today I become a blogger

I just got back from my guitar lesson. Michele Castellani and I played picking exercises and he gave me some rhythmic figures to work with to improve my picking and my sense of timing. I started taking guitar lessons again after nearly 50 years because my playing had become sloppy and I had picked up some lazy habits. Plus, living in Italy, I want to engage with other musicians.

Before I got home, though, I tried to pick Norma up and got stuck at the end of a dead-end road and had to make a careful many-point turn with a ditch on one side and a wall on the other, and the wind has come up, the first sign of fall and winter, the first day in many months that it is chilly, and we have had a long day, finalizing our plans for the kitchen with our voluble and ingenious designer Alvaro Toresi, and our friends Todd Freeman and Connie Hendrix are here in Castiglion Fiorention with us, and we ate a long and delicious but somewhat exhausting lunch at Il Teatro in Cortona after meeting with Alvaro in Camucia and well into the lunch I felt I was maybe coming down with something and would not be able to make the writers group I usually go to up in Florence, and went home to take a nap.

All of which is neither here nor there, the inconsequential acts that precede a big decision, a big decision that sort of comes out of nowhere. I decided finally to start blogging about my life here. Mostly because I just want to.

I’ve been keeping a journal regularly since August. I always use the Mead 100-page composition book but lately I’ve been confiding in it daily, and it has led me to this point. I won’t bore you with my many reasons for disparaging such an activity as keeping a blog about my life in Italy. I’m just going to start posting things, some of which will be boring like this one, and others of which will go quite deeply and carefully into my writing life and my daily work to finish and publish book-length manuscripts.

People write blogs for themselves and for others. I guess that’s what this will be. It will be for me and also for you. And I won’t worry too much about whether it’s fascinating or not. Some days it will be boring, just like the writing I do in my journal. Other days I will spend a lot of time thinking through matters related to being a writer, etc.

OH: one more thing. This month makes five years since I lost my job at writing the “Since You Asked” column. Less than two years after that job ended Norma and I decided to sell our San Francisco house and move to Castiglion Fiorentino, where we are living now. There will probably be lots more about that as well.

Sorry I don’t have a picture for this one. I’m lazy.



Linked-In proves: I know an awful lot of people not very well at all

It is a job to get all the social media accounts up to date so I can tell everyone to buy the Finishing School book as a gift this gift-giving season and hopefully some will do as I command, I being master of the universe in my own head. But wow. So I go to Linked-In, which I hate, or at least have hated up to now, and I think, I have to get the info on this awful thing up to date just in case a few people may be reached through this channel, and I may also connect maybe with some people I haven’t talked to in 40 years.

So man, it starts in with who do you know, maybe you know these people, or these people, and the names and faces start scrolling down, and I’m there I swear an hour or more, maybe two hours, scrolling through these names and faces thinking I Know A Shitload of People! from the years in San Francisco media and scuffling on the street and being a musician and writing about musicians and from back in the 1980s before I quit drinking, I think I met probably when I was drunk or I interviewed them or they interviewed me or we pumped each other for information and free tickets and records. And some of them were heroes to me, people whose columns I read in the Chronicle, people whose reporting I followed, people who performed and pestered me for coverage of their performances, people whom I admired and people I feared and people I sort of knew from here or there and some of them now that I am clicking Yes Request This Person To Connect on the Hated and Evil Platform Known as Linked-In, some of them perhaps I do not know, or know much better than I think I do, so great is the distance between my memory and events.

People and events I had almost forgotten about:


Cary Tennis Leaves Salon: Now it gets interesting

Dear Friends,

I have left after 14 years. My unique advice column, which ran on as Since You Asked from October 17, 2001 to Sept. 30, 2013, just shy of 12 years, will now run on my own site, For now, it doesn’t have a new name. I am open to suggestions. Once I get started (letters are already coming in) it will run weekly but if I find a way to make it self-supporting I will run it more frequently. Please send letters to—and tell your friends! The more people who get involved the more likely we’ll be able to keep the column running for the long haul. It turns out that giving advice is a hard habit to break.

And … now that I am free of that welcome but all-consuming daily task, I turn with renewed energy to spreading the Amherst Writers and Artists workshop method around the world, and writing, speaking, participating in conferences, playing music and enjoying life.

Since I no longer work at Salon my old email address no longer works. If you have sent email to me recently and it bounced back, that is why. Please email me personally at, and email questions about workshops, getaways, retreats and other matters of business to

I will be in Baltimore this weekend, Oct. 12 and 13, leading Amherst Writers and Artists workshops from 9 am to noon on Saturday and Sunday at the Idylwylde Hall, 6301 Sherwood Road. I hope to see many of my Baltimore and D.C. friends there. See more here.

That’s all for now. I will be posting more regularly now on our own site, and am looking forward to having a more robust personal engagement with you, my many friends, fans, fellow writers, workshop leaders and family.

Now it gets interesting.

—Cary T.