Countdown to a real book!

In early December I posted that I was feeling strangely excited about arriving at our winter RV home this year.  Now I know why.  Actually, I figured it out shortly after our arrival.

Last winter I met a wonderful couple, Joy and Tony (names I gave them for their blog posts).  I wrote two posts devoted to them (Boxes, Both Miraculous and Mundane, March 6, 2015, and the poem Old Friend, March 14, 2015).  They are here this winter, too, and Joy and I have made a book together.  It is a novella, accounting one woman’s courageous and inspiring life journey.  It is her journey.

We started working on the story the day after my arrival.  We both knew it was right.  The project, the timing, and each other.  Because I love story telling, and she had more story to tell.

Even before setting out on my RV adventure, I had hopes that maybe, perhaps, hopefully, God-willing I would be able to write something like a book at some point.  (I also wanted to relearn the guitar, but that went nowhere!)  A friend of mine made me aware of Kindle self-publishing some time ago, and it made a lot of sense.  It puts the power into the hands of the primary players (the authors) rather than the archaic, convoluted, tortuous maze authors often have to navigate in the traditional publishing world.

Anyone can write and upload a book to Kindle.  The audience is worldwide.  What more can you ask for?  Well, marketing for one thing.  With a self-published book, the marketing is largely up to the author, and social media is a key element.

I have avoided Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and whatever else is out there so far.  As a fine, upstanding, stalwart citizen of IHVU (Introverted Hermits Vaguely United), I get exhausted and frazzled by too much social interaction.  The mere idea of keeping up with tweets and friends-who-I’ve-never-met-and-never-will-meet and whatever else the multitudes have to offer and to take, makes me want to crawl way deeper into my cave.  Well, that’s a great place to think.  And write.  But not to experience.  And not to share.

I created Aging on Wheels before I set out on my journey in mid-2014 with the long range goal that if I did manage to come up with a book, I could perhaps promote it here, on my very own blog.  Meanwhile, the blog took on a life of its own, becoming a friend in a way.  A journal, a diary, a place to share my thoughts and practice my writing.  A place to record the meeting of new friends, reconnections with old friends, and to chatter about some of the things I suspect we all have in common.  As a solo traveler, even an introvert likes to chatter to someone other than the dog sometimes.

It’s odd, but although the blog is out there for the whole world to see, should anyone in the world choose to look, it has felt like a safe place.  I think that is largely due to the kindness of my visitors, who give me space, consideration, and love.

In the vastness of the cyber-universe, there aren’t a lot of people who follow Aging on Wheels.  But please know that I am grateful for all of you who do.  I am particularly thankful for those of you who have expressed appreciation for my writing and for those who have encouraged me to continue.  Most of all, I deeply appreciate all of you who are and who have become friends.

So, to all of my readers here, please pardon my blatant plug for this upcoming book.  I do hope some of you will read it and enjoy it once it is published.  If any of you feel moved to provide a review of the book, that would be truly helpful, too, since reviews help the book rank higher in search lists.  It should be released by the end of the month.  And, trust me, I will keep you posted on the exact date, title, and other details!

Meanwhile, I am busy studying the finer points of formatting for Kindle and how to download a product that my friend and I will be able to be proud of.  It turns out that the process isn’t totally simple and brainless.  But it’s a wonderful challenge, and it feels like a terrific beginning.

It’s pretty nifty getting to enjoy new beginnings at this stage of life. 🙂

I Have a Friend

I have a friend who has a wonderful dream.  He is a sailor from way back, including time as a Seabee.  But a sailor with no boat for many, many years.  Until now.

It’s a beautiful thing when you see someone making their dream come true.  It’s way too easy to slog through each day doing the minimum needed to keep moving forward, or at least to not slip backward.  Even to have a dream in the first place takes a small dose of courage.  To speak of it to others means steeling your heart to potential discouragement and naysayers.  To follow through and put your time and money where your mouth is takes true commitment!

