Going Pro

Okay. That Until Thanksgiving is seriously being considered by a real publisher means I’m that much closer to my goal of becoming a published author. It’s time to spiff things up here at the House to prepare for fame and fortune.

I’ve done some research and as a result, will be making some changes. The first is to replace the three sentences on my “About Me” page here on the blog with an interesting and detailed biography. The experts offered lots of suggestions. So I thunked about it and figured on it and after a few days, came up with a replacement. As my most loyal and devoted fans, I appreciate any feedback. Here it is:

Hmmmmm, what do you want to know about me? I’m 54 , Pisces, gay, and happily partnered to a wonderful man who was half my age when we met. Depending on your perspective, that makes me either a man-cougar or some kind of pervert.

Everyone’s entitled to an opinion. But I would advise gentle readers inclined toward the latter option to wear a sturdy chapeau. If you run across something on my blog you find offensive, the right hat means a lot less mess when your head explodes.

Settling down with my boyfriend is just about the best thing that ever happened to me, and I nearly blew it. For two years I refused to even consider the idea of “us.” Nearly eleven years later, I’m forever grateful for his sweet disposition, persistence, and patience. They don’t call me the Crotchety Old Man for nothing.

My family has lived in and around Lexington, Kentucky since shortly after Daniel Boone came through the Cumberland Gap. I swear, it’s true. I didn’t know until I spent months I’ll never get back researching my roots on a genealogy web site. I learned that exponential growth boggles the mind.

Because my dad was stationed at Fort Bragg, I was born in North Carolina–a fact I’ve always resented and rarely acknowledged. We moved back to Lexington three months later. I consider myself a native Kentuckian and have the accent to prove it.

It took me twice as long as it should have, but I finally graduated with B.S. and M.S. degrees from the University of Kentucky in what was then called Home Economics. I know what you’re thinking, but no, I can’t sew and I don’t cook. Fortunately, my partner enjoys cooking and vastly prefers his cooking to mine. Trust me, you would, too.

My decade in college gave me plenty of time to think about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still haven’t fully made up my mind, but in the 25+ intervening years, I’ve created educational programs to help youth and adults develop and improve personal financial management skills through the national cooperative extension service.

My career in extension started in 1989 at Kentucky State University, an historically black college in Frankfort, the state capital. Success there led to an 18-month assignment in Washington, D.C. in the late 1990s. While there, I accepted a position with Cooperative Extension at the University of Georgia and in 1998, moved to Athens, the Classic City.

The Writer

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to write. Something about the act of writing relaxes me. I get in this zone where the words flow effortlessly onto the page, correctly spelled and properly punctuated. It’s a gift I’m always finding new ways to use.

Back before computers, I thought the physical act of writing by hand was essential to the process. A huge pile of wadded up false starts and do-overs was a by-product of every finished composition. Transitioning to the computer took years. Since then, countless trees have been spared. I still like pen and paper for some things, but prefer the efficiency of a word processor.

My job requires a tremendous amount of writing, ranging from consumer fact sheets to academic journal articles and grant proposals. Things I’ve learned from dozens of editors and hundreds of reviewers over the years continue to improve the quality of my writing. If I keep working at it, I might even become a good writer one day.

For most of the last 25 years, the writing I did for work, the personal journal I’ve kept since 1979, and the letters and emails I wrote to friends and family satisfied my writing compulsion. In 2008 I stumbled upon a blog hosting website. With no forethought or planning, I started The Crotchety Old Man.

Blogging was fun!  When we got our longhaired Chihuahuas, I started The Adventures of Tico and Toodles. Fans (mostly childhood friends of mine) encouraged me to write…children’s books.

I gave it a shot. Really, I did. But the idea of going on tour to promote my books to little children pushed even me to the pervert side of the opinion continuum. I gave it up and put Tico & Toodles to sleep.

Not the dogs…the blog.

After a series of posts on Crotchety about my salad day escapades, fans (the same fans that wanted me to write books for children) encouraged me to write a book about my life.  I did. It’s called Glass Houses. My fans loved it. Agents, publishers, and my mother…not so much.

I hooked up with a group of writers here in Athens. They liked the story, but had issues with the writing that I understand much better now after more than a year of working with them. They’ve taught me everything I know about writing a novel. So if you don’t like my books, blame them.

Just kidding. Any failures and  problems are likely the result of comments they made that I chose to ignore. I’m a grown-ass man. I can do what I want.

The Blog

My Glass House is my first attempt at an author’s web page. Instead of the anonymity of Crotchety, I needed a blog tied to my name. And I had a purpose: to make my memoir a best seller.

Time marches on. I finished Glass Houses more than a year ago and still haven’t really done anything with it. This blog, created to promote the still unpublished manuscript, has taken on a life of its own. Instead of focusing on things related to my writing career, it’s all about me.

I blame my compulsion to write. Something within me insists that I post something on the blog at least three times a week. Coming up with the idea for a post is always the hardest part. Restricting the range of options to things related to writing makes selecting a topic even harder.

I just couldn’t do it. Life gets in the way. Stuff happens and I have to write about it. The result is a blog about my life–the good, the bad, and the ugly, with a heavy dose of opinion thrown in just to keep things interesting.

As with any writer, what I want most is to be read. Thanks for visiting my blog and for taking the time to read me. A special thanks to all my followers–readers who subscribe and receive new posts via email. Click on the “Sign me up” button (top right of this page) to join them.

I know you have stuff to do. Thanks for sharing some of your valuable time with me here on…

My Glass House


5 responses to “Going Pro”

  1. Michael-I actually look forward to your writings everyday and find that I learn something each time-whether it be about you, myself, or life in general. Thanks for taking the time to write for all of us. One thing I’ve wondered about is if you refer back to your journals for your books/writings and why did you decide to write them in the first place?

    • Thanks Kara! I’ll deal with the second part first. When I started keeping a journal, I was broke, lonely, and involved with someone who lived 3 hours from Lexington. Writing in the journals gave me something to do. I’ve also been guilty of what I call procrasterwriting–writing rather than doing chores and things I need to do. I never looked back at them until I wrote the memoir, and they were helpful but not nearly as much as I’d hoped. Lots of times I mention something and say I’ll write more about it when I have more time, but I never do.More than anything else, they helped me to keep track of when major events happened. I’ve never journaled on a daily basis. It’s always been more of a couple of times a month thing with periods when I write a lot more or less, depending how how much time I have. Blogging has cut into my journaling time some. That the info I wanted wasn’t really there when I needed it has changed the way I journal today. I’m much more conscious about including context (things going on in the world) and making sure what I write will make sense to me thirty years from now. Thanks for asking and for reading!

  2. Michael, reading your stories always educate and enlighten me. I am proud to have read “Glass Houses” in it’s infancy. I have enjoyed your stories whether short or long (novel) and I hope to continue reading what you share. But to answer your first question I would buy every book printed of your stories and keep them in my collection of books I have read and enjoy. Who knows maybe I can get lucky and have the author personally autograph them for me one day 😉 .

    • Cheryl you are entry too sweet! If I ever get something printed, I promise to autograph it for you. You’ll have to buy it in your local bookstore and ship it to me, but I’ll happily sign it! 🙂

      • I was thinking next class reunion getting all of my books autographed!!!