GIVEAWAY: Shameless self-promoter that I am, I’m giving away five copies of my new book, HOW TO WRITE GOOD to the first five Unboxed Writers who reach me directly by email. I’m not posting my email address here, though, and Facebook and Twitter don’t count. Consider it a scavenger hunt. Ready? GO!
One of the quirks of my writing life is that I’ve pulled down a paycheck by writing about poker on a more or less consistent basis since 1988. How I came to do that is a slightly instructive tale.
Back in 1988, I was an up-and-coming member of the Writers Guild of America, but the WGA was on strike, so there I was, rattling around Los Angeles with time on my hands. I found my way into the Commerce Casino and discovered exactly how badly I could play poker. I mean, they went through me like a freight train through the wind. I thought, Well, this is great and this is fun, but I obviously can’t afford to suck at it. At that point, I invoked one of my favorite life strategies: When there’s something I want to learn how to do, I find someone to pay me to teach it. In this case, I contacted the only poker magazine in the market and – honest to God – made the following pitch: Look, I know nothing about poker, but I’m going to learn, and while I learn I want to write about it, and that’ll be my column, Notes From The Nervous Breakdown Lane. Well, that worked, and 25 years and three million words later, I’m still writing about poker.
One of the first lessons I learned in poker is the one you see in the title of this piece: Never leave money lying on the table. If the game is good, you stay in the game. I adopted that lesson and turned it into a philosophy of my writer’s life. [Read more…]