At a loss for words…

Right now, I’m laying in a hotel bed typing this column on my iPhone. That’s one of the magical things about writing. Writers are sort of like time travelers. I’m communicating with the future. Originally, I had a column about April being National Poetry Month and why I don’t like writing poetry. I know what you’re going to ask, “But Jim, haiku you say that?”

Well, you’ll never read that column because someone stole my laptop. That’s right, you read that correctly. I don’t like reading or writing poetry. Seriously though, someone stole my laptop. I am literally out of words. Somehow, somewhere, Alanis Morissette is laughing.

The sad thing was that it wasn’t just my things that were taken. I was with my sister’s family in Fort Wayne attending the Christian concert Winter Jam. We got out to our vehicle and that’s when we found that someone had broken in and stole all the ibuprofen and electronics. They even took my sisters broken prescription glasses. I’m not sure if the thieves were being funny by taking the ibuprofen or if they were doing it strictly for drugs. By stealing the laptop and my nieces and nephews tablets, they caused a real headache.

Some of you might be wondering why I’m making jokes at a time like this. Mainly, it’s a defense mechanism of mine that some can find annoying. I understand, but at times like these my humor is all I have. That, and my intense hatred for Michigan.

As a writer, this theft left me staggering and speechless. They stole my livelihood. Everything I had written was on that laptop. That brand new, 15.6 inch Lenovo laptop that I’d worked to save up to buy. It may have only been about $400, but to a writer that’s a lot. A little known fact about writers: we’re not that rich. Worse than that though, they stole my hard work. I’d been editing a book for my publisher, Burning Willow Press, LLC. It was my second book I’ve edited for them. To say that I worked extremely hard to edit this thing would be an understatement. I had promised the Vice President of the company that I’d have that book back, edits completed, by the end of March. I wrote him an email tonight explaining what happened and that I was going to have to break my promise. There would be no way for me to complete the edits have them back by then. Even though I didn’t purposely break my promise, I’m still ashamed to have to tell him that I failed to live up to my word.

But, even worse than that. They stole my ideas. Snatched right from my head. Everything I’ve written is on that laptop. Sure, most of that is backed up on an external hard drive so it’s not gone forever. That doesn’t change the fact that all of my ideas, all of my personal thoughts and creative content is in the hands of another person, a thief. I feel downright violated.

And there isn’t anything I can do about it.

I want to spring into action with a “particular set of skills” and track down the bandits and show them why they should have stayed in Michigan where they belong. I want to quell the sadness I and the rest of my family felt. Also, that insecure feeling of knowing a stranger had rifled through your things. That feeling that your safe, comfortable, secure bubble had just been popped by the sharp prick of a thief’s needle. I can do none of those things, however.

It was my younger nephew that spoke up and said that it was actually a blessing and a test from God. He went on further explaining that we didn’t really need the things that were stolen. The things we really needed were left behind.

Now, let me tell you something. Hearing someone, doesn’t matter the age, tell you that you never really needed that laptop isn’t an easy thing to accept. How can that person know this? They don’t understand that it isn’t just games and files on that laptop. I couldn’t tell you how many evenings I’ve spent hunched over that thing typing out words or editing that book. I wanted to tell my younger nephew that he was wrong, that to me, that laptop was practically my life.

It was at that thought, that laptop was practically my life, that I knew I was wrong and he was right. It was such a selfish thought. Sure, I’ve suffered a setback. Sure, I’ve broken a promise. Sure, I live about an hour south of Michigan. But at least our vehicle wasn’t damaged beyond repair. At least they didn’t take my prescription blood thinners. At least they didn’t steal our clothes.

Here’s the best at least of them all: At least we left the parking lot together and unharmed.

There are worse things than having your laptop stolen. Living in Michigan for example.

2018 Review of James Master

“He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” – John 8:7 (NKJV).

I like to judge and criticize books, movies, people, and even the State of Michigan. Upon reflection, I really shouldn’t though because I’m just as flawed as the things I critique. Except, maybe, for Michigan. I mean really guys, get your act together.

