Welcome to Torg Stories!

Dear Reader,

Thank you for stopping by the Torg Stories site. I’m an ex-basketball coach and English teacher turned writer, filmmaker, podcaster, and professor. Originally from a small town called Winamac, Indiana, now I split my time between Asheville, North Carolina where I live with my family and New York City where I teach First Year Writing at St. John’s University in Queens. Torg Stories have found their way into the world taking many forms including…

Books

Click here for Torg books for sale on Amazon

Indiana, basketball, love, divorce, winamac, Indiana, Pat Conroy, book club

Pat Conroy called The Coach’s Wife“One of the best books about basketball and coaching I have ever read with a love story so complicated and wonderful it will have book groups talking about it for years.”

Thanks to Pat. I learned a lot about writing from reading his work and was a big fan. May his soul rest in peace!

MIdwestern Gothic, novel in stories, Winamac, Indiana, basketball, Flannery O'Connor, William Torgerson

Horseshoe is Midwestern Gothic collection of stories with themes about love, sin, guilt, and redemption.

romantic comedy, eighties, John Hughes, Say Anything, Olivet Nazarene University, basketball, college writing, winamac, Indiana, book club

In Love on the Big Screen, Zuke is a college freshman whose understanding of love has been shaped by late-80’s romantic comedies.

Films

morel mushrooms, hunting, Indiana, France Park, Bill William Torgerson, Martin Torgerson

The Mushroom Hunter is about my father and his buddies’ passion for hunting morel mushrooms.

Click here to watch “The Mushroom Hunter” free online.

More Torg Stories films: Christopher’s Garden and For the Love of Books

 

Life in Asheville: Mountains to Sea Trail Run

The Mountains-to-Sea hiking trail runs from Clingmans Dome in Tennessee/North Carolina to the Outer Banks. Not yet completed, it is 530 miles long AND runs right past my neighborhood. For my run today, I ran a little portion of it along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

the view from the bridge on my Blue Ridge Parkway run

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Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

the side rail I wouldn’t mind being a little higher when I’m on foot

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Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

a narrow spot on the Mountains-to-Sea Trail; my wife hates it when the grass brushes her legs 

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Mountains-to-Sea Trail, Blue Ridge Parkway, Asheville, trail run, French Broad River

Bridge #2 on today’s run; The French Broad River from the Blue Ridge Parkway

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We hope to get out on the French Broad River soon!

 

 

Owning Your Own Business: Writing and Social Media

Torg Stories Podcast / Recorded on Saturday, June 11, 2016.

Today’s episode is with entrepreneur and business owner Georg Efird. George is my plumber, and I’ve been impressed with his savvy use of social media in order to grow his business, Blue Planet Plumbing in Asheville, North Carolina.

small business, social media marketing, writing, composition, First Year Writing, William Torgerson

Georg and Miranda, owners of Blue Planet Plumbing

My primary interest in Georg’s work is related to the First Year Writing courses I teach at St. John’s University. Because students HAVE to take my course, I’m always trying to make sure what we do in class is relevant to the lives the students live outside of class. This means much of the writing we do is in digital spaces, and I’m always on the lookout for people outside the university who do a lot of writing so I can use their work as examples for the students.

Most impressive to me about Georg’s online accomplishments are the 215 reviews–he calls this customer feedback–posted on Google with an average rating of 5/5. Georg is obviously a savvy negotiator of digital spaces and does the kind of multimodal writing that makes use of images, links, color, and pictures.

small business, Asheville, Blue Planet Plumbing, Asheville

Georg on the job for Blue Planet

When Georg was seventeen years old, he had his first child and found himself working at a fast food restaurant trying to support a family when a friend invited him to tag along to an interview to be a plumber’s apprentice. Georg’s friend coached him up to say the following during the interview:

I have zero experience, but I am a hard worker, and I am reliable.

The advice worked and Georg was hired as a plumber’s apprentice.

 

Blue Planet Plumbing, Asheville, small business, social media marketing

 

Pro tip from Georg’s first days as a plumber:  a 1978 LTD won’t support 1,800 pounds of concrete.

Thanks to Georg for joining us on the Torg Stories podcast.

Thanks to you for visiting the website and listening to the podcast!

 

 

Four Keys to MY Daily Happiness

You’d think I’d know better than to try and tackle a big-ass abstraction such as happiness, but what I’m trying to write about here is the stuff I need to do most days to continue to feel pretty good about the prospect of another day. I was careful to include MY in the title as a nod to you all that my way of finding a degree of happiness could be real different from yours.

Let me say this, first: there’s a lot of big-picture happiness that is derived from my family. That I’ve got my sister Anne, my mom and dad here in Asheville, my wife Megan, and our two girls, have helped me to build a strong foundation from which to live a life. If work isn’t going great, rejection slips for my writing seem to be piling up, or people are otherwise giving me a hard time, it’s pretty easy to shake all of that negative weight.

Georgia Review, rejection, writing

The Georgia Review says, “No Thanks.”

 

When little girls are calling you daddy, the world isn’t as likely to land a good punch.

Journey, Torg Stories, Charlotte, 80s, music

Family at Journey Concert

1. Write / Make Stuff

When I need a short answer for why I spend so much time writing, podcasting, making films, posting on the website, shooting video with my kids, and participating in projects such as the 48 Hour Film Project, I say, “It’s fun to make stuff.”

My answer is an oversimplification in that it ignores the mental health portion of why I need to write. I have A LOT of mental energy that can take the form of what can feel like tornadoes of too many thoughts slamming around inside of my head. Writing regularly–preferably first thing each morning–seems to dissipate the strength of the mental storms that seemed inclined to form in my thinking. I understand writing might not lead to improved mental health for all.

2. Exercise 

In addition to having a lot of excess mental energy that I need to burn off each day, the same is true for the physical part of me. I really stumbled onto this key ingredient for my well-being back in the late 90s when I was in the midst of becoming divorced. As that process began, I started to train for a marathon. There’s nothing like twenty miles on a Saturday to help calm the soul put you down on a bed fast asleep. These days–with a family I want to spend time with, teaching to do, writing I want to accomplish–I don’t want to allot the time needed to do long-distance running, but I do run at least six days a week. I like running way more than I like lifting weights, and my latest plan to get the lifts in has been to do half of them each day. So on a typical day, I run three miles and do half of my weight-lifting workout. This usually takes about an hour and fifteen minutes, and is a big part of what helps me feel good about myself and the rest of what each day has to bring.

indyhill

My Running Partner Indy

3. Moderation with Alcohol

I can have a beer–probably two–in the evening and be at my best the next day. Anything more than that or something along the lines of two margaritas, and I’ll find myself waking up after a few hours of sleep unable to get any more rest. It could very well be that I have talked myself into such a cycle being true, but it does seem to me that alcohol is the primary fuel for those tornadoes of thought I was describing earlier.

4. Good Sleep 

This post could have been shorter if I’d just have written I need a good night’s sleep to call myself a happy person. I have found that if I get in a bad rut of sleeping…

writing + exercise + abstinence from alcohol usually equals a good night’s sleep

The other part of getting a good night’s rest is that when my wife is teaching, she gets up no later than 5:30 am and that means I at least wake up, if not actually get out of the bed for another thirty minutes. I am the kind of person prone to staying up late to watch sports or play sports video games. When that happens, I wake up tired and am less likely to get in good writing and running sessions. And then I’m feeling bummed and ticked off. Most days, I know I hate not writing and not running enough that I can make myself go to bed early. When I fail to execute the above four-step process, I try to give myself a break and do better the next day.