Finally Back Up to Speed

Well, we’re back in the City of the Big Shoulder Pads, and I think the whole brood is finally getting back in fighting shape. I can now sleep a little past seven, ignoring the workers cutting up the street outside our window for almost 10 minutes. I also curse a little bit less driving around town, although that might have to do with the kids being in the car. And the car windows being open.

Fall is the time when I make lots and lots of resolutions that probably won’t get accomplished. (First got this idea from the Tribune’s Eric Zorn, and it is a much better notion than waiting until January, with its short, cold days and hibernating lethargy.) Of course, there are more demands on my time now, too, but during the day, I’ve got about 7 hours of straight time, which I hope I can put to awesome use.

One resolution is to get out to more readings and performances this fall. Writing is incredibly solitary, but there’s no need to make the problem worse. Any night of the week in Chicago, there’s a good reading series happening somewhere. so I’m going to stick my nose out, meet a few people, and maybe sign up to read, if the hosts will have me.

So far I’ve been able to read at two gatherings. The first was the venerable Uptown Poetry Slam, run every Sunday by my old friend Marc Smith. He found out I had a new ebook to publicize, and his first instinct was to give me a buzz and offer some stage time to read. I hadn’t read there in a couple years. The Green Mill Lounge is one of the most special places in Chicago, a watering hole and musical oasis that could exist in no other place. It looks great, feels cozy, and SOUNDS unlike anyplace else in the whole city. Mark let me read for quite a while, so I brought out the clown bar fight from Chapter 5 of “Honk Honk, My Darling”, and followed it with the steamy encounter between Rex and a certain senator’s wife in the yet-to-be-published thriller, “The Wet Nose of Danger.” I also read for the first time in North America, the newest PC Bedtime Story, now available in the British edition and e-book edition, “The Duckling That Was Judged On Its Personal Merits and Not on Its Physical Appearance.”

What a jolly and engaging stage presence I am !!

Reactions were weird, but I should be used to that by now. Cackle here, laugh over there, but I didn’t have them at my mercy as much as I’d like. I’m also a little rusty, so I can’t pull the audience along like I used to. Will have to brush up on my chops.

Then last week I got to participate in Reading Under the Influence (RUI), which is run monthly by the wonderful Julia Borcherts out of Sheffield’s Bar. This was a totally different kind of reading than what I was used to: Everyone standing up, about four feet from the reader, all drinking, many joining in and heckling. It wasn’t an aggressive audience, but they sure were involved with me and the other readers. I also stumped most of them with my trivia questions about the end of the world and Nostradamus and the Book of Revelation. But most importantly, I met some cool people and heard some good writers, especially Geoff Hyatt, whose new book just came out. I gave away a lot of coupons for free copies of “Honk Honk, My Darling,” but only a few of them have been turned in yet.

And today I sat down with the notion that I was going to write 1000 words. For me, this is like running a marathon. I don’t think I’ve written that much in one sitting in years. And what do you know, I beat it! 1458 words! It felt great! And no one at Facebook even noticed I was missing.

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