Birthdays often put me in a cantankerous mood. Oh, I'm not enthused about the alternative to having them, but I'm not that happy about getting older, either. In reality, I feel 41 and I'm pissed that chronologically I've got 24 years more experience than that.
I think about the situations I write about in Model Student and Living Next Door to Heaven (under the name Devon Layne) as I'm writing them--and often long after. I actually spend the half hour it takes to read each of my chapters when they are posted. Sure, the fact that Brian (LNDtH) has a cadre of nubile teens anxious to push the boundaries with him is a huge fantasy. Tony's four wives and other lovers (Model Student) are an improbability that is beyond the scope of reality. Still, I can imagine myself in that position. Or those positions, depending on what you are talking about.
I'm not pleased with the fact that I'm traveling around the country in a small but elegant travel trailer alone. Every once in a while I'd like to do some primary research. Gather some actual smells, tastes, and tactile sensations to fuel the next chapter. I even registered on a couple of dating sites.
Holy shit! as Brian would say. You fill out questionnaires, sometimes hundreds of questions that are designed to locate compatible matches. And there are some stunning women who show up on my best match list. They are mostly in their 30s and 40s. Most of them are looking for a man in his 30s or 40s. But philosophically and emotionally, they are a 97% match for me. So I've adopted the hexadecimal system for stating my age and declare myself, indeed, 41 years old.
Well, I always spend a few minutes reviewing my past year on my birthday. I've traveled 30,000 miles and have been in 35 different states. I didn't count Colorado in that number because I only had my toes in that state at the Four Corners Monument. I did count Utah and Mississippi, even though I was only a few hours in each. They were important hours spent meditating as I looked out over the desert in Utah and met my younger self as I emerged fifty years ago. I sat on the white sand beach of the Gulf and watched a few bikini-clad spring breakers in Mississippi. Both of those events qualified for inclusion of the states in my count.
I've met dozens of people as I traveled and even some of my readers. I've connected with relatives and nearly forgotten friends. I've revisited the sites in Indiana where I set both LNDtH and The Props Master. I visited Wyoming where I set Redtail and will be returning shortly to research the sequel. I visited Savannah where an important connection was made in The Volunteer. I even made contact with some of the people who inspired characters in my novels, though the characters they inspired are nothing at all like the real people.
All-told, it's been a good year. I'm anxious to be on the road again October 13. I'm spending most of the rest of October in Wyoming and November in New Mexico, meaning I'll also be driving south through Colorado at the end of October-early November. Anyone in those regions who would like to get together for a cup of coffee or a beer, let me know. I really don't know yet where I'm headed after my November writing retreat in New Mexico.
The very concept of a writing retreat is one of those things that I find mildly amusing. I've written over 700,000 words so far during 2014. Taking into account my work between September and December 2013, that's over a million words in the past year.
Who actually has that much to say????
Still the words keep coming, the characters keep talking in my head, and I reserve the month of November each year to write one (or two) complete novels that I intend to publish. This year, it will be the sequel to Redtail that will start posting at StoriesOnline (http://storiesonline.net/a/aroslav
Well, that's the news for another year. Carry on!