by Lou on April 22, 2005

I’m working on a new book that’s being coauthored by Sheree Bykofsky, who is also my agent as well as the author of seventeen other books, but today I’m fighting distractions. Trouble is, all of them are self imposed. That means I’m having a tough time getting started and that’s just something that doesn’t happen to me very often.

So far today I’ve busied myself with reading rec.gambling.poker, visiting a bunch of different online poker forums, chatted with Kevin the pool guy about how he blew the engine in his red jeep, and spent some time deciding if the second cup of tea I was brewing should be Barry’s Gold Blend, Peppermint, or Orange Spice. I had Orange spice for breakfast, so Barry’s won out and the peppermint tea will have to wait for another day.

I’ve also checked my bank account online and balanced the damn thing to the penny while making a list of all the articles I have to write and their due dates, so I know how much time I can allocate to this book.

Yesterday was a better day for writing and I was able to add an additional 3,000 words to the manuscript, but so far today I’ve managed to add zilch. Zero. Nothing. Nada. Not a word. Nary a one. Still, the manuscript is now at 43,000 words and climbing. We are shooting for an 80,000 word book, so we’re half way to producing a first draft. Well, almost. After we produce the requisite number of words, the first draft can’t really be considered complete until we make an editing pass, rearrange material that might appear to be better placed in another section of the book, and sit down and discuss whether we’ve hit the right tone and given proper weight to all of the topics we intended to cover when we began the writing process. But I’m quibbling; it’s about half way to a first draft no matter how you slice it.

But I’m still sitting here obsessing about my inability to get started. My mind wanders and now I’m resisiting the temptation to play poker online because that will kill even more of the time that my sense of guilt and obligation suggests would be better spent writing.

Yet I can sit down here at the same keyboard and effortlessly put together this blog post while I sip my tea. I’m even feeling guilty about what to do for lunch. Here are my choices: Drive 12 miles to Tyler’s in downtown Palm Srpings (this will consume the better part of two hours); drive 1 mile to Joe’s Sushi (1 hour and all-you-can-eat for $17.95); or walk into the kitchen and fix some stuffed zucchini that I bought at Ralph’s (10 minutes — at most). I’m probably going to opt for the stuffed zucchini but it’s not lunch time yet, so I still have some time until I cross that particular bridge.

I’m also thinking about poker. I’m wondering whether one of the side effects I don’t particularly like about the explosion of interest in poker is that everyone seems interested in playing Texas hold’em and doing so to the exclusion of all other games. Sure, hold’em ascended to poker’s primacy even before they started televising it regularly, but now no one seems very interested in any other game. Walk in to most casinos and you’ll have a tough time finding an Omahas/8 game, never mind Omaha high-only, 7-card stud, 7-stud/8, razz, lowball, deuce-to-seven, or any of the other variants that used to be played on occasion. You can find some of these games, to be sure, but you won’t find them at a variety of betting limits as you will with hold’em. Texas hold’em is poker’s version of a kudzu vine. It’s choking the life out of all other forms of poker.

I love hold’em. Don’t get me wrong. It’s just that establishing a monoculture of poker games doesn’t seem to be as fulfilling as having players with a broadly based interest in a variety of games.

That’s the end of this rant. I don’t want to go on and on about the downsides of the boom in poker popularity because I firmly beleive the upsides far outweight any of the problems lurking in the shadows. But I have been thinking about this and wanted to get it off my chest. If any of you want to share your opinions, just let me know.

OK. I’m gonna get back to work now. No more distractions. No more delays. I mean it. Really. Except for that final decision on where to go for lunch.

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