Where This Thing Has Been and Where This Stuff Is Going

I write TomBeingTom.com because I like writing, and I like Tom. It’s important, I think, to know ourselves, to like ourselves. I like me enough, and what goes on in my head enough, to share it with the world. Generally speaking, two or three dozen people read each new blog I post. Sometimes, that number doubles. Sometimes, it halves.

It isn’t “successful” or viral, but it is fun.

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The End of a Thing

Technically, I ought to just skip today’s session and buy the fellas a round this weekend, in thanks for their support. Or maybe I could play the birthday card and wiggle out of that obligation or trade free birthday beers for free blogging beers. Technically, I could fudge on my bet. Technically, I could call 30 days good, since this is 31.

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My 100th Entry

Today has the distinction of being the last day of my 48th year on the planet, and my 100th entry.

I started tombeingtom.com in January 2016 as a spontaneous idea I had been working on for months. In my journal, in November 2015, I gave myself an ultimatum: write daily until January XX – 60 full days – and know for certain at the end of that period whether I am going to be a writer, or I am not.

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The Smithin’ of More Words by the Juggernaut of Jargon

I took a little time yesterday and read a few of my old entries. The last 25 to be exact. I really enjoyed it. I found some typos that I’d missed on my final edit the first time around, and I corrected ‘em. They were minor, and easily missed, and there were only 4 in 25 entries. That’s a pretty good average, I’d say.

I enjoy reading what I write. I don’t know if that’s one of those “wrong things to say” kind of things, but I’ll say it, anyway. If more people wrote the way I do I’d probably read more. That’s definitely one of those “wrong things to say” kind of things, but I said it. It’s okay to disagree with it; I encourage you to write the way you like to read, too.

Since I’ve started this foray into dedicated daily entries, for the entire month of June, I’ve had two other people tell me they’d love to start a blog. I’ve encouraged them. I’d like to help them get started. I hope they have great success, however they define it. I hope they scroll back to their old entries and enjoy what they see. I’d hope that they hope that others write like them so that they can enjoy what others write, too.

Have I belabored that point?

Honestly, it’s Sunday and I’m on limited sleep and I didn’t feel like getting up and putting in my 400 words before church, so I’m just filling in blank spaces on empty paper so I don’t have to buy the beer.

You knew that, didn’t you?

But let me be honest for a moment. Another moment, I mean. Because what I said above was entirely true, in every way. I love reading my old entries. There were some typos. I fixed them. I wholeheartedly encourage people to write and share. The two people who have said this week that they want to start a blog are clever and dear to me. I can’t wait to see their stuff.

But the other honest thing I was going to say is that I look at my writing like poetry a little bit. I may not have something to say all the time but I endeavor to say it in the most ornate way. It’s art to me.

Poetry.org defines poetry as “an art form in which human language is used for its aesthetic qualities in addition to, or instead of, its notional or semantic content.”

See, even if you didn’t understand all the words in that definition it’s a beautiful use of the language.

I like to take language, take simple moments in time, and write something aesthetically and semantically pleasing about it. I do it in sentences and paragraphs instead of stanzas. I make purty.

Or, at least, I try to.

Whether or not I succeed is the judgement of the observer, just like any art.

So, those are the things that went through my head as I read my own stuff. If you’d like to do Tom a favor, and you find yourself with some time, go back and read some of the ones you’ve skipped. Read them for their flavor more than their content. Let me know how I did. Even if you didn’t agree with the opinion, or care for that day’s topic, did I make you smile? Did I create something artful with my use of the language? Did I create something awful instead?

That’s what I look for when I go back. I can be biased, so your opinion means even more to me than mine does. I hope you find that you liked it enough to want to read more. Or I hope you hate it enough to tell me so. Either comment improves Tom, being Tom.

Okay, so I went and filled a blank page with more than 700 words without really meaning to. I apologize for that, and hope to do it again tomorrow. I hope you read it. If you don’t, I will punish you with another 700 the next day. It’s what I do.

I’m the energizer bunny of semantically poetic prose. The irresistible force of lethal literary illumination. The juggernaut of jargon.

I’ll stop there. You deserve better. 😉

Have a great Sunday, friends!

