it feels a little too much like the Borg connecting to the hive mind. When we went camping, I made a decision to stay off the Internet and avoid the news in any form, both in print and on the radio. It was really refreshing, and while it did feel a little disconcerting to come back and not know what was going on (Michael Jackson died? You’re kidding!), it showed me that while I love the power of the Internet to inform and connect, it’s vitally important that I compartmentalize it better than I have been. Because my day job has me online a lot (a big chunk of my job is administering and supporting the online classes for a university), the tempation to immerse myself in that sea of information is always there, but the lessons I’ve learned lately is that there is value is staying disconnected just as there is in staying connected.
Not sure I’m adequately explaining this. Not sure I can. But the upshot is, the ratio between being connected and disconnected to that hive mind had gotten out of whack for me. Silence — both real and metaphorical — can be wonderful for nourishing the soul and the creative mind. I’ve been finding a better balance lately.