See? There I go again.

As 2018 comes to a close, I’ve taken an inventory of my accomplishments as well as my failures. I believe most of us, humans, do that. It’s only natural to look back on the year and feel proud about what we did. Sometimes we feel guilty or remorse over actions. So I thought, as recompense for all of my judging this last year, I’d remark about some of my accomplishments as well as my failures.

Accomplishments:

  • unnamedI lost 88.4 pounds (total) in 2018. On January 1, 2018 I weighed 452.2 pounds. Today, December 31, 2018 I stepped on the scale and saw 360.8 in bright blue numbers. Even though I had gained 7 pounds since Thanksgiving, I wasn’t disappointed. You can’t see me as I write this right now (hopefully because if you can then that’s plain creepy), but I’m wiping away a few tears. It’s been a long year in terms of losing the weight. Peer pressure isn’t something you should give into, but in May I finally succumbed. My sister and brother-in-law (who actually is more like a brother, but for the purposes of clarification I put “in-law” there) had for months tried to get me to try the Keto Diet. I’ve come to realize that when they tell me to do something, I should just do it. It’s been the key to my weight loss this year.
  • I had a book, The Book of Mark, and the short story The Haunting of Divine Hearts Seminary, in Crossroads In The Dark IV: Ghosts, published this year. I’ve also edited a book that was published in December. Another anthology I helped with was also published this year. It’s been a very productive and interesting year for me as a writer/editor/storyteller.
  • I became the editor of The Starke County Leader. The Leader is the weekly paper that covers all of Starke County, Indiana. Sure, it’s been a bit of a learning curve because it’s a tad different setting and atmosphere from my prior paper, The Pilot News, but I’ve come to really appreciate the people and the county. Growing up in the county to the north, I’d always heard jokes about Starke County. I’ve even made some of those in my youth, I’m ashamed to admit (I’m trying to be brutally honest in this review of myself). However, since becoming the editor, I have gained respect and appreciation for the people and the county. It just goes to show that you can’t always judge a book by its cover.
  • IMG-7745My website, the one you’re on now, has surpassed my expectations in terms of viewership. In 2017, I had a total of 197 views. As of this writing (it’s about 11a.m. here) I’ve had 939 views. I attribute that to you, my readers, and I can’t thank you enough for your time and attention. Sure, I could say that I put more effort into constant content and made sure to promote that content, but if it wasn’t for you all this wouldn’t be in the Accomplishment section. It’d be in the Failures. So… thanks. I’ve got some plans for growing the site so hopefully so all stick with me.
  • I grew as a Christian. If you couldn’t surmise from the quote at the top of the page, I am a Christian. But I never used to be. To be brutally honest with you all, there was a time in my life (not that long ago) that I would say that I believed in God, but I didn’t. Or I would go to church on Sunday, but then never pick up the Bible or act like a Christian during the weekdays. Ironic, isn’t it, that a horror author lived his life as one of the Walking Dead. It wasn’t until earlier this year, maybe around March, that I decided that I needed to make a change. Two years prior to that moment, my wife had left me, and I was living life in a fog. Reflecting back on that period now I can’t really tell you what happened. I was depressed. I was guilt-stricken. I was at my rock bottom. Maybe it was the weight loss, the looming finality of divorce, or sudden realization that I needed to get my life back on track. Either way, God brightened my life and burned away the fog of guilty and depression.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. I’m not the perfect Christian. I still judge and criticize at times (I’m looking at you Michigan). My mouth still spouts a swear word every now and then. And I’m struggling about whether or not to continue my career as a horror genre author. Regardless of those faults, I am making an honest attempt to walk the walk. That moment in March, I decided that since I’m becoming physicallyhealthier, I also need to be spiritually healthier.

Failures:

  • My marriage of nine years ended in 2018. Might as well get the biggest failure out of the way first, right? My wife and I married July 11, 2009. We divorced on June 22, 2018. Even writing that, even now, is tough. In fact, I’m thinking about deleting this entire section and only focusing on the Accomplishments. Sure, that would be easier and portray me in a better light, but that wouldn’t be an honest review of myself.

