Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Be careful what you wish for...

What do I mean? Well... I mentioned in my last post that I've always wanted to write. Then, later in the day I'm in Sears, picking up a couple of belts for the garden tractor, and start having a casual conversation with the clerk (a woman in her late 30's early 40's I would guess). She starts telling me how she's gone back to school, is close to finishing her Associates degree and wants to start taking some writing classes. She also tells me she's had a few articles published in a local magazine... I couldn't resist... So I asked her how she managed to do that.

In short, she gives me the name of the editor, her email address and explains that whatever I write I should be prepared to change it some, make it longer, shorter, depending on the needs of the magazine at the time.

Yesterday I wrote a short email to the editor, telling her my story, and inquiring as to what, if any, types of articles she might be interested in. In truth I fully expected one of those 'form' replies that said, in short, "Thanks, but no thanks".

Instead, I get a short email back that let's me know she's checked out my websites, and blog, and would like me to call her and see what we might be able to work out.

So here I sit this morning, a writing opportunity at hand, and wondering what I'll ever find to write about! Feeling like a freshman in English about to get my first writing assignment and worried about the grade, before I ever even start writing, or know what I'll be writing about!

I've got some thoughts, a lot of them 'computer' related, many involving my personal 'hot topics' like outsourcing, project management (or mismanagement really), business process and so on.

The truth is though; I don't really want to write about 'computer' stuff. I think I'd like to write about motorcycle travel, the interesting folks I always meet, the sights, the smells, the total tactile experience that is motorcycling. About 'life' here in North Carolina, people, places, the ways in which it's like, yet unlike, anywhere else I've ever lived.

For example, when I first moved here you could actually write a check at McDonalds! I spent 40 some years in Upstate NY, and while it was a great place, they sure didn't take checks at McDonalds! How, especially here in Burlington, you rarely go anywhere that people don't greet you with a smile, ask how you are and in general make being 'out and about' a pleasant experience. Sure, there are exceptions; it's not "Perfect"... But, when was the last time you nodded at someone and said "How ya doin", in passing, and they responded with "Great, hope you are!"? It happens here everyday, several times a day!

When I'm out on the motorcycle here, it doesn't matter where I stop, who I'm with or what the weather... nearly every time we stop, someone comes over, asks where we're headed, tells us about a great twisty road they know of "if we have time" (I'll tell you a secret, we *always* have time for a new twisty road!) and a great place along the way to eat.

In fact, before my riding buddy moved away we would often hit the road with no particular destination in mind, and then let the folks we met 'guide' us to new places to explore. It's how we found 'Wayah Road' in the Western portion of the state; we'd been over to 'Deals Gap' (home of the infamous 'Dragon') and were looking for a shortcut to get to Brevard for the evening. It was a local teenager, at a gas station that told us about it, saying it would cut an hour or better off the ride. He failed to mention however that it was a road, carved in the side of a mountain, with shear drop on one side, a rock wall on the other and some of the most beautiful scenery short of the Blue Ridge or the Rockies! All in all a great 'find'.

I honestly don't know if it's 'me', or just the nature of the folks here, but people are always telling me their life story... in the gas station, the grocery store, the bank, dry cleaners... it doesn't seem to matter where, if I'm standing in a line, someone will start telling me about their life, good or bad, as we stand there. I don't recall ever having 'conversations' with the folks at the grocery checkout's back in Upstate NY... it happens here nearly every time I go grocery shopping. The lady at the dry cleaner's last week telling me about her love for Bingo, the fellow at the gas pumps yesterday telling me about his kid's love for soccer as we waited for the cars to fill up. I don't know either of these folks, but the conversations were like we were friends, and had been for years. In my experience, it's something that's distinctly 'here', in North Carolina.

So what do you think? Writing about computers would be pretty easy, technically anyway, finding ways to make it interesting and understandable to non-technical folks would be the challenge there. The challenge in writing about North Carolina, wouldn’t be finding things to write about, it would be choosing the ‘best’ things to write about. Have them be representative, funny, maybe touching, informative and not ‘too’ motorcycle focused, yet have the flavor of the experience all the same.

Well, I’m off to make that call, and to see where this all leads, if anywhere. So, like I said, be careful what you wish for, you might just get it!

3 comments:

Firehawk said...

Bill,

It's so great that you found an "in" for writing. Those aren't easy to come by, and I think you have to take the opportunities you get in that field very seriously.

I don't know why you need to limit yourself to one type or subject in writing, but I think that anyone does their best work when writing about what they're passionate about. They say "write what you know", but I say that just knowing isn't enough. Write what you love, and if you need to find out more, you'll have the interest and dedication to learn.

Relating to your previous post, that's quite a series of jobs you've had. It's funny, though. I would have never envisioned half of the things I've gotten myself into. That's probably what makes life worth living-- the weird changes you get thrown at you.

Between your story about fighting fires, and my friend Adam who recently became a fireman here in Salt Lake, it sort of makes me jealous. I want to run into burning buildings, too!

I don't know if this is true, but I think that motorcycles open people up, or at least heighten your own senses. Some of my favorite memories of being a young kid were those when my dad would take me out for a ride on his motorcycle. I had one for a while in high school, but the cost of insuring them for young people is so cripplingly high that I had to sell it. Maybe one day, I can rise far enough above the poverty line to afford one again. A boy can dream.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

I've been criticized for putting over-long comments on other people's pages, and if this is a problem for you, I apologize.

Bill said...

Firehawk... 1st, write all you want I love the input.

2nd... I don't know about the running into burning buildings thing... it is a rush, I'll give ya that... it is also a young mans game. By the time I hit my 40's each run took a bigger toll on the body.

I've got another post, talking about aging... and how if life is going to be worth living... it has to be 'lived' not simply observed.

Once again, thanks for stopping by, and sharing your thoughts.

Bill said...

Oh... one other thing.. I made the call and I've sent in a short article... we'll see what happens