By not following my own advice, I think I may have pulled a blog muscle

image As Kevin Spacey once told me, “A man’s got to know his limitations.” Granted, he told me this while imitating Clint Eastwood, during a mock interview, at a fictitious nacho bar restaurant called Casa de Papitas (House of Chips). But that doesn’t make the message any less poignant. Especially when you consider how, that same week, my Nickel’s Worth on Writing compared writing to weight lifting — and how it’s easy to hurt yourself by trying to lift too much.

I can honestly say I’ve never injured anything other than my pride at the gym — an incident I blame on an unfortunate combination of Mexican food and an ill-timed squat that cleared out an entire row of stationary cyclists. However, in terms of my writing commitments — combined with my commitment to family, firefighting and the newspaper — I feel like the guy on the bench press who has suddenly realized, on the fifth rep, that he shouldn’t have added that last 10 pounds while his spotter was in the bathroom. Do I keep trying to lift, hoping I get the bar back into the holders before my arms give out? Do I bring the weight down onto my chest and wait for help from my spotter, knowing he suffers from IBS and could be on the commode for 20 to 30 minutes? Or do I, in a loud voice, announce that I had Mexican food again and allow the entire gym to clear out before dropping the bar-bell onto the floor?

Those are the questions that have been running through my mind this past week. True, I’ve also questioned watching the rest of this season’s The Bachelorette, and whether I should shave my beard. But mostly it’s been the bar-bell analogy thing.

(Warning: Whining zone ahead) In addition to my weekly syndicated column for News Media Corporation and covering local sports for Siuslaw News, I post three weekly features on my blog and write for Long Awkward Pause. I have a book out, with plans for another book this summer and a mystery novel in late fall.

More importantly, I’m a father with three teens at home and am also a volunteer firefighter. This is not a coincidence.

At this point, you’re probably asking yourself:

1) Why is he telling me all this?
2) When is he going to stop?
3) Holy @#$%! Did I miss an episode of The Bachelorette?

Not necessarily in that order.

The truth is, I feel you are part of my family. Like second cousins, with a few questionable ties to the bloodline, but family nonetheless. And because of this, I felt the need to explain some decisions I’ve made regarding changes to this blog that I know will help me strike a better balance between my writing commitments, my personal life commitments — and my goals for both.

Mondays is the day I send out my syndicated column to newspapers. Beginning this Monday, I will also be posting the column to my blog, as opposed to writing something separate for my blog on Tuesdays, such as The Box or The Door.

Wednesdays will be open to either Wednesday Rewinds (Previously Post Traumatic Sundays), The Box or The Door, depending on whether Skippy cooperates. And remember, Skippy is still out there. Somewhere. Looking for your mystery photos. Avoid having to explain to your neighbors why there’s a blindfolded, rabid squirrel in your yard by emailing odd photos you’d like us to investigate to

Fridays will still be the day I offer misshapen pearls of writing wisdom with my Nickel’s Worth on Writing, which Writer’s Weekly Digestion has called “…A banquet of literary advice from a writer who could stand to lose a few pounds…”

As always, features like “…This Just In…” and “For reasons Unknown” will continue to surface unexpectedly, much like that thing in the kiddie pool you thought was a pinecone.

In addition, I’m privileged to be the subject of two upcoming interviews in the next week, first at Bookin’ It with blogger and author Marcia Meara on June 11, and then with award-winning novelist Eden Baylee on her website June 20.

I’ll also continue to link my Long Awkward Pause posts here, including my next LAP post this upcoming Thursday (June 11).

I hope all of this makes sense, and that I haven’t disappointed any of you. It wasn’t easy to admit to myself that I had bitten off more than I could chew, particularly for a man who occasionally talks with his mouth full. However, part of the reason I felt it necessary to make these changes, and admit to myself and all of you that I had failed to take my own advice, is to show that even “established” writers can get caught up in trying to do too much — and that it’s important to recognize those signs and make the changes necessary to keep growing as a writer and a person.

I really can’t tell all of you how much your support has meant, and not just because my mouth is full.

In all seriousness and sincerity: Thank You so very much.

I hope to see you here Monday 😉

— Ned

(Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, or Barnes & Noble.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

112 thoughts on “By not following my own advice, I think I may have pulled a blog muscle”

  1. May as well make it a unanimous thing from the Chris side of the family. Although I Love ya in a whole different manner. As in man-ner. As in firm handshakes and “pull my finger.”

    Just being new to your blog I will miss the number of posts. But I have a short memory so… what?

    1. Given that it’s been a few minutes, you’ve probably forgotten why I’m saying this:

      Many thanks. It’s great to have so much Chris support.

      *Offers hand but pulls finger. Instantly regrets it*

  2. This all seems reasonable and sound decision making, Ned. Which, you know, considering the source is kind of mysterious. Maybe it could be a chapter in your summer novel.Besides, we will happily read anything you throw out to us regardless of quantity..

    Anyway, better a solid Ned, than some poor sap who thinks he has the powers of Mrs. Incredible.

