Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Writer?...Me?...Nah...

Yeah, it happens. Though if you had told me that's what I'd eventually be "when I grow up" (although I'm still not certain about the growing up part), I'd have looked at you as though worms were crawling out your nose. And some of my grade school teachers would probably cringe if they could see the way I lay words down on the page.

When I was probably 11 or so I got a diary (yes, boys keep diaries). I didn't have a clue what to put in there other than what happened to me through the day. So, that's what went in there -- "Tried to dig a tunnel in our backyard today over to my friend's house. Decided to turn it into a swimming pool instead. Dad made me cover it up." Those entries had gaps of weeks, months, or years.

Next came the full-o-angst raging-hormones teenage diary, full of rantings and ragings about no one understanding me (especially my parents), plans to hit the road and find myself, and why I couldn't get a date. Lots of late-night hours in all-night diners. I didn't need sleep then. Teenagers don't need sleep.

The 20s'. Ah, yes, the 20's. Man, how I don't miss them. Still full of angst and all-night diners, but now add coffee and cigarettes, along with books by Carlos Castaneda. Yeah, I was full into the road then, although I never did the Kerouac thing. My one excursion out west lasted about three weeks, then I got homesick and headed home. Lots of deep, dark philosophizing, and really listening to song lyrics. Simon and Garfunkel, and John Lennon were my mentors.

The old saying is true, at least for me, that goes, "When the student is ready, the master will appear", or something like that. Somewhere in the mid- to late-seventies, I took an English Comp class at Brescia College (now Brescia University). David Bartholomy. He was my teacher, the one to really open my eyes to the power and possibility of writing.

Bart. Or David. Either one, didn't matter. Knew I was gonna like this guy when he came in all long-haired like the rest of us, blue jeans, sneakers (I think), and if my fading memory is correct, a corduroy jacket. He was packin' an old copy of "Sirens of Titan" by Kurt Vonnegut, and he told us that he didn't care about spelling or grammar. By now, we should already have that stuff (or similar wording) down. Nope, he was here to teach us how to write. From the gut. If we needed to misspell or hose the grammar for the purpose of a story, so be it.

From Bart I learned that the written page was mine. I owned it. Mine to put down whatever the hell I wanted. Create, destroy, reshape, it was all mine. And, that's when I began to feel my writing breathe. Oh, it was still on the table, like old Vic Frankenstein’s creature, but within another decade it would get several more blasts of juice to stir it to life.

Keep writing, friends.

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