Steve Bivans

Author, Fear-Less Life & Self-Publishing Coach

Category: Bivans’ Best (page 1 of 4)

The best articles I’ve ever written, all in one convenient category.

Little Northmen: from Anno Draconis, the Viking Saga of Litt Ormr

[The following is an excerpt from my upcoming novel, Anno Draconis: The Viking Saga of Litt Ormr (The Year of the Dragon). If you’re interested in reading the entire novel before it’s released on Amazon, then check out the page for the book, and sign up to be on the Launch Team)

From the chapter, Little Northmen

“I’m a northman warrior!”

Frances rounded the corner of the church. There, standing on an old gravestone in the churchyard, was Wilhelm, brandishing a large stick over his head, yelling at the top of his lungs, “I’m a northman!”

“Northmen are murderous cutthroats and heathens!” yelled Charles.

Oh Lord, thought Frances, What are they up to, now?

“Boys!” she said with firmness, without yelling. “What is this all about?”

“Wilhelm says he’s a northman, but real northmen are bloodthirsty heathens that eat babies, and burn churches, and drag off the women into bondage!”

“Oh my!” said Sister Frances, “Where did you learn such things?”

“My big brother, Roger, told me!” said Charles, with authority. “And he never lies!”

“I’m a northman! I’ll burn your house down and drag your mother into bondage!” yelled Wilhelm from his stone longship.

Frances was beginning to lose her composure.

“Get down, Wilhelm! And drop that stick!”

“And I’ll eat your baby sister!!” he yelled, figuring he had at least one more chance to get a word in before the wrath of Sister Frances came down upon him.

Frances reached up, grabbed his left wrist and yanked him down off the headstone, sending him sprawling on the sandy soil and grass. He quickly bounced back up and raised the stick one more time above his head, preparing to squeeze in one more pagan, northman-esque, exultation.

“WILHELM!” Frances screamed, “Put DOWN THAT STICK, NOW!”

All the wind left the boy’s sails. His chin dropped to his chest and his arms went limp, dropping his deadly northman sword to the ground. He stood there, silent, moping.

“Ha!” Charles spat, “You’re in trouble!”

“Charles!” Frances barked through clenched teeth. Charles went limp, like his friend, chin down, arms slack.

“Come here, both of you!” she barked at them. “The rest of you go play!”

The remaining village children, who had become increasingly interested in the Viking drama, scuttled off to find another amusement. Frances grabbed the two boys by the wrist and lead them to a fallen tree behind the church, and in the shade of another oak. It was getting warm already, that morning, the sun rising over the smaller houses and trees. The sound of bees and other insects buzzed in the air.

“Sit down!” she demanded. Both boys plopped down on the fallen trunk of what was once an ancient oak, the twin of the one shading them, now.

“Wilhelm, why in the name of the Father, would you ever want to be a northman?! They are, indeed, very nasty creatures, and heathens with no culture, or religion. They are untrustworthy, unwashed, and headed for hell and damnation. What on Earth possessed you to make such a claim? ‘I’m a northman,’ I’m sure!”

Charles took a quick intake of breath, and Frances could tell, by the look in his eye that he had something to say, but she was a long way from being interested in his testimony at that moment.

“Charles” she said, through clenched teeth, again, “I did not ask YOU.”

Charles’s lips snapped together with some effort and a grunt, and his chin returned to its resting place on his chest. Frances kept her right eye upon him, because she anticipated, and received, a second glimpse in his eye.

“Ehh!” was the only sound that escaped her mouth, a guttural noise, but Charles knew what it meant. Oh no you don’t! and he reconsidered his second thought, and sat still.

“Well, Wilhelm?” she returned her inquisition to the would-be northman. “Why do you want to be a northman?”

There was a long pause. Wilhelm screwed up his face to aid his thought process, as if the sheer effort would bring a suitable answer for the Sister.

“Well?” she repeated.

“Wellll,” he stalled, “I guess it’s ‘cause northmen get to do what they want?”

It was more of a question than an answer, but at least it gave Frances a line of inquiry.

“Hmmm,” she thought, “So you don’t like rules?”

“NO!” exclaimed Wilhelm, “Rules are stupid!”

He said it with such conviction that it was a monumental effort to withhold her laughter. Frances swallowed hard to keep from showing any sign of humor, shook her head and said, “Wilhelm, rules exist to keep you safe, and everyone else. And some rules are given to us by God and his son, Jesus. Those rules should never be broken.”

“Well, I don’t like rules.” he mumbled.

“Me either!” agreed Charles.

Frances shot a glance back to Charles, who quickly realized he’d just broken some unspoken rule, and that to do it again meant something dastardly, so he clammed up, again. This time for good.

“Sometimes rules are hard to follow, it’s true,” said Frances, “especially for young boys, but without them the world would collapse into chaos, and the Devil would rule. Do you want the Devil to rule the world, Wilhelm?”

The boy, naughty as he was, knew that nothing good came from the Devil, and this struck him deep.

“I didn’t really mean I was a northman, Sister Frances! I don’t want the Devil to rule! I just wanted to have fun instead of studying Latin!”

Frances could no longer hold her emotions. She burst out laughing, tears streaming down her face as she laid he rhands upon the two boys’s shoulders, who were now laughing, too. The three of them laughed for several minutes, before Frances broke the moment with, “Yes, there are times that I do not want to study Latin, either.”

“Really?” Charles asked, in awe.

“Yes, really,” she said, “Some times I wish I could skip lessons, too.”

“Wow!” said Wilhelm, “I thought that Latin was the only thing you ever thought about!”

Frances and the boys laughed, once more.

“Not nearly little one,” said Frances. “I think about lots of things. Some of them are even fun!”

“Can we do THAT instead of Latin, today?” asked Charles.

“You know what?” said Sister Frances, “Why not!”

“Yaaaaay!!!” the boys answered in chorus.

“Come with me,” Frances ordered, with a smile.

The boys jumped up from the trunk of the old oak, and trotted after Sister Frances, who was quickly walking towards the other children on the other side of the lawn.

“Students!” she yelled. Most of them stopped their play and turned to her, still chattering and laughing. “We’re not going to study Latin, today.”

This was followed by cheers and whoops from the group, quickly followed by a barrage of questions, “What ARE we gonna do? Where are we going? Is it gonna be fun?”

“Do we have to scrub the chapel floor?” asked young Louis, who had been assigned the duty several times for pulling his sister, Louisa’s hair. What self-respecting parents would name their two children the same name? thought Frances. She’d thought the question before.

Frances chuckled, “No, nothing so dreadful as that.”

“Everyone line up nicely!” she commanded.

The children began, slowly, to form something that more or less resembled a line. It was pretty sloppy.

“Come on now!” barked Frances, “That’s not a line! Can someone here give me the definition of a line segment?” This was something that every one of them should know from their geometry lessons.

“I know, I know, I know!” yelled Charles.

“Good!” said Frances, “Let’s hear it!”

