Hello! Thank you for stopping by. Today is the first day of the latest relaunch of my blog. It started pretty well several years ago but a combination of daily life commitments and multiple workloads slowed it down to a trickle. Finding things to talk about wasn’t the trouble. Part of it was time, true. But part of it, the larger part, had to do with this notion of “branding”. I am sure you have heard the concept out there. We can’t just do anything anymore. We have to “brand” ourselves, especially on social media. What “brand” are we presenting to the world? And, no matter what we do, we cannot deviate from that brand.
It all reminded me of the opening credits of this old TV western called Branded that was on back in the 1960s when I was a kid :
And it all somehow left me feeling like Chuck Connors in that opening. Sorry, but this is just how my mind works. (smile)
You see, I had really started this blog and this website to publicize my writing and create a place to share what was on my mind. To look back at how things were and to look forward to how things change. The more I teach, the more I realize how little young people know about how things used to be back in the 1960s or 1970s or, gasp, the 1980s. I am sure I am not the first person to discover this!
For as long as I can remember I have loved:
Not necessarily in that order.
I love to travel. I love to meet new people and see new places. I love the heritage and the people of Indiana and West Virginia where I grew up. I love to learn. At the moment, I make my living by writing, by teaching, by freelance editing, and by script reading. Call me the perfect Gemini but I don’t have one interest nor do I want to.
And the more I read up on operating a blog, the more I kept running into this notion of “branding”. How the only way to have a successful blog was to focus on only one thing and never stray from it. Every time someone came to my blog they should know what they were going to get. So I decided to try and figure out what that one thing would be. And the more I thought about it, the more I could not come up with it. And the more I could not come up with it, the fewer ideas I would find to write about. And in the end, I just stopped writing all together.
Not that I stopped writing outside the blog. I have in the last three years cranked out a James Bond-esque thriller that could be the beginning of a book series and a World War II thriller. Those who have read pages from them give them very high marks and I do believe they are among the best things I have ever done.
But even in my writing, I started getting fixated on this whole notion of “branding” and I became afraid that if I came out with the wrong kind of book in the wrong genre then I would be sentenced to writing that kind of book for the rest of my life. I found that just as paralyzing as trying to figure out the one subject I should be writing about in my blog. “Branding” myself was actually paralyzing me. And I finally just reached a point this summer where I said, to hell with all of that. I am just going to write what I write.
So I am back now, The Middle-Aged Reviewer, ready to take on the blog again.
The last year has been tough for a number of reasons. One of the things that sucks about getting older is that we start losing our idols and our mentors because they are even older than us. Last year, we lost one of my favorite writers, E.L. Doctorow, one of the men who made me want to write in the first place. And this summer saw the passing of filmmaker Michael Cimino, the man who pretty much single-handedly made me want to get into the movies. (More on both of these subjects in the coming weeks).
As many of you in my inner circle know, I have been spending the summer writing on a novel set back in my high school days (or at least a highly fictionalized version of high school days). This one has LONG been in the works. Truth be told, I started working on this while I was still in high school. My high school days were some of the best times of my life and I recognized that while they were happening and so I started writing down events we were participating in and conversations we were having and squirreling them away in notebooks and files. I clipped out newspaper articles and compiled lists of the popular music and television shows of the time. All before I ever got that diploma. I knew they were special days and I was determined to hang onto them. To quote a scene from Michael Cimino’s misunderstood western Heaven’s Gate (1980) whose time has come:
John Hurt: “Do you remember the good, gone days?”
Kris Kristofferson: “Clearer and better, every day I get older.”
And that is so true.
I wrote the first draft of the book right after graduating high school. And it sucked. It was not ready to be written and I was not ready to write it. I put it away for over two decades. Took it back out in 2005 following the death of my mother and wrote a fairly solid draft. I was very happy with it but there was a glut of those kinds of books on the market back then so it went back on the shelf. Now it is back on my desk and now it is ready to be finished. Its time has come. It is called Mountain Cross.
As fall begins again (my favorite time of year) it is also fall again in my book and the beginning of my characters’ senior year of high school. And the more I look back, the more I discover the seeds of where we are today were sown way back then.
So I am just going to write what I want – both in books and on this blog. I am me. I am Richard. I will leave everyone else to figure out what “brand” I am.
Welcome back! I will be posting new stuff on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
Please stop by. And if you have any suggestions of what “brand” I am, I am more than happy to hear them!
See you Wednesday.