Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tired of paradise, so what do I do?

Now I ask you ... what the hell would you do?

Another day, another dollar ... and the rate exchange hasn't worked in my favor for a loooooooong time. Probably because of sunspots.

So what does one do when he lives in paradise and is tired of the place? Well mostly it's that I've had enough of it, but there is also a smidgen of I simply can't afford it anymore. But I don't want to admit that, so I'll just say I've outgrown paradise. That's what everyone around this part of Queensland claims: well, just another day in paradise, they'll say. Shall we go to the beach today, or just sit around the riverside watching the girls walk by.

Everybody girl watches ... guys do for lustful reasons and other girls do so they can compare. I was told that once and of course I believe it. Personally, I like to watch people and can I help it if half of them are women?

To be honest, I really don't watch men unless they are on the other side of the net and I'm in some kind of competition. Tennis, you know. The sport of gentle people. We smile, we say sorry when we don't mean it and we always shake hands after a set.
You know why we shake hands, don't you? So all the players know the set is over. Finally. But I like tennis ... play social tennis three or four times a week. Used to play competitively with the Over 70s crowd but I've always disliked being that tightly scheduled. Have a match tonight? Oh, damn and I wanted to go down to the beach and girl watch.

So I live near the beach. On the fly leaf of my latest novel I claim living in a cottage near the beaches of Queensland. Well, I'll be honest with you ... I live in a small two-bedroom shack a couple miles from the surf. And that's close enough. Is that a lie, saying that on the fly leaf? If so, so what? I'm of the school that says that all books are fiction. Well, there is one exception that I've come up with and that's the dictionary. Every other book ever published, in my view, is fiction. And what is fiction? A tale of entertaining lies that the author made up.

But I'm serious about being tired of living in paradise. Can you believe it? Tired of living in almost perpetual sunshine, blue skies, lots of bright colored birds, the warm Pacific Ocean to swim in and lots of girls wearing only the bottom half of their bikinis. Oh, woe is me. Must be something wrong.

But the point of all this is to let you know, I'm going to move.

Yeah, soon, too. Once this real estate deal goes through, I'm packing everything in a rented truck and driving south. Gonna get some use out of those long-sleeved shirts and Levi's I brought with me when I moved down here ten years ago. No more shorts, sandals and T-shirts. Back to having four distinct seasons and a woodbox filled with firewood next to the fireplace. Yeah.

So I ask you ... what would you do?

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The novelist's lament, Chapter One

Okay, now I understand ...

Yeah, like most great discoveries, it has taken some time but I finally figured it out. The only requirement for someone to become a literary agent or even a publisher is total ignorance.

Haven't we all heard ... those who can do, those who can't teach. Well, those who can't write good crime novels become publishers. Or agents. Why? So they can reject the work of others, of those who can.

Now let's be clear on this. I have been able to get a number of my stories published. Actually I'm well past the point of getting tickled when I see someone check out one of my books from the library.

There are a number of high points in being a writer. One is in creating the characters and bringing them to life. Those folk can then do all the things the writer never was able to. With crime, for example, I can kill those that need killing. All I have to do is give my protagonist reason for doing it. And then, of course, it's up to me to figure out a way for him to get away with it. But that's part of the fun, too.

Coming up with the characters, giving them problems to solve, getting them into dire danger and then saving them, and all the time writing the story so the readers will enjoy it. Great fun!

And, looking back, I have given talks on writing fiction and how to get things published. So you could say I have taught. But I haven't stooped so low as to become a publisher. Or an agent. So very low.

Well, thinking back to my favorite lecture, I have to admit to having addressed the joys of writing and the chances of getting everything, or anything, accepted. As I recall it goes something like:

Fiction in print is relatively popular, but only relatively. For every reader you might attract, TV or films or recordings attract thousands of consumers. You will work for months or years to create a product that is theoretically eternal, but in practice has a shelf life of a few weeks. Most of your readers will, two months after reading your work, be unable to recall anything about the story (including your name) — maybe not even whether they liked it or not. To add pain to this, know you will reach more readers with a punchy, witty letter to the editor of a big city daily than you're likely to reach with your novel. And the pay won’t be that much less!

