Wednesday, May 17, 2006

An Anchored Boat (part 1)

"How long have you been a writer?"

This is another question I was asked by an inquisitive eighth grader. Writers are often asked this question. My answer was that I have been a writer as long as I can remember.

My first memories of writing are from my childhood. My grandparents had this beautiful sunroom where the younger generation would spend time during big family gatherings. Surrounded by glass and "paved" with brick tile, it was three steps below the main part of the house, separated by sliding glass doors. To me, it looked like a stage. If you have seen "Shakespeare in Love" where the seating area rises up around the stage, you can picture what I saw as a child in the sunroom.

Grandma also had a small dark library. During these gatherings, I would spend time sifting through her music books (the one most vivid in my memory is a small wire-bound book of patriotic songs) and then writing "plays" to go along with the songs. I have three siblings and many cousins who span the generation well, and they were most lenient in letting me convince them to act out these little plays for the adults of the family. Eventually, I also brought in three friends to join us. This was after my older sis and oldest cousin got too old for such unabashed silliness, so it was good to find reinforcements.

The memory of this time is beautiful and pure and filled with fun and laughter. All of my family is artistic in some way and they were quite encouraging with this endeavor.

As time passed and I also grew too old for stage theatrics (and the friends moved away), I paused in my writing career. Young teens so often pause the important things in their life rather than persuing it to help themselves along. Not too much time passed, however, before I was inspired again. This time it was by a television show. The thought is rather amusing to me, since I can rarely be bothered to watch the inane shows now coming over the airways. When I saw the first episode of "Emergency," I was hooked. I loved the comedy of it and the relationships between the characters. I liked that they were real people doing an important job by helping others. I also thought Johnny Gage was rather adorable.

Unfortunately, it didn't stay on the air very long. I missed the characters and didn't want to let them go. So, my next writing venture was a script for "Emergency." I had to have been around fifteen at the time, at best guess. It was a truly horrid little script, though not so little, all hand-written in pencil in a bright red spiral notebook. The plot involved Johnny being the hero and rescuing a little girl and becoming a mentor for her, all the while getting settled down by one of the women he was always chasing. I still have this first writing project of any length and I cherish it, not for the quality of writing (which was truly not there), but because I took the inspiration, put it on paper, and followed it through to completion. That is a large part of writing. Taking it to completion.

After this play, I turned to poetry. Poetry is a wonderful thing for teens because it helps to vent emotions they can't discuss out loud. No one ever has to see it. The value is in the writing of it. Most of the poetry I did was also not good. The first one I like; it's about marching band. I was a drummer, carrying the trip-toms (three huge drums hooked together), and during the times the rest of the band stayed silent and just marched along, the drum beat kept them in step. The trip-toms provided the only musical tones during this beat. I loved it. After a parade in which we won first place, I was so excited about the whole thing, I had to put it on paper. This set off an excursion into poetry. A few are still worth reading.

... as this post is quite long enough, I'll save the rest for another day ...

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