Back in the Saddle by Raymond M. Coulombe

1/28/17

There’s an old saying that the best thing a writer can have is a source of income independent of writing. That’s true enough, but there’s a flip side to that. Why would anyone with a decent income bother with writing when he could be doing other things?

Well, first of all there’s writing for pleasure and there’s writing for publication. If you have the writer’s itch, writing is just something you have to do. It’s said that Isaac Asimov loved rainy days as it gave him an excuse to stay inside and write. He had the writing bug bad. Fortunately for the rest of us he didn’t just write for pleasure; he wrote for publication.

Unfortunately, I happen to be one of those people who’s neglected the publication part. I’ve been published in a number of publications under a number of names, but I lack a passion for it. All those final edits necessary for polishing a story isn’t fun for me. The creative part of my mind loves to let my imagination run free and create a cool story. Getting all the fiddly grammar and formatting bits sorted out is a pain.

So how did I end up with a source of income independent of writing? I’d been a firefighter for 17 years when injuries forced me into an early retirement. I don’t recommend that method. It took a couple years, but eventually I was well enough to go back to college. Since I’d always wanted to write better, I decided to acquire a Journalism degree. While in college, just for grins and giggles, I picked up an English Literature degree too. So at that point in my life I had both the income and some of the tools necessary to be a writer.

It wasn’t long after graduation when I published Transdimensional Blues. (Don’t look for it now, there is a new edition coming out for a lot less money, soon) That was fun, and I even made a few bucks on the deal. Later, more of my time went into being an editor at Quantum Muse. That was a blast, and I helped a number of writers launch their careers, while neglecting my own. I did write the occasional short story for publication, but didn’t push to publish another book. In fact, I’ve been sitting on a number of manuscripts in various stages of completion. Remember I’m bad at the publishing part?

While still editing for Quantum Muse I had a crazy idea. There was no reason I had to play editor all winter while huddled next to a woodstove in my cottage in the woods of northern New Hampshire. I could spend my time in a tent camped on a warm beach somewhere. Thus began my vagabond life. There’s something special about sitting down at a bar in the Keys with the ocean in front of me and cold beers behind me. Sure beat working in a generic office somewhere.

There are a number of problems with the lifestyle. Maybe it was the cold beers, but productivity suffered. I didn’t slack off on my editing duties, but when the choice came down to doing my own writing or playing in the ocean, the ocean won most of the time. Then there was a lot of time spent traveling around. One perfect beach isn’t enough. There’s a lot to see out in the world and with no actual real job holding me down, I moved around a lot.

Later my long suffering wife and I were bit by the sailing bug and there is no hope for sailors. One winter we spent 10 weeks on a little 19-foot sailboat. We traveled down most of the Gulf Coast of Florida, into the Everglades, across Florida Bay, and to the Keys. At the time, I was writing a blog and managed to post almost every day. The only major exceptions to that were when we were in places too remote to get a cell phone signal. Writing conditions on the boat were poor. It was too small to allow me to even sit up straight in the cabin. Sometimes, I banged out that blog while lying on my belly crammed into the V-berth.

Last year I decided to get serious. We bought a larger sailboat. This one had room to sit and an honest to god table for me to write on. I had a powerful hotspot with lots of data for connecting to the Internet. Things were looking up. Not only was I writing a blog, I was working on my books again with hopes of publishing. This should be the happily-ever-after part, but it isn’t. One fateful night, we hit an unmarked shoal. Weather conditions were quickly getting worse. The boat tossed violently as it teetered on its stuck keel. My wife and I abandoned ship and paddled a half mile through turbulent shark-infested waters to a nearby island. While the island had no connection to the Florida mainland, there were beach houses and some nice people took us in for the night. In the morning, we discovered the boat had broken up and sank. So much for my nice writing table.

Much was lost in the wreck. My computer, tablet, hotspot, and cell phone were among the losses. Fortunately, I’d started getting into the habit of backing up my writing in cloud storage. Many of my older files were stored on thumb drives. The drives spent days submerged in salt water. When the boat was salvaged, I was able to recover them but they didn’t work. However, a friend suggested soaking them in fresh water, drying them out and trying again. Sure enough, that worked and all the data was recovered.

So now here I am, once more huddled by the woodstove in my cottage. My nice boat is gone. My pension has been ravaged by inflation. Funds are low, but I’m not going to starve. I still have my writing files and still have time to write. Now I’m back working on getting my books published again. After all, I’ve got a sailboat to replace.

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This week’s special is Patrick LeClerck’s,”Spitting Image” the second book in LeClerc’s Immortal Healer series, is on special for juts 99 cents at Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Spitting-Image-Immortal-Vagabond-Healer-ebook/dp/B01GEWBCG8

From one of the reviews:

Great follow up to “Out of Nowhere.” I wanted to see more of this character and I was not disappointed. Amazing dialogue. Quick wit and a fun read. Now I’m hoping for more. If you haven’t read the first book, don’t worry. It stands alone.

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