The particular movements of cirrus clouds
Last Sunday, I found myself reading an 8,000 word article about a Jimmy Buffett retirement community, Latitude Margaritaville, in the New Yorker. (I was riveted.)
I didn’t know anything about Jimmy Buffett, and found myself googling, because why not waste away the day a little bit more. I was then surprised to learn that Buffett has had one hit in 40 years of music-making (“Margaritvaville,” natch).
The song was not on his first album or his second or even his third. “Margaritaville” was on his seventh album!
He wrote the song in six minutes, while drunk on margaritas.
Despite having only one hit, Buffett’s a multimillionaire with a legion of fans, a busy touring schedule, countless businesses, real estate properties, books (both fiction and nonfiction), and now, these retirement communities in Florida.
Buffett had long since given up trying to make it big by the time he wrote his most-known song. He moved to Key West, worked on a whaling boat, and wanted only to “score some weed and find a girl.”
And then, wildfire.
I love to read stories like these, particularly on days when I’m feeling like I’m not “far enough along” in my writing career. (Which is pretty much once a week.)
You never know what might be the wet wick that catches fire. (Or the wet rim of a margarita glass, in this case.) You never know when a big break might come your way.
What do you do when you’re feeling like you’re in a hamster wheel, career-wise?
Dear Anna, I don’t like people very much. But I do enjoy sex a lot. How do I reconcile these two conflicting aspects of myself? Continue reading here
(Plus, a question from a straight man who “wishes to have” a lesbian.)
Dear Anna, I’ve been sleeping with a recent divorcee for a few months. I’m a 28-year-old man. She says she wants to know “where our relationship is going” but I don’t think we’re even in a relationship. We hook up, but we aren’t exclusive … Continue reading here
(Plus, the gayest question ever.)
Books I’m digging
I finally finished Tony Hillerman’s A Thief of Time. It took me a while because I started it late at night and it honest to gods frightened me, so I was reluctant to restart. Later, I realized that only the first chapter is scary, so if you’re a wimp like me, rest easy after Chapter 1.
I’d been curious about Hillerman for a long time. My father used to read all his mysteries, and I have many memories of him sitting in a pair of dad trunks with a Hillerman book for hours while my brother and I endlessly climbed the slides at Justin’s Water World.
The remnants of the water park have been subsumed by desert and an RV park has since claimed the space. Some friends and I broke in a few years back to reminisce and photograph its ghostliness.
But I was trying to talk about A Thief of Time. It’s such a desert read. Slow and searing, with pages devoted to describing the particular movements of cirrus clouds and the smell of sage brush.
Hillerman wrote like a journalist, which he was, and, in fact, the protagonist of the series, Navajo Tribal Policeman Joe Leaphorn, was based on a sheriff Hillerman knew through his journalism work.
As Hillerman was a white dude writing about Navajo people, culture, and beliefs in the '70s and '80s, it’s a little jarring to encounter this in 2022—yet Hillerman’s books opened doors to Indigenous people and cultures that hardly any Americans knew about. He was considered a friend of the Navajos (the only non-Native to receive this distinction), and donated his book earnings to projects on the reservation.
He even said his favorite award came from the Navajo Tribal Council. “It’s for my sensitive and accurate depiction of traditional Navajo culture.”
I don’t read a lot of mysteries, because of aforementioned scaredypants-ness—I also don’t enjoy reading about women getting murdered, which is hard to escape in the genre—but after reading this, I understood the appeal of a good mystery much more.
It’s deeply satisfying to follow the clues as they’re scattered about, to make guesses, and of course, for the bad guy to get caught at the end. Such tidy resolution is a wonder in the messiness of our real lives.
Check out A Thief of Time if you want some slow burn Anasazi pot hunting lore on desert time.
And since that turned out way longer than I intended, I guess I’ll leave it at one book rec this time.
Other book recs? Hit reply! I’m always looking to read more.
Buy some books or journals
PS: I liked this advice on success from Gary Vaynerchuk.
PPS: I redid my homepage, now with a “lead magnet,” which the marketing gods tell me I need in order to be a person. If you want a free copy of Transgressions, head on over.
PPPS: What journals should I design next? What themes or patterns or animals or weirdness are you jonesin’ for?
PPPPS: I wrote this newsletter to avoid writing my novel. It’s a way to stave off writer’s block, and why I recommend having multiple projects going on at once. If you burn out on one, switch to another for a while. #magicnotmagic