Paydirt and Paved Roads

Paved. (Monte Dutton photo)
Paved. (Monte Dutton photo)
Not paved. (Monte Dutton)
Not paved. (Monte Dutton)

Last night I learned that the term “paydirt” wasn’t invented by some overheated local sports writer who decided that the dirt underneath the grass in the end zone was dirt that paid, even though it was probably a high school game and the only payoff would have been “under the table.”

It was the term for dirt from which prospectors panned out gold. This I learned from watching a PBS documentary about the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. Afterwards, I watched American Experience, a bio of Robert Ripley of “Believe It or Not!” fame. Neal Thompson, who wrote a wonderful stock car racing book called Driving with the Devil: Southern Moonshine, Detroit Wheels, and the Birth of NASCAR, was prominently featured in the Ripley doc, principally because he wrote A Curious Man: The Strange and Brilliant Life of Robert “Believe It or Not!” Ripley. Neal and I became mildly acquainted when he was publicizing the NASCAR book, and I read the Ripley book with considerable enjoyment, too.

As is often the case with this vaguely structured blog, I digress.

By the way, I just googled Thompson, and this heading popped up:

     Neal Thompson

     Fiction Writer

And underneath, it begins: “Neal Thompson is an American non-fiction writer who …”

This was sort of a compound digression.

Now I’m stuck and digressed. It’s not really a digression unless one comes up with something else, something more substantial than the term “paydirt.”

The Arctic weather is reaching here this afternoon, and while twelve degrees may not be alarming to a Minnesotan, it’s big news in the Carolinas, especially this one. No snow is forecast, but as I sit here, having just finished cautioning my mother by phone to be prepared, it reminds me of how I wrote a song (and later a short story) called “The Paved Road.”

The song came about because, at the time I wrote it, I couldn’t get to one. I was snowed in. The truck and car were both stuck in the yard. The electricity was off, and I was down to flashlight, candles, blanket, and guitar.

Here’s the song, via my YouTube channel:

My short stories do not follow the story of the songs. They evoke them. In this instance, I wrote the song years ago and the short story months (a little over six) ago. Here’s the short-story version of “The Paved Road”:

In the past year, I’ve finished a first draft, given up on another for now, rewritten a third manuscript to the point where I now consider it fit for submission (but haven’t determined where), and written enough short stories to create a collection of them entitled, fittingly, I think, Longer Songs. I expect I need to become more of a novelist before anyone is going to consider seriously a collection of my short stories. For the time being, I entered the collection in a contest, which, if it follows the pattern of other submissions, won’t win.

Yet I am undaunted.

I’ll soon be back with the sixth episode of my current serialized short story, which, as of this moment, is still called “Getting to Know Darin.”

     When this blog began, it was intended for my other site,, but it evolved into a blog that suits this one. You may examine most all my books here, and, gosh, wouldn’t I love it if you’d buy one or two or five:


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