    1. No one is more mystified than me. But hey, that’s a way of life for me 😉

      I truly appreciate your support and kind words, Robyn. And your hair.

  3. I love you, Ned, and by that I mean you make me laugh out loud with everything you post, so don’t take it personally. Having been out of the writerly-bloggly loop for a while, I have a backlog of your stuff to read … unless that’s a pinecone. So much to look forward to!! Yay!

  4. I don’t know how anyone could have chewed so enormous a bite. I often wondered how you could write both so prodigiously and so well in a genre as tough as humor. I applaud any change that encourages balance, so I think your plan sounds great, and I’m not just saying that because it makes me feel ever so slightly less like a huge slacker (though that does figure into my motivation, if I’m being honest).

    1. Or at least Lane County, maybe. But not during tourist season.

      Either way, thanks Hottywood. That means a lot coming from my favorite Horoscopic prognosticator 😉

  5. Ned, your pulled blog muscle is at least twice more effective that mine, even if I had it in tip top shape and pumped it full of blogging steroids.
    P.S. since, as you say, we’re a family now, can i borrow $500? There’s some rabid littly gray furry animal in my yard and I want to call an exterminator.

    1. X, it’s not the girth of your blog that matters, but the …blah, blah, blah. Steroids or not, your blog muscle never disappoints.

      And I would loan you the $500, but Skippy has my checkbook.

      1. Thank you – but while I agree it’s not the girth that matters, I wish I could improve the frequency. I think you wrote about the importance of regularity, didn’t you?

  6. As someone who is responding to your blog post to avoid the seven projects on his desk screaming for his attention (thank you, ear plugs and sorry neighbours), you have no need to worry about disappointing us…

    That happened a long, long time ago and we’re just too apathetic to move on.

    It is a challenge when new ideas and projects are so much sexier than whatever is staring at your sweating forehead screaming “NOW! NOW! NOW!” loud enough to be picked up by the Voyager Space Probe (look it up…great album by The Cetaceans).

    In fact, if you respond to this note, you will merely be continuing the long traditions of The Congress of Avoiders (not to be confused with the Congregation of Voiders, which meets every Tuesday in the Scranton Wal-mart men’s room after the new water pill prescriptions come out).

    Be who you are, my friend. Do what you need to do. And rest secure in the knowledge that we can’t be bothered to leave.

  7. Good luck wit the new schedule, Putz.
    If you ever need anything, you know who to turn to. I don’t mind sinking your blog with a guest post or two….

  8. All completely sound choices Ned & as family, I commend your maturity in recognising the need to pull back a wee bit. I include myself as family for I am now convinced that I am married to your brother from another mother. Clearing a room with ill timed squats is his specialty, he worked with Mexicans in his post retirement job which explains where you get your supply, oh, & did I mention he has a history of colitis in his family……spotter be damned….it’s all making complete sense now.

  9. Out here in Kentucky, first cousin-heh…never mind. I have no idea what might’ve come out, but we’re all better off that it didn’t. 😉

    Whether I can wrestle my smartphone into cooperating with me long enough to make a semi-coherent comment on not, do know that I’m reading. 🙂

    And that you need to do what’s best for you (and the stationary cyclists). I’ll be around to read what you throw out there, even if the days and frequency change. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one either.

    Like several people have told me recently, you’re awesome, get used to it. In my case they were lying, in your case…they’re telling the truth. 😉

    1. Haha! I’ve been to Kentucky more than once, so yes… it’s probably better that you didn’t 😉

      I appreciate the kind words and encouragement, CeeLee, and I’m sure the cyclists do, too. I’m glad to know you’ll be around. And as for those “several people” who’ve told you I’m awesome, I promise I’ll have my family stop calling 😉

      1. Ah…yes, you do know about Kentucky then. Good. 🙂
        If your family’s going to call, just tell them to quit running the FD tones in the background. Makes me miss being around all the fun. lol

  10. Oh My ! buahahahahaha Mexican food…ahhahhhahahaaa .. squats… ahahhahahhahaahaa…bicyclists….ahahhhhhahhahhaaa .. cleared out…ahehhehee.

  11. can you put that in alphabetical order for me? i will have no memory of these details, but it sounds like a good plan and no worries, i will welcome you each time i see you, and be pleasantly surprised each and every time. go forth and prosper and i’ll keep and eye out for you and the rabid squirrel. best of luck with the interviews. )

    1. I didn’t have you for my kindergarten teacher (and you should be thankful for that). So, by the time I figure out how to arrange it alphabetically it will be Monday, and time for a new post…

  12. I have to say that I often wondered how you were doing it all, Ned. Good decision. I recently had a health issue and realized that a lot of stuff that I thought was important really wasn’t.

    OMG! Don’t ever miss an episode of “Bachelorette.” That show has so, like, helped me to figure out life and everything! 😉

    1. It’s very true that life sometimes forces us to shift our perspective and priorities, usually for good reason. Andi seems to do that every week, actually… 😉

      And thanks, Lynette!

