In the pre-Malcolm Gladwell days, a tipping point was the moment at which you had one too many during happy hour. As a part-time writer trying to squeeze in my words or pictures before going to work in the morning, late at night after Arlene had gone to bed, or over the weekend in hourly chunks, I reached a tipping point, Gladwell style, after winning a Walden fellowship, which was awarded to three Oregon writers or artists each year.
Arlene encouraged me to accept the fellowship. My manager at work also told me to accept it and said my job would be waiting for me. I did and it was.
In 2002, the fellowship gave me six weeks in a small cabin in the Southern Oregon woods, where I was to do nothing but write, eat when hungry, look for Bigfoot, and walk the dog several times a day.
The experience was liberating. For the first time in my life, my job, the entire point of my day, if you will, was to write whatever I wanted to write. How cool was that? .
Post-college my resume read like a good-grief of odd jobs: military journalist, medical librarian, college instructor, book packer, mill worker, business owner, technical writer, software documentation manager, marketing manager. If I could have thrown in gold prospector and hobo, I would have been Jack London, except the only fire I can build in the great outdoors involves a Weber grill and propane tank. Between and during those jobs, I always worked on creative projects, mostly writing and cartooning.
I even tried standup comedy for a couple of years to get over my shyness and really sucked at it—the standup part, not the shyness. Bits about working in hi-tech and lines like, “What do you say we go up to my place and exchange bilabial fricatives?” did not exactly kill in biker bars.
So I began writing plays, short plays befitting my height and attention span. I soon discovered writing plays to be far more rewarding than doing standup. At least I didn’t sprint to the bathroom and flash the hash every time I worked on the opening scene of a play. I left that to the actors.
As a movie nut, it was only natural for me to start writing screenplays next. So I did. One of my scripts, “Poodle Call,” was optioned by Hollywood but never filmed. It’s a story about a divorced dad who teams up with his son to coach a bunch of poodles in a dog sled race. I had a short script filmed once (please don’t ask about the movie) and I once owned a Yugo (please don’t ask about the car).
Then Arlene and I moved to Mexico and I wrote a book about our experiences as inept expats. It’s titled Nobody Knows the Spanish I Speak and is scheduled for publication by FUZE in October. I’ll talk more about the book in future blogs. Mostly in my blog entries, though, I want to dangle the occasional modifier, split an infinitive or two, mix a batch of metaphors, and chat. I hope you’ll stick around. Vaya con nachos!
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