Today I would like to talk with you about a couple things. The first is I miss the journalistic style of the NICU journal. While the pronouns and syntax of writing to twins was difficult it was an easy style to be inspired for. If I had nothing else for that day I could simply tell the boys what had been going on with them and where they were in their journey home. Once I had gotten to that point my thoughts on the matter weren’t far behind and once my thoughts are going that opens up a river of strange, wondrous, and often horrifying ideas. The second thing is far more lengthy and it is how I came back to writing but I bet you knew that from the title.
It was sometime in the early half of the year. I don’t recall exactly when but I know we moved in June and the babies were born in July so it was before that. It was also before the show Good Omens released onto Amazon Prime because I wanted to read the book before the show came out. I had read several of Neil Gaiman’s other novels but had never read Terry Pratchett and wasn’t so much a fan of books that are co-authored, but I wanted to read the book before watching the TV show.
While the novel was excellent and at the top of my list of novels I read this year it wasn’t the novel that turned out to be most important to me. Somewhere in the foreword or afterword or some-word Gaiman wrote how people always ask him who wrote which parts and he can’t recall who exactly came up with what. That he and Pratchett were just two guys having fun. It was that final word that I had forgotten about this whole writing business, fun.
Art, literature, music have become far too capitalized in modern society. We live in a world that has done away with magic. There isn’t anymore folk music, folk art, and folk literature. At least not in the true sense. We don’t sit on our front porches at night telling tales and singing songs that have been passed down through the generations. Adding our own parts and subtracting others but telling the tales with deep roots and not viewing art, literature, and music as the realm of professionals.
Somewhere along the way this view got embedded in my mind. I had wanted to be a writer at some point in time in my past. I remember going to a writers workshop as part of a pre-admission thing between high school and college, but I don’t recall exactly what steps I was taking to make this dream a reality other than writing the occasional story or poem. I was like so many other teenagers in the late 90s. We had been told that this was the way. That you followed the path to college and then once you graduated you would have the key to success, but upon graduation a lot of us discovered that the key we were given didn’t unlock those doors anymore. We had to reexamine the path, backtrack, and find a new way to go. I was luckier than most as I graduated college without being saddled with massive debt so my reexamination led me to the family business.
I also remember throughout college trying to get poetry published. I’d send it away and wait and hear nothing. Then one day I received five folded and stapled bunches of computer paper and somewhere within was one of my poems. I’ve never refereed to myself as a published poet because those five stacks of paper were my payment and I don’t recall the name of the publication that published it. But that was a moment, not of pride or of a sense of accomplishment, of realization. Computer printouts folded and stabled together weren’t going to pay the bills, and this idea of professionalism was so culturally ingrained in me that I knew I needed to do something else.
After college came life. I worked, bought a condo, saw the market crash and the condo become a liability worth 60% what I paid for it and $30,000 less than the loan, met a girl, moved in together, got a dog, got married, got frustrated, got fed up, moved to a new city, opened a business, got pregnant, and that brings us back to where we started with me reading the words of Neil Gaiman telling me that writing was supposed to be fun. I knew then I had to go looking for that old dream, dust off that old box I’d stuck away in the attic, and write whatever I wanted whenever I had the chance.
The story I came up with so still incubating in my mind when that fateful morning happened. The one I’ve written about before and I am sure I will again. My waking up early in the morning and hearing my wife on the telephone to a nurse. Telling the nurse that there was a liquid coming out of her and she wasn’t sure what it was. My mind jumping to the worst case scenario as it always does. Then the rush to the hospital and a couple days later the premature birth of my two boys.
The night they were born I came home and I wrote. While I had been thinking about returning to writing I hadn’t done it yet. All the old excuses for not having time were dislodged by that lightning bolt. The next few months were traumatic, but I had my writing now. It was like I had rediscovered a part of myself. A part I don’t think I would have if I hadn’t already been looking for it. If I hadn’t been reminded that writing is supposed to be fun and it doesn’t matter if you ever make a dime doing it as long as you enjoy it.
This isn’t exactly how I envisioned this going, but life never is. it is a winding and unpredictable path that changes course on us at random intervals. Just when we think we are starting to get somewhere the where we are heading changes or ceases to exist and we must change course. I left my dreams to drift at sea but they have returned to me. I thank you for listening today and hope to have more to tell you at a later date, but for now I think I’m done with this part of my tale. I’ll get back to all the parts I left out or forgot to include another time.