Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Blogging Under the Influnce(s), and why that's important

This post is about blogging under the influences, but let me first recap for you.
Prior to sometime in May, I was blogging almost every day. Most of the blog posts were based around book reviews, but there were some exceptions. For example, I reviewed a book called "Dirty Money: Confessions of A Stripper," but that was not so much a book review as an attempt to find meaning in the death of a friend of the family, a beautiful young girl who worked as a stripper, and who died from a form of pneumonia that attacks people with impaired immune systems. I also wrote a three part series about tolerance, some Hugo posts, and a couple of Amazon-related posts.
And then my laptop croaked. And then my back-up laptop became unusable. If there is ANYONE who regularly writes a blog with the virtual keyboard on a tablet, you have my respect, because I can't do it. I ordered two NEW laptops, only to find that they were such a hot item that they were backordered. So, I canceled the order, bought a wireless mouse and keyboard, and have been using that since then. BUT, I'd lost my rhythm.
Now, I WAS doing more than sitting at home and not writing. We took a wonderful mini-vacation, and I read to my gift-from-God, happily-ever-after trophy wife Vanessa, the elegant foxy praying black grandmother of Woodstock,GA, while she drove. She found out that she loved the writing of Dave Freer in 'The Road to Dundee,' but was even MORE surprised (I was too) to find that she absolutely LOVED Amanda Green, writing as Ellie Ferguson, in the Hunted series. I wrote that last review-blog post on July 25.
NO reviews after that, although I was still reading. And only four blog posts, for the entire month of August.
Now, I am not like the I. L. O. E. (Insane Ladies Of Evil, a title I just fabricated),  a group which includes Sarah, Amanda, Pam, Cedar, and Kate, who have full time jobs, run a household, go to school write books, and plan to take over the world and ruthlessly leave it alone. My work-outside-the-home days are sadly over, due to incapacitating illness. I do have some minor human-related tasks, such as raising grandkids, and being head-over-heels in love with my wife, but my only REGULAR scheduled activities are going to church and medical appointments. I have no excuse for not filling the time productively by writing, and, as I said in my brilliantly incisive post of Tuesday, March 3, this is a highly meaningful task for me. It allows me to use my talent for writing, and help authors by providing feedback.
So, if all I have to do is write, and if it is so important to me, why am I not writing?
The only thing that matters is how I fix it. And, thus we come back around to the title: Blogging Under The Influences. There are four, and I'm going to list them in order of ascending importance.
1. Dexedrine. I was diagnosed 23 years ago with attention deficit disorder. Once I researched the topic, suddenly an awful lot of my past behavior made sense. Once I had the diagnosis, I could then proceed with treatment, which was stimulant medication. I also was able to fully implement any number of coping strategies that I had learned, but had been able to use only partially, And it made a difference. I was 39 years old when the world changed for me.
After I was forced to retire in 2007, I stopped taking my ADD meds. It no longer made sense to do so, since, at the time, there was literally NOTHING I had to do. Why be focussed on doing nothing? So, I quit. Last year, I started taking the meds when there was something I needed to do that required alertness and focus, such as go to church. And today, because I need to blog again plus do two other things, I took the med, and sometime in the next 30 minutes, it will kick in. That's the least important influence.
2. Caffeine. Do I REALLY need to talk about how caffeine is a needful influence for writers? I thought not. Now, due to some other medical issues, I'm a one-cup-per-day guy. So, I want that one cup to be the best cup ever made in the world. Why waste time on cheap crummy coffee? Alas, Vanessa occasionally falls into the trap of buying stuff on sale; I have no objection to saving money, but I do so hate to waste my single cup on thin, bitter brew. I can buy a pound of Jamaica Blue Mountain for $51.99 that will last me a month,:
That's only $1.70 per day. I think I'm worth it. So, that is the second influence, and it's also trivial. Now we get into the heavy stuff:
3. Authors. The reason I started writing reviews, and the reason I revived my blog, was primarily to provide authors with feedback. I have an old crappy story about how I submitted a short work for review to an online group and my only feedback was 'Looks fine.' Yeah. That was it. For all I know, I may be the greatest American writer since Mark Twain, but we'll never know that, will we? Because I don't HAVE to be in order to make a great contribution, and my contribution, until my mind is changed forcibly, is to review the work of others. Listen: if you read a review of mine, you'll be reading a positive review. You know why? It's not because I like every book I read, and it's not because I'm incapable of doing slash work. It's partly because if I read a book I don't like, I stop reading it and go to something else, but mostly it's because if I come across something that just isn't my cup of tea, I contact the writer and hash it out. Sometimes it's a simple matter of preference. Sometimes it's because the work sucks. I spend more time on a work that is awful than I do with a work that's good. It's because I feel it is essential to give the author clear and concise feedback, and give them a chance to respond. Of the four influences, this one is a constant. And now to my last influence:
4. My home group at church. In the ancient Methodist Church (late 1700- early 1800) these were called class meetings. It's rather like a support group; it's a small number of people who get together each week apart from the service for study and fellowship. They are also who I have elected to be accountable to, when I'm not doing something that I need to be doing and want to be doing. So, next Sunday, they are going to ask me three things, which I have asked them to hold me accountable on: Did you write? Did you get the emissions certificate on your truck and get it registered? Did you make it to the gym? There are no sanctions imposed by the group; this is just like the accountability exercise in the writing group Amanda wrote about . So,now that I can say that I did my writing for the day, it's time to go get that emissions certificate on that raggedy old truck.

Hey, I just noticed the date! I got out of the Army 40 years ago today! Woot!


  1. Pat, I still get a kick out of seeing how your lovely wife -- and you, for that matter -- like Hunted and the other books. Tell me, does that mean I need to write another one in the series for your wonderful Vanessa? ;-)

    As for the rest of it, life sometimes interferes. I love that you have your own personal accountability group. I know it helps for me. Just know that we love it when you review -- even when you go a little crazy on us ;-) -- and we love it when you blog on other things. We worry when you go silent. So take care of yourself and get back in the habit. We've missed you.

  2. Yes, please please write another one. When you do the movie, I want to be Finn and Pat will be Matt. I guess we had better start hitting the gym a few more days a month so we can get our cats in shape😀 Pat add that to your list of influences.

    1. How can I say no when the two I f you volunteer for the movie?