Now here is something for anyone hoping to get a literary agent to look at their work. These numbers are from a US based literary agent …

20,800 (Estimated number of queries read and responded to)
54 (Number of full manuscripts requested and read)
8 (Number of new clients taken on this year)
21 (Number of books sold this year—not counting subsidiary rights stuff)
6 (Number of projects currently under submission)

So, taking all that into account, I guess I'll build a bridge and get over it ... get past having a damn good story knocked back and get on with the next one.
Damn fool publishers, anyhow.


Thank you for letting me blow off steam ... I have to go hang out the wash, now.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Now here's a question looking for answers ...

Let me ask you; are Australians so different from Americans when it comes to their sex lives?

This question came up when I read an article on the results from a recent AARP survey about the sexual habits of Americans over the age of 50. AARP is the American Association of Retired Persons, a highly politicized organization open for a nominal annual membership fee to anyone 50 years or older.

In the interest of fairness I’ll admit that once, a couple lifetimes ago, for a brief time I was a member. About six month, as I recall, until I found myself disagreeing with the club’s lobbying efforts on something I didn’t like in Congress. Yes, AARP is almost as powerful as the gun lobby when it comes to working on the Washington, D.C. power structure.

But that has nothing to do with this survey, does it. With a membership base in the multi-millions such questionnaires usually get a huge response. I don’t know how many people answered the survey questions, but that doesn’t really matter either. My reason for sharing what I got from the results is to give you something to think about. Here are my comments on parts of it.

Let me begin by saying I wasn’t able to get the entire survey although I hit the website address a couple times. No worries. I took enough from articles on the results to make this interesting. I hope.

First off, the numbers and percentages when it came to such things as oral sex, sex for men or women over 70, and things like that, will not be part of the discussion. Even the subject of same-sex sex was reported on only briefly. However, a few things that did interest me. One of these was the point that of those responding, more than half were married and only 5% were not but were in a committed relationship. Makes me wonder, do married people like to talk about their sex lives more than others?

Three percent of the respondents marked the single and aren’t dating box and a whopping ten percent of the singletons were actively dating. Again, maybe only married people are having sex. I could make a personal comment on that but I won’t.

Don’t forget, these numbers and percentages are all from the US. It is possible that below the equator things are different.

Going back to the 54% married group, more than half said their partners were “imaginative about sex.” Not having any information about oral sex, s/m, bestiality or really any kind of sex, we don’t know what that means, do we. Imaginative about sex. Maybe this is a good place to explain my belief that whatever it is, it’s only kinky the first time.

Here’s an interesting statistic; even with 30% bragging about their partner being imaginative, 46% said they were less satisfied with their sex life that they were ten years ago. Wow. Well, that goes to prove that the young get and enjoy more sex than us oldies. Again, I won’t give a personal editorial on that fact.

Something else that makes me wonder about those 30% people, and I have to assume they know who they are, more than twice that number said they never discussed their sexual fantasies with their partners. Again, wow. Does that mean everything in bed for these people is just guess work? Or maybe I’m the only person in the world, or the US at least, who has that type of fantasy. Oh, you did know that I am American by birth, didn’t you? Well, let me tell you, even back then, when I lived in the Pacific Northwest, I had wondrous sexual fantasies. Did I share them with my wives and/or lady friends? You bet.

But now I am an Aussie and my passport proves it. Do I share now? Not going to say. After all, we’re talking about a survey of US people.
Okay, back to business. Of those taking part in the survey, eight percent of the men and two percent of the women said they have a same-sex partner. It is possibly more, in real life, I don’t know. It is also possible that gay people don’t like to talk about their sex lives.

Anyone reading any of my earlier lectures knows I have a real interest in men, and especially women, who are in or near my age group in so far as their sex lives are concerned. In the US, between 2004 and 2009, the percentage of people in their 50s who say they have sex at least once a week dropped 10% for both sexes. For women the percentage went from 43 to 32 percent. For men it was 49 to 41. Most other age groups reportedly saw a drop in the frequency of sex too, so it wasn’t just that group. Think about it, does your sex life fit this trend?

