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Photo: Jester Jay Goldman

Todd Snider! Squeeee! I’m going to get tickets. The show’s on a Friday when I don’t have to work. I can’t believe I’ll get to see him perform live. I can’t believe the show hasn’t sold out. Tickets: um, one. Section: Floor seats sold out, so balcony. OK, better than standing. Because I’m old. Show time: 8:30. Wait, that means he probably won’t go on until at least 9 o’clock. Figure I get out of there by 11 o’clock, I should be home by…way past my bed time. There’s no way I won’t fall asleep, sitting upright, drool soaking through my shirt, even with hundreds of screaming people and raucous music playing. I think I’ll just buy one of his albums. I guess I’m too old to rock and roll.


I’m planning a longer blog post about it later but thought I’d write some quick impressions about the writing conference I recently attended. It left me with a lot of questions about my writing intentions. Am I headed down the wrong path when I submit my novel to agents? Can I count on a traditional publisher to present, edit, and market my novel in ways that will reach and satisfy more readers? I don’t know. Many of the panelists expressed opinions that disparaged traditional publishers. The majority of them were also obviously trying to sell services to self-publishers. Can I afford to absorb the costs for editing, cover design, print layout, proofreading, printing, and marketing if I self-publish? Do I want to lose rights to characters and other creative content? Do I want to hand over something that took me years to craft, so I can make 20 percent or less of the money earned from book sales? I have a ton of research to do, and that translates into time I won’t be writing.


I got nostalgic in my car and turned on some Willie Nelson. He was a favorite of my late grandmother, one of the sweetest ladies I’ve ever known. When I was young, she and my grandfather would take me and my sister with them to bluegrass festivals in their RV. We’d sit on the grass and enjoy the summer sun, while bands picked and grinned. I still remember becoming mesmerized by the hammer dulcimer and remain a fan of bluegrass and jug bands to this day. The best part was watching my grandparents dance. Even at my young age, I was able to imagine what they must have looked like when they were young. The years just sloughed off them as they smiled at each other.


I remember a day, seemingly eons ago, when I would have painstakingly crafted a role-playing game character with only seriousness in mind. He or she would have some dark backstory that would catapult him/her into a life of adventure, likely seeking vengeance or answers to the mystery of what caused such adolescent trauma. Angst, passion, pain, deliverance, or possibly redemption would follow. Maybe I’m just getting older and having problems taking my gaming as seriously. I certainly spend far fewer hours playing these days. Now I’m more apt to create a hobbit monk that looks like chubby Elvis and plays the spoons, or a roguish conman based on Tim Meadows’ “Ladies’ Man”. Dungeons and Dragons has become just one more example of the fun that can be had when laughing at my own jokes.