I’m going to paraphrase the current First Lady here, not to mock her slogan but to emphasize its true sentiment, and state that my resolution for 2020 is to “be the best.”
First up, getting my weight under control, even adding some exercise into the mix. I weighed myself this morning, and I’m easily 100 pounds heavier than when I was last in some sort of “fit” shape. This was back when I first lived in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and was studying Tae Kwon Do. This was back in the early 1990s. I stuck with learning that martial art for three years, made it as far as earning a red-black belt, but then I contracted pneumonia and after that bronchitis, and my health and fitness has followed a downward spiral since. If I want to take back control of my life and stick around for a while to see my kids blossom in their adulthood, enjoy my grandson’s life by being the best nagypapa possible, I’ve got to set some goals.
Today’s weight: 311.7 pounds.
I’ve a year to lose enough weight that I’m able to keep up with my grandson and look decent at my oldest daughter’s wedding in May. This will be their church wedding, with a reception as well, so distant family can celebrate with her, my son-in-law, and grandson. It’s a little more than a third of the year away — 129 days — but if I follow some portion control during meals, drink more water, and exercise, I shouldn’t embarrass her or myself when I walk her down the aisle.
Beyond getting into shape for daughter, grandson (and by extension, other daughter and spouse), I would like to participate in another 5k before the year is out and hopefully drop at least 75 of those 100 pounds before New Year’s Day rolls around again.
Second, I need to get back into a regular writing routine. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, first getting the need when I was probably 12 or 13. My best friend in the neighborhood where I lived in Elyria had moved away, and we lived where there weren’t kids my age. I found solace in books — H.G. Wells, an adaptation of the Arabian Nights tales, the adventures of the Hardy Boys, the Three Investigators, Rick Brandt and Biff Brewster, and finally the Bantam reprints of Doc Savage. The escape offered in those pages comforted the lonely boy that I was at the time, and I had an imagination vivid enough to believe I could tell stories that entertained others as much.
I didn’t get serious about writing until about 1996. I had just read Desperation and The Regulators by Stephen King. He was an early influence, as Salem’s Lot was one of the first books for adults that I read. I certainly made more of an impression on me than Carrie; I picked up both in one of my mom’s summer garage sales, and they captured my virgin writer’s mind enough that I can confidently say that The Shining was the first brand-new paperback I ever purchased (with my mom’s money, of course, picked up at a local K-Mart). I don’t believe my mother would have let me get the hardcover, pictured on the left, as it would have cost quite a bit more, and the cover doesn’t look like a book she’d let an impressionable son read. And I was impressionable. Who wouldn’t be entering their teens. The mass market, pictured on the right, was innocuous and consequently probably considered safe.
All that being said … I didn’t get serious about finishing a story I was writing until I picked up the Stephen King pairing of Desperation and The Regulators and realized I had toyed with a similar idea to the one presented in Desperation for a few years. I had a similar experience a few years before while reading Dean Koontz’s Midnight. If I had ideas similar to those published authors, the only thing stopping me was myself and my lack of determination. And since then I’ve been lucky enough to finish two novels (unpublished), and a handful of published and unpublished short stories. Since my stroke back in 2014, I’ve struggled to find a groove, but using that as an excuse stops now.
I’ve worked on a couple story ideas this last year since moving down to Alabama, and another goal is to write those. One’s a short story, one’s a book, and both are good enough to spawn follow-ups. I’m not going to throw things out here on this blog without backing them up. That isn’t fair to anyone who reads these posts, and it isn’t fair to my loved ones or myself. I can’t afford deluding anyone; I can only lead by example. I’m already on the right track, submitting one of my finished novels to Bloodshot Books before 2019 ended.
In addition to the above weigh-in, which I’ve recorded in a calendar entry on my laptop so it’s “written in stone” by the actual effort of creating said calendar, I’m also going to state that I am going to start and finish a short story so I can submit it to Fantasy and Science Fiction by month’s end.
Above on the left is the cover to the January-February issue of the magazine, which is currently edited by Charlie Finlay, one of the many writers/editors I’ve been fortunate enough to meet since I sat down and got serious about writing back in the late 1990s. I met Charlie through the Online Writing Workshop started by Ellen Key Harris-Braun, along with lots of other great people. OWW gave me a writing family, and I count every one of them as my true friends. Though we mostly socialize through the internet, they’re all people who you pick up with in person as if you had last seen them the day before, and like the best families their belief sustains you.
I want to make them, along with my immediate family, proud of me in 2020.