    I won’t go into detail on why we separated. I have my own explanations and so does my ex-wife. When the final straw in our marriage broke, she ended up leaving in July 2016. The first and last time I saw her after that was at the divorce hearing two years later.

    Even though I know that blame could be attributed to both parties, I blame the divorce solely on myself. I could have driven to where she was and stood outside her window holding a boombox blaring some Peter Gabriel. I could have flooded her voicemail box with calls. I could have sent flowers and letters begging for her to come back. I could have fought for our marriage.

    I didn’t do any of those things. The only thing I did was give her what she said she wanted: space. It was that simple action, or rather inaction, that sealed our marriage’s fate.

    When I was a child, my parents divorced. I’ve talked about this subject a bit in previous rants. To be blunt, it tore our family apart. It’s been years since my siblings and I have been in the same room. In the years that followed their divorce, my father would remarry several women. With each new family I was forced to integrate with, I couldn’t help feeling a bit neglected. I spent every other weekend at my father’s house, and it seemed that he’d rather spend that time either working, sleeping, or with his new family. Now, let me say that I don’t resent my father or have any ill feelings towards him. I have always loved my father and will always love him. I was a teenager back then and I didn’t know anything about how the world works.

    Fast forward a few years to 2009. I was adamant that I would never get divorced. I never wanted to put my children and other loved ones through what my siblings and I suffered. I didn’t want my children to feel neglected when I remarried. I didn’t want my kids to have to choose between their mother and father. Strictly speaking, I didn’t want to become my father.

    The point in all of this is that when my wife left me, my worst fear had come true. I knew my wife would never come back. She was, and probably still is, someone who follows through with what she plans to do. No one can deter her for long.

    I fell hard. I didn’t really care about anything other than keeping up the appearance that I was fine. I went to work, paying the essential bills, wrote at home, fed the cat, showered, hung out with friends and family, and drank coffee. I became heavily addicted to video games. As soon as I got home after work, I’d hop onto the PS4 and play Smite (it’s this third person League of Legends) until it was time for bed (typically 1 or 2 a.m.). Rinse and repeat.

    When I did go to church, friends would ask me how I was doing to which I’d say “Oh, I’m fine.” I’d sit in my usual seat (fourth row from the back, second seat to the left end). I don’t know if it was habit or the hope that my wife would come back, but I’d leave her seat vacant.

    I hit rock bottom. Hard. Like I said earlier. I was in a fog of depression and guilt.

  • My dear readers: There are many other failures I’ve dealt with this year. None of them compare to the one I just wrote about. Maybe next year.

This was just a snapshot of my year. There were other events that were accomplishments and failures, but I didn’t touch on them because I felt the ones listed were enough. Please understand that none of these things were easy for me to write about, especially the divorce. If you know me then you know I’m not much of an extrovert so when (“if” is probably the more accurate term) I post this, please know that I’m uncomfortable putting it out there.

Thank you all for your support during the year. It could have been buying one of my books, a kind comment, a visit to my website, a Twitter follow, or maybe you saw me at church/work/somewhere else and asked how I was doing.

By the way, if you were to ask me today how I am doing I would reply: “I’m fine, but I’m getting better every day.”

Being Thankful (revised)

You might be wondering what I meant in the title when I said revised in parenthesis. I started writing this rant with the purpose of discussing what I’m thankful for due to it being so close to Thanksgiving. By the way, I call all of my weekly columns “rants.” If you regularly read them over the years you’ll know why. When I wrote the title, I had an odd feeling of deja vu. So I went through my archives and found the same title from last year around the same time. You won’t find it on this website. Back then, I was writing these rants for the newspaper I work for. I still write them for that paper, but I also put them on here. It’s really interesting rereading some of these older rants.

Here are the things I was thankful for last year:

• The ability to write for a living.

• The never ending support from my friends and family.

• The fact that my publisher, Burning Willow Press, took a chance on me and published my books.

