Writing has never been a big part of my life. I remember having so many problems trying to get thoughts out of my head and onto paper for class after class. In high school, and in college – I have had paper after paper returned to me with remarks such as “needs revision!” and “poorly written!” scrawled in red ink across that first page, along with a grade well below the grade I had wanted.
I can literally relive many of the times where I spent hour upon hour researching a topic for a paper, writing outlines, and rough draft after rough draft. Trying to find ways to shoe-horn quotes from “proper” sources to back up what I am trying to say in my papers. The techniques I developed, I try and pass on to my own students – knowing full well, that they will typically either ignore me, or develop their own methods for doing such writing. Yes, writing has never been my forte’.
Then again, I have events in my life that happen – that remind me that I am full of shit when I make that statement. This past week, just such an event occurred in my Life. Earlier in the year, after some cajoling from those that actually know I write poems, I entered my poem “Lone Wolf: The Innocence in Snow” in a Creative Writing Contest for my college. Early in March, I received a phone call telling me that I had won an award for it and confirming that I could make the awards ceremony. I had figured that I had won an Honorable Mention in the category. When the category was announced, my name was the last one called – First Place. I was literally shocked over it. But that was not the end of it. There is also a prize for Literary Excellence in Poetry as well – sort of a “best in show” award, that is given by the English department of my college. It is the very last award of the ceremony. My name was called for that too. That was Friday. It is now Sunday, and I am still in a state of shock.
But that state of shock has forced me to sit back and think about my writing. I remember writing a short story for my English teacher in my junior year of high school. The assignment called for a typed assignment, with a specific font, a specific margin, a specific minimum word count. I did none of that. I wrote the story the night before class – on notebook paper, handwritten, single-spaced, and on both sides of the paper. The story was about a young man named Timothy Pulthorne, who is listening to Black Sabbath’s song “Black Sabbath” on his walkman (yes, that’s how dated the story is – I wrote this in winter of 1982). While listening to the song, he contemplates the lyrics and how the writer has consigned his soul to Satan. At the end of the story, he opens his eyes to find Satan standing at the foot of his bed, smiling with a contract in one hand, and a pen in the other. Despite not turning in the assignment in the correct format, I received the highest grade in the class for my “creativity”. I remind you, I went to an all-boys Catholic school – so the topic was a bit risque’.
So, I am forced to reevaluate my perspective on my writing. Somewhere, deep inside me, is someone that can write – someone that can write material that touches and reaches people. Yes, deep inside me – there’s some kind of Bard. And I have been denying my abilities with the written word for quite a bit of my life. Its time I stepped up and faced the facts where that is concerned. I have ideas of where to take all of this…I just need the time to sort out what is my naivety of the entire process, and what is currently possible. Somehow, I have reached a crossroads I have never realized I was headed towards – but its a crossroads I would inevitably reach. Time to have a sit…drink a cup of tea, and wrestle with where to go from here. Besides, its always fun to sit at the crossroads – there’s a lot of interesting people to see and meet….