A writer is the sum of his or her experiences. Then again, aren’t we all?
That is part of living, you learn stuff. Or, you don’t as the case may be. At forty four years of stupidity, I’ll gladly admit that some lessons are harder learned than others, and some I doubt I’ll ever get. Yeah, I’m that hard headed at times.
As a writer with nearly nine years of practice under my belt, I’d like to say I have a decent enough handle on the mechanics of writing to know what I’m doing. I struggle with issues at times but that is part of the process. Writing is a never ending battle with life and imagination. I consider it a spiritual journey of sorts at times. When outside influences affect your balance, you just can’t write. Bad day at work. Nope, not going to happen. Nastiness on the news. You’re out of pocket. Things happen. I won’t go into all the things. You’re fighting through it right along with me, so you don’t need me to spell out how life gets crappy sometimes.
This is what I’m trying to get at in a rambling way, we need the crappy! Huh? What is joy without crap to make you appreciate it? Especially as a writer, we need to make wonder out of the mundane. What is the joy of two people falling in love without the journey, sometimes sorrow and angst filled, that brought them to them to happiness? It’s a sitcom, with a laugh track telling you when you’re supposed to be happy. I don’t know about you, but I may enjoy a laugh track occasionally, but life’s unexpected is much more satisfying. Sure, it may result in tears and hair pulling, but at least it’s yours. You’ve lived it! You’ve beaten it. You’ve earned the right to wallow in it, overcome it, or just generally go WTF! I’ll say this and you can take from it what you will. That right you got up there, never let anyone take it away from you. You are uniquely you and if someone says get over it, they have never been in your shoes and never will be.
Okay off that soapbox, so let’s move forward.
Up until this point, the experiences I’ve channeled into my writing have come from who I was, who I wanted to be, and ultimately who I’ve become at this moment in time. Son, geek, immortal teenage god, egomaniac, husband, father, and a very introverted artist. Recently, the path of my maturity as both a man and writer has brought me to a spiritual crossroads, which I think every middle-aged man embarks upon at one time or another in his life. I’ve done the sports car at forty. The trophy wife at twenty-nine, who by the way is even more beautiful fifteen years into our life together than the first time I saw her. Now, thanks to my beautiful daughter, I am about to begin a new journey. Grandfatherdom!
Since the first book that crawled out of my head onto the screen, I’ve been writing nonstop. Sometimes writing up to three books a year, some big, some bigger, and a small book here and there. Most have been comedic. Nearly all have been comedic, who am I kidding? Recently, I dug out the first comedy I wrote. To me it is funnier than the newer things. It was sharper, harder edged and I was willing to take chances on what I said and how I presented it. But, it wasn’t as good as the newer books. It lacked the maturity of knowing funny for shock value is sometimes just not funny. True comedy is a commentary on the human condition. True storytelling is crafting something that touches the reader at many levels. You make a reader laugh, think, and cry if that’s what the story is about. You do all this within the confines of a story that on the surface might not be that deep. But, every story is that deep. If you think it isn’t, you’re deluding yourself. If you sit down and take the time to invite people into your world, you have something to say. You might not realize it, but others do. Writing is you revealing you in subtle ways to others. The essence of you comes out without fail. It is both a beautiful and horrifying thing to discover.
No, don’t go running under the bed. You can survive this revelation, or make room for everyone else under there with the dust bunnies.
Back to this new journey of mine. With the birth of my grandson only a few weeks away, I wonder what experiences I’ll bring to his life, and how it’ll seep into my writing. I will gladly be the first to say, as a father I was both a failure and success. Loving someone is never easy, and as the father of a strong and smart daughter, heads bumped and we might not have always been on the same page, but never once did we stop loving each other or know that at the end of the day, I wouldn’t be there if she needed me. That in no way means I don’t have regrets that haunt me. I could have been a better man. I can only live with the knowledge, I was the best man I could have been at the time and in spite of my screw ups, she has become the woman I always knew she would be. That is the legacy I am most proud of. Not my writing. Writing is great and I am proud of every book, but to see my daughter standing on her own two feet with the confidence to know she can do anything she sets her mind to. Now, that is something to beam about.
That said. I’m going to be a grandpaw! Which is the ultimate second chance. I know he may never read his grandpaw’s books, but I have found myself thinking of books that he would read one day. This year saw me write my first young adult. I think it began with him in mind. I also started a silly kids’ book. I couldn’t imagine anything greater than reading him a book I wrote with my own artwork to go along with it. I’m not sure if it would be something anyone else would be interested in, but who knows? It may be something I’d put out there for others to try.
As I wrap this up, I stand on a new fork in the road. My life experiences are once again about to redefine who I am. Not change me, but give a new aspect to who I can be.
And, I’m pretty darn excited!