• The failures I’ve suffered and the lessons I’ve learned from them.

While all of that is still true, there’s something I missed out about mentioning. It’s something that’s been in the background of my life and I’ve never really made any efforts to cultivate it or even acknowledge it. This factor is really the entire reason behind everything I’d previously listed.

It’s that I’m thankful for my faith in God and for His love for me. God has given me the gift of writing. That never ending support from my friends and family? That’s also a gift from God. Because of the writing gift, it’s led to my books being published. Those many failures were because I placed my pride and stubbornness higher on my priority list than I did my faith. God’s granted me the patience, wisdom, and endurance to suffer through those failures and learn from them.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t mention it the first time. Well, there were a few reasons. Without being too convoluted about it, I should simply state that I didn’t have the courage. I’d grown up tight lipped and never really talked about my feelings or expressed my thoughts and opinions. That’ll sometimes happen when your parents go through a nasty divorce. Because of that divorce, I’m not that fond of arguing with others, especially when those people are concrete in their thinking. The conversation doesn’t really lead anywhere and both sides only entrench themselves deeper in their beliefs. That’s also why I don’t often discuss politics either. 

So what happened? Why am I being so open about this revelation of mine (pun intended)?

It’s because my own marriage imploded. A few years ago my wife and I suffered what the courts call “irreconcilable differences.” The funny thing was that those differences were reconcilable had we both sacrificed our pride and ego to solve them. Except we didn’t. We opted for divorce. 

Do you ever ask people “How are you doing?”  and that person responds “I’m fine.” That was my response and it was always a lie. After my divorce, I fell into a depression.I didn’t take care of myself and I didn’t do any writing on my books. I delved too deeply into video games and fast food. I didn’t care for much during that time. It was bad.

Eventually though, and I’ll get to my main point in a second, things got better. I decided to write a book about a character similar to myself that suffered many of the same things that I went through. A fellow writing friend was my only confidant in this book’s creation. She was the person I workshopped ideas with and she never once judged me for what I was doing to that poor soul, my main character. I poured all of my pain, sorrow, and other elements of depression into those pages. I punished him just as hard as I thought God was punishing me. What can I say? Writing is very therapeutic. 

Except I was wrong. God wasn’t punishing me. I was being tested. By writing that novel, I was given a view of what would happen if I followed along that dark path filled with depression and sorrow. So I took another path. I began taking better care of myself both physically and spiritually. Little by little, things are getting better. As time ticks away, I’m learning from my failures and hope I don’t repeat them.

So while I am thankful for the four things at the beginning of this rant, I have to acknowledge the source behind those things. I am most thankful for God and all the wonderful gifts I am blessed with.

It’s normal for people to ponder what they’re thankful for during the tail end of November. The challenge is cherishing and carrying that feeling with you throughout the rest of the year.

By the way, don’t expect that book to come out anytime soon. That novel will likely never see the light of day because I’d have to go through it and relive it. That’s something I’d rather not do for a very long time. 

Looking for lost magic

Pumpkin Spice Lattes, pumpkin carving, trick-or-treating, the onset of chillier weather, and scary movies. Those are just a few reasons why October is my favorite month. When I was growing up, before my parents divorced, we would all help decorate our big two-story house for Halloween. We went all out. Cobwebs were strung like tinsel on the trees outside. We had our very own cemetery in the front yard with pun filled headstones and even a shallow grave. When costumed trick-or-treaters would walk up the porch steps, they would be treated to fog wafting across the porch and serenaded by spooky music. They would then be greeted to three animatronic dummies that would wave and lift their arms up and down. My father created them and named them “bloody men.” 

After we were done decorating, my mother would make hot chocolate for everyone and we would spend the rest of the evening on the porch drinking hot chocolatey beverages in the chilly weather and tell each other ghost stories. As the days crept closer to All Hallows’ Eve, my father would create unique costumes for the four of us. My favorite costume creation was when my father turned my two older sisters into a pair of giant fuzzy dice. Complete with felt and everything. We would go trick-or-treating and then when we got home we would sort out and trade our loot we hated with each other on the floor of the living room. 