“It’s a line that’s straight and not curvy?” he answered with a question.

“That’s a horrible answer, Charles” Frances responded, with a scornful face, tempered with a slight smile. She was in a good mood, and was determined not to allow her student’s lack of scholarship, ruin it.

“Anyone else?”

“It’s the shortest distance between two points!” yelled little Julia, Wilhelm’s little sister, who was only five years old, and cuter than kittens in a basket.

“YES!” exclaimed Frances.

“YAAAY!” yelled Wilhelm, who picked up his little sister and spun her around in a victory dance. “My sister is smarter than you, Charles!”

“She is indeed very smart,” said Frances, “But it is not necessary to compare her to anyone else, Wilhelm.” She gave him a sharp look.

“Yes, Sister Frances.” He gave her a look of apology as he put his sister down.

“Alright! Since we have a definition, can we demonstrate it, here and now?” Frances continued.

The students slowly but surely, and with great chatter and commotion, began to organize themselves into a line in front of the Sister.

When they were sufficiently lined up, or at least as close as young children were ever going to be, she gave the command to move.

“Follow me!” she ordered, and marched off to the rear of the church. “We’re going down to the river!”

“YAAAAAY!!” the children screamed, and fell into step behind her, more or less in a line segment.

Frances led them down to the river a few miles and down the left bank to the docks just across from the city. There the children played along the shore, throwing rocks into the water, skipping flat stones.

“I can skip it all the way across!” boasted Charles.

“No you cannot!” yelled Wilhelm in challenge.

To that, Charles picked up a sizable, flat rock, and flipped it as hard as he could toward the city on the other side. It skipped four or five times, but only made it a quarter of the way before disappearing below the surface.

“Ha!” yelled his friend, “Told ya!” And then Wilhelm drew back his right arm, cocked his wrist, ran forward, and released his stone. It sailed a third of the way across the river before even touching the surface, then skipped five or six times before clunking into the side of a passing boat in the middle of the river, and dropped into the water.

“Hey!” the fisherman screamed, “Watch what you’re doing, you little heathens!” and went back to steering his boat down stream.

“Great throw!” Frances congratulated the boy, “But DO pay attention to where you’re throwing, next time.”

“Yes, Sister.” he replied.

Their teacher turned and went off to see what their fellow students were doing, leaving the two of them unattended, again.

“Come on, Charles! Let’s go check out all the boats down there on the bank!” said Wilhelm.

The two boys ran off down the bank of the river, about a hundred paces, till they came upon a row of fishing boats that always lined that section of the bank. There were probably forty or fifty of them, of various sizes, sunbathing by the river. Most of the fisherman had already returned from their early fishing runs that morning, though there were a few gaps in the line, boats that had not returned.

“We should take one out!” said Wilhelm to his compatriot.

“That’s stealing!” Charles pointed out.

“Not really,” said the would-be Northman, “We’re just borrowing it for a while,” he continued, with a grin.

“Yeah, I suppose that’s so. There’s no harm, if we bring it back, right?”

“Yeah!”

The two boys found a bright blue boat, small enough that they could move it, and were in the process of launching it from the sandy shore, when they were caught by the law, the Law of Frances.

“Wilhelm! Charles!” she screamed down the riverbank, “What in the name of Christ do you think you’re doing?!” I’m gonna have to say a few Hail Marys for that breech of the Commandments, she thought to herself as the blood ran to her face. She broke into a run to reach the boys before they could push the boat all the way out.

But the tone of her voice held them firm in their spot. They knew, instantly, that they had been caught doing something against the rules, again.

“What do you think you’re doing?” the Sister asked in between breaths. It had been quite a run to catch up with them, and she was not accustomed to running. It wasn’t something Sisters were expected to do, or indeed, encouraged to do. And it was a challenge in her robe, anyway.

“We were just gonna borrow this boat for a little while, Sister.” said Charles.

“Yeah!” agreed his partner in crime.

“Can one of you tell me the first requirement to ‘borrowing’ something that isn’t yours?” she asked, with a very serious look in her eye. “Well?”

The boys glanced at each other, hung their heads, thought about it for a few seconds, but were unable to conjure up the answer. Simultaneously, they raised their heads and shook them, side to side. It was almost comical.

“Hmmf!” the Sister grunted, “You must ask PERMISSION of the owner!”

“Oh yeah!” said Wilhelm, with a look of realization, as if he’d remembered where some ancient treasure was buried, or something of the sort.

“I told him it was stealing!” said Charles.

“Really?” asked Frances, with a bit of sarcasm in her voice. “And you went along with his scheme, anyway?”

Charles had a moment of realization, too, but not as enjoyable as Wilhelm’s had been. He suddenly realized that he’d condemned himself with his own testimony, and the look on his face was one of oh shite.

“So, you knew it was wrong, from the start, but you chose to ignore your conscience and commit thievery?”

“Uhhhh, yes Sister.” Charles’s chin was back on his chest. It was quickly becoming a favorite resting spot.

“You two are Nordmanni!” proclaimed the Sister. “Only scoundrels and heathens like the northmen, steal boats! Get your butts back with the rest of the group, or you’ll be scrubbing the chapel floor for the next month!”

The boys, with hanging heads, trudged back up the bank to the group, and sat down on a big rock, watching their friends play, laugh, and skip stones on the river.

“Now, sit there for a while, and contemplate your crime, and say some Hail Marys while you’re at it! I think you need to spend some time in confession with the Father when we get back!”

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

Viking Axe Throwing: Excerpt from Anno Draconis

[The following, A Lesson in Viking Axe Throwing (not the actual chapter title) is a long-awaited excerpt from my upcoming, first novel: Anno Draconis: The Viking Saga of Litt Ormr. It is basically in ‘first draft’ state. I did go over it, once, to remove/fix most of the typos, but I’ve touched it very little. Hope you enjoy! The novel is coming along nicely. I’m over half way through the first draft. I had hoped to publish it this month, in November, but other obligations have delayed it. I hope to have it ready by the day after Christmas, so you can spend your Amazon gift cards loading up your new Kindles with my books! lol]

A Lesson in Viking Axe Throwing

From Anno Draconis (in the year of the dragon)…

Sigurd peered through the brush and branches of the old oak.
Five men he counted, just as Gisli said.
Good.

Four of them were looking downward into their little campfire, one with his back to Sigurd. Another one had stepped a few paces away, on the other side of the road to drain his bladder on the roots of a willow.
Ten paces, Sigurd calculated the distance between himself and the man with his back turned to him. Should take one step and that will do it.

He slipped his hand-axe from out of his belt, at his back, lightly gripped the handle, pointed it towards the man’s back and drew the weapon in an arc over his right shoulder…viking axe throwing

“It’s all done in one motion, son! Stop jerking it back, pausing, and waiting till Ragnarock to throw the damned thing!”

“One motion. Back, and forward. No hesitation, or your enemy will kill you while you rest it on your shoulder blade.”

