Last week I had a great idea for a blog to kick off the New Year and all that. Okay, it might have been a mediocre idea for a blog, but the point is I had one. Even intended to write it. Started it and everything. Things, though, just sort of happened. First off, I threw out my back. Secondly, we went to see the grandbaby. Finally and most importantly, I got the final edits on Scrolls of Eternity Book Two. I figured those three things offered me the perfect excuse to ignore the whole idea of a blog. Yay, me! This week my life has settled down and I truly believe I had a blog worthy idea. I guess it’s up to you to decide if it is one, or just me waxing poetic as usual.
The idea is basically this. People always enjoy knowing as much as possible about artists of any sort and how they became what they are. In my case, it’s creatively confused. Hopefully, you know what I mean. What set me on the road to becoming an author of some small acclaim? That last bit might be only in my mind but let me live with my delusions. So, for a week or so, I’m going to tell the story of a young boy who would eventually grow up, but not become a fully functioning adult, to write books and doodle occasionally.
If you get bored, I won’t blame you for hopping over to another Blog that isn’t being self-serving in its message. Because, if I’m being perfectly honest with myself, this is more for me than you. It seems in the process of living to be middle-aged I’ve forgotten who I was, or who I wanted to be when this thing got kicked off. Trust me I plan to only hit on the high points. Why am I doing this? Simple. To understand where you’re going, you need a firm grasp on where you’ve been. Human type people have a tendency to selectively ignore their past. Besides, maybe something in my path to becoming an author will strike a chord in your own path.
Attempting to become a published author is a scary thing. Being a published author is scarier still. You are asking to be judged first by submitting a book to a publisher, then continuously by those who will read your books. Submitting a book is daunting in and of itself because you’re usually only asking one or two people to either love your baby or tell you the love child that you’ve spent months, years, crafting is as smelly as a baby’s backside after a bottle of iron enriched formula. Trust me, if you don’t already know, that’s smelly as all get out.
Well enough about that. Let’s get this show on the road…
When I was six I had pneumonia. As a result I spent some time in the hospital. Yeah, it wasn’t very nice. Not sure if it was a result of being so sick, but most of my earliest memories are of being in a hospital bed and relearning how to use my lungs. During my time under doctor’s care, my parents and grandparents were constant fixtures around my bed. I can still remember my grandmother sitting there feeding me Melba toast with cream cheese slathered on it and it being the only thing I’d eat. Let’s face it hospital food is about as nasty as school cafeteria food. Another memory is her reading to me.
All my family read. Mom, Dad, aunts, you name it. Reading was as much habit as breathing is. My road to recovery meant I didn’t get to play outside, and this was way before video games. Heck, we only had three channels on TV and only two of them came in with any clarity, without the use of aluminum foil strung between the antennas. Again about television, most houses only had one, so you were held prisoner by whatever your parents wanted to watch. As a result of those restrictions on entertainment, trips to the library were my favorite vacations as a kid. Trips to actual bookstores were absolute nirvana.
By the time I became addicted to reading, 1976 rolled around. The Bicentennial brought about a love of nostalgia about the birth of our country. I can remember reading a lot of biographies about the founding fathers. George Washington, Paul Revere, Babe Ruth were some of the ones I remember best. Hey, Babe Ruth might not have been a founding father but baseball is America’s pastime so he counts. Besides, as a chubby kid, a real life story about a chubby kid who made good was pretty cool. I read other things but those biographies really had an impact on me. Looking back, I think this is where I first began loving History. Another thing I still hold onto from my childhood is a big book I got for Christmas from one of my cousins. It was all about heroes from the Bible. I would pour over the stories of Samson, David and Goliath, Daniel with the lions. It was all just so amazing.
My mother being somewhat over-protective after the whole pneumonia thing kept my outdoor activities under a minimum for a while, which only fueled my need to escape to other worlds. Another big influence on me was Sunday Night Movies. From the moment I saw Planet of the Apes on television, I was hooked on Science Fiction. When I discovered movies weren’t the only places you could find things Science Fiction, I headed to the local library. Most of what I read were kid’s books and the occasional attempt at something grander.
About this time, I discovered something else more insidious and habit forming, comic books. My first book, which I still have was the second issue of not only my favorite TV show but became my introduction to comics in general, The Six Million Dollar Man. From there I discovered Spider-Man, a Saturday Morning Cartoon favorite. The Hulk, which was another television addiction of mine. I also liked the Fantastic Four. My parents would take me to used book stores which not only had books but comics as well. It was on one trip I found a ragged out copy of Swamp Thing #8. I fell instantly in love. Bernie Wrightson’s artwork totally blew me away, though at the time I had no idea who he was. I must have read that comic a hundred times until the cover barely hung on. At the time Swamp Thing had been cancelled so instead of hunting every month at the local Drug Store for an issue, I had to be content with finding them occasionally at used book stores or trading with some friends who collected comics.
I’m not sure if being sick and coddled helped make me into a writer, but it make me an avid reader. I’d spend hours in strange new worlds, or living in our distant past. I loved being somewhere else, being a hero saving the universe one minute, or helping George Washington free America from British rule. My growing imagination couldn’t be stopped. So yeah, maybe this was where it all began. I remember constantly making up stories for my Mego action figures to act out or drawing the stories in my head.
Having an overactive imagination in no way makes you a writer. Sometimes it just makes you a little crazy. BUT, it is a key element in what goes into making a writer. By this time, I had it bad, though I didn’t realize it. That’s the funny part about things like this. Whether you’re aware of it or not, your brain is constantly preparing you for what lies ahead. At a kid of seven, I didn’t have dreams of being a writer or an artist even. I just wanted to play with my action figures and maybe become Spider-man. That’s part of the process too. You start out seeing all you can be until you become what you were supposed to be all the time.
I’m not saying I was supposed to be a writer, but for the time being I am one. Who knows where my imagination will take me next? I don’t for dang sure, but I can’t wait to find out.
Come back next week as I continue the story of how a young impressionable boy would become a geek, a student of human nature and ultimately the Jmo you see before you now. Til then, happy reading!