When did I become an old hippie? Was it too much Bellamy Brothers as a child? Not sure, but it bears investigation. At 44 I don’t consider myself old, or a hippie. Being from the south I’m not sure that’s even possible. Redneck, maybe, but Hippie? Yet two days ago I traded off my pure bred American hunk of Detroit muscle car off for a Prius of all things. Granted in this time of high gas prices, I could be called pretty smart. It does get 50 mpg.
As I sat there waiting for the paperwork to sit in front of me, my life flashed before my eyes. Was I some old hippie? No, but I was growing up. Sure after being a father, you’d have thought it would have already happened, but most of the fun of being a parent is being able to be a kid again with your kids. I was always a sports car type of guy. My first car was a Celica, not sure it that counts as one, but it was sporty. Then, I moved on to a Z-28. Through the years, I’ve stuck to that mold when it came to vehicles.
What does any of this have to do with being an author? Because, that’s what I am, and normally, what this blog is about. Here’s the deal. When I first started writing, I went as fast as I could. Throwing sporty out like it was Mardi Gras beads. Seven years down the road, I see that sporty and flashy doesn’t cut it all the time.
With age, I’ve discovered that what you know, isn’t as important as what you allow yourself open to learning. At its root, that is what writing is. A learning experience. I hope that if you’ve read my books you can see the growth from those first hastily written stories, full of expectation and childlike wonder of the worlds unfolding in my head, to those today, where that wonder is still there but tempered with experience instead of expectation.
Writing in the beginning was fun — a hobby. As are all things in our first steps down a road. Your editor beats you up a little bit because you’re the hard headed type, and you figure changing your ways is easier than applying ice bags to relieve pesky knots on the top of one’s head. As I’ve grown in my craft, I’ve learned one lesson above all others. When you stop learning, you’ve reached the end of the road. All that’s left to you is rehashing the same ideas until not even you want to read them.
So, what is growing up all about when you talk about writing? It’s about finding the balance between maturity and the exuberance of youth. It’s about getting excited about a new story while tempering it with the experiences that have brought you to the stage in your life where you can see the story in terms of layering in those experiences so you don’t just have a fast car that looks good from the outside. When you do that, what do you end up with?
Apparently, a Prius, but hey, you still end up at the same point, only you’ve got a chance to see the scenery without the blur getting in the way. Who knows? You just might see something worth writing about while you’re at it. Hey, stranger things have happened.