Shorter, Shorter Would Be Better

If brevity is the soul of wit, then I might be a blooming idiot.

I was talking with a pal yesterday, over a beer, and he made an offhand comment about how he rushed through yesterday’s blog and would need to go over it again. He said it was longer than the ones I had been writing in June, and he was right. Shorter would be better, he intimated, with all the demands of modern life that consume him.

Well, yeah. I agree. And I’m sure you do, too.

Sometimes, though, I have more to say than other times. Sometimes I’m talking about something really important like the fate of all mankind or Ludo getting sprayed by a skunk. That last link didn’t work because I haven’t written that one yet. It’s gonna be long. He deserves loquaciousness.

But, here, in June, while I am forcing upon you this daily diet of delectable dialogue, I should have more consideration for you, the reader. So, I renew my vow.

In June, I will keep my entries to 400 words or less, or I will split the entry into multiple days to save brainspace. This has the added benefit of giving me a topic each day. If it’s too long to shorten and too critical to split, it will wait until July. If it can’t wait, then I’ll break the rule.

It’s my blog I can do what I want. If you want to do what you want, start your own blog. Honestly, that would be cool. I’d be your biggest fan.

And speaking of writing your own blog, one final point:

If you ever want to test drive one of these things send me your entry. I’ll post it on my board as a guest blog. You get to express yourself and I get to post something to avoid paying on my bet, without lifting a finger. Folks these days call that a win-win.

And lest you think that’s cheating, I’ll clear that up. My original promise to Kime and Ryan at the bar was that I vowed to post something in my blog daily. I could post a cartoon that intrigues me if I wanted. An excerpt from a poem. A picture of my deck.

You read that right. 😉

So in closing, I want to let you know that I’ve heard what you said and I promise to …

(Sorry, that was 400 words; you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see the reiterated promise. What will it say? Til then, dear reader, til then! 😂)

The Unnamed Tom Being Tom Dot Com June Writing Project

Before I was ever a blogger I read other people’s blogs. Not with any sort of consistency or fervency, but just to see what was out there. The only three I read with any sort of semi-regularity, at that time, were from James Altucher, Steve Pavlina, and Wil Wheaton. Pavlina taught me that a 7 wasn’t good enough. Altucher showed me a wonderfully irreverent way to look at life, in general. Wil Wheaton got me to start a blog.

I admit I hardly ever read any of the three anymore, but I check in on Wil from time to time. It’s not their fault. I’m just a fickle feather floating in a stream of consciousness within the ether, mixing the heck out of metaphors. In other words, I’m notoriously short on attention span. I read a lot of Mark Manson and Ryan Holiday these days. They’re really good. I can’t imagine ever not reading their stuff. But I probably will (won’t?) soon. It’s impossible to know what I’ll find genius-y next. I’m a fickle feather floating … oh wait, I already told you that.

Moving on.

The reason I mention all of my former and current influences is because it’s almost June. Besides being my birthday month (go me!), it’s also the month I promised a couple of friends a couple of weeks ago over a couple of beers that I was going to write in my blog for 30 days straight. That idea occurred to me because I saw Wil Wheaton do it once back in December and said “I’m gonna do that someday.” I also said, “but not right now because that would be a cheap copycat thing to do so I’m gonna wait until no one remembers he did it and then I’m gonna do it organically and no one will know the difference.”

So, that’s what I’m going to do, starting tomorrow. I’m going to covertly rip off a former Federation officer. Does that make me a Ferengi?

Should that be Ferengian?

Whatever.

The other thing I’m going to do to make this work is keep each entry short. Like, under-400-words-each short. That’s not because I’m too lazy to write over 400 words every day (although that might be true, too). It’s because if I drone on and on every day for 1500 words I’m likely to lose a lot of you by the third day instead of the fifth. I’d probably also say “Donald Trump” too many times.

So, that’s the plan. Starting tomorrow I’ll post something daily for 30 straight days.*

I don’t know yet what each and every day will bring but I vow to you all that they will be concise, politely irreverent and, most importantly, Tomly in every way possible. I’d appreciate it if you joined me daily. It’ll be fun. We’ll chat. I’ll give away prizes. I’ll tell you more lies.