Sigurd had waited for this day since he could remember, which was probably about three years old. He was six now. Time to learn how to throw an axe!

But his father was a hard master.
“THROW IT!”

Sigurd jerked the axe backward. It slammed against his right shoulder blade. He jerked it forward, slinging it towards the maple stump four paces in front of him. The axe flew end over end, wobbling and arcing to the left as it went. The back end of the handle hit the stump as it went by, sending the thing careening off past the target and into the dirt.

“Hmmpf.” was all his father had to say, which meant, “YOu’re not listening!”

“Damn!” Sigurd responded in anger. “I’m never gonna learn this!”

“OH YES YOU WILL!” his father answer in a command. “No son of Hrolf is gonna grow up not knowing how to throw a fucking axe!”

“You need to listen, son. What did I just tell you?”

“One motion…”

“Yes! and what did you DO?”

Sigurd paused for a moment, thinking. “I threw it too hard?”

“Certainly, that.” Hrolf answered with some irritation, “What else?”

“It felt kind of jerky,” the boy continued.

“Very good, what else?”

Sigurd looked at his father, puzzled, thinking so hard you could almost smell it. He could think of nothing else to say.

“What direction did the fucking axe go?” his father asked.

“Oh! Left!”

“And what does that tell you?”

“That my hand was pointed that direction at the end of the throw!”

“Ya!” his father said with approval, “Now that you know what you did wrong, tell me how to do it, right!”
Sigurd went to retrieve his axe. He walked back to the target then walked off the paces, four of them to the little mark he’d made in the dirt.

He wiped the dirt from the blade. He could smell the earth and feel it’s cool, dampness on his fingers. Then he wiped his fingers on his trousers, and gripped the axe handle at the end, in his right hand. It was a bit heavy for a six year old, but Sigurd was a strong boy.

“I put my right foot forward…” he stood with his throwing foot forward, left foot back, almost perpendicular to the target, his shoulders in line.

“I point the axe at my enemy’s chest…” he began to recite the mantra his father had taught him.

“How do you throw?” his father prompted.

“I throw with my heart.” Sigurd answered as he pointed the axe at the center of the stump.

“Why do we fight?” Hrolf continued.

“Fighting is our Fate, it is the will of the gods.” was the correct answer.

Sigured imagined a man standing in front of him at four paces. He was a Frank—his father hated the Franks. He aimed the axe at the man’s chest, then without hesitation he brought it back in an arc, straight over his right shoulder. The back of the weapon lightly bounced off of his shoulder blade, and swung forward, freely without effort. The boy released the axe, his right hand pointed at the man’s back…

The axe arced through the air, end over end, twice and buried itself with a crunch in the middle of the guard’s spine, the man’s legs collapsed. He fell to his knees, gasping and grunting, and then fell face forward into the campfire. Then everything went into slow motion. It was always this way, for Sigurd. He could see only red.

Kill them! Kill them all! was the only thought in his mind, if mind is the right word for his condition. It was mostly mindless. To kill required no mind. It was instinct. Kill them! Kill them all!

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Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

Captain Larry LaFeet: The Land-Pirate of Decatur Street

 

I lost my pride on Decatur Street.

This isn’t one of those, somewhere, sometime, thangs, either. Hell no, I know precisely where and when I lost it, my pride that is.

It was liberated by a buccaneer, a pirate, on Decatur Street, in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Thursday the 23rd day of March, 2017.

When I say ‘buccaneer,’ I ain’t talkin’ about a swashbuckling, sea-legged pirate, either. Nope. He was a Land-Pirate, a Boot Buccaneer.

The Story Begins…

On our first trip to the Big Easy–our only trip so far–Paysh caught a nasty stomach bug, which I mentioned in another article on Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar. The bug, or whatever it was, really knocked her down on the second day of our trip, and while it subsided somewhat during the week, it was a factor the entire vacation.

By the next to last day, Thursday the 23rd, she was feeling a lot better, if not quite 100%, and we headed down to the Quarter in the afternoon to stroll around, eat dinner, and see the sights.

We had dinner at The Gumbo Shop, which was quaint. I had the jambalaya, which was pretty good. Paysh–thanks to her gut parasite–opted for mashed potatoes, which really sucks ass if you’re in New Orleans at a place called The Gumbo Shop.

It was a very cool place, though, with an open courtyard in back with plants and palms and a fountain and sculptures.

gumbo shop new orleansWe sat in what was probably the colonial kitchen on the backside of the courtyard, a brick structure with French doors, old wooden tables, the remnants of the fireplace, a gumbo pot on the old, brick stove next to the fireplace, and pots and pans hanging on the walls. The setting was superb.

After dinner, we strolled around Jackson Square looking for a mule carriage to ride, but had very little luck finding one.

No matter where we went, we seemed to have just missed them, kind of like surfers seeking the perfect waves, “Shoulda been here yesterday, man.” Ce la vie.

A Pedestrian Pirate Attack

New Orleans is reknowned for its pirates. Pretty much everyone knows of Captain Jean Lafitte, spelled with an ‘i’. But have you ever heard of the most famous pirate of all? Larry LaFeet? spelled with two ‘e-s’? Probably not. pirates on Decatur Street

Here’s the story…

We had pretty much given up on procuring a carriage so we decided to walk up and check out Artillery Park , overlooking the Square, when I was attacked by Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate.

Artillery Park  is a raised area overlooking both Jackson Square to the north, and the mighty Mississippi to the south, and was the position from which Big Easyites in a more violent epoch, could fire flaming cannonballs at approaching, hostile ships sailing up the river to attack the city. Some of those ships were flying Union Jacks, and some of them Jolly Rogers.

On this fine evening, however, the cannons were apparently un-manned, because one of those pesky corsairs slipped the net.

As we were climbing the ramp up to the park, he sprang from the dark cover of a palm tree, on to the path.

“Hey brother!” was the shot across my bow that alerted me to his presence.

At that point, he was flying friendly colors, though he had a Jolly Roger in his back pocket, as I was to learn soon enough.

“Those are some nice shoes!” was his second shot, closer to the hull of the ship, but still friendly.

My suspicions were both eased AND tightened at the same time, if that’s possible? I was disarmed somewhat by his amicable nature, but suspicious of his admiration for my footwear.

They were just Red Wing boots: nothing special about them. They were certainly not worth shanking me to steal them, which lessoned my alarm, too. But why would he give a rat’s ass about my shoes?
To say I was taken off guard is a gross understatement. I wasn’t knocked to the floor, but nothing in my upbringing had prepared me to respond to surprise compliments from a Cajun pirate.

I say he was a pirate, not because he was dressed as one or anything. He didn’t look like Captain Jack Sparrow stumbling along with a finger hooked in a bottle of rum. I’m not sure what he was wearing, actually. It was pretty dark.

“Thanks?” I replied.

“How y’all doing tonight?” he followed, quickly.