For me, Halloween was never a time to dress up in expensive, store bought costumes and greedily horde candy. It was a time when the entire family would spend much needed quality time together. It was one of the few family traditions we had and I miss it dearly. All good things eventually come to an end and so did this tradition.

Perhaps that’s why my interest latched so tightly onto the horror genre in literature and cinema. I’m trying to find a little bit of the magic that fueled my now broken family’s discarded tradition.

When readers ask me why I write horror stories, I don’t really go into this reasoning. Usually, I give a sarcastic response about wanting to torture my creations. Normally, it gets an eye roll or a guffaw of laughter. That’s all I try for (if you really know me that’s generally my type of humor). 

Of course, if you really think about it, Halloween is the time for reclaiming lost magic. The origin of the sugar-laden holiday can be derived from the Irish mythological festival of Samhain, one of the four seasonal festivals of the year. At least that’s what Wikipedia states and we all know that’s reliable so take that for what that means. Now, according to that mythology, Samhain was a time when “doorways” to an alternate dimension known as the Otherworld, the realm of the dead, were opened.

Whether you believe in that stuff or not, you have to agree that books are magical objects. 

“Books are a uniquely portable magic,” stated Stephen King in his book On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. 

If you’re a constant reader of my weekly rants, you’ll know that I often use this quote from King. I use it because it’s the best description of literature. A book is a gateway into another world. If there was actual magic in this world, it most certainly has died off by now. All of those portals to the Otherworld have closed. But you can still find magic when you crack open a book.

So when I get asked what I’m going as for Halloween I smile at them and say “I’m going to be a magician.”

The waiting game…

 I hate waiting.

I know, I know. You’re probably saying, “but Jim, you should never hate something because hate’s a strong word.”

And you’re completely correct. Hate is a strong, harsh, and deplorable word that should only be used in the most extreme of circumstances. For example, I finished a James Patterson novel the other day and I said, “I hated that book.” That example would show that I really, really disliked that novel. That example would also be a lie because that would imply that I still read James Patterson novels. Which I don’t. 

All of that to say, I hate waiting. Unfortunately, waiting is an essential part to the author life. Once you submit your manuscript or query to a publisher, you typically have to wait 60 to 90 days to hear back from them. When I first submitted my series to the first publisher (for all you new readers, that was an entire kerfuffle of its own) I checked my email constantly. I had the Gmail app on my phone and set notifications so that when I received a new email my phone would ding. Do you think that stopped me from logging into the app and clicking refresh every few minutes? For all you that said no, then you win a free imaginary chicken dinner! I checked the app every half hour for the first two days. It got to the point where I would wake up, use the bathroom, log into the app, then went back to sleep. That would happen every few hours. 

As time dragged on, I checked my email less frequently, but the urge was still there. After a few months and no response, my hopes began to shrivel up like slugs under a salt shaker. It was during one of those late night bathroom experiences that I read my acceptance email. I was so ecstatic. My waiting was over and I was soon to be a published author.

Oh course once you wait and then finally receive that acceptance letter, that doesn’t mean that the wait is over. No sir, you’re waiting has only begun. I waited a year before I was released by the publisher (like I said above, it was an entire kerfuffle of its own). Then I was forced to find another publisher and submit the series to them.

Cue the anxious email checking. And of course, it happened that way. Even though this time I knew that I wouldn’t receive a response until months later, I still checked multiple times a day. I still performed the late night bathroom and email checks. I still jumped at the sound of that new email notification.

Waiting is something that doesn’t just pertain to an author’s life. It’s part of everyday life. Everyone has to wait for something. It could be a book response, your turn at the BMV, attention from the person you’re interested in, or an oven preheating. We all wait for something.

“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways,” states Psalm 37:7.

Even if you’re not the religious type, you have to admit that The Bible has amazing advice. Have any of you tried to “be still?” It’s not that fun. It’s that other part that gets me sometimes. “Do not fret when people succeed in their ways.” 