So there it is. Starting tomorrow Tom Being Tom will be brought to you daily while we count down the 30 days until my 49th birthday on the 29th.**

Can’t wait to see what I say!

*Technically, since tomorrow immediately follows today, and you’re seeing this today, I’ll have done it 31 days straight in June, if you count May.

**That’s new math.

***There was going to be a 3rd asterisk but I can’t remember what it was now. Squirrel!

Following Passion

I didn’t get a chance to fulfill my weekly blog commitment by Thursday, this week, but here’s why:

I’m officially a collaborator with Cali Sports News. 🙂

My first article, Rams Seek Answers Around Goff, has been well-received by readers, is the top trending article on the site at the moment, and has received glowing praise from the EIC Mario Hicks and my fellow football collaborator LaVoy Briscoe. I have been welcomed with open arms to the team – to the “family” – as Mr Briscoe calls us, and I’m excited to get to work. If you haven’t read the article, please click and give it a read. Your feedback is direly important to me. I’ve already outlined my 2nd article and am working on the text of it now.

I don’t know if you can tell yet; I’m pretty excited. 😉

I don’t expect this to hinder my operations here, at all. I’ve been wanting to write more. As I’ve explained in past blogs, I usually want to get started on my next piece the moment I finish my current one. I haven’t done that. I didn’t want to overload my readers with Tom Being Tom; at least not all at once. I have a half-dozen completed articles I’ve never published, to be frank. Now I get to write all the sports stuff I want over there and continue Being Tom over here. Life is amazing.

Life is amazing despite the weird week in politics with you-know-who doing you-know-what exactly the way I warned you he would. Fight tyranny, America. We don’t need a king.

That last paragraph is probably indicative of what I’ll be doing my serious writing about when I do serious writing here. Tom Being Tom will continue to be about my life, but also about my thoughts. Major articles about sports will go there, but opinions about everything will go here. Like so:

The New England Patriots will beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl, further cementing the legend of Tom Brady as the #GoaT he has proven to be.

People ask me all the time how I can say that about a guy on a team I don’t normally favor (the Pats), and about a team that actually BEAT my team in the 2001 Super Bowl. Well, I can say that because I keep my bias in check. It’s the same reason I can dislike Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. When they both suck, they just do. And when someone is great, he just is.

If you disagree, let’s fight.

Figuratively.

With words.

Pleasant ones, please.

I’m a civil guy. 😉

Once again I want to thank you for joining me over the last year, and for reading my ramblings. I started this path a year ago, almost to the day, and you have made the entire journey something really special. I’m not done. I won’t be happy until my waking hours are filled with too much to write. It really is the best thing I do all week. Now I get to do it more, and I get to do it about something I really have a passion about.

Why didn’t I do it this much before?

Who cares. Life is never made to live backwards. Today is the most important day of our lives, until tomorrow comes. And it will come quick, much quicker than we expect. I know. I have deadlines.

Have a wonderful week, my friends. Join me here next time for short rants and join me over there for sports talk. Most of all, join me in living for our passions.

They are the reason we’re alive.

Ray Allen, God, and Me

I took a week off. I didn’t open a word document, didn’t light up a blank page with scribbles. I didn’t form an opinion on anything. I didn’t brainstorm or try to transform wisdom into dialogue. I didn’t write one true thing and let it lead to another. I didn’t pontificate at all. I took a week off.

My brain didn’t stop working. I didn’t lose my passion for prose. I didn’t shut down the inputs; I read voraciously. I learned a new word. Voraciously. It means something like “with great hunger.” I read this week with great hunger. This paragraph would have been a lot shorter if I wouldn’t have slipped in a big word and then defined it. If I would have just said that I read with great hunger in the first place I could have avoided droning on about it. But I did. I read a lot. I just didn’t write. I took a week off.

Sometimes you have to. Stephen King would not agree, and maybe he’s right. Maybe I don’t want to be a writer bad enough. Maybe I don’t want to be anything bad enough to do it all the time. Great fishermen fish all the time. Great speakers are always speaking. Nobody was born great. God didn’t give Ray Allen the ability to shoot threes. He practiced. He did it all the time. He never took a week off.

