Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Wake Up Out There

Today I welcome aspiring mystery author Randall LaBranche, who has some good advice for all of us, whether it relates to writing or not. I met Randall at the Y, where he wouldn't let me get away with cheating on the upper body machine I hated. But he would chat while I biked, which kept my mind off the workout tedium.

Thanks to Terry for giving me the opportunity to contribute an article to Terry’s Place. As much as I have pestered her on the recumbent bike at the Y, I’m surprised she even talks to me anymore!

In November, I hopped on a plane to warm Scottsdale Arizona, not once thinking how this ONE particular voyage would be the start of a three-day wake-up call. It all started out normal enough, a team development program with a medical technology firm on Friday, grab a quick puddle jumper to connect with my wife at the San Diego airport on Friday night and hang with my twin brother until Sunday. A little work, a little play, a little life transformation.

It all started with a unique team program involving a collection of about 150 corporate sales reps, some team building and a handful of incredible kids. The design of the session was a half-day of team activities that culminated with groups constructing 15 bicycles as the final goal. One thing that the participants DIDN’T know was the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) would be accepting the bikes to give to deserving children in the community.

Did I mention the participants also had no idea any kids would be there?

As the JDRF rep thanked the sales teams for the bikes and stated they would be disseminated throughout the Phoenix area….Bam!.....out from a hidden conference room flows a parade of smiling kids with their folks marching toward the sparkling new bikes.

Did I mention many of the kids were using insulin pumps designed by the participating corporation?

An adorable, petite seven-year-old girl is then handed the microphone and in her soft voice thanks all of the reps for ‘making the pump for her’ and how it has made her life so happy. I could have floated away on one of the bikes in the flood of tears. My first wake-up call.

As I flew on the quick jaunt to San Diego that night, all I could think of were those kids, how happy they were to get new bikes and all of the obstacles they have had to overcome with their medical conditions. We all sometimes get caught up in our ‘text messaging reality show’ lives and need these moments to remind us of how precious life can be. It was going to be a great weekend.

Orlando may call itself ‘The City Beautiful’ but for those of you who have been to San Diego know where that real city is located. I was fortunate to live there for six years and get a chance to visit my twin bro, Rod, about once a year.

As a part of this getaway, it was imperative that I hook up with my old buddy Leo. Our friendship began on a golf course back in the 90’s when I was living the consultant’s lifestyle (Friday’s off!). We got paired up on the tee one day and the rest was history. Every Friday was dedicated to playing 18 holes with Leo. I hadn’t seen my buddy for over three years and couldn’t wait to hit the little white ball with my wife Angie and ‘Big Dog’ as I affectionately call him. What a day! Gorgeous weather, fantastic Southern California landscape and friendship. Angie played great and my buddy was amazed with her swing and drives, but it was Leo that smacked me upside the head with another wake-up call.

Leo is 80-years-old. Leo just had knee replacement this past spring. Leo was blasting 250-yard drives right past me! It was a thing of beauty. ‘Big Dog’ hadn’t missed a beat. Leo is truly a fine wine, an inspirational model that life ‘ain’t nuthin’ but a number’ and there is no time to waste on your one ferris wheel ride.

Tying this to my writing, I started a mystery suspense novel nearly 10 years ago. It is around 65,000 words, has a solid storyline and initial reviews have been positive, but it is not even close to completion. I have let time trickle by with a marriage, move to Florida, new business ventures…. blah blah blah…all great excuses for NOT finishing my little baby.

Well, I have woken up! 2010 includes a new regiment by starting my day at 6am sharp. No more laying around watching SportsCenter, then lollygagging off to the gym for a short workout (and bother Terry). My new schedule has given me an extra hour in the morning to work on and FINISH my book. The messages I received on my three-day trip were loud and clear. I guess I just needed a real wake-up call.


Mason Canyon said...

Randall, wonderful story. I can see why the youngsters got to you so. It brought tears to my eyes just thinking about it. And as for Leo, way to go! I have a friend who just turned 85 and I can't keep up with her. That gives us "younger" folks something to strive for. Your right, we all could use a wake up call from time to time.

Thanks Terry for introducing Randall to us and sharing this story.

The Old Silly said...

Great story - thanks for sharing it, it's inspiring, and yes - sometimes that's just what we need ... a good swift kick "wake up call" to get off our duffs and get 'er done!

Marvin D Wilson

Carol Kilgore said...

Wonderful story. I can still see the smiles on the kids' faces. And on Leo's. Now finish your book.

Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

So true, Randall. I think we all need these little wake-up calls to get and stay motivated.

You've done a lot of the work already for your manuscript--getting the basic plot down is BIG! Good luck with the completion of the revised novel!

Mystery Writing is Murder
Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

Terry said...

(the other Terry!) A heartening story. Wake-up calls are good.

Patricia Stoltey said...

This is a great story, Randall. Kids get right to the heart of the matter, but when you balance that with some of the talented elders in our lives, you suddenly realize procrastination is just plain silly.

Randall LaBranche said...

Terry - Thanks for the message...I didn't know there was another Terry!!

Patricia - You are right on! Thanks for your thoughts.

Emma Lai said...

Useful information here, Terry! Very informative.