I see that all the time. For me, it’s hard to not become jealous when I see another author succeed where I’ve failed. It’s tough to wait for that response and then get it only to have your dreams shattered. Lately, I’ve been struggling with that. I’ve sent out submissions and wait, only to have them rejected. I try and not become discouraged, but it’s tough. You put yourself and your work out there only to have it denied. Sometimes I feel like I should just give up entirely and quit submitting. 

“Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil,” Psalm 37:8 continues.

All of my fretting as I waited for the publisher’s response caused me to doubt myself. As the days waiting grew longer, I began to worry. Worry would then turn into fear. So when I get those rejection letters, that doubt has already infected me. 

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering,” said Yoda.

I know, this is a weird column this week. The Bible and Yoda quotes. 

The point of this odd column is that we all wait for something. You must be vigilant during the waiting process. Don’t let your mind wonder to those feelings of self-hatred and loathing. Fill them with something that uplifts yourself. Don’t fall to the dark side like Darth Vader. 

If this didn’t help you with your waiting problems, here are some obligatory cliches that might aid you:

• A watched pot never boils.

• All things come to him who waits.

• You usually have to wait for that which is worth waiting for.

• If you wait, all that happens is that you get older.

My top influences

I’m not sure if I’ve covered this topic and if I have then I apologize. I was filling out questions for an interview for another website and one of the questions asked about what book and/or author had influenced me the most. Surprisingly, it’s not really a question that I get asked. Yet, it’s one of the more important questions that must be asked. Everyone is influenced by someone or something. It could be a work or art, work of fiction, your parents, or even someone you’ve never met in person. That influence changes you, shapes you into the person that you will become. What would the world be like without the speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King? What would it be like without the works of Mary Shelley or Edgar Allen Poe?

So without further ado, here are my top influencers (not in any certain order either):

1. My Mother and Father. I know what you’re saying right now. “But Jim, that’s an obvious choice.” I would argue that it isn’t such an obvious choice. Parents are human too and sometimes they leave a negative influence. However, my parents both taught me something that I might not have learned otherwise. For my mother, it was to keep calm and carry on. When my parents first divorced, she was left with four children and one income. Granted my older sister would later go to live with my father, it still left mom with three children to feed, clothe, and get to school. And she did just that until the time I left to live in South Bend for college. She taught me perseverance and maybe a bit stubbornness which can be a good thing from time to time. My father taught me the value of humor. When I was in the hospital with that three foot blood clot in my left leg, my wife (at the time) would get angry that I was cracking jokes about my situation. In my opinion, if you can’t laugh at either yourself or the situation you’re in then it must be dire. Plus, laughter is beneficial for your health so there’s that. When I was young I was grounded for some reason. I had to wait for my father to come home and deal out punishment. My young mind came up with so many scary scenarios that when he did get home, I dreaded it. Instead of pain and suffering, he handed me a hardback copy of Hardy Boys #2: The House on the Cliff. My punishment was to read the entire book. It was the best punishment ever. It also opened me up to books in general.

2. Stephen King. When I was in sixth grade, I started reading the works of Stephen King. You might be saying, “But Jim, you shouldn’t have been reading those books at that grade. You were too young for that stuff.” And… you’d be right. I shouldn’t have been reading his stuff at that age. But I was. Starting with “IT” I moved on to “Gerald’s Game” and then “Firestarter” and “The Gunslinger.” Once I read that last one I was a fan for life. His books influenced not only my writing style, but the writing ethic that I try to maintain. I can’t maintain his writing ethic, but it’s something I’m always trying to elevate myself towards.

3. George Romero. Romero is the film equivalent to Stephen King in the aspect that his trilogy of zombie films influenced me to write post-apocalyptic fiction. I’ve seen zombie films before, but it wasn’t until I watched the 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead” that I truly appreciated the use of zombies in film and literature. I learned that zombies shouldn’t be the main focus. It’s the conflict between the human protagonist and antagonist that the story should be centered on. The zombies are the vehicle to get that conflict isolated and focused around. Romero was an expert at that.