Or maybe he did. I don’t have him on speed dial. If you run into Ray Allen this week will you ask him if he ever just takes a week off? He probably doesn’t. The great ones probably don’t.

But I did. I took a week off.

I don’t feel guilty about it. If I felt guilty about it I’d probably sit here and write a whole entry about it. I might do that, anyway, but don’t go casting aspersions about my state of mind because of it.  This paragraph would have been a lot shorter if I had just said “doubting me” or “disparaging me” instead of saying “casting aspersions.” That might all be cut out in the second draft, anyway. The secret of great writing is great editing, you know? At least I think it is. I’m not a great writer. I take weeks off.

I have this entire piece I wrote two weeks or so ago about how we need to find some way to be ourselves in a world that is trying to mold us. I think it’s pretty good. I call “William Shakespeare” “Billy Shakes” in it, right there in the first sentence, to be sly. I think it’s pretty good. I haven’t read it in more than a week so I might be wrong. I talk about onions in it, too.

I almost posted it today instead of writing this. I almost posted it a week and a half ago instead of posting another thing. I received a lot of good feedback on the other thing, and it was an important thing to say, so I’m really proud of it. There is absolutely nothing important about what I’m writing today and I’m not really proud of that. But I’m out of practice. You know why.

I’m going to make a promise here in a second. It’s one that I really mean and, were I a better man, I would have made it years ago. I made it months ago, some of you might remember. I did pretty good with it for a while but, like all things, we do really good at something for a while sometimes and then we don’t for a bit. I’m not really proud of that last sentence at all. I’m not going to edit it. Sometimes we only recognize good writing when we see it bad. That was another terrible sentence. Let’s get out of this paragraph while we still can.

So, my promise: I’m going to write every day. I may not post every day because you would all quickly never read anything I ever post again. That’s how it works. Less is more. But just because I’m not posting doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be writing. Ray Allen probably throws basketballs at nets every day even when it’s not game day. I hope that’s the case. Because if he’s throwing up threes like he does, and he only ever throws while the clock is running, that means there’s some kind of god or something and he’s handing out him-given talents and I didn’t get one.

I can’t accept that yet.

Maybe next week I’ll write about something like that. Maybe I’ll do it tomorrow. I forgot I don’t have to wait until next week; I forgot my promise exactly 110 words after I made it. I’m going to forgive myself for that because I’m only human, I’m only one coffee in on a Saturday morning, and frankly I haven’t been doing as much thinking lately as I should. I’m out of practice with that, too.

I took a week off.

Thanks for welcoming me back with such vehemence. That word means…

Oh, forget it. Thanks for reading. Even when I don’t really write. 😉

What Stephen King Told Me This Week

stephen king on writing

A couple of days ago Stephen King gave me some good advice about writing. Now, I’m not a delusional man so I’m not saying he came to me in a dream or somehow delivered information to me psychically, I’m saying he talked to me through his own writing. He told me to write every day. That seems a simple enough thing to say and the same advice that you’d give me, most likely, if I asked you how I could become a better writer. But he added something else, something you might not say to me to my face.

He told me that if I’m not writing at least 1000 words a day, every day, then I don’t want to be a writer.

He was right.

If I’m only writing when I want to write, then I’m not doing justice to my writing. I need to write when I don’t feel like it even more than I need to write when I do. I need to write on weekends, on holidays, after a good sleep, after a bad sleep, when I’m feeling dandy and when I’m hungover as hell.

One thousand words. Every day. At least.

Another thing Stephen King told me was to write without distraction. If you’ve ever been around me for any length of time you know that I don’t do much without distraction. My mind wanders. My sentences bleed together. My concentration trails as I think of the next thing I want to say. I interrupt you. I know, I’m terrible about that.

My phone is a constant distraction. As I’m going about the business of doing whatever I’m doing on any given day I’m likely to grab that damn device a million times to see if there’s a news update, a sports bulletin, a group text, a cool status update, or another round of Words with Friends to play. There’s always something going on in the world, and that thing seems to know about it.

So when I’m writing I’m taking frequent breaks to see what’s happening out there. Stephen King says I have to stop that. Stephen King says I must write without interruption or it just won’t come out the way it could, it should, it might. Stephen King says that if I don’t write without distraction I’m probably not a writer.

