Why Blog?

Why do people blog? Why compete with millions of other bloggers for readers’ limited time and attention?

I started after attending a small class on “Marketing Christian Fiction.” The instructors–yes, the class was small, but it still required two teachers–emphasized the fact that marketing basically means enabling other people to like and trust the marketer enough to take a chance on his product. For the attendees, that meant our novels.

And to reach his intended audience in a positive way, the author needs either a website or a blog. Or both.

I already had a website, but I accepted my teachers’ recommendations about necessary changes, and I’ve continued improving my website ever since.

But what about a blog?

If having one would help me as an author, it was worth a try. As long as I didn’t use it as an overt sales tool. It should offer the reader something interesting or worthwhile. That made sense.

Most of the other writers I know blog about writing. I didn’t think I had anything new to add to that subject, especially if I was going to  post something new several times a week. And I’d probably just be blogging to other writers that way, anyhow. Not my intended audience.

I’d discovered early in my novel-writing career that it’s illegal to quote even a line or two of a song (unless it’s no longer under copyright) in any form of writing. Book, article, website, blog. Obtaining permission can be  expensive and time-consuming.

But I write songs. And I use my lyrics in my books. Why not offer the use of my lyrics to other writers–at no cost? Of course, I hoped they would probably be interesting to other people, too. And I could put free lead sheets of many of them on my website, too. Maybe that would interest some musicians.

So I started “As I Come Singing” (named after one of my songs). I posted two sets of lyrics a week, which lasted almost two years. At the end of that time, I started cycling through those posts again, but at the rate of only one a week. I’ve made an effort to spruce up my comments before republishing.

But was I reaching my potential reading audience? I write for both teens and adults. What could I write about?

I’m nowhere close to being the most interesting person in the world, but I realized I’m doing the same thing everyone else–young or old–is doing: aging. And since I’m closer to the end than many of my potential readers, I decided to use “On Aging Gracelessly” to reflect on my life at sixty-eight and some of the life events leading up to this point.

Hmm. If I wrote about myself, however, “would they come?”–to use the familiar and cliched phrase from Field of Dreams.  I tried it and you’re here. This blog at least gives you a taste of who I am, what I believe in, and what I want to be.

And that’s why I blog.

If you blog, why do you do it? Your comments are welcome.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested.  Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

If you enjoy my writing, you’ll find a number of things to read on my website.  Also music to listen to and music-related videos to watch.

My newest novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Family Christian Stores. Go HERE for links to those places.
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Best regards,
Roger

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When Should an Older Adult Quit Driving?

I’m smiling as I think about my father’s driving. For just about as far back as I can remember, he drove as creepingly slowly as any stereotypical little old man. That started years before he became a little old man, although his driving got appreciably worse as he grew older. He continued to drive until a few days before his death. Probably up to the day before he had to be hospitalized for the last time.

As a widow, my mother was in a quandary about driving. Her health wasn’t good, and she readily agreed that it probably wasn’t good for her to continue driving. So on the condition that I would drive her when needed, she let me trade in the Crown Victoria along with my car of the time and get a new car. One that we could conveniently put her walker–and soon thereafter her wheelchair–in.

My parents were in their eighties when they died. My mother had quit driving when she realized she could no longer do it safely. My father probably should have quit, but hadn’t.

What about me? I’m only sixty-eight and in good health.

But a year or two ago I drove through a wire barrier I didn’t see, and a few months ago I backed into a light post I couldn’t have missed seeing if I’d been more alert. I’ve always hated night driving, but it’s getting harder and harder for me to feel even vaguely comfortable doing.

Last night I rode to a meeting with a friend. And I’ve asked my wife to please start being the driver for Wednesday night and Sunday night church activities.

But I’m far from needing to give up driving completely. I’ve never hit anyone or even been in an accident with another vehicle. I don’t feel uncomfortable with daytime driving in familiar territory.

So what’s the big deal? Why write this blog post?

Honestly? I think I just needed to think all of this through and realize that I simply need to be more careful. Especially in parking lots!

What about you? What’s your opinion about or experience with older drivers? How about leaving a comment?

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my two blogs. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on  “As I Come Singing.” Check it out HERE if you’re interested. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

My new novel, The Devil and Pastor Gus, is out . If you’re interested, here’s the Amazon link.

Best regards,
Roger

What Childhood Memories?

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When people start getting older, I thought they began forgetting what happened yesterday or last week while increasing in their ability to spend countless boring hours talking about what happened in their childhood and youth.

Not me. I remember yesterday and last week just fine. Of course, I have problems with names and faces, but that problem has been with me as far back as I can remember. No pun intended.