So, my dear friend–who has offered me much encouragement while I have been pursuing my dream–please accept my hearty congratulations.  And some elbow grease when I arrive in Florida this winter.  I can’t promise to sail with you (way too many fears of drowning and/or being attacked by alligators and snakes on the way down!) but I’ll be happy to lend a hand in making her sea worthy, comfy, and clean.

Cheers, Capitan!

Addendum:  In el Capitan’s own words,  “The dreamer is 75 years old, so dreams (and their accomplishments) are ageless.”

So Brave!

I used to be so brave.  Or stupid.  Or young.  Or perhaps all of those things rolled up together, each egging the other on like a group of boisterous teens drag racing at 2:00 a.m. on a school night, oblivious to–or perhaps dismissive of–all potential consequences, near and far.

On our (leisurely) drive to our current campground in Tennessee, I was lucky to get good radio reception for NPR. I love NPR. It makes me so much smarter, at least for awhile, until I forget most of what I’ve heard. Frances Jensen, a neuroscientist-researcher-author-mother, was being interviewed about her book on the developing brain (The Teenage Brain).  She was inspired to delve into the subject when her children were teenagers and she desperately wanted some clue as to why they behaved so incredibly, well, stupid sometimes.  It turns out that until you are in your mid-20’s, the brain is simply not all there. Especially the prefrontal cortex, which is the part capable of taming the wild side.

I sure did recognize myself when she talked about teenagers’ high risk-taking and impetuous decision-making tendencies.  In my wild years, I went camping in this general area of Tennessee.  On one hike I climbed to the top of a beautiful waterfall, seeking the promise of an even more beautiful view from on high.  Before the climb, I passed a sign reading “Danger! Do Not Climb Past This Point!”  It went on to say how many people had died so far that year by not heeding its sage advice.  It gave me pause–hmmm, I wonder who the people were behind those numbers–but only a pause.  Upon reaching the summit, I promptly slipped on the mossy rocks and nearly slid off the edge of the falls, straight through that beautiful horizon.  Brave?  Dumb?  Oblivious?  All of the above.

Nearly forty years later, I find myself at this lovely state park a ways east of that waterfall.  Dawny and I are enjoying our walks through the campground and surrounding area, including a gentle stretch of riverfront.  But, as usual, I avoid paths that go through wooded areas.  Dawny tugs at her leash when we come across tempting openings into the woods–I wonder what her prefrontal cortex looks like–but I generally pull her back towards civilization and try to ignore the way she looks at me over her shoulder with distinct disappointment.  I’m just too afraid of bears and snakes and wild pigs and who knows what else coming at us while we are far from any possible help.

The other day, though, our luck and our pace shifted.  We came across a park ranger who was heading into one of the wooded paths to pick up litter and check on things back there, and he let us accompany him.  We walked along a lively creek and came upon a bunch of wild turkeys.  In another part of the park, we followed a ridge trail that wound along high above the river.  In spots, if you were to slip and fall, you would be smashed on the rocks below.  Then drowned.  Then probably eaten by a bear.  I had to be careful not to look too closely over the edge, as it set my stomach churning and my imagination shooting off into dark, illogical corners.

Finding a spot not too close to the edge with a nice break in the trees, I was treated to a breathtaking picture.  Blue-gray mountains in the distance, framed by pouffy white clouds in a crystal blue sky, forest all around, and the churning river below.  What a treat!

Maybe what I used to think of as brave was no more courageous than what I’m doing now, even though I was able to do so much more then.  Now, I practically have to have an escort to stray very far off the same path that, as a youth, I would charge up without a second thought.  Now, I’m much more aware of my own, personal horizon and its steady approach, regardless of which path I happen to be dithering along.

Well, at least I’m out here, following my dream.  It’s a pretty tame dream, and pretty safe.  But its mine, and I love it.  That might be what bravery is now, at this point of life.  My brain is reverting back to some semblance of that teenage condition as my prefrontal cortex surrenders in exhaustion from everything I’ve put it through over the years. It’s throwing up its little brain hands and squeaking in a grand-motherly voice, “Fine!  Take me where you will!  Just don’t speed, eat your vegetables, wear practical shoes . . . .  And please, do enjoy that view.”