Thursday, September 29, 2011

How I Got Into Writing

            Ok, so I’m a writer, so I guess I’m suppose to know what to write here. Got no clue. Not like writing a novel or short story… no inspiration here. Jenna my publicist says write about writing, why I became a writer. Does anyone really become a writer? Seems to me, in my case anyway, it’s something that just kinda happened. What does come to mind is the first day of tenth grade, Creative Writing 101.
            Write what you know.
            Those cautionary words were emblazoned across the blackboard. They remained there throughout most of the semester. I read them over till they were burned onto the insides of my eyelids. It made sense to me.
            When you are a small, shy kid you learn a lot from your friends, the invisible ones. It’s remarkable how much wisdom and knowledge a peaceable green dragon, or a long, lumpy cat, or a talking Dodge can impart. I’m sure my friends, my real friends, carried a sort of wisdom of their own. But what nine year old stops to ask a buddy’s opinion on death or music or killer nuns during a frantic game of tag or a hot round of pepper? Who thinks of life’s mysteries when Willie Mays’ future hangs on the next flip of a baseball card?
            There were times, sleeping under the stars, with clover for a mattress and a blanket of dreams when my pals and I talked. We talked of important things: whose bike was faster; will Maris top Ruth; could Godzilla beat King Kong? But the real wisdom of my youth came from within; from the friends I contrived out of a fecund imagination. Friends who walked me to school on lonely December mornings; played with me during boring family visits; made me laugh on long thunderstruck nights.
            The wisdom my make believe buddies bestowed, factual or fantasy, formed a very large part of the child I was, the man I became, the stories I would eventually write. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I discovered a friend and ally in the muse, a muse who lunched on irony and danced with the fantastic.
            And I listened.
            And I wrote.
            I wrote in one form or another for what has seemed like all of my life. I wrote about things I knew; things I wanted to know about; things I pretended to know about. When I was seven, the launch of Sputnik launched an interest in space, planets, astronauts, the Mercury Seven, and all things not of this earth. I dreamt of traveling to Mars, exploring Titan, even meeting a shapely alien on Venus. My musings materialized on paper as my first short story: an affecting, confusing tale of a boy from Mars, a girl from Venus and feuding space gangs: a sort of galactic Romeo and Juliet.
            Escaping from a boring, sometimes brutal grade school I often ditched, spending hours wandering through junk yards. The serene, cemetery like atmosphere appealed to me. I forged an inexplicable bond with the forlorn vehicles. Their once proud chrome and sadly decaying bodies spoke in the dry, dusty air. Each told a story, a unique, intriguing tale to tell, some funny, some tragic. I listened and understood. And I wrote about what I heard, often to the bewilderment of my teachers. They seldom knew what to make of my emerging talents.
            It wasn’t long before the fairer sex caught my eye. The objects of my daydreams and fantasies found themselves as strong, highly visible characters in my tales. Girls were more interesting than boys and smelled a lot better. A hopeless romantic was born.
            Moving through junior and senior high I continued to write, expanding to include songs, music and poetry. Writing became an outlet for me, a way to order my thoughts and deal with life in general. On paper it all made sense, a sense that otherwise escaped me. I could handle the stress and pressure of being a ‘60’s teen. I loved the times in which I grew up. It was just that I found irony all around, an irony that eluded most of my peers and every adult I knew.
            And so I wrote.
            I was writing what I knew, what I saw, what I felt. An author was born… or hatched… or created… or whatever or wherever or however authors emerge.