Friday, June 25, 2010

Writing Is My Life!

When I started this blog almost 10 months ago, it was to rekindle the creative spark in my soul that had long gone dormant. Not only was it an outlet for my writing, it represented what I believed to be my next step in a process that started in my childhood, to become a published writer and not just a writer in my own mind.

When I was a young lad, I would sit at my little child-sized desk and chair out in the backyard under a shady tree with my crayons and a stack of blank paper and write and illustrate stories. Often my mom would bring me a PB & J sandwich* cut into four little squares and a glass of milk because that’s what moms did back then. My mind was always swirling with creative ideas which I had to capture on paper. I didn’t think of myself as a writer then. I was just a little boy who had better skills at imagining adventures than hitting home runs, so that’s what I did.

In school my favorite subject was English because it let me indulge my passion for writing and introduced me to the concept of reading for pleasure. I enjoyed the recognition my teachers bestowed upon me for my written works and felt so proud whenever they read my stories aloud to the class. Some teachers even went as far as to call my parents to gush about my “gift.” It was clear that whatever I decided to do in life, writing would be a meaningful part of it. I still didn’t think of myself as a writer then. I was just a student of the craft then, soaking up as much knowledge and style as I could.

When I reached high school I was dismayed that my school didn’t have a newspaper, so I focused on writing in various English and creative writing classes. Although that was fun, it didn’t give me the outlet I needed. By this time my fascination had been captured by the writers and columnists I read in the local newspaper and I thought “Hey, I could do that!” What was even more fun was that it was a good way to interject my sense of humor, much like an Erma Bombeck, Dave Barry, Herb Caen, or Art Hoppe had done. I decided then that I would make my fortune as a journalist. I still didn’t think of myself as a writer, though. A writer wasn’t a writer until he had readers, and at that time I did not.

In my college years I pursued a journalism degree and worked on the school paper for a couple years. I wrote a weekly humor column, editorials, features and news stories and thought that this was it. I felt so at home in the newsroom, chasing after deadlines, and sometimes spending long hours working on a story, but I loved every damn minute of it. My heroes back then were writers such as Hunter S. Thompson (the father of Gonzo Journalism) and Tom Robbins. I still didn’t think of myself as a writer, though. A writer was someone who was published, and I didn’t consider my limited exposure as a freelancer or student journalist as worthy of the title.

Now, more than 40 years later, I find myself in my own backyard, under a shady gazebo, drinking my coffee, and sitting at my patio table with my laptop. When I’m not working on a school assignment, I’m typing out stories or ideas for stories for my blog. While the realization of my dream of being a published writer still eludes me, that desire still burns within me as it did for that little boy who lived about two miles from here and who believed in himself, even if he couldn’t hit a curveball to save his life.

I know many bloggers here are or were professional writers and I am envious beyond words regarding their good fortunes and amazing skills. I also realize that there are many more like me who aspire to be writers and earn a living by using their talents and deep passion for the written word. To those people I have but one thing to say. Whether you are paid or not and whether your words ever reach a mass audience, I think of all of you as writers, and I am proud to count myself as included within your ranks.

Why the change of heart? Oh, I don’t know, maybe it’s the great swell of bloggy love and support from your comments whenever I have the occasion to post a story. Maybe it’s the realization that I don’t need someone or something to define who I am using some arbitrary criteria. Or maybe it was something as subtle as a Father’s Day gift from my daughter Lissa that drove the point home for me. The point is, I am a writer, and now I have the coffee cup to prove it.

*Little research has been done on the consumption of PB & J sandwiches and their effect on the creative process, but if I had to speculate, I would definitely say that it is profound, particularly if the jelly is grape and the peanut butter is of the chunky persuasion.


  1. Obviously she recognizes your talent! Smart girl.

  2. Honey, I am so proud of you. You are an amazing writer and I have no doubt that you will be published.

  3. Tom,
    I have been waiting for this heartfelt essay from you. Thank you for making it personal again. You have so much to offer as a writer.
    You know, you and I began at almost the same time, and I certainly identify with your dreams!
    You're destined to go places with your writing and it could be something that you never expected. Keep going.
    It has been a pleasure to check in here, and to receive your support as well.
    I hope some day we meet on the talk-show and book-fair circuit!
    All the best....

  4. What a great gift! Love it. And a writer you certainly are!

  5. The proff of you abilities lies in the fact that you described me perfectly and you have never even met me. I too always loved to write. When my father was dying he made me promise to pursue my talent in some way. I was financially able to not have to work and have created my blog and witten four graphic novels since he passed. Sure they may never be published but I know they are good and my blog is good so I am immensly satisfied by that as you should be by your stuff. Thank the gods we have blogging as an outlet or I suspect both of us would be competing to see who could go on the water tower with a rifle first.

  6. OMG - I just reread that. In my haste, I missed some errors. Just figures.

  7. Tom, there was really no need to show us your picture in front of the computer ;)

  8. What a heartwarming post. You said it so well regarding writers and what makes one a writer. For the record, I think you are an excellent writer. I read you and few others (who I think are excellent as well) and try to see and analyze your M.O.s!

    So I guess you could say I see you as a teacher! Or am I just a cheater? hee hee

  9. I used to do the same thing as a child. I wrote my own novels in a lined notebook and made fancy covers for them. They were clearly terrible looking back but at the time they were mammoth adventure stories where kids did implausible things like drove cars and tricked baddies. Ah to be eight again. I always wanted to be two things; a writer or a long distance truck driver. I mean those two go together right? I never became any apart from some short stories in a woman's magazine while in college for extra cash. Nowadays, I'm content with blog writing and don't even particularly want to write professionally.

    Now my writing's been replaced by painting and my love of the road symbolized by the trucking thing has been replaced by Airstreams and angst. But it's all good!

    Lovely entry, Sir!

  10. You are definitely a "writer" in my book. You don't need a mug, a book, or a title to prove it. I'm never disappointed coming over here.

    Thank you for sharing your history and perspectives!

  11. You are a writer and nobody can tell me otherwise. Now quick, where did she get that mug? I need one!

  12. You are NOT a are a DAMN GOOD writer! I always read your posts, but never take the time to comment and tell you that I admire your writing. Now I have told you. So there.


  13. This is such a feel-good piece, Tgo. You are not only a writer, but a warm and sincere one at that. May the PB&J and/or coffee keep you fueled.

  14. So glad to have discovered you through WOW. Writer to writer: enjoy the process. That's always the best part. Also want to tell you that I just smiled broadly reading your "Email Your Way to Extra Inches..." post. Loved it! And FYI, the plural would be "penes." (I took Latin.) Nice to meet you. Following!

  15. Finding a pathway through the daunting desire to "write" can be tough.

    It sounds like your way is now clearly illuminated.

    I have always written and told stories to my children and now my grandchildren.

    For years all I wrote was music. I have boxes of lyrics composed for guitar, dulcimer or piano.

    And then I began the discipline of writing every day. My blog has been a catalyst for that but more importantly it has become a stepping stone for me to write what really drives me.

    Sometimes the praise of blog readers helps me through my self doubts and sometimes I just write because I love the peace of it, the flow of words onto paper, the defragging of my soul.

    I'm glad you found your peace with this, Tom.

    Maybe it's time to try the columnist idea again. I suspect you were superb at it.

  16. And, hey, you've got the mug now. Seriously, do you really need anything more?


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