Astute readers will note that I'm a dozen or fifteen years late in launching a website. But the time has come and so here I am. I aim to make this as interesting a site as possible, without going too far afield from the purpose of updating news about my books and related projects. I do have plans to include short bits or links to other subjects or websites that may be of interest. But first, this note.
I'm not on Facebook or Twitter or any other social media. If anyone wants to share anything from this site on those platforms you're welcome to do so. But my lack of a presence on those sites, or similar ones, is not from lack of interest but from a more compelling reason. Like many writers I know, writing is the hardest work I can imagine: every sentence, every word in every sentence is studied and considered carefully. There's little more daunting for me than to be faced with the prospect of composing a few lines for a birthday card. I'm not making this up.
And so a little story, to open this site up with.
In the summer of 1990 my wife, Marion, and I loaded up our old Subaru station wagon and, along with our Gordon Setter, Jill, left Vermont to drive across the country. Our final destination was Port Townsend, Washington, where we have old and dear friends. Once west of Chicago we got off the interstate and drove two-lane highways, a mode of travel I highly recommend. You actually see the places you're traveling through, rather than the backsides, the view most interstates offer. In other words, we meandered. And, the point of this story, we ended up spending a couple of weeks around Livingston, Montana. Beyond hiking in and above the aptly named Paradise Valley, we spent a fair amount of time just hanging out in Livingston.(Some time later I'll write a post about the 19th century photographer F, Jay Haynes, why he's of interest to me and what I hope to do with that interest.) At that time Livingston was very much a 'destination' town but was two or three steps back from the development that's occurred since. The downtown was and is still today a wonderful mix of the old and new, but still mostly old. There were at least a couple of bars that were just bars; a jukebox, a couple of slot machines, a pool table. One afternoon Marion and I had come down out of the woods and were seeking refreshment. We ended up at The Sport and pretty much had the place to ourselves and so after a beer, we decided to shoot pool. Neither of us are much practiced with pool but we were having fun, which sometimes is the only point in undertaking something. After a bit a cowboy came in, a working guy, not a tourist, not a transplant getting dressed up. How could I tell? If you've spent time around men who do hard physical work all the time, it's pretty easy to spot them. He had a beer, maybe two and then started to chat with us. Mostly, but not always, I tend to be quiet, to observe, to watch and listen. Marion is more gregarious, curious about people and she has a wicked sense of humor and it was not too long before she and the cowboy were hitting it off. All friendly, nothing more. So he strolled over and set his stack of quarters on the edge of the table, which, for the uninitiated, meant he'd play the winner of the game. Which turned out to be Marion.
I ordered another beer and perched on a stool and watched. He was a much better player that either of us but it was a weekday afternoon and the game was only half-serious, at best. The cowboy and Marion were telling stories, trading stories and now and again figuring out whose turn it was and taking their shots. Late afternoon sunlight coming through the windows onto the table, an endless cycle of Hank Senior, Willie and Waylon, George Jones on the jukebox. I bought another round of beers, The sort of quiet good time that the road and meeting strangers can open up. But at one memorable point, Marion was ahead in the game (it could've been two or three games in- I was having too much fun watching and listening and I also knew he'd kick my ass, quickly, at the table) and it was his turn to shoot but she was trying to follow up on a story he'd just finished and he looked at her and said, "Hey girl? You want me to talk, or shoot pool? 'Cause I can't do both at the same time."
And that's me. I've got a new novel coming out next spring and are a hundred pages into the one after that. So while I plan to spend time here and spin some tales, most of the time I'll be shooting pool.