James Clear Is Killing Me With His Atomic Habits

At the end of last’s month’s post, Blog Post #666: The Blog In Which I Announce My Retirement from Blogging*, was a little-noticed * aka asterisk. Only one astute reader followed that to the denouement and figured out the meaning in these words, hidden in plain view: “Respectfully submitted on 01.04.22*, ADAB.” That’s European formatting, day first, month second. That reader was the ever-sharp Half Fast Cycling Club (say it out loud — it’s a fun pun) up in Wisconsin. Not only has he (I’m deducing that’s his pronoun) ridden his bicycle across most of the US (and he’ll correct me in the comments if I’m wrong about that), he’s fixin’ to do it again — at almost 70 years of age. Oh yeah, to do the trip, he’s resigning his hospital job as a literal lifesaver of COVID patients (mostly the ignorant “I did my own research on Facebook” variety). So kudos to Half Fast, and to the rest of you (except if you are in other countries where this peculiar American prank day is not celebrated), I say this: APRIL FOOLS, suckahs! Strap in, it’s going to be a long post.

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Blog Post #666:  The Blog in Which I Announce My Retirement from Blogging*

Welp, after almost two-thirds of 1,000 blog posts, it seems like a good time to take the pause that refreshes. Which the astute observer would have noticed that I’ve been sorta doing for the last couple of months already, anyway. Spring has sprung in Central Texas, so it’s a good time to examine where I’ve been, and where I’m going, not just with blogging, or biking, yoga-ing, walking, reading, fluting, etc., but life. A little metaphorical housecleaning, so to speak. (Actually clean house? Pshaw! That’s for suckers.) And who could begrudge a dude the chance to step back after six years and six hundreds of blogs? So forthwith, posthaste, and inmediatamente, let’s get skippy with it. (By the way, after this mention, this post will be Will Smith and slap-free. I’m Team Chris Rock all the way. Fuck you for ruining the Oscars, Little Willie. Get your face offa my TV and movie screens and go for some goddam anger management!)

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Writing a Book Is Like, Hard, and Stuff; A Partner Helps

My bicycle memoir, a book that’s been in process for several years now, is going like my bike rides — ever so slowly, relatively speaking. I like to blame the Writers League of Texas revision class teacher’s fault for blowing up my structure. It was 24 chapters over two years; she said ditch that for hanging things on half a dozen or so major events. The League director pretty much said the same. So not only did I write it, go back and revise it, then try to have some beta readers look at it, now I have to go back and re-re-re-do it? Apparently, yes. But I may have found a shovel to start digging myself out of this hole. That shovel is actually a person. I’ll explain.

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Writers League of Texas Agents & Editors Conference 2021 Wrap-Up

For those new here or who’ve forgotten, this blog is an outgrowth of all my bicycling. In turn, that has spawned a manuscript. Books don’t just publish themselves, and it’s an epic battle to get it done and revised, and like a war to get it published. So I spent most of the past weekend at a nice hotel in downtown Austin on the south shore of Town Lake at the Writers League of Texas conference. This is my summation.

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What I’m Reading in Summer 2021, by A Dude Abooks

People ask me what kind of business I’m in, and I say books… and business is good. OK, not really. I’m just an amateur still working on mine. Well, maybe I’m an unreliable narrator because here I am yet again, writing another blog post instead of doing revisions. A new writer friend who’s also working on a memoir whom I met online first at a Writers League of Texas event invited me to a coffee shop. He asked me why not pause the blog to focus on the manuscript? I said that wasn’t a bad idea but that I can’t seem to quit blogging. Maybe he’s right. Or not. Because any guy who suggests meeting in a suburb called Pflugerville (the p is silent), but who doesn’t drink coffee and knows I don’t either, must be a little touched in the head. Just kidding, it was a pferectly pfine pflace to pfontificate about the pfiner pfoints of pfublishing and such.