My problem is I don’t recall much from my childhood and youth. These are most of the things I DO remember:

  • Getting my first bike for Christmas and trying to ride downhill in our grassy backyard
  • Racing a neighborhood boy to the easy chair in my bedroom, breaking the window with it, and my parents making me pay for the repair
  • Going down to a younger friend’s house to watch “Roy Rogers “on TV every week
  • Going to a nearby park for the weekly nickel Coca Cola my parents permitted me to have
  • Watching my mother find where my father had hidden the grandmother clock (behind the studio couch) he’d bought her for Christmas
  • Receiving our first TV from the church my father pastored and the horrible reception we got
  • Attending a children’s choir practice and hating it
  • Finally learning to ride that bicycle
  • Crying when I heard we were moving away from the place we’d lived the first eight years of my life
  • Pigging out on homemade rolls at the home of a church member who babysat me overnight for some reason
  • Pretending to play the guitar that was sitting around at my friend Chuck’s house
  • Being severely frightened by an elementary school program which included a demo of the sparks from static electricity

Those events all took place during the first eight years of my life. I probably remember no more than an equal number of things from age eight to approximately age fifteen. That’s when I had acute viral encephalitis and almost died. But that’s another story.

In short, I almost get jealous of people who vividly remember a lot about their childhoods .

But who knows? Maybe I’ll be the reverse of a (stereo)typical older person and continue to be able to live in the present. I don’t know about your present, but mine is a great deal nicer than what little I remember about my distant past.

What do you think? I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment.

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I’ll be back again on Wednesday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out HERE. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list HERE.

Best regards,
Roger

Planning a Funeral…Mine (Part Two)

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[The dog ate today’s blog post. Or at least it fell somewhere into that mysterious bit bucket. Although I wrote it immediately after writing Sunday’s post, I must’ve failed to save the draft, and I didn’t discover that until this morning when I added the above image in preparation for posting. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to rewrite the post before leaving for the Wednesday nursing home ministry, and I didn’t think you would appreciate my slopping something together just so I could get it out at its usual time. Thank you for your understanding.]

This past Sunday, I shared with you that my wife and I plan to be cremated, and that’s about as far as I got in talking about my funeral. So here’s the rest of the story.

For years I’ve wanted a recording of Chi Coltrane’s “Go Like Elijah” to be played at my memorial service. It’s an energetic song. Very positive. One that is likely to get people’s feet tapping. That’s what I’d like.

Why be mournful? I’ll be in a better place. (Well, yes, I do want people to miss me, but why do it mournfully? And, yes, I’d rather that Jesus’s second coming took place soon and made this planning irrelevant.)

I also want a recording of the song pictured at the top of the page to be played. (Click here for a downloadable copy of the lead sheet.) It’s one of my original songs, and I recently updated a few of the words and changed the tune a little at a place where I could no longer reach the notes. Then I spent days making a digital recording of it.

As a frustrated perfectionist–it’s not within my power to do as good a job as I want–calling that recording finished is hard. But I’m reasonably satisfied. You may listen to it by clicking here.

As you’ll undoubtedly gather, I hope the people who hear this song at my memorial service will associate the good things the song talks about with me and not the bad ones!

Yes, we’ll have other music, too. Congregational singing, though. Not the choir. They deserve to have the day off.

“It Is Well with My Soul” is probably my favorite hymn, so I suppose they ought to sing that. And maybe “Amazing Grace.” And let’s not leave out “Victory in Jesus.”

And, yes, I want the pastor to present a brief evangelistic message for those present who might not yet be Christians.

Hmm. Sounds like a grand time. Too bad I won’t be there to enjoy it. Especially when it’s time to pig out afterwards…

Do you have your funeral planned? Do you have favorite songs you want sung? Anything unusual done (e.g., dancing on the coffin)? Please share a comment.

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I’ll be back again this Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”–check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.

Best regards,
Roger

Everyone Has a Twin Somewhere

 

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On one hand, we’re taught that each of us is unique. Just as unique as our fingerprints. And, as I read somewhere recently, as unique as our eyes.

On the other hand, a popular common belief says that each of us has a twin somewhere in the world. Not quite identical in appearance, but close enough to make the observer look twice.

When I was still married to my ex-, her sister went on a Mediterranean cruise, if I recall correctly. When she came home and reported on her trip, she said she’d seen a guy who could’ve been my twin–somewhere on a Greek isle, if I recall correctly.

And then there’s Jeff Meyers, who at that time was a columnist for the St. Louis newspaper. No idea about his status now.) And he wrote “whimsical, offbeat” articles. Wow! Does that sound like me or what? Check out the picture above and compare it to the fourth picture from the right in my banner. Sure, my beard was never that thick, even when I had a full one. My hair, either.

But the resemblance is close enough to startle me.

