Tuesday, February 9, 2010

and.. go

I looked at my old intro and realized it would make a better chapter. So that left me without an intro.. here's a draft

There are a lot of different possible scenarios that can occur that will cause people to actually decide to write about themselves. I imagine one would be a realization that your accomplishments may be of interest to posterity and perhaps there is some clarity that only you could lend. Another reason people may be motivated to write is the insistence of their peers to do so. Least noble of these motivations is when the future author takes a long look at himself in the mirror and says to his reflection "I'm so damned interesting I should tell the world". Since I was only 6 years old when I had this epiphany I probably said "darned".

Legend has it I learned to read by sitting in the lap of my mother and grandmother as they read aloud passages of soft core housewife porn and readers digest condensed classics pointing at the words they were saying. I say 'legend' because I don't remember ever really learning how to read. I can imagine myself pushing to learn what letters meant in order to fill in the blanks left out in the more juicy parts. Or maybe even just to figure out who the shirtless guy on the cover of Love on the Open Sea was the book was and why he was kissing the shirtless lady. And was that the same guy from the cover of The Masters Desires?

Reading early meant learning to write early and there are several examples of my first attempts at short stories moldering away in a basement in Missouri. I took a look at some of them and I have to admit most of it is uninspired with poor suspension of disbelief. Only a story about a rascally letter R sneaking in to other words to change their meaning held any real promise. In retrospect it was so close to an episode of Sesame Street it is quite possibly the youngest attempt at plagerism attempted in modern times.

In eighth grade I approached a teacher to for a suggestion for a book about being a writer. I was expecting him to leap at the opportunity to help out a future author. To praise me for my initiative and to parade me around in front of the other students for them to take note and point out that I was an example future greatness walking among them. Instead he said "What will you write about you haven't done anything". I was hurt and a little embarrassed and dropped the subject.

Several weeks or possibly months later a drinking buddy of my stepfathers asked me what I was going to do when I grew up. I replied that I didn't know yet but my sister chimed in that I was going to write books. My stepdad smirked and said "what are you going to write about you haven't done anything". I don't know what it was exactly that caused it but I was now inspired. Maybe the fact that he was layed off from a job where he carried bags of flour into a truck. Or maybe it was the can of generic beer in one hand and a styrofoam cup of tobacco spit in the other. Coming from a teacher the words depressed me but coming from him they motivated me.

"Screw Him" I thought. It wasn't the first time I thought that and probably not even the first time that day. What does he know anyway?

I was starting to discover that it was his habit to keep someone from reaching too far in life as a way to keep them from falling too far. He was, in his own way, trying to protect me from "acting above my raising". It was nearly considered a sin to think you were better than your family and your community.
Newly energized by the fear of becoming a version of my stepfather, his friends or any of my uncles I started my first Diary. Only girls kept diaries so I kept my writing hidden and even enjoyed the idea that I, a boy, was keeping a diary anyway. Kiss my ass society! I'll do what I want.

In high school my diaries were changed to journals and had very little direction. Some were hateful descriptions of people at school. Some were entries like "went to band practice". A few were simple outlines of bad stories. Now my journals are called blogs and are the same format with more words.

The dream to be a writer never really died but it was a neat and tidy excuse to put it on the back burner when you knew you had to do some living first. Thirty was the first idea since I was convinced I probably wouldn't live past thirty five anyway. Seems extreme but my mother was 36 when I left home and it seemed so very very old. The promise to go write full time at thirty five became the promise to write when I turned forty. Now at forty two I'm getting serious I've gathered notes, talked to sources and looked in the mirror and said to my reflection "I'm so damned interesting I should tell the world".

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