(Originally posted April 19, 2013)
By the time I finished my last post, which amounted to a thumbnail recap of my retirement writing adventures, I realized that I was recounting a journey that must have begun a lifetime ago.
Like at least some of you readers, I wrote my first book when I was seven or eight. Cabinboy Cal was perhaps a dozen small pages of penciled, block-printed text. (That was before cursive entered my life.) What I did not recognize at the time were the first signs of a new and persistent passion, a lifelong need to communicate my deepest feelings in a written form. Chances are some of you, perhaps many of you, have experienced that same need.
A contributing factor in my case was undoubtedly a childhood speech impediment that made verbal communication something to be avoided. For as long as I can remember, through my Cabinboy Cal days, and the years of sportswriting for school and local newspapers, expressing myself on paper was easier and more appealing---a way to dodge the sometimes cruel judgments of my awkward speech. Perhaps that same urge played a part in my family’s great English adventure in 1972.
I was thirty-five and though my career in the family business was doing well, I wanted to be a writer. I knew that much---but no more. I had no idea what I wanted to write about or what I wanted to say. I simply wanted to be a writer, to put my still chaotic thoughts on paper. And how would I do that? For some reason I decided I had to go to Europe. Perhaps I believed that I could not be a writer at home. (As I am now.)
There were six of us---four children, ages 10 to 1, the mother who would hold us together for the next ten months, and a wannabe writer who had decided that it was time to put up or shut up. We settled into a cramped semi-detached home in historic Winchester and I went to work. The book itself (I still have the manuscript.) is hard to describe. I plan to have it printed one day, just to have it on my shelf.
There in Winchester I set out to write what I would call Forever Starts Now. By the time the first draft was complete, a matter of three or four months, I had learned at least one important lesson. Though I still wanted to be a writer, I had discovered that I did not like to write. It was harder than I expected---demanding more of me than I wanted to give. (Liking to write---looking forward to it, would come decades later.)
In the meantime, my writing adventure turned into the most memorable family holiday our clan has ever had. We saw the sights, from one end of the UK to the other, explored bits of our family’s history, and made wonderful, lifelong friends.
The next spring, having scratched my inexplicable writing itch, I returned home and slipped back into the family business. For the next thirty-some years that nagging passion to create stories lay dormant. Except for a box full of scribbled notes---unstructured thoughts on a wide range of deeply personal, often philosophical ramblings, I wrote nothing.
It was not until 2005, as I looked ahead to my fiftieth high-school reunion, that those long-quiet urges returned. Once more the need to express myself, to be creating characters and their stories, had bubbled to the surface. Once those tales started flowing there has been no turning them off. Perhaps you know how that feels.
And now, with a few books on the shelf and more on the way, I am looking forward to exploring a new (for me) form of written expression. I intend to use this blog format to explore the connections between my own motives and philosophy and the themes and experiences I bring to life in my characters. If you are a writer you know that connection exists.
With that in mind I expect to post the results of my seeking every so often. I hope you’ll mark this as one of the blogs you return to one a regular basis.