“Uhh, pretty good,” I was beginning to regain my composure, I thought, and asked the obvious question, “What can I help ya with brother?” Hey, I was in his city, so trying to be polite and give him the benefit of the doubt. I’m that kind of tourist. The kind that doesn’t request Piano Man in a touristy bar, or treat the locals like a nuisance.

“Those are some nice shoes,” he repeated, “Betcha I can tell you exactly where you got’em, the state, city, and street where you got’em! I betcha. Hey, this is how I make my livin’ man, ya know, I don’t beg, or sell drugs on the corner, I got kids to feed at home, I’m just out here shinin’ shoes and talkin’ ta people ya know, whatcha say? Betcha $20 I can tell ya where you got them shoes!”

Now, let me just say in my own defense, that you’re reading this stuff at your leisure, so don’t judge me too harshly for what happened next. I wasn’t reading this shit; I was trying to follow his offer, challenge, whatever it was, in the dark, taken off guard, and he wasn’t waiting around for me to ‘get it’ either. He was a mutherfuckin’ fast talker, and I mean really fast. It was mostly a blur of syllables flying by of which I caught only every 4th or 5th.

I’m quite certain that the dialogue I remember is faulty as hell, since I didn’t hear or comprehend 90% of it, even as I was hearing it for the first time. My memory of what transpired is colored by the aftermath. In retrospect, I have cobbled together what I think was his tactic:

  1. Catch me by surprise. CHECK
  2. Keep me off guard. CHECK
  3. Always keep the initiative. I never had a chance.

Once a pirate has you against the gunwales, you’re fucked.

And I was definitely about to walk the plank.

I was shark food, chicken of the fuckin’ sea, even if I didn’t know it, yet. He had me in a corner, and there were fins to the left, and fins to the right.

“Whatever, man,” I said, half out of breath from trying to follow his turbo rant. I was thinking to myself, He can’t possibly guess that I got these from Robert Street in West Saint Paul. My accent definitely doesn’t give it away. I’m not from Minnesota, and you can get Red Wing boots, anyfuckinwhere.

“Betchatwentydollars and if I’m right you owe me twenny and twenny for shinin’ yer shoes too. Whatdayasay? ThisishowImakealivindon’tchaknow? Got kids to feed, I ain’t pushing drugs or robbin’ nobody? It’s an honest livin’ whatcha say?”

I’m tellin ya, he was throwing cutlass jabs and firin’ hot lead as fast as he could sling it, and I was starting to smell like blood in the water. My brain was reeling from the barrage of questions and his speech was almost hypnotic.

I felt at this point that we had somehow ‘bonded’ though that doesn’t make any fuckin’ sense, I know, especially in the post mortem. But in that moment we were two dudes understandin’ one another, I think? Fuck if I know.

The Curse of Pride

This is where my pride got me, I think. It was all about pride.

I pride myself as a pretty smart guy, usually. And my mother raised me with a very acute bullshit meter—though she would never call it that. I can smell a scam a mile away, or so I’ve always thought.

But this time, the pride I’m talkin’ about isn’t in my ability to catch the con, it was in my general affability, sense of fair play, and belief in the basic goodness of humanity.

The problem with that pride, in this instance, was that I was in a fencing match with a pirate in a dark alley, and he had the advantage, because he knew something I didn’t, and he was a master of language, as you’ll see.

Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate had engaged me in a conversation, or at least that’s what I thought at first. But the speed of that exchange was such that I never had time to gather my wits. He came out of the dark, opened the exchange and took complete control of all of it. At no point did I ever really regain the initiative. He was a master of conversation.

Or at least the ‘con’ sans ‘versation.’

He employed all his wits and training to maneuver me, my sense of humanity, and my pride to the edge of the plank, with salt water and tiger sharks swirling in the surf under my feet. Metaphorically speaking of course.

The magic of Yes

Every great salesperson knows that the key to closing the deal is to get your prospective buyer to answer a series of simple, no-brainer questions in the affirmative. If you can get them to say ‘yes’ several times, then it becomes increasingly difficult to put a stop to it, and one more ‘yes’ is almost assured.

At this point, I’d said ‘yes’ too many times to say no.

I had been tricked into giving away several yeses by Larry the Land-Pirate, without even realizing it.

It was like subliminal messages in a 1970s movie that make you want to eat ten pounds of popcorn and become a diabetic drinking five gallons of Coca Cola to wash it down with. Larry had included several tiny, barely noticeable questions in his rapid-fire con-versation:

“I’m just makin’ a living right?”

“I’m not on the street sellin’ drugs, know what I mean?”

“Everybody’s gotta feed their kids, right?”

By the time he got around to the final thrust on the origin of my shoes, I said,

“Okay, Bring It! Deal!”

And the tigers of the sea feasted well that night.

The word deal had no more rolled off my tongue when he ran his cutlass through and I tumbled into the salty, sea, encircled by sharks, and staining the waves a crimson hue.

There was no hesitation in Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate’s victory lunge. He didn’t wait for me to change my mind, deliberate on the question, or to scream for help. The sands of the hour-glass had run out.

His sword was like a flash of lightnin’:

“You got them shoes, on your feet, on Decatur Street, in New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana!”

As the word Louisiana came out of his mouth, he lunged to the ground with a squirt bottle in his left hand and a rag in the other, squeezed some white-ish looking foam on the toes of my boots and proceeded to ‘shine’ them with the cloth.

I was struck dumb and motionless, like some troll in a Tolkien tale, caught by the sudden onset of the sunrise and the spell of a wizard.

“FUCK!” I said, utterly flummoxed.

I had fallen victim to a simple play on words.

Because I had been taken by surprise, and kept off balance, and given too many yeses, I’d paid no attention to his choice of verb.

There are at least two definitions of the word, got.

One, is the past tense of ‘to get,’ to obtain something in other-words, and that’s the one Larry had implied in his initial challenge:

“I betcha I can tell you where you got them shoes.”

I knew precisely where I had obtained them: on Robert Street in West Saint Paul, and was supremely confident that there was no fuckin’ WAY that he could deduce all of that.

But what I should have done—and would have if I hadn’t be on the ropes the entire time—was to remember the other definition of got: to possess something, or to have something in your possession: i.e., I’ve got shoes on my feet.

“Damn!”

There I was, a writer, fuck, a best selling AUTHOR, standing in the dark, on Decatur Street, in the French Quarter of New Orleans, outwitted with words by a con-man land-pirate.

Fuck me.

I was out of my depth at that point. I had been taken by a simple play on words, something that I do to other people all the time. Hell, I do it almost every evening at the dinner table. I learned it from birth.

My dad is a pun artist. He lives by the pun. If there’s an obvious, cheesy pun lying on the table, he’s always gonna pick it up. Doesn’t matter if it’s a can of Cheez Wiz, or stinky bleu; Sam Bivans is always gonna pick it up and voice it out loud. He did it every single day of my childhood. He’s still doing it. And I learned the art from him, though mine are usually a fine cheese: like Irish Cheddar or Brie.