But my favorite twin story goes back to my temporary stint at Target. When somebody told me about one of the vendors–at least that’s what I understood him to be–who looked like me, I asked that they send the guy up front for me to meet the next time he came in.

And so they did. And that picture of two bearded guys in red comes as close to proving the theory of my having a twin as I ever expect to see. Believe it or not, I have to look closely to remember which one is ME!

What about you? Do you have a twin–real or coincidental? How about leaving a comment to share that story with us?

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I’ll be back again next Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years on “As I Come Singing”check it out here. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. View the list here.

Best regards,
Roger

How Much Solitude Is Enough?

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My wife, Kathleen, flew to Memphis today to visit her aged parents. We decided it would be simpler for me to stay home with the animals, Ashes the white cat and Happy the miniature dachshund. She won’t be rooming by herself at her parents’ place, though. Her older daughter arranged a few days of vacation time to join her mother and grandparents.

The good news is I enjoy solitude. Those of you who’ve been following this blog may recall the post I wrote about enjoying peace and quiet–something Kathleen and I both like.

But solitude is different. It’s the state of being alone.

Okay, so Happy is sitting in my lap at the moment with her chin across my arm. And Ashes has spent most of the day on top of the rocking chair cushion–right behind my head. So I guess I can’t really claim to be alone.

I can’t say that the animals do a whole lot of talking. Not to me, anyhow. Happy barks at Ashes when she wants (and can’t get) his attention. And Ashes meows ferociously when he wants to be fed. Both animals seem to have the afternoon routine down pat.

But their internal food clock is always off by thirty to forty minutes. To try to maintain some semblance of normalcy in the morning, I hold off feeding them until 4:15.  By that time, Happy goes to the door and scratches as if she needs to go outside. As soon as I get up, she heads to her food bowl.

Let’s go back to the original question. How much solitude is enough? And does the company of my two animals preclude my having solitude?

I’ll admit one thing. I’d be a lot lonelier without them. But I still miss Kathleen.

It’s not that I can’t take care of myself. I’ll start fixing sloppy joes for supper in a few minutes, and tomorrow is my normal laundry day. I was a bachelor for a few years before marrying my first wife and didn’t suffer too many ill effects from it.

But a guy does get used to the company, I admit. And the animals don’t cut it. Their company just isn’t the same as Kathleen’s.

I may not have reached the “too much solitude” state yet, but I’ll get there long before Kathleen gets home next week.

Some people can’t stand being by themselves. Are you one of those, or do you enjoy being by yourself? How about leaving a comment and sharing your thoughts with the rest of us.

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If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

I have another blog–“As I Come Singing”–where I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Click here to visit the blog. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.

Best regards,
Roger

 

Hear! Hear!

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Who would ever have thought that listening to loud music over headphones during the latter sixties and early seventies would have had such a detrimental effect on my hearing? Yes, of course the problem might just be advanced age, but who wants to think of himself as old enough to have hearing problems?

I’m sure I heard warnings about the dangers of loud music–when I turned the volume down far enough to hear the warnings–but I certainly didn’t pay that much attention to them. After all, I was years away from being old enough to have problems.

I’m not sure how old I was when I first became aware that my hearing had deteriorated. The obvious problem was the fact that my (not yet ex-) wife always mumbled.

Nonetheless, I looked at the price of hearing aids at Costco and decided I needed to start saving. The day would come when I would HAVE to do something before I ended up agreeing to something horribly wrong because I hadn’t heard about it correctly.

Saving at that time was a losing battle. So I continued to hear less and less accurately.

Years later I had to admit that the time had come to do something. If I’d ever been self-conscious about having people see me wearing hearing aids, those days were gone.

So I went to Beltone. Maybe not the least expensive choice I could have made, but they have quality products and excellent follow up service. I had to take out a loan to pay the $3000 each for the hearing aids I still use.

I’m concerned that these may no longer be doing the trick. That is to say, I keep asking people to repeat what they say a lot more than I’d been doing.

But my wife and I have determined–thanks largely to Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University–to get totally out of debt, and we’re getting really close to doing that. Early next year my car will be paid off, and that’s the last thing we owe any money on. After that, we plan to sock money away into our Emergency Fund for a while.

So it looks like I may have to settle for the current hearing aids until we figure out how to do something about them without going against our financial plans.

If you’re one of the people I keep saying “What?” to, please understand that I’m just a man of age with a problem of age.

How’s your hearing? Any signs of problems yet? How about dropping a comment here to tell us about it.

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I’ll be back again on Sunday. If you’d like to receive my posts by email, just go to “Follow Blog via Email” at the upper right.

“On Aging Gracelessly” is only one of my blogs. On “As I Come Singing”check it out here–I post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here for a list.

Best regards,
Roger