I Feel Like I’ve Gotta Travel On

(Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Clinton, South Carolina, Friday, January 13, 2017, 10:52 a.m.

I haven’t been to a race track since Homestead, Florida, at the end of 2012. On January 4, 2013, the Gaston Gazette informed that my position would be discontinued on … January 4, 2013. When I think about it, it still grinds my innards.

By Monte Dutton

It’s been a while. It shows. When Carl Edwards announced his decision to step away from NASCAR, it somehow made me think about stepping back.

I realized how much I miss by not being there. I’ve been writing from home for The Bleacher Report and competitionplus.com for quite some time now. I realized it was more difficult, but the Edwards incident underscored how much the loss of the intimacy of being there was costing me. Jeff Gordon’s gone. Tony Stewart. Now Edwards. A generation is changing, and it’s a generation I’m missing just by reading transcripts and watching TV.

It set me to thinking, and that is often a dangerous thing.

Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

I’ve decided I’m willing to go back, at least on occasion. That, of course, doesn’t mean I will. I must have said a hundred times on radio shows, discussions with friends, etc., that everyone seems to want me back except anyone who could do anything about it.

I am well aware that the business has passed me by. I’m not sure there’s a journalism market for me any more. That’s why I went home to anonymity in the first place.

So, as you may have heard someone say to you before, if you hear anything …

(Alan Marler/HHP photo for Chevy Racing)

Why? Why? Why?

I’m finally tired of home. For the longest time, the surprise was that I didn’t miss racing more. When I was on the beat, I used to say that I’d been a gypsy so long that I wasn’t fit for anything else. It finally hit me over the past few weeks. I’m tired of being nobody. In retrospect, the cockeyed version of normality in my life was three days at home and four on the road.

The words I can’t believe are coming from my fingers: I miss travel. I have, however, visited such burgeoning metropoles as Saluda, Newberry, and Seneca during 2016. I even drove through Clemson once.

(Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)

Writing fiction means observing things other than Andy Griffith reruns on Sundance TV. As the late, great Hondo Crouch once wrote, “I’m out of soap.” The context might be helpful.

I’ve loved writing about local sports. It’s drying up, though. I don’t know why NASCAR should be any different. As noted above, it could be I.

As this has always been too low a priority in my mind, I held it back. I could use the money to grease the rusty skids of writing fiction. The royalties are rather sporadic.

I’m tired of slow pay and broken commitments. Last summer, I took a part-time job covering Laurens County for a nearby daily. I was happy with it because it was just about exactly as much as I wanted to write. I took it with the agreement that it would be year-round, not just football. That’s right. When football ended, it was, “Let’s rethink this thing.” Now, of course, losing that gig made it difficult to regain others, in spite of claims to the contrary.

So … to quote an old Johnny Horton song (and wish the subject was his, not mine):

I’m ready / If you’re willing!

(Steven Novak cover design)

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy Cowboys Come Home, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, Crazy of Natural Causes, The Intangibles, and/or a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs. They’re all signed and reasonably priced.

(Jennifer Skutelsky cover design)

If you’d like me to ship you a signed copy, you can find my address and instructions here. If you want to speed the process up, send me a note and I’ll hook you up with my PayPal account.

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Note that my fourth, and best selling, novel, Forgive Us Our Trespasses, is on Kindle sale at $.99 through December 31. Links to print copies are below.

Cowboys Come Home is my brand-new, fresh-off-the-press western, a tale of two World War II veterans of the Pacific who come back home to Texas, intent on resuming their cowboy ways.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is a tale about a crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.(Melanie Ryon cover design)

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).

Looking Across the Lake

Imagine. All those football games began on fields like this one. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Imagine. All those football games began on fields like this one. (Monte Dutton sketch)
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges
Complete Supply of Ink and Toner Cartridges

Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, July 23, 2016, 9:26 a.m.

CowboysComeHome_CVR
(Steven Novak cover design)

It’s been an eventful week. I got a cover designed for my next novel, Cowboys Come Home. I started on a sixth, which doesn’t mean it has a name yet, only that it has two bitingly satirical chapters.

Last night I washed my bedsheets. Dried them, too. Put them back on the bed. It is my general policy to put another set on the bed when I wash the sheets, but last night I put the same ones back on.

As I fell asleep, I was so proud.

Another change is on the horizon. Shortly I will begin reporting on Laurens County sports for the Greenwood Index-Journal. Basically, I will be doing what I have been doing, only a bit more of it.

Monte Dutton
Monte Dutton

Two years ago, I wrote about high school and college games for several newspapers. A year ago, about this time, I started writing for the GoLaurens/GoClinton website, and that was a gig I really enjoyed.