But there I was, on Decatur Street, out-punned, out-witted, and out-worded by Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate, a boot buccaneer with maybe a high school education. Hell, he might not have even finished that!

Of course, he might be an out of work English professor as far as I know. He didn’t look like one, but I don’t actually look like someone with almost a PhD in history, either.

To Pay or Not To Pay?

I really wanted to squelch on that bet, since I had obviously been bamboozled.

But he had appealed to my pride, to my sense of humanity. I mean, he had kids at home, or at least he claimed to have them. Who fuckin’ knows if he actually had kids. But I’m quite certain that he was banking on the chance that I might.

Nothing plays on a parent’s emotions like the thought of kids going without in a hard world.

Kids or no, I tried to wiggle out of paying him for the shoe shine part of it, since I couldn’t really remember if I had agreed to that part or not. I can’t accurately convey the confusion he invoked in my mind. He sounded more like an auctioneer than anything else I could liken it to. It was machine-gun like. So, I tried to get out of half of the bet,

“I’ll give you twenty,” I said without conviction, “but not forty.”

“Nope, the deal was forty dollars, man. Everybody gotta feed their kids.”

If I had pushed it, he would have had little recourse, short of violence. But unless he had a gun on him, he was gonna lose that fight. I had 150 pounds on him, and if it came to that, he would see a different side of Steve Bivans….the Blackbeard side. I’m secretly a land-pirate, too.

But my pride and sense of fair-play–even if I felt I’d been hornswoggled–won out in the end. If I reneged on the bet, I would have had to relinquish all of that pride, and that wasn’t something I was willing to do.

After a second or two, I turned to Paysh—who was probably just as shocked as I was that I’d been bested in a game of words—and said,

“Give him the forty, bebe.”

I was defeated and confused.

I’m still trying to figure out how anyone could possibly con ME out of $40. And he tricked me with a play on words, a simple fuckin’ pun.

Got.

Unfuckinbelievable.

Epilogue

I somehow managed to survive the sharks in the water, though I was definitely limpin’ around on a stump, Captain Ahab style. I’ll be limpin’ for awhile, I reckon.Artillery Park New Orleans

Sans my pride, Paysh and I walked to the top of the hill to see Artillery Park, took selfies of ourselves with St. Loius Cathedral in the background, and then consoled ourselves with beignets at Cafe du Monde, which is a pretty good place to massage a bruised ego. Nothing a few donuts covered in mounds of sugar can’t cure.

At that point we realized that there were no more mule carriages carting tourist, pirate-bait around, so instead we opted for a bike taxi tour.

The funny thing is, that  the next day, on Friday, we were back in the Quarter, and no less than two times that day, I was approached by land-pirates with the same opening thrust,

“Hey man, I like your shoes!”

Ha! I think not.

“That only works the first time, man. Good try though!” and I kept walkin’.

So, if you’re ever on Decatur Street, in New Orleans, in the State of Louisiana, especially at night, keep an eye out for Larry LaFeet the Land-Pirate and his compatriots.

Then either leave your pride at home, or wear some ugly shoes.

If you enjoyed this one, check out my other Big Easy Adventures:

  1. The Big Easy: First 24

  2. A Pirate’s Revenge: An Evening at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

  3. Cafe du Monde: Feed Your Powdery Addiction

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

Punkin’ n Rocky: the Great Kitchen Chase

[The following is another excerpt from my upcoming book, The End of Fear Itself, and will probably be in the section on real Fear, i.e., the fight or flight kind. It’s been polished a bit, but I’m sure there will be additions, subtractions, and revisions to come before the final version. Enjoy.]

There was a disturbance in the kitchen.

There was a rustling sound, a hiss, then a cacophony of pots n pans spilling across the floor.

I was sitting at my desk, typing on my laptop, just as I am right now, one day last year, when I heard a crash in the kitchen. I had been writing for nearly an hour, I suppose, without incident, when the kitchen exploded.

You see, I’m a writer, obviously, and I work from home most of the time. We have a small house in St. Paul, on the West Side. It’s only about 11 or 1200 square feet in size. The downstairs consists of only three rooms: the living room at the front of the house, the kitchen in the middle, and my home office, at the back of the house, overlooking our deck and garden through a large sliding-glass door, which that morning was fully closed. This is an important fact, as you’ll soon see.

I was peacefully writing that morning, when all of a sudden, the kitchen erupted in a violence and a ruckus unlike I had ever heard.

“What the fuck!?” I yelled.

I hate being interrupted when I’m writing. It’s hard enough to get into the dance with the Muse, as it is, and when that dance is interrupted, it’s really hard to get back into it. The Muse doesn’t like to be troubled with shit from the sidelines. She really loves to dance, but brooks no distractions.

And the clashing and banging from the kitchen was more than a distraction; it was like dropping a bomb on the dance floor.

I lost concentration for a second, let loose my curses, then realizing that it was probably just the Viking Pirate Kitties—Punkin’ and her troublesome, aloof sister, Squish—I turned back to the task at hand: writing, with the thought that I’d deal with the clean up when I was finished.

I knew the sound well enough, I thought, even though the one that morning seemed a bit pronounced compared to times past.

In the kitchen, under one of the windows, there is a radiator, that supplies ample heat to the room in the Long Dark that is our Minnesota Winters. Over the radiator is a metal cart with a butcher-block top that we use to support the toaster, baskets of bread, usually a cookie jar, and various other sundry that collects on a kitchen counter.

It was spring or summer when this incident occurred, so the windows were open to let the fresh air waft through the house. They were protected by screens, to keep the Skeeters—that’s mosquitoes, for those of you not from the South—from wafting through the house along with the breeze.

As I said, in that first second of disturbance, I cursed, then directed my attention back to the keyboard and the masterpiece I was working on at the moment. The cats were always screwing around on the radiator, and just below it, on the front edge of the cart, was a wire shelf, a narrow one, on which sat a small sauce pot with lid, that Paysh used to make popcorn.

There are also a couple of cast iron bacon presses next to it. It was customary for the Pirates to jump down off the radiator and knock all of that shit right into the floor, and that’s what I surmised had happened on the morning in question.

I was wrong. Partly.

Something much more intense and deadly was at work: a life and death struggle, and shitloads of Fear.

Just as I turned my attention back to my writing, a second or two after being interrupted, something smashed into the sliding glass door to my left, and slightly behind me, over my left shoulder.

BAM!

I jerked around in my office chair, banging my right knee on the desk in the process—which occasioned a string of profane curses only heard on board Naval and Fishing Vessels around the world—only to see the blur of a grey fur, and a long bushy tail as it rebounded off the glass, to be met by a blur of ginger fur, and slashing claws, and hissing teeth.

There was a squirrel in my house!

There was a little grey squirrel loose in my house, and he was in full flight mode. This was real Fear, my friend, not the bullshit, projected Fear that most of us feel when we need to ask for a raise, or think our spouse is upset with us. Hell no, this was life and death Fear and Rocky the Squirrel had quickly abandoned the fight response for the opposite one, ‘run like fuckin’ hell!’

