The Lines Are Open

(Monte Dutton photos)
(Monte Dutton photos)

Clinton, South Carolina, Thursday, December 29, 2016, 12:02 p.m.

I got nothing.

This sentiment is all too familiar, as what few veteran readers there are of this space realize. It’s entirely possible that a few veteran readers have fallen by the wayside because of this troubling pattern of wandering blogs.

By Monte Dutton
By Monte Dutton

As I have heard is the case with some others, I’m a creature of habit. I’m in the habit of warming up for toil on the next novel (almost 80,000 words now) by writing a blog. This is what happens when I’m just not quite ready yet for the next chapter. I read something. I play my guitar. I watch part of an old movie. I stare a while at a blank screen, except for “Chapter 34” at the top, and I think, write something. Write anything.


It is unusually early for the second tankard of coffee. Huh. That’s another habit.

On social media – yeah, I waste time on that, too – Christmas was such a lovely day. One of my tweets noted that there was a lot to “like.” Pictures of kids playing merrily with new toys. Posed photos of Mom, Dad, etc., under the tree. Warm messages of hope and understanding. One of the stories I read was about opposing armies mingling during a World War I truce. Christmas was kind of our truce.

The first item that caught my eye on Facebook – I spend more time on Twitter because Facebook can be so mean – on the day after Christmas was a man going wild, bonkers, nuts and apeshit over the mail not running on Monday. The damned government! I didn’t get a day off! How come they get a paid vacation?

Chill, man. I don’t know how hard postal employees work, never having been one, but I suspect the holidays are as hard as it gets. I’m grateful to the post office. It costs 48 cents (I think, it’s around there somewhere) to mail a letter across town, or to Tacoma, or Fort Ticonderoga, and it’s worth it across town. The post office is the ultimate scapegoat. Someone is late paying for something, and that makes someone else late paying for himself. Each of them, back against the wall, points at “the damned post office.”

Maybe one day I'll write a novel that is towering and majestic. In the meantime, I just do the best I can.
Maybe one day I’ll write a novel that is towering and majestic. In the meantime, I just do the best I can.

Damn. I’d give them the whole week off. It’d give creditors (and creditees?) some relief, too. Well, no. Nothing does that.

The post office is kind of like a newspaper. Its market is gradually being drained by technology. So many people are getting information for free that they’re getting accustomed to not paying. At the bottom of the information chain are those who provide the information. The free information isn’t as reliable. The whole chain becomes endangered.

It’s polluted. The drinking water has lead in it.

The world seems artificial. It has fewer dimensions. Talking goes out of style. Do you know people who would rather text than talk? I do. Close friends whom I miss. After exchanging texts, because it’s the only option as a practical matter, I still miss them.

Many texts suggest “we ought to get together,” but because of them, we never do.

If you’d like me to mail you a signed copy of Cowboys Come Home, or any of my other novels, you can find my address and instructions at (

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

I’ve written five novels and a collection of short stories. I’ve also written a number of books about sports, mostly about NASCAR. You can find most of them here.

Crazy of Natural Causes is on Amazon sale all December for $.99.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)
(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

The Kindle versions of my books, where available, can be found above. Links below are to print editions.

My new novel is a western, Cowboys Come Home. Two World War II heroes come home from the Pacific to Texas.

I’ve written a crime novel about the corrosive effects of patronage and the rise and fall of a powerful politician and his dysfunctional family, Forgive Us Our Trespasses.

I’ve written about what happens to a football coach when he loses everything, Crazy of Natural Causes. It’s a fable of life’s absurdity.

(Melanie Ryon cover design)
(Melanie Ryon cover design)

I’ve written a tale of the Sixties in the South, centered on school integration and a high school football team, The Intangibles.

(Joe Font cover design)
(Joe Font cover design)

I’ve written a rollicking yarn about the feds trying to track down and manipulate a national hero who just happens to be a pot-smoking songwriter, The Audacity of Dope.

I’ve written a collection of 11 short stories, all derived from songs I wrote, Longer Songs.


(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)
(Cover photo by Crystal Lynn)

Follow me on Twitter @montedutton, @hmdutton (about writing), and/or @wastedpilgrim (more opinionated and irreverent). I’m on Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Instagram (TUG50), and Google-Plus (MonteDuttonWriter).

(Design by Steven Novak)




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