Fiction seems redundant these days. Reality is so ridiculous that it seems odd to be making things up, but that’s exactly what I did last week. I made some stuff up and wrote it down. After six years writing almost exclusively about bikes, it was a refreshing change. 1,500 words and not a single one of them was “derailleur.”
I learned a few things in the process. 1) I’m not a very funny writer. 2) Fiction is just as hard as I remember it. 3) Despite the absurdity of reality, fiction to me seems all the more vital.
On that last point: We don’t have a ton of control over the awful things happening in the world right now. There’s been articles written about how folks tend to stay up late after work just to have control over their time after spending the entire day being told what to do.
That’s sort of how I feel about fiction. It’s strange to wade into a world of made-up tension, but I control it. And it’s one of the few times in life in which I can create anything I want, control it completely, and change it entirely if it feels wrong.
It’s pretty incredible what some well-strung words can do to shift made-up worlds — and even reality.
You can even finish the stories for me! Because endings apparently aren’t my thing. Try this one, or give this one a shot. Here’s a personal favorite of mine, because I said a bad word in the first line. Tee hee.
Since I’m not all that funny, you should go ahead and read works by someone who is. I was recently pretty darn impressed with the humor and heart in John Hodgman’s ‘Vacationland,’ an homage of sorts to Maine, my former home.
If you’ve ever lived in Maine (especially whilst wearing the moniker “From Away” regardless of how long you lived there), or even if you’ve only visited, or if you’ve ever been completely baffled as to what the term Downeast actually means, there’s plenty to love about Hodgman’s ridiculous and touching adventures.
Lest you worry that you might not hear about bikes at all in this newsletter, allay your fears with this piece I wrote for VeloNews about a month ago. It’s all about the now-ubiquity of dropped seatstays, and whether we’ll continue to see them as a staple of bike design in the future. You can also see a pretty sweet photo of me, 15 pounds ago.
Mark and I have been hard at it, recording podcasts for The Practical Still in an earnest attempt to give ourselves reasons to drink good whiskey.
But the most impressive bottle I stumbled upon recently came courtesy of my good friend Jason, who showed up in my garage (don’t worry, he was invited; I don’t just go out there and find people waiting for me, or at least not usually) with this bottle.
Calumet Farm 14 year straight bourbon whiskey wasn’t one I knew much about. I had seen it on shelves, and the price tag (usually hovering around $125…oof.) was enough to dissuade me from giving it a go.
But man, am I glad to have sampled this one. There’s no alcohol burn at all; the initial flavors are caramel and chocolate, and then you get blasted with cherries and apricots at the very end. The finish lingers pleasantly, but not for days like some higher-proof options out there.
I want this one on my shelf for sure, so I’ll be picking up a bottle if I see one. They won’t be around long; apparently there were only 19 barrels of this baby, so if you see it, grab it.
And go listen to the Practical Still podcast because unlike me in fiction-writing, I’m sometimes funny on podcasts. And Mark has, like, knowledge and stuff.
THE SOCIALS!!! The stuff with all the @’s!
I’m on alllllll of the socials (except for Facebook because it’s extra evil, and stuff like Tik Tok because I’m way too old for whatever the heck that is), and during this time of isolation (usually among the detritus of my motorcycle, which lay in pieces in the garage), I sure would love to hear from you.
If you’re a Twitterati, find me at Browntiedan.
And if you’re a business-type person who wants to hire a sometimes-clever writer, wade into the deep seas of LinkedIn to find me.
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