And run he did.

Right behind him, catching up to him as he bounced off the rear door, was Punkin’, the runt of her litter, half the size of her sister, but fast as lightning, and with claws and teeth sharp as razors. She has drawn more than a few pints of life blood from the humans in the household, and that was only while playing. She wasn’t’ playin’ with Rocky. She had one thought in mind: KILL HIM!

And she was on him like ugly on an ape.

It was in that moment—when I realized what was going on, only a second or two after the clash in the kitchen, and at the moment the Rocky rebounded off the glass door behind me—that things really sped up.

The rest of the incident that I’m getting ready to relate to you, took no more than 6 or 7 seconds in real time, 10 at the very most, but I would bet on less than 6. It was a blur of action like I’ve never seen in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of action.

As I leaped from my chair, knee screaming in pain from jamming under the desk, I let loose another curse, “What the FUCK!? There’s a squirrel in my house!”

By the time I had said this, Punkin’ had leaped onto his back, clawed him, bit him, he shook free, and they were off! back out of the office, into the kitchen. I ran, limping after, thinking, “I have to get a door open, let out the squirrel, but not Punkin’! How the fuck am I going to pull THAT off!?”

As I ran into the kitchen, I saw Rocky launch up over our sofa in the living room, and half the way up the blinds on the front window, with Punkin just behind, hissing and slashing with her deadly claws. She was really into this, man. I thought ole Rocky was done for, and for only a split second, wondered where Squish was, and her dog, Bubble. “They must be asleep, I quickly reasoned, or they would be down here in middle of this, and Rocky would be fucked.”

Before I could finish thinking all of that—which simultaneously occurred as I was reaching to open the front door–Rocky gave into Newton’s Law of Gravity, and came back down the window, bounced off of the side table next to the sofa, and kicked into turbo drive on his way back towards my office with the world’s fastest lioness on his tail, blood in her eyes.

It was then that an idea flashed into my head, and it was a good thing, for Rocky anyway.

Before I could fully formulate my plan, I yelled at Punkin’, “PUNKIN’! STOP!”

And luckily, for Rocky, Punkin’ responded to her daddy’s voice.

Punkin' sucking her tail...

Punkin’ sucking her tail…

You have to realize that Punkin’ is the cute, sweet Viking Pirate Kitty. When she’s not chasing squirrels, or mice, trying to disembowel them and rip off their heads to leave as trophies at the foot of mommy’s bed, she’s usually curled up in a ball, sucking on the end of her tail like a baby, binki. It is simply the cutest thing in the history of cuteness.

But when she’s on the hunt, forget about it. She’s deadly, and relentless. But she does love daddy, even if she doesn’t really listen to commands. She’s a cat, after all, far superior to the so-called, advanced species of monkey that humans think themselves.

But the force of my command caused her to pause, for just a second, which was long enough for me to reach the French door to my office, and slam it shut, just as Rocky careened into the sliding glass door at the back of the house, again.

I stopped. Sucked in some air, and looked back at Punkin’ who was staring up at me, not a little irritated and hurt that I had interrupted her hunt. Her blood was up, and she was not happy that I had intervened on behalf of her prey. Maybe for a second, she thought that I might be trying to assist her.

A part of me wouldn’t have minded if she had killed the squirrel, though I have no animosities towards the species. I don’t want them in my house. Once the wild get in, they’re fair game for the Viking Pirates.

But I had no relish for the aftermath of such a hunt. The entire house might collapse into dust, like 10,000 Jerichos, from such a chase, especially if Squish and Bubble were awakened to join in. God only knows the damage they would have inflicted in the pursuit of little Rocky. Luckily, I had contained the problem, and the damage. But Rocky was still in my office, with no way out.

I took a few steps towards Punkin’ to ensure that she retreated a bit, and then I opened the office door, and plunged in, closing myself in the room with Rocky, who was probably pissing himself, metaphorically, if not literally.

He was all over the place, knocking books off shelves, jumping up on chairs, and trying to get out of a door that wasn’t budging.

I raced to the back door, unlocked it, slung it open, and managed to the get the screen door open just in time to avoid Rocky blasting right through it. He was off, and free, to race across the backyard.

I’m certain he didn’t stop runnin’ till he reached the rocky shores of Washington State.

Somewhere out there, in the misty forests of the Great Northwest, there’s a squirrel named Rocky, with an eye patch, and some nasty scars, sitting at a squirrel bar, drinking nutty squirrel ales, spinning the harrowing tale of the day he broke into a monkey house, only to be confronted with a vicious, enormous lioness, who he only just managed to escape thanks to the philanthropic aid of a large, ape, in shorts and Birkenstocks.

How did he get in in the first place?

Once the excitement of the chase had subsided, I asked myself the same question. And since the chase seemed to have begun near the radiator, in the kitchen, that’s where I focused my Sherlockian powers. And there, in the corner of the window screen, was a hole, no more than 2 or 3 inches in diameter, that Rocky had managed to rip open.

If only he’d known ahead of time what was on the other side, he’d have saved himself a lot of Fear, and a very long run to Seattle.

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

215 Yds with a Lady & an Antique Putter: Golf is Life, pt 4

[This is part 4 of the Life is Golf series, in which I attempt to impart words of wisdom from the links. It is also part 8 of the Tick Tock Series. All things blend into one…]

I once hit a 215 yard drive.

Big fuckin’ deal,” you say.

And I finish by saying, “…with an antique putter.”

And you say, “Oh!”

It’s the truth. When I was a teenager, probably about 17 years old, I was out playing golf with my dad and my brother, Dave, at our home course, Shamrock Golf Course, in Burlington, NC.

I was not having a good round, either. I was in every pond, hit every fuckin’ tree on the course, and missed every putt. Not really, but that’s the way it feels when you’re on a golf course, things aren’t going your way, and you’ve  been sucked into a whirlpool of piss. Remember those? Yeah, I was swimming in whirlpools at 17. Nothing like learning your trade early.

So the game wasn’t going very well, to put it mildly.

I had just triple or quadruple bogeyed hole 14 or so, and the ole blender was spinning on liquefy, without a top to keep in all the dog shit n crackers, so it was slinging all over the course, hitting people in the face and generally stinking up the place, when I came to a brilliant conclusion.

My Antique Putter

I say brilliant with a large dose of sarcasm, mind ya. Because nothing truly brilliant slings out of a Waring Blender that’s full of canine excrement and feline pee.

I came to the conclusion, after much logical deliberation, and inward contemplation, probably some un-bendy meditation, that I could do no worse on the last 4 holes, if I just played every single, fucking shot, with my putter.

I stated such to my father and brother, who laughed, cautiously mind you, because I was not in a good mood, so they were afraid to push the button on the blender too much, but couldn’t hold their mirth inward completely. I don’t think they actually believed I would do it, or at least for a second they didn’t–though they should have known better, and probably did. When I make up my mind to do something, especially enough to state it out loud, emphatically, just get the hell out of the way.

