Friday, June 25, 2010


I left a comment over at Debby's blog about angry people.

I wrote, Several years ago I was talking to one of our senior lead mechanics about one pilot who would throw a tantrum at the drop of a hat. I managed to get along with the guy, largely by steering the conversation toward his grandson. That would always lighten him up.

Anyway, the guy had come close to crossing a line with me. Close enough that I felt quite in touch with my redneck lineage. I was still miffed about the exchange, and mentioned that to our lead mechanic. He paused, and then said, "We grew up in the same town, y'know. I knew his father, and if you had ever met his father, that would explain a lot." Those words stuck with me.

Some people are assholes simply because they're assholes. But then, I believe many people cling to anger because they grew up with too little love in their lives. For them, anger can be strangely comforting. Anger can fill the empty places.


I've followed Debby's blog for a while now. I read it before she learned she had breast cancer, and followed her journey through chemo and recovery. Through it all, she never stopped writing.

She recently posted this:
People have often asked how I do it. How I manage to post regularly, despite all the things going on in my life. The answer is easy. I get up early to do it. Each morning, I pad around in my bare feet and night gown making coffee. A morning without coffee would be, well, it would still be a morning, but infinitely worse. So I start my day with two cups of cappuccino from my own machine, and I bring my frothy cup into the living room, and I sit down at the computer. I take a few moments to click through the blogs, and then I quickly type up my post. It's part of my morning ritual. If I have to work or if things are especially hectic, I might not take the time to do it, but mostly I do take the time. As the coffee courses through my veins making me feel human, well, connecting with all of you, that makes me feel human too.

Steve Brewer is a novelist and humorist who stayed at home raising his sons while his wife worked as a managing editor of two different newspapers. He lives here in our northern California community of Redding. When I asked him how the heck he managed to publish seventeen books while holding down the fort as a stay-at-home dad, he answered, "I got up at three in the morning." Another writer friend, Alan Rider, is a stay-at-home dad when he isn't traveling for some writing gig, and his wife is also a career woman. When I asked him how he's done it, I pretty much got the same answer: "I get up early in the morning."

My writing output has declined in the last year, and I think it's largely because I no longer wake at four in the morning on my off days. Most of the time, I wake at the same time as the family. My couple of hours of solo time in the morning have largely evaporated. Why am I not waking "naturally" in the wee morning hours anymore? Am I getting abducted by aliens?

So there it is, doggone it. If I want to up my writing output, I'm gonna have to set a damn alarm clock on my off days. That just seems unnatural.


Kelly said...

When my kids were growing up I always got up at least a half hour earlier then the rest of my family so I could have quiet time, usually spent reading devotions, praying or just "thinking".

Looking was a more productive time in my life. Maybe I need to make some changes.

Debby said...

Yes, but once you do it for a while, your body just falls into a routine. Pretty soon you will not need that alarm clock.

Bob said...

Yep, I'm right there with Debby. Only the dog gets up when I do and it's my best time of day. But whenver you choose to write, Hal, it's good stuff and I'm glad to read it.

Pam said...

I've been so lax in my writing it's pathetic. During school I am up at 5 am but it's my alone time to get ready for school before the chaos breaks out or wakes up.

Now that school's out, it's the puppy and/or Sam who gets me up at ungodly hours. Again, no time to do what I want to do.

On the whole, however, I'm not sure it's as much the lack of alone time as all the chaos in my life right now that has drained me of the energy to write. And, I'm too close to the chaos to have any kind of rational perspective on it.

I love reading whatever you write, Hal. You and Bob, as I've said many times, are remarkable story tellers. Masters of the "slice of life"!!!

quid said...

I used to have an hour of alone time when I was raising a family. Little by little, Frank got up earlier... started to work out in the morning. I missed my time for me. I hope that wasn't the main cause for the divorce...(joke!) anyway, after menopause, I stopped waking up so early, naturally.

Think back, Hal... did you go through menopause?


Hal Johnson said...

Hm. Well Quid, not as far as I'm aware. But, it does seem to have started in the aftermath of a lingering, low-grade flu I had last year. Or, maybe I'm just enjoying sleep more.

Roland said...

I must get up earlier...