Dirty Laundry

The Great British Bake Off Is Making Me Plump

​My wife and I go through phases where we will find a TV show we like and then binge watch the thing until we have watched every last episode. Normally, this does not pose any health problems. However, recently, we’ve started watching a program that has my doctor telling me I now have high cholesterol.

We can watch something like Fixer Upper and, while it may make me want to clean out the garage (I’ve yet to get around to it) it doesn’t make me want to buy a dilapidated house and spend a small fortune renovating.

Or, my wife and I can watch an entire season of The Voice and even though I do end up buying some music I don’t feel the need to break out my guitar and hit the local open mic night. (Okay, maybe it makes me want to do that a little but not so much that I allow it to happen).

Have I mentioned I’m the most suggestible human being on the planet? And that all advertising in the world is designed for me, personally? This might sound egocentric but the advertising people know it’s true because I’m the kind of person who can be minding his own business, driving down the highway, and out of the blue I will get a craving for a Big Mac simply because I glanced at a Big Mac billboard. And I don’t even eat Big Macs… very much.

Recently, however, my wife and I have been gorging—literally and figuratively—on the Great British Bake Off. Watching this show is like staring into an amazing bakery, pressing your nose against the window, and desperately wanting to eat everything you see. It has become imperative that we have some form of cake, pie, cookie, macaroon, or muffin available so that when we watch the show and the inevitable cravings come on, we can happily munch along with the judges and contestants. We have been watching past seasons now for a couple of months now and, I kid you not, I have put on a good ten pounds. Ten pounds I’d taken great pains to lose recently.

It’s both depressing and revealing and I’m not sure what to do about it. I’m certainly not going to stop watching the show. It’s about as addictive as the sugar they sprinkle on the top of a sweet bun. I’m thinking it might be time to swap out the La-Z-Boy couch for a couple of treadmills. I’ve recently started writing standing up so it might be time to start watching my baking shows while doing some for of exercise as well. Walking along, watching home bakers carefully kneed and proof their dough, all the while biting into a piece of my wife’s delicious coffee cake.

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part… Sort Of

​What to do while you wait for your next round of edits on your new book? Well, Stephen King would say start writing your next book. Which is good advice, I think. It keeps your writing tools honed, it stops you from obsessively wondering if the draft you sent off is any good, and it sets you up for… well… publishing another book. And while I am mucking around with another novel and having great fun doing it without the pressure of a deadline, I would also like to make the case for refueling and enjoying your life when the opportunity presents itself.

As I said in my last blog, I’ve been thinking a lot about how one should spend the precious, limited time we have on this planet. I’m afraid the older you get the more you think about it because the less time you have. Although, in reality, none of us really know exactly how many days we are allotted. People die at all ages, of course. For all reasons. Unfortunately, though, it often takes too long to really come to terms with the hard fact of our mortality. But if you are lucky to live into your fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh decade, you start to feel the days becoming shorter, the weeks flying by faster, the calendar turning before you have a chance to look up.

And so, while I still love and enjoy writing, there is so much more to being present in this world than staring at a computer screen and daydreaming (however much fun—or torturous—that can be).

For me the extra time I’ve had has allowed me to do something I’ve found I love just as much as writing: Learning how to be a better cook. I have spent the last months reading massive scientific cookbooks, watching cooking shows, going to farmer’s markets, visiting cooking stores and spending lots and lots of time in the kitchen. This is nothing I get paid for (well, except with the smiles and groans of delight I sometimes receive from friends and family). It’s just something I enjoy doing simply for the doing of it. It’s peaceful, it’s creative, there is no pressure, it makes me feel present in my life.

I think if you can find those thing in your world, and allow yourself to do them (this is the tricky part, not to feel guilty about doing something you love “just because”) you will not only live a fuller, richer, happier, healthier life, but, if you are a writer, and since everything you experience informs your writing, you’ll become better at your craft as well.

Writing, Cooking, Paddle Boarding, and How Do You Want To Spend Your Precious Time

​Look, I’m not going to pretend I’ve been the best blogger in the world. Or the best social media contributor. I find that when I am blogging or when I am glued to my phone all the time I am not writing or doing all the other things I love to do with my finite and precious life hours. Plus, I’m lazy when it comes to things I don’t love to do. Like blogging or contributing to social media.

Some people absolutely love sharing their comings and goings with the world. I’m a much more private person. Plus, you know, there’s the lazy thing.

Even as I write these words there is a niggling voice in the back of my mind that is saying that I should be writing my next book, or going for a walk with my wife, or reading, or learning a new recipe to cook, or taking advantage of the beautiful day to go out paddle boarding. All things that I love to do.

The simple fact of the matter is that the past few years have really made me reevaluate things. I won’t bore you with the details… well, okay, I’ll bore you with some of them.

I think it all started when my dad passed away five years ago. It seemed to start this avalanche of upheaval in my world. On top of my dad dying suddenly, my screenwriting agent had cancer and succumb to it, my mother had a series of strokes which sent her into a downward spiral, and my wife had some very scary medical challenges. All of these things really shook me. Down to my very core.

In a way, I was living in a haze of denial. Like my time on this planet was infinite. That I had all the time in the world to do all the things I want to do. But I don’t, of course. We don’t. None of us do. Not yet, anyway.

Maybe it’s an evolutionary survival mechanism. To be in denial of our mortality most of the time. The blessing of all the challenges I’ve been dealing with is it’s woken me up a bit. Not completely. I still walk through swathes of my days wasting time like it’s toilet paper. Like there will always be more of it when I need it. But more often than not I am trying to be more conscious of how I am spending my limited supply of time. Would I rather blog than play fetch with my dog? Would I rather Tweet than walk on the beach with my wife, holding hands, chatting about our day? Would I rather scroll through Facebook or sit down with a cup of tea and brainstorm my next book?

I know that it doesn’t have to be an either/or. And maybe I need to find a better balance in my life.

But then, you know, there’s the lazy thing.

And now, that niggling voice is getting louder, telling me to get back to writing that next book. Which is exactly what I’m going to do right now.