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Writers’ League of Texas Summer Writing Retreat

For those new here, I’ve written a manuscript. It’s about the period covered by the first two years of this blog. It took a year to write the book, alternating days that I write this blog. Another year passed while I edited it. I was sitting in a virtual drawer for a while, then I found a couple of people to do beta reading. While that process continues, this opportunity came along after I recently joined the Writers League of Texas. Membership has its privileges, and one of them is discounts on programs like this class on revision. (Many are free.) Although not cheap, I realized it’s a bargain and that I couldn’t really afford NOT to take the class. Although the goal — to write a book — was accomplished, if I ever want to get this book done and out into the world somehow, it’s going to take a lot more work. After all, as they say, writing IS revising. I’m thinking of it as an investment. Who knows? Maybe it’ll make me some money some day. (Unlikely, but possible).

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The Writers League of Texas: Membership Has Its Privileges

After a number of years of hearing about WLT, attending some of their pre-pandemic Third Thursday events at Book People (the largest independent book store in Texas), and meeting some folks at Owen Egerton’s One Page Salon, I finally joined up. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. I suppose it had to do a bit with the Wayne’s World motto: “We’re not worthy!” When actor-director Tate Donovan asked me at a OPS if I was a writer, I said yes for the first time. Hey, that makes me one degree of separation from Jennifer Aniston, whom he dated after playing her boyfriend on Friends. As we all know, she’s well known for her books. Strike that, reverse it. I mean looks! Humunuh humunuh! No, it’s her mad acting skillzl OK, that’s tangential, but it was diversionary. Mmm, more big wordz!

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Three Decades Since A Dude First Landed, Bikeless, in Austin

March 3, 1991. The first Gulf War had just ended. I was out of college a few years and had been traveling and moving around a bit. I grew weary of that, so I did the logical thing and went home. After a year slinging Southern cooking and helping out dear ma a bit, I bought a lightly used car. I went to one last steak night with my dad and brother, and moved in with a friend in Austin, Texas. Today her eldest turned 22, so I stopped by for a COVID-safe outdoor birthday. People trickled by, and I told one about the mom,“She’s my oldest friend in Austin. Looks pretty good for 85, don’t she?” (She’s much less.) With that history and my anniversary percolating in my brain the last two weeks, I figured it’s time for a little trip down memory lane.

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My Book Report: It’s Beta Reader Time, Baby

It’s taken me a good while to get to this point, but I’ve finally done it: I printed out Chapter 1 of my book to give to a beta reader. Of course they weren’t there went I went to drop it off, so I’ll do that tomorrow. And I’m working out getting an electronic copy to my first victim I mean volunteer who is out of town. Just today, a third person offered to read it. So the ball is rolling, wheels are in motion, the train is leaving the station… insert other clichés (which a good writer knows to avoid). Anyway, Sorryless wanted updates, and as my steadfastest reader and mostest commenter, I want to keep him happy.

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Book Review: HEFT ON WHEELS by Mike Magnuson

Courage is a word you could use to describe bicycling, especially the urban kind I do wherein one risks one’s life while several-ton killing machines blow by at high speeds mere inches away. Or bike racing, BMX riding with the ramps and jumps and tricks, or screaming down a mountain on a bike: all take some degree of courage. But writing? It doesn’t take any courage at all to sit down at a laptop and start hammering away, right? Well, that’s easy to say if you haven’t tried to write a book. And when it comes to memoir, laying your soul bare to people you never have, and never will meet, takes a big chunk of gumption.

I should know, because I’ve been writing this blog for over five years, albeit with far less courage since I use a nom de plume / velo. I have also written a book — a memoir. I have yet to find the courage to even show it to others to read. (I’m getting close to sharing with beta readers, once I figure out the details, having finally just found two awesome volunteers.) But in Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180, his 2005 memoir (I know, I’m very late to the party), author, creative writing professor, magazine article writer, and cyclist Mike Magnuson has courage in spades. (Heft is a follow-up to his previous memoir, Lummox.) As quoted in a speech he gave, I’d even go so far as to say he has “sixteen suitcases full of courage.”

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