Saturday, December 22, 2012



Seattle specializes in gray, rainy days—but, paradoxically, there are enough truly gorgeous days to lift the heart. Today is such a day—though it is cold. I was out walking this morning doing various chores, and enjoyed it greatly. There is something quite uplifting about a brisk, cold, sunny day. Also, I am much relieved I can walk normally again. Earlier this year an old tendon injury flared up and, for over four months, I thought I might be limping into my old age. Not so, evidently; or not so just yet. I am much consoled. I love to walk. Perhaps an understatement.

The best holiday I ever had in my life was a walking holiday in Devon, England. I was based in an old inn in Chagford and made forays across Dartmoor. I love to walk. It’s a strange activity which leaves one exhausted—if you have walked enough—but feeling marvelous. As with so much of life, that seems to make scant sense—but there it is.

Dartmoor is famous for its beauty, its notorious prison—which I saw from a distance—and for The Hound of The Baskervilles—which I neither heard nor otherwise encountered. Nor, sadly, did I meet up with Sherlock Holmes.

2012 started badly with the tragic death of one of my nephews in January. That followed a veritable year of loss in 2011 to the point where I sent out a somewhat whimsical Christmas e-mail at the close of 2011 forbidding any recipient to die. It seems to have worked—though it was a near thing where my friend, Greg Wilcox was concerned. He was attending a Fiftieth reunion at West Point—a three day event—when he suffered a heart attack. Evidently what they say about the doings at such occasions is all true! Anyway, thanks to my e-mail—with a modest contribution from the medical profession—he has made an excellent recovery.

My old boss, Jack Clary, did die but he was 86 and had lived a long and productive life. I was quite upset nonetheless. I held Jack in high regard—and liked him personally. He gave me my first big break in life when he allowed me to set up and run Addmaster UK—the subsidiary of his company, the Addmaster Corporation of California (Fifty years in being this year). It—the British operation—was highly successful, though I left it eventually to write—a decision which made no financial sense, but which has brought me riches beyond dreams in other ways—with some financial success thrown in.

Such events apart, I wrote a 500 plus page website—which has still to see the light of day—did a great deal of planning and editing (vastly more time consuming than I expected, but well worth the effort) wrote over 150 blogs, consolidated my database approach (a subject of scant importance to anyone but yours truly), continued my research into the U.S. economy, engaged in extensive correspondence with siblings, relatives and friends—but did not write any new books (an omission I hope I will not repeat while I have strength). Unless I’m writing a major opus, I would like to think I can write a book a year these days.

That doesn’t seem much for a year’s hard work, but writing is rather like painting and decorating—it’s the preparation that takes the time. Actually, that is not entirely true. Preparations can be extremely time-consuming, but where the totality of writing is concerned, it is the preparation, writing, re-writing, editing, and marketing which consume one’s days—with marketing constituting the greatest distraction. How to reconcile writing with marketing is the writer’s dilemma in this internet age—especially as most writers are modest, introspective types who regard self-promotion as anathema. “Just not done, old boy,” as they used to say at school. Well, times have changed.

What constitutes preparation? Experiencing life, reading, focused research, interviewing, travel—together with all the work which goes into recording one’s impressions so that you can recall them on demand years later. Unless one is lucky enough to be born with outstanding recall, that requires developing a mindset which takes the trouble to remember any and all experiences. Given that most Americans seem to suffer from mass amnesia—certainly in relation to the news—that kind of recall is scarcely a common facility so developing it takes work.

I suffered a number of setbacks in 2012—both in health and financially—but also had a few lucky breaks so have ended up the year slightly ahead and looking forward to 2013. Why not, indeed. Despite the sorrows of the world, writing is such an extraordinarily uplifting activity—and the world is a fascinating place.






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