The AARP survey indicated that people aren’t real happy about it, either. It found that 43% of older Americans say they are satisfied with their sex lives, down 51% in 2004, while the percentage of those who are dissatisfied increased. No numbers on exactly how many, but dissatisfied is dissatisfied.

Why, you wonder. Well, prudishness might be a factor. But then take into account that the number of Americans in the 45 age group believing only married people should have sex years old has plummeted., from 41% in 1999 to 22% in 2009. Americans are, take my word for it, a lot more prudish than Aussies … or on second thought, no they aren’t.

Okay then, what is the root cause? Well, money worries sap sex and with the recent world financial crisis, local unemployment and growing chance of foreclosures in the US, it’s quite likely that everyone up in the big country has money worries

Enough of that, let’s talk a bit about everyone’s permanent sex partner, the one we’re all born with … self-love. For men it’s old Lady Palm and her five daughters. (I heard that description when I was young and na├»ve and never forgot it. It took a long time for me to understand it, but I still remember it.)

Nearly a quarter of all Americans 45 years old said they engage in what was called in the survey “self-stimulation” weekly. That figure was nearly the same as compared to six years ago. It isn’t surprising, to me anyhow, that men are more devotees of this practice than women. I don’t know why I think that but I do.

Among people in their 50s, about 42% of men and 15% of women say they indulge, whether “about once a week” or “more than once a week.” Interesting, don’t you agree? Wonder where you fit in this category.

A little more on the sex lives of those funny Yanks – single Americans in the 45 group who are dating have more sex than their married counterparts. And from all indications, have a better love life all around.

It was shown that 48% of singles with regular partners have sex at least once a week, compared to only 36% of married folks. It’s no surprise, I suppose, that sixty percent say they are satisfied with their sex lives while 52% of their married friends make the same claim. Nineteen percent of the single-but-not-dating crowd said they were sexually satisfied. Now that makes me wonder.

Oh, and how about cheating on your partner. Just under a quarter of the men taking the survey admitted they cheated during a current or recent long-term relationship. For women the number was 11%. When asked about their partners, 12% of both men and women said their partners cheated. That seems to me to indicate that women are a bit more optimistic about their men’s whereabouts at times.

So what damage did all this cheating cause to the relationship? Not much, apparently. About 40% of the respondents reported it had no effect at all while another 30% thought it caused only temporary tension. A mere handful, 6% or less, said it was a fatal blow.

More than half of the females, 60%, said their stepping out had no effect on their relationship. Nine percent of those commented that it made their sex lives worse. Things were a little different among the men, though. Just under a quarter, 24%, say it had no impact on the relationship and 40% indicated it made their sex lives worse. I suppose there’s a lesson in that, but somehow I can’t quite see what it is. Did I ever cheat? Uhmmmm.

So what is this all about that I’m writing about it? Go back to my opening question: are people up there in the states different than your true-blue Aussie when it comes to sex? In the years I’ve been living down here in the Land DownUnder, I have been lucky enough to share a sexual relationship of one sort or another with … well, not a large enough percentage of Australian women for me to know.

Guess I’ll have to work on that, or wait until the AAPR, the Aussie Association of Retired People, conduct a national survey.

Anyone would like to comment on this, or any of my rantings, are more than welcome. I'm just not sure if this is a good idea, opening that door, but let's try it.

And a good day to you, too ...

Let me introduce myself, and take a moment to explain why I'm wasting my time with this.

First off, I qualify for the grumpy old man badge of distinction. I'm a tad over 70 and tired of it. Oh, not tired to the point of wanting to change it. Hell no, there's only one way to do that and I still got a couple adventures left in me.

That's the way I see life, as a series of adventures. But in recent times I've begun to notice things that don't please me at all. These are the bits and pieces I'm writing about in this blog. The title was, until I noticed it was too long for the good people who set it up for me, The Old Man's view of the world and other things worth complaining about. Or something like that.

Okay. There you have it, my beginning. What's that? You want to know about me? Why? If you read any of the comments I'll be adding to this you'll find out more than you need to know. So there.