It’s best. Trust me.

My dad, the saint that he is, tried one last ditch effort to pull the plug on the blender, “Son, it’s just a game. Just try to have fun with it.”

“If it’s just a game, then it doesn’t matter what club I use, does it?” I shot back with daggers: at least four or five very sharp ones.

The next hole was a par 3.

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“Easy peasy,” you say.

Yeah, not this par 3. It was one of those uphill par 3s, steeply uphill, so much so, that if you didn’t manage to get the ball to the green, or over it on the backside, or lodged in the green-side bunker, then your ball was gonna roll all the fuckin’ way back down the hill, almost to the tee.

I hated that fuckin’ hole.

But I was determined at this point, to play it out, with my putter.antique putter

Now, luckily, my putter was an old antique one, more like an old fashioned 1 iron, than a modern putter. It actually had grooves across the face, and just the slightest hint of loft to it. Not enough to see, really, but it was there.

I teed up my ball, swung, made contact, and the ball rolled up hill, almost to the top.

There it sat, four or five feet from the edge of the green, for several seconds, or an eon, until it quivered, every so slightly. I’m not sure if it was the wind, or if Satan himself was lying on the dancefloor of the 15th green, gently blowing sulfurous breath across my ball, but the ball began to move, and not toward the green, either, but every so slowly backward, like the trickle of a raindrop forming on a cold window, gaining more and more condensation, and weight, until it can no longer hold surface tension, and breaks free, like a tiny stream, then a creek, then a mighty flowing river, like the Mississippi, roaring to the sea. Yeah, that’s what it was like.

My ball began to roll, faster and faster, back down the hill, straight to the bottom.

I’m pretty sure that my father, and more than sure that my brother, both gained some sense of satisfaction from this. Hell, I would have. There’s nothing quite as ego-boosting, as being right, after all.

But I was undeterred. My blender was on gasify at this point, if there is such a thing. The dog shit n crackers had certainly passed by liquid stage a couple of holes back, and was now wafting around the course like a cloud of green, methane. I’m sure that someone should have called in a toxic waste disposal team, but no one did.

Instead, I just stomped up to my ball, putter in hand, set my feet, and swung away!

Up the hill it went, like Jack and his girlfriend, and down it came it again, crown broken, and tumbling pail, sans water.

I repeated this two or three times, I think. I don’t really remember now, but it was comical in the extreme, if you weren’t me, that is.

But I didn’t start this story to talk about the Jack n Jill par 3. I came to talk about The Drive.

The Drive

We finally arrived at the final tee: hole 18, which was a par 4, dog-leg right.

When I say dog-leg, I mean it took almost a 90 degree turn to the right, about 180 yards out from the tee.

In the middle of that bend, to the right, and guarding against any attempt to take a short cut to the green, was a very large forest of Southern White Pine trees. To the right of those, behind them, was the end of the driving range, which was enclosed in a large net in an attempt to stop balls from escaping the range and rolling into the trees.

It did neither.

The entire forest area was littered with hundreds, if not thousands, of golf balls with the red stripe painted around them to distinguish them from all the hundreds of golfer’s balls that had managed to find their way into the forest, only to be eaten by wolves, witches, lions, tigers, and bears.

Not a few of my balls had come to rest in that dark forest in the past. It was like a magnet, that silvan hell. I had a tendency to slice my drives, and the forest had a tendency to suck them in, and swallow them whole.

It wasn’t that the trees were difficult to walk through, so in theory at least, you could go look for your ball, and find it, but thanks to all the range balls, and other hapless spheres that other luckless golfers had added to them, searching for one particular ball, was in fact like digging for the proverbial needle in a stack of needles. Best to just lay a ball out in the rough, take your penalty, and move on.

So, I stood there, putter in hand, ready to smack the shit out of my ball and drive it into oblivion, when my father, kindly saint that he is, decided to try one more time to extricate his prodigal son from the whirlpool.

“Son, why don’t you try the driver?”

This only got him the stare.

Now, I realize that most of you haven’t seen the stare. Count yourself lucky.

I inherited the stare from my mother, and it basically means, “STAND BACK! DO NOT SPEAK! DO NOT ATTEMPT TO INTERVENE! THIS IS VERY DANGEROUS TERRITORY!”

I say I got it from my mom, but actually, my father is pretty good at the stare, too. In fact, he might be better at it, but it takes a lot of doin’ to get my dad to exhibit the stare. If you can get him to that place, it ain’t good. You’ve really screwed up at that point, and it’s best just to run like hell in the other direction. Not that he was violent or anything, but the punishment comin’ to you wasn’t something you wanted, especially if he decided to give you a talkin’ to. Those were the worst.

But I digress.

I gave my father the stare, he quickly zipped lip, stepped back, got the hell out of the way, and I yanked the putter into the back-swing, whipped it down at the ball, made perfect contact, and the little white sphere launched upward, and outward: not for the fairway–a place with which I had only the vaguest acquaintance–but for the forest, my second home.

At this point, I was beyond pissed off. You know that point when you have decided that your whirlpool of piss is starting to taste and smell normal?

I just grunted, walked back to my bag, and rammed the putter back into it, and waited for my dad and brother to drive. Dave ended up in the woods, as well. So we both headed that way to look for our balls. Dave didn’t find his, quickly gave up the search, left me standing outside a sinister gingerbread house, and went up around the bend of the dog-leg to drop a new ball.

I was determined to find my ball, so I could smack it out of the woods, pinball style no doubt, with my trusty putter. But I couldn’t find it among all the bloody, red striped range balls.

I was just giving up hope for finding it and resigning myself to a life of gingerbread and witches brews, when Dave yelled down to me from the fairway, around the bend of the forest:

“THERE’S A BALL UP HERE!”

“What is it?” I yelled back.

“A LADY TITLEIST!”lady titleist

“No way!” I told him. I thought he was just fuckin’ with me at this point. He knew I had been playing that ball, and yeah, I know, it was a lady’s ball.

“I’LL EAT MY HAT IF IT ISN’T!” Dave yelled back at me.

And I’ll be damned if it wasn’t.

There, in the middle of the fairway, 40 yards from the hole, was my Lady Titleist. How it threaded that entire patch of Southern White Pines, I’ll never know. It was an impossible feat, but there it was, right where it should never have been: couldn’t have been.

We subtracted the 40 yards from the total length of the hole, and I took credit for a 215 yard drive, with a antique putter.

And the Moral of the Story Is…

I’m not exactly sure what the lesson is in this story, but I’m gonna try to extract one, so hang on to your pails of water.

If you focus too much on the goal of the game, whether that be golf or life, or whatever game you want to play, then you lose sight of what really matters: the game itself, the shot before you, the moment and place where you are: the NOW.