This is home. When I was a kid, the Clinton Red Devils at Wilder Stadium — not the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, or David Pearson at Darlington Raceway — occupied the center of my universe. The Laurens Raiders were respected rivals from eight years up the road, on the Laurens-Clinton Highway, or, as it is known here, the Clinton-Laurens Highway. This year’s Laurens-Clinton, or as we know it in Clinton, Clinton-Laurens, game is on August 26.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

I’ll be there, and I’ll be watching one or the other all season long, and then into basketball season and beyond, and with the Presbyterian College Blue Hose thrown in from time to time for good measure.

When Billy Dunlap, of GoLaurens/GoClinton, hired me to cover the Red Devils, and I later picked up the Raiders from time to time, I was just looking for a little spending money to sustain me during the erratic flow of book royalties. I write a couple NASCAR columns each week, too, and I often turn the basic facts of a game story into the more observational format of a day-after blog here at montedutton.com.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

My career is writing fiction. It is possible, writing fiction, to be imprisoned in an interior world of laptops, sporting events on TV, old movies, news, social media and guitar breaks. This world is necessary, too, if I am to become an overnight literary sensation after years and years of honing my skills and waiting for that big break, the coincidence in which someone important stumbles upon my work and likes it.

As I used to see young men post more often on Twitter than now, I’m not about that life.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

I need to get out. I need to experience life, the better to create stories derived from the random interminglings of it. If I’m going to keep creating stories and characters, I cannot be a dull boy.

This Greenwood opportunity was unexpected. I had no idea the Index-Journal, where I took my first job and held it for 13 months 34 years ago, was interested in having me do exactly what I am doing now, only more of it. At the time I worked there, just out of college, thinking I knew infinitely more than I really did, I called it The Index Finger. When I talked to the executive editor, I had no idea the paper was interested in covering the sports across the lake.

(Monte Dutton photo)
(Monte Dutton photo)

I walked in the front door of that building for the first time since 1982. It may have been 1981 because, when I last worked there, I never went in the front door.

The sports department is where the darkroom used to be. There’s no darkroom. Duh.

Personally, the significance is that this correspondent’s job is more than what I’m doing now and, the way I’ve got it figured, exactly the amount I want to do.

Billy and I are parting on good terms. I wrote my last GoLaurens/GoClinton story, at least for now, on Friday. He was glad to have me. I was glad for the work. He can’t offer me what Greenwood can. I can do what Greenwood wants.

And I’ll still be writing about the Red Devils, Raiders and Blue Hose. They are familiar. Seldom has a year passed in which they were not a vibrant part of life, whether following a Clinton playoff game on Internet radio from a motel room in Phoenix or sweating profusely as me and my arthritic knees make our way up the Wilder Stadium stadium steps.

K.C. Hanna Stadium at LDHS isn’t at the alma mater, but it is easier on my knees.

What I’d love for you to do is “take” the Index-Journal, but, for now, at least keep an eye on the website. Soon I will have stories posted there. Follow it on Twitter. Keep reading GoLaurens/GoClinton, too. And this website. And my literary site, Well, Pilgrim … You know where I am. I’m everywhere. Read my novels, and I’ll take you all over the country. None has traveled abroad yet.

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

Stop by L&L Office Supply, 114 North Broad Street, Clinton and buy one of my novels. Buy either Forgive Us Our Trespasses or Crazy of Natural Causes, and you’ll get a volume of my short stories, Longer Songs, absolutely free. Tell ‘em Mr. Monte sent you, y’hear?

(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)
(Cover design by Jennifer Skutelsky)

Kindle versions – you don’t have to have a Kindle, just a free app for your electronic devices – of most of my books are available here. Links to print copies are below.

Forgive Us Our Trespasses is the latest. It’s a tale about crooked politician who wants to be governor, whatever it takes, and another man trying to stop him. It’s outrageous.

Crazy of Natural Causes is about the fall and rise of Chance Benford, a Kentucky football coach who reinvents himself. It’s original.

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

The Intangibles is about the South in the 1960s, complete with racial strife, bigotry, resentment, cultural exchange and, of course, high school football.

(Crystal Lynn cover photo)
(Crystal Lynn cover photo)

The Audacity of Dope is the tale of Riley Mansfield, a pot-smoking songwriter turned national hero with a taste for the former and a distaste for the latter.

Longer Songs is a collection of 11 short stories that all began in songs I wrote.

Follow me at Facebook (Monte.Dutton), Twitter (@montedutton), Google+ (MonteDuttonWriter) and/or Instagram (Tug50).