The last and, potentially, most important thing that Stephen King taught me this week was how to write fiction. Yeah, I’ve been doing some of that this week. In fact, I’ve been writing 1000 words of fiction every morning without distraction. See, I’m a good listener. But the most important thing he taught me about writing fiction is to stop worrying about storyline and plot and just write situationally. Situation writing is what he calls writing about a segment of time and some things happening to some characters without any full knowledge of what came before and what comes after. You’re basically letting the characters and the situation work themselves out for you.

It may be the single most entertaining and challenging thing I’ve ever done. It’s like running an RPG with myself. Orcs attack, roll initiative. Can I fire arrows? They’re too close. I run. Dammit, you’re faster than them, they have small legs.

Seriously, I never saw that ending coming until I wrote it. That’s situational writing.

So Stephen King played a fairly important role in my week. He taught me a lot. He may have changed my life; I’ll keep you abreast about that. In the meantime, enjoy your day and let me know who influenced you this week in all the best possible ways. If nobody did, go find someone who will. Life is too short not to be a writer. Or trombone player. Or gymnast. Or whatever it is that you ain’t but should be.

In the meantime, if you feel inclined, check out a bit of situational writing I did this week. Don’t worry about what came before or what happens after – I don’t know any of that yet myself – just lose yourself in the pacing and enjoy the characters.

And let me know if I’m doing it right. Be honest. Stephen King would never lie to me. Why would you?

The Best Thing I Do All Week

All I wanna do sometimes, is just write.

Since my last entry, nearly a week ago, I’ve been spending as much free time as possible researching phrases like “how to make money blogging.” It’s exhausting. I’ve absorbed thousands of words on the subject and learned about sites such as leavingworkbehind.com, problogger.net and minterest.org – resources I knew nothing about before. I feel alternately ready to dive into the world of professional writing at this very moment … and then suddenly light years away.

I feel confident in my ability to write; I’ve always felt I had a knack. I feel confident that there is an abundance of opportunity out there for a man like me to make a living turning words into phrases, phrases into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into content. I’m not afraid to do the work. I love to write. What I am afraid of – if afraid is the right word – is stampeding ingloriously down the wrong path. I tend to go into whatever I go into with guns blazing; I always go all-in at the poker table way too soon. I’m a gambler. I’m willing to bet it all on a single play. I can’t afford to do that here. Can I?

As the weeks stretch forward into months I have an image in the back of my head of me quitting my job and writing full-time by 50. I’m 47 for a few more months so I’ve given myself plenty of time to master my craft, focus my intentions, and pick the right path. Plenty of time. The only problem with that is that the further I get down this road the more and more I want to just … write.

Just. Write.

This is my 12th entry into tombeingtom.com and I’ve tried to space out each installment so as not to wear out the welcome. But here’s the dirty little secret … the moment I close one page I long to open another. I could post daily. I could post twice daily. This is the most enjoyable thing I do, all week long.

That is both the most satisfying and frightening thing I’ve written since January 21st, the day I decided to blog.

I know 100% that I am on the right track in my search for my one big thing. My career in sales, these last 12 years, is about to go the way of my career in landscaping the previous 12. I’ve put in as much time as I care into both of those vocations. I gave them my due diligence. I’m not that person anymore.

I’m a writer now.

At least, that’s what I hope I am.

The words “don’t quit your day job” just went through your head, and they went through mine, too. I know that because I’m psychic; writing is a form of mind-reading. Stephen King, in his memoir “On Writing” said that writing is telepathy. We put words on paper and transfer the thoughts in our heads straight into yours. It’s the only Stephen King book I’ve ever read, and that feels like a pity. I’ll fix that.

I intend to read more than I’ve ever read before, these coming months. I intend to write more than I’ve ever written. Maybe I can start making money doing it. I intend to keep my day job, because I’m also a rational human being with an addiction to eating and drinking beer. Some things you can’t give up.

I can see a day on the horizon, however, where I go all-in. Where I leave work behind. I become a pro blogger. I just … write.

And that is the most satisfying and frightening thing I have EVER said.