Somewhere in that game, that day so long ago, I found the shot, even in the midst of my frustration and anger, and I’m not sure how that happened. I think that at some point, determination, however it is fueled–and in my case it was fueled by rage and fury–can inadvertently pull us into the present moment. The emotion of anger, in that fraction of time, focused my attention on the ball, on driving it to its destination, on the other side of that forest of pines. I simply willed it through.

The fact that I was able to do it, broke my anger and frustration and replaced them with astonishment and humor. As I stared down at my Lady Titleist, all I could do was laugh, and my father and brother joined me.

After a minute or two of full-on guffawing. I pulled out my putter and approached the Lady.

My father, once more, tried to dissuade me, figuring that if I had finally managed to hit a good shot, even a great one, that I shouldn’t ruin it by messing up the rest of the hole.

I gave him a stare, but one with a smile, and said,

“This putter got me here, and this putter’s gonna take me home!”

I think I bogeyed that hole, but it was the best bogey I ever scored.13238984_474197749438420_4808396043425231599_n

Sometimes, I think, if you’re in a whirlpool that’s particularly strong, and you can’t seem to stop it, just give into it. Ride it like some tornadic, tidal wave, all the way to the beach. Drive that thing right through the forest, past the witches, the lions, the tigers, the bears, Jack n Jill, and Hansel n Gretel, until you come out the other side. Don’t pass Go and don’t stop for gingerbread.

I think it’s the resistance to our bad days, our whirlpools, that makes them stronger. Maybe if we just acknowledge them, and sometimes even give into them, we can find our way out?

On days like that, just grip your putter and swing away my friend.

Also read, The Most Important Club in the Bag, Life is Golf, pt 3, & Bud-nippin’ n Dog Shit, Sans Crackers, Sans Blender: pt VII of the Tick Tock Series

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

How I Write #7, First Draft: Storytelling, Monkey-brains, and Cousin Eddie

[The following is episode 7 in my How I Write Series, and an example of a very first draft, with absolutely no editing, spellchecking, or grammar check. Actually, it’s one of my better typing examples, lol. As I read through it just now, I was like, “Damn! That was better than usual!” To put the piece in context, it’s part of a chapter from my upcoming book, The End of Fear Itself, which will be released to the public on September 22nd. I give it to you, my lovely readers, in its raw form, to show you, as Hemingway once said, “There are no great writers, only great rewriters.” I think I will return to this once I have cleaned it up, to show you the before and after. This is also, Day 17 of the Year Long Daily Blog experiment, if you’re keeping count. I have given you the audio recording below, if you want to listen. Enjoy!]

 

Our minds tell us stories all day long, and even when we’re asleep. We are essentially storytelling monkeys, with less hair. Well, some of you have less hair; I’m pretty hairy. I hate bananas, though. Just in case you were wondering if I was going to swing down out of a tree or something.
As mentioned earlier, we developed the ability to tell stories so long ago in our evolution, that the origin is lost to us. first draft monkeyThis was probably a monkey-brain development, when we started to distinguish a Past, from the Present. With that ability to remember past events, and dangers, our ancestors were able to construct mental—if not verbal—stories about those events, and bring them to mind when confronted with similar situations in the Present. This helped them to avoid dangers, like King Cobras, lions, tigers, and bears, not to mention stampeding wildebeests. And if you’ve ever been run over by a bunch of pissed off wildebeests, you know it’s something to avoid. Our ape ancestor—let’s call him Clark—probably sat in a tree, a coupld million years ago, saw a not-yet-stampeding herd of beests-of-the-wilde and rememered the story he had constructed in his mind of when cousin Eddie—not the one from Christmas Vacation standing in his bathrobe emptying his camper toilet into the storm drain while smoking a cigar, but just a monkey version of the same guy, well, a more monkeyesque version anyway—was messing around on the savanna one day when he inadvertantly, accidentally mind you, kicked a wildebeest in the scrotum, for fun—because that’s what cousin Eddie type, monkey ancestors woud do—and occasioned the entire herd to run rampant, leaving Eddie lying in a pile of bones, blood, and wildebeest shit. This simple, if amusing monkey story, kept Clark alive, and that’s aweomse for us, because he’s our grandfather, maybe the great, great, great grandfather of Adam, and Eve! He passed down that storytelling ability to us, and now we can avoid being stampeded by wild beasts on the savana, and sneak out the back when Cousin Eddie arrives, uninvited, for Christmas dinner.
It’s a handy tool to have, storytelling. But we can also rewrite our stories!
Yep, that’s what I said, rewrite them. And that includes the stories we tell about our fears, and doubts, and past failures and insecurities. We can, instead of seeing them as finished stories complete with THE END at the the so-called end of them—turn them into serials, continuing sagas, epics even! Why end the story when we’re still alive? Ive always thought that the whole ‘the lived happily ever after’ was bullshit anyway, not to mention, boring. Do you leap for joy when your favorite television show finally comes to an end? Fuck no. I don’t. I want it to keep going. I hated the crap out of it when I got the end of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, for instance, or the abrupt end of the first season of Firefly. I hate that shit.
And I hate it even worse when the ending IS happy. If yuou’re going to end my favorite show, kill everyone! I mean, go all Billy Shakespeare on the entire cast! Let’s have a Hamlet-esque ending! Burn it all down! Or, keep the story going.
Our story is still going; it has not ended. In fact, there’s only one story in all of the history of the Universe: the Big Bang. It’s still going on. We’re part of it, and so is our personal story. So, let’s rewrite our stories to give them more positive direction, not endings. Instead of saying, “I’m a failure” for instance, let’s say, “I failed to accomplish that thing, but I really want to succeed at it, so that was just an experience of failing, and I learned that the way I did it doesn’t work! Cool. Let’s try something else. Kind of like Edison and his lightbulbs.”
Or, “That didn’t work out. Maybe I’ll let that be, and do something entirely different, taking the lessons from that previous experience with me.” That’s an entirely different story, a continuing one, unlike the pathetic, crappy, “I’m a failure,” where we turned ourselves into a victim, and a noun, to boot. Let’s not OWN failure, pain, or Fear. We don’t own them, and let’s not let them own us. Instead, think of failing, feeling pain, and fearing, and realize that they are transient experiences, not good, not bad, just experiences, part of the fuckin’ story, and let’s reframe the entire story of our lives, as heroic, courageous, epics like the Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, or Rocky. In fact, cue up the theme to Rocky and try to feel like a failure. It ain’t gonna happen, especially if you’ve ever seen the movie. It’s gonna pick you up and make you feel like you can kick Fear’s ass.

 

Steve Bivans is a FearLess Life & Self-Publishing Coach, the author of the Amazon #1 Best Sellers, Vikings, War and the Fall of the Carolingians,The End of Fear Itself, and the epic-length, self-help, sustainability tome, Be a Hobbit, Save the Earth: the Guide to Sustainable Shire Living, If you want to learn how write and self-publish a book to best-seller status, crush your limitations and Fears, and disrupt the status quo, contact Steve for a free consultation to see how he can help you change the world! CONTACT STEVE

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