The Well Aging Fiddler - Let's See What Happens Next

June 13, 2023, 9:13 PM · I haven’t written anything on for a while, because I’ve been busy.

I wrote a book.

Michael Kennedy book

This is the third book I’ve written. I wrote a book of poetry, and another on education. I make enough royalties to buy a tank of gasoline once a year.

This whole thing started right here with the blogs I’ve written for this website. As all of us are more than aware, the pandemic ground everything to a fast halt. I sat at home, missing my children and grandchildren, losing masks, finding masks, discovering Zoom and Skype, taking live lessons online – at one point, my teacher was in Australia, I was here in Portland, Oregon – and practicing my violin. Of course, I didn’t practice all day long, so I had to find things to do.

I cleaned the house. That took a couple of hours, each week.

Cleaned the garage. A couple more hours, every few months.

Bought too much stuff on Amazon. Let’s not go there, ok?

Watched just about every possible Scandinavian murder mystery series I could find on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Well, most of them. I got a little jaded. If I started a show, and someone wasn’t murdered within the first three minutes, I gave up and looked for something else. (Does that mean I have a dark side? Spooky!)

I read a lot of books.

The pandemic dragged on, and I got into esoteric activities.

Like others of my generation, I have a few hundred CD’s, records, and even a dozen cassette tapes. So, I alphabetized them, categorized them, made a huge list of them, and now they sit on bookshelves, organized, in perfect order, and gathering just as much dust as they did before I started the project. I thought that would take a long time, and the pandemic would be over by the time I finished. Sadly, it only took two days.

Gained 15 pounds, joined Weight Watchers, got into exercise, and lost the weight.

I got into a rather loopy online meditation program. "Clear your mind . . . find inner peace . . . envision your desires. . . Whatever you wish, you will get . . ." Really? Frankly, I tend to think it takes more than sitting on my tush and practicing wishful thinking.

Lots of online yoga, but I’d cheat. I’d stop the video, take a break, and come back, or just turn it off.

Weightlifting – online – boring as . . . well . . . it was boring.

I took walks with a mask, and I’d cross the street if someone was walking toward me to avoid contact. I felt like a socially inept zombie.

While driving my car on an empty road through a forest, I saw a guy in the distance, deep in the woods among the tall Oregon trees. He was just standing there, all alone, wearing a mask. A mask? Deep in the forest? Are the chipmunks going to give him Covid? I thought that was a bit too much.

The whole thing dragged on.

Every morning, however, I would sit on the sofa, sip coffee, and write – just like I’m doing right now. After a couple of months of this, I realized I had enough raw material to publish a book.

So, I threw it all together, and ended up with around 100,000 words of completely disconnected essays, poems, stories, jokes, nonsense, and advice. It was a mess.

I showed it to a couple of friends. Fortunately, as long-time friends, they were able to be honest about the entire project. They were also tactful. The kind of tactfulness where it is wise to read between the lines.

"Michael, it’s brilliant – of course – but rather chaotic."

"Um . . . if I were you, I’d stick to the stories . . . Look! That guy is pulling out, we can park there!"

So, I let the whole project sit still for a couple of months. Then I got out my pencil and turned 100,000 words into 70,000 words.

I wrote three more drafts, put it away for a while, then cut out another 20,000 words.

Once I had it down to a reasonable draft, I submitted it to several literary agents. The response was universal. Nobody wanted it. It seems books by some old guy, who writes about music, theater, success, failure, subjectivity, objectivity, and so on, through essays, poems, stories, and jokes, don't sell. Plus, nobody likes poetry mixed with prose.

In the end, I’ve published it myself on Frankly, I’m just glad to have it out there. My favorite writing teacher, Cecil Dawkins, said, "We never finish our writing. In the end, we abandon it." She’s right.

I could tinker with this thing for another few months, but enough is enough.

I wrote a book. Here’s a link to it. A lot of it has to do with violins. Yes, this is shameless self-promotion. Plus, I need another tank of gasoline.

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June 14, 2023 at 12:19 PM · Congratulations on your new book, Michael!

June 15, 2023 at 06:04 AM · Congratulations on your book.

"I alphabetized them, categorized them, made a huge list of them, and now they sit on bookshelves, organized, in perfect order, and gathering just as much dust as they did before I started the project." - I know the feeling :)

June 15, 2023 at 02:21 PM · Thanks, Paul, and Hrishikesh.

It seems when selling books on Amazon, I have access to the sales numbers in relation to every other book on their site. Two days ago, my book ranked 430,399 in sales. Yesterday, it shot up to 146,253! With any luck, I'll break 100,000 by the weekend.

Currently, I'm going through that postpartum-lost-in-the-wilderness feeling now that the project is finished, out there, and beyond my influence and control. Fortunately, it's nothing new. I had this feeling when my kids went off to college, after every play I'd directed, and after every violin concert. You work hard - put it out there - then it's over. Suddenly, there is a lot of unfocused time . . .

Wait a second. This was just supposed to be a 'thank you' to Paul and Hrishikesh. Clearly, I've had too much coffee this morning, and I'm starting a blog post. I'd better sign off.

June 15, 2023 at 03:54 PM · No no no, Michael. Now's when your agent sets up an international speaking and signing tour.

June 15, 2023 at 04:22 PM · Michael, I feel like you're getting an element of sharing your self/art/work with others. Maybe the best thing for an art hangover is a little hair-of-the-dog. Congrats on getting it out!

June 15, 2023 at 04:34 PM · Paul! You're right! As soon as I get an agent, I'll get things going.

Christian, alas, one of my favorite watering holes here in Portland, Hair of the Dog, closed during the pandemic. However, I will do my best to follow your advice. Thanks.

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