  13. I can only speak for myself, though I’m sure many others would concur, I’m in it for the long haul! I’ll be here Monday and look forward to anything you share here, as always!

    1. I’m so glad to have you along for the ride, Abigail. But we’re not stopping for a restroom break until Watsonville… 😉

      Truly though: Thank you

  14. Dearest Ned,
    Actually the mom in me (second cousin in-law once removed to the lady who lives down the street from you) was starting to get quite worried. You are everywhere and not only do you produce quantity…it’s all quality. Quite honestly, I don’t know how you do it. You have great supporters and we will read anything you put in front of us.
    Do I need to take that Six Songs assignment off your plate? I don’t want to add to the madness more than I already do 🙂 (insert evil laugh here)

    1. I have to admit, one of my biggest concerns was maintaining quality, Michelle. I was starting to write for deadlines instead of for “me.” That’s never a good sign. I’m so glad to hear I wasn’t too late!

      And I DEFINITELY want to stay in for the Six Songs (maniacally rubs hands and giggles)

      As always, thanks for the kind words and support, Michelle 🙂

      1. You never have to worry about quality because you are self-aware, driven and humble. Great combo. Have a great weekend, get some rest and ice that blogger injury/muscle of yours 😉

  15. Sounds like a great plan, Ned!
    (My comment today is boring. I like to pretend it’s because you used all the entertainment for your post as usual. It is really because today I’m boring. )
    I’ll be reading it all. Thanks for livening things up in the blogosphere as always. 🙂

    1. I hate to break the news, but there’s never anything boring about you, Marla. You’re the intrepid traveler — not to mention a pretty terrific person.

      Thanks always for the kindness and inspiration 😉

  16. Totally understand, Ned! You’re smart to recognize your limitations as regards to time. We can’t stop time or create it. I think that’s a smart move to post your column here. I look forward to it!

    1. Thanks so much, Amy!
      And thanks for using the words “smart” and “Ned” in the same sentence; I’m not sure that’s been done before 😉

  17. Realizing that our local gym is just a block away from the new Mexican restaurant, I almost stopped reading to go cancel my gym membership. I’m glad I didn’t because congratulations are due. My book launch party is tonight so I know how excited you must be–my level of excitement times three (cause you’re more successful) plus really goofy.
    Seriously, I’ll keep reading your writing wherever you decide to write! Congrats!

    1. If nothing else, you should limit your gym visits to at least two hours after meal periods, just to be safe. Although since I’m too far away to visit your gym, you’re probably safe.

      And a HUGE CONGRATS on the book launch, Laura! And I’m pretty sure our excitement level is the same; “success” is a relative term (we’re second cousins, remember?) that has no bearing on what it means to accomplish something like this. I’m so happy and excited for you! Have a great time tonight and enjoy this 😉

  18. If we’re all cousins, then this is basically a family reunion and as the host, you should be providing the BBQ ribs or some other form of pork. Otherwise, the southerners will get cranky and stomp on home.
    Another brilliant post, Ned! Thanks for the laugh 🙂

    1. Haha! Very true! Actually, my barbecue pulled pork recipe won second place at our regional firefighter cook-off. I know it’s not “first-place,” but after a few sweet teas with bourbon, you can’t taste the difference, I promise!

      And thanks, Traci 😉

  19. Blogging is a two-fold commitment, like when you actually take the towels out of the dryer and manage to fold two before realizing the futility and tossing the hapless heap onto a closet shelf. You have to both post something and then interact with the audience. When you’re overbooked, both turn into hapless heaps no one benefits from that, except maybe the family cat who now has a new bed.
    I hope your new schedule gives you the benefits you’re seeking.

  20. I’m usually so far behind in my reading your new schedule probably won’t affect me at all, as long as you keep posting so I can keep reading!

  21. You could never disappoint, Ned.

    Might I make a suggestion though? No mexican food when on duty at the firehall. You just might turn a small house fire into a blazing inferno.

    1. Hahaha! I’ll let you in on a little secret: The turnouts we wear while fighting fires seals everything in. It’s when you get back to the station and start taking them off the REAL danger begins!

      And thank you 😉

      1. In that case, your might die on the job when it wafts up to your face! Even if you do make it back to the station house, you could be in danger of having your colleagues turn the hose(s) *and* fire extinguishers on you the moment you unseal your suit!

        And you are most welcome!

  22. Your prolificness (prolificy? proliferation? proliciousness?) was making the rest of us look bad, so smart move. Enjoy the extras sliver of life you’ve carved out for yourself.

    1. I believe the word you’re looking for is “post operative,” as in “another post and we’ll need to operate.”

      And thanks, Ross. I’m already enjoying that sliver.

  23. Thanks for this, Ned. I know it’s over a year old, but it does wonders to explain my two year absence from the Blogosphere. I’m now approaching The Not Really News Blog with a much lighter hand and fighting the old urge to let it consume me. Wish I would have caught this one sooner.

    1. It sounds like you figured it out on yoiur own anyway — my post was just confirmation. Maybe it was the right time after all?

      Good to see you back, Steve!

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