4. The Bible. I know, everyone uses God and religion as their main influencer. For me that holds true as well. If you want to know why all you have to do is read the book of Revelations. As a writer of horror, this is the source of post-apocalyptic genre. The name of the genre derives from the word Apocalypse which comes from Revelations. The imagery is amazing as well. I’ll just leave it like that.

Those were just four influencing elements that have made me the writer that I am. There are a plethora of others that I could detail and maybe I will, but so far those are the leading ones.

Take a moment and think about your life. Even if you’re not a writer, what influences you? Leave a comment with your top influences!

Healthy Writing 101

When I was a kid, I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. Of course, it would change constantly. First I wanted to be an archeologist because I watched Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Then I wanted to be a paleontologist because I watched Jurassic Park (1993). It should only come naturally then when I say that I also wanted to be a Ghostbuster because I watched Ghostbusters (1984).

Well, as time passed I came to realize three things about my “ideal” careers. 

1. Indiana Jones is more of a tomb raider which is illegal in most countries.

2. It takes incredible patience to dig up all those dinosaur bones which is something I don’t have.

3. Ghostbusting isn’t real, sad as that may be.

If I was being honest with you (the reader) and myself, I wouldn’t have landed in any of those jobs for one simple fact: I’m quite lazy. I admit it. I like to sit while working. In fact, when digging up bones, busting ghosts and thwarting Nazis weren’t in my future I picked a more modest career: writing. As some of you know, that didn’t go as planned either and I was forced to choose another career which turned out to be computer programming. Long story short, that didn’t work out as well and I went back to writing. 

The moral to my search for the perfect career is that I didn’t factor in the amount of physical activity (or lack thereof) that career would involve. When I was growing up, I wasn’t the pinnacle of physical fitness. I’m still not. Far from it. I’m more like the base camp of physical fitness. When I was considering my career as a computer programmer, it was the thought of sitting in front of a computer screen all day isolated from the rest of the world. At that time, I was in high school and I was self conscious about my weight and general appearance. So a job that had me behind closed doors most of the day was right up my alley. My failure was that I didn’t realize the physical strain sitting down most of the day would have on my body’s health.

In 2015 I began working at the Pilot News and I loved it because I wasn’t on my feet for eight to ten straight hours every day like I had been when I was working in dining services. I loved the career change for that (lazy) reason, but also because it was one of my dream careers. 

However, I didn’t expect the blood clot. Blood clots are like the Spanish Inquisition in that nobody expects them.

For those that don’t know, sitting for extended periods of time could cause blood clots to form. In my case, I found that my three foot blood clot was a combination of sitting instead of being on my feet and the genes that my parents gave me. Thanks Mom and Dad.

What I’m trying to say is that even if you’re sitting on your butt all day for hours on end, you still have to exercise and get that blood flowing. If you’re going to be sitting for an extended period of time, you need to move around. Stand up and walk around your room every hour. Break up an eight hour writing session by going out and walking. You could even get a gym membership and work out. Even if you walk from your office to the kitchen to refill your coffee cup, that’s still better than having the coffee pot on your desk.

Trust me on that last one. Having your coffee pot located on your desk is a bad thing for multiple reasons. The first being that you’re not getting up and walking to the kitchen. The second being that your coffee pot could leak and then you’d have a permanent coffee pot ring engraved in your wooden desk.

Yes, that happened to me. On the upside, it gives your desk character. 

My local library offers Chair Yoga. Chair Yoga, as the name might suggest, teaches people how to stretch and exercise while sitting in an office chair. I’ve never been able to go, but it’s always something I’ve found interesting. 

For me, walking around the neighborhood is an activity that gets clears my mind. If I’m hung up on how to propel the plot, I will go walking. Ninety-nine percent of the time, by the time I’m back I’ve figured out what to do next.

Stephen King goes out walking everyday and look how successful he is. Although… he did almost die from getting hit by a vehicle while out on one of those walks. So… be careful when you’re out there.