Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sometimes people like what you write

Writing my new eBook turned from having immense fun to slowing to a slog. I think the reason was repetition. I was into a routine that got so automatic that somewhere along the way, my brain and all the muscle with any sort of memory left, realized I was settling into a routine.  Subliminally, I hate a routine, and I am absolutely sure it has nothing to do with being a Gemini.

I had this chore, duty, semi-obligation to perform. At least that’s how it started out. I received this chirpy email from the sports promotion arm of my college alma mater that Loyola University was having a great basketball season.  I am conditioned to mediocre seasons and less-than-impressive teams down through the years so a chirpy (I like that word because it perfectly described the tone of the email) notion that Loyola was having a “great” season did not impress.

I responded with the norm for me in that situation, a bit snarky and sarcastic about how my heart had been ripped out too often by inflated expectations and admonished them to get back to me when they were 10-1. I usually can’t leave well enough alone so in my email I dropped a hint of a long-forgotten and probably never-repeated historic gem. I have this incredible memory for detail that drives people to distraction, especially my wife when I return from the store with this blank look, having forgotten a key item on the list and my cell phone, which might have come in handy.

A return email played to my vanity so I threw out another folklore gem from the short list of revolving items at the tip of my memory, ready for dispensing on demand. Then an odd thing happened. I told one particular story and the person on the other end of the conversation forwarded it to a contemporary who not only verified it as absolutely true but filled in the other half of the story. It was the other half that I could not have possibly known about and it solved a nagging question that I had been jangling around in my brain for the past 43 years.

So now it was declared that I had to come down for the alumni basketball weekend. I figured that 48 hours out of my life, about $80.00 in gas and tolls, and about $150.00 in hotel and incidentals would not be the worst thing and I might have some fun. I did another thing that turned what constitutes an “interesting” trip into whatever are the next three levels on the have-a-good-time meter – I sent a file with a chapter from my eBook about an incident that happened at Loyola during my college years there.

That did it. That file was passed along to the relevant college basketball community and then some. By the time I meekly arrived, I was being introduced to a host of people as “the guy who wrote the Springsteen article.” Watching their eyes light up, my head swelled, my ego inflated, I was gratified, and all because the talcum powder of appreciative praise was generously sprinkled all over me.  All for something I wrote.

I returned from what I thought would be a lost weekend in Baltimore to a whole new place in my writing. I remind myself when I find the right words to use on the right subject, the reaction of people who read my nonsense compels me to feel like I should be continuing to do this, write my stories, tell my tales, and enjoy what I do so much. I filed it away for those rough writing stretches to serve as the handy, go-to reminder that “it’s no sin to be glad you’re alive.”

(For more information about my writing and my novel, "The Fastnacht League," about the Amish and baseball, please view my website at On Facebook search "The Fastnacht League" for the book page. Read more on the "digital blog" tab on the website; follow me at @gmiller526 on Twitter.)

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