Ramblings – Part 1 of 10

Newsletter 040 – June 9, 2023


Disclaimer: This newsletter and the nine that will follow it were written in advance. This was done to allow me to focus on tasks I have to complete before I can publish Flood and Fire and Jagged Man.

In a recent newsletter I mentioned that I had updated my CV as part of the application for a writer’s residency. Redoing that CV, plus a chance comment, caused me to do a deep dive into my past occupations. The conclusion: I’ve had a LOT of jobs, and they have all benefited me in one way or another. In many cases they have given me some background knowledge that I was able to use to create some of my characters.

I think I always recognized the power of words, but was only occasionally dependent solely on the words I spoke or wrote to provide a steady paycheck. I qualified that phrase with the word “steady” because acting was almost always a side-gig, not something I made my living at. Communication was a tool that often helped me succeed in various jobs I held, but it usually wasn’t the purpose of the job itself. It wasn’t until I retired in 2009, and decided I wanted to write (and publish) novels, that I realized I would also have to find a way to get those novels in front of the public.

One of the questions I’m often asked when I say I’m a writer is, “Oh, anything I might have read?” For a long time, that question usually made me pause because I didn’t know what to say. At first I had sold so few copies of my books that I just ended up mumbling a rundown of the plots of my books, which always felt incredibly awkward. These days I usually just hand them a business card and say something like, “I mostly write thrillers and mainstream novels,” and suggest they check them out at my website, but a recent question caused me to think back on all the jobs I’ve held during my seven decades on this planet. Two electricians were at our house back in December, installing a ceiling lamp over our stairs. One of them asked how Minay and I met. I explained that we both acted for a while, and met each other at an audition. Sometimes when people find out either of us have acted, they ask a parallel question to the writer one, “Oh, anything I would have seen?” Instead, the electrician asked if we had ever met anyone famous. The answer to that is yes, and I’ll cover that in a later newsletter.

After the electricians left it occurred to me that, in addition to the writing and the acting, I *have* worked at a ton of different jobs, so I started listing them just for grins. When (about a month later) I applied for the Scottish writers residency they asked for a CV, and I was able to construct one from my list. What I’m going to do for the next several newsletters is to tell you what was on the list, and how those jobs and experiences help inform my writing now. If I were to list everything it would take hours to read it, so I will spool it out to you over the course of the next several newsletters. Think of these as a hyper-loaded version of my CV, including jobs, acting roles, and things I’ve written. I’ll start in the next newsletter with my earliest jobs, back in the 1960’s.

See you then,


          I hope they never said this of me as an actor.
[“On the stage he was natural, simple, affecting;
Twas only…when he was off he was acting.”
Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation, 1774.]

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