This is the beginning of what I hope might one day become a blog. Where to start though? Sometimes it’s better to just plunge right in, so here goes.
I can remember writing ghost stories and short tales of terror for some of the other kids to read in grade school, passing them around within that small circle of friends for their approval. Until one story fell into the wrong hands, that is, and the interloping teacher bawled me out good for wasting my time (not to mention my classmates’ time) with such infernal junk instead of doing the assigned work. What? Junk? I mean, seriously—no wonder I’ve never been what you’d call gainfully employed, right? Pretty much just ‘making a career out of changing careers’, as they say. Wasting my time with junk. For shame.
But here’s the thing. The writing is the thing.
I also remember, during my high school years now, being sent to a psychiatrist for evaluation (after another of those infernal stories of mine fell into the wrong hands yet again). He had a big fancy house just behind the school, with his office inside. The high school must’ve struck some kind of deal with him, an agreement to discreetly send some of the more erratic students his way, straight across the football field and onto the shrink couch. Once there, I spotted a photograph of his daughter on the desk, a popular fresh-faced cheerleader I knew only from the school halls. Then I saw the books on his shelf—all of Stephen King’s early works, from Carrie on up to The Stand, mingled in with the volumes on counseling and his psychology textbooks—and I knew instinctively I was going to be all right here. Back in those days I’d carried tattered copies of ’Salem’s Lot and The Shining around with me everywhere I went; they were my Bibles, basically. So we spent most of that session discussing King’s achievements, things no other author was doing. The good doctor must have given my ol’ brainpan a clean bill of health, because I never saw him again after that day. He even wished me luck with my stories.
Here’s the thing. The writing is the thing.
And I can remember selling my first novel to Crystal Lake Publishing, and the many kudos that came rolling in afterward. Compliments on the great news. One young woman, whom I’d never seen before and haven’t seen since, posted a message on social media to me. She wrote: Congratulations on your forthcoming book. May it set the world on fire. And I thought: Wow, what an awesome thing to say. What a great wish to bestow on someone. It got me thinking about things…
We are here only briefly, and we have to leave our mark. We have to create something wonderful and lasting, so we’ll be remembered. Endure or be forgotten, as Papa Hem once said. So do it. Create. Pay no attention when they tell you what you’re doing is junk, and try shaming you. Or when they drop subtle hints that you might be crazy and then send you off across the field to the psychiatrist’s couch. Because the writing is the thing. Or the painting, or sculpture. Or whatever your thing happens to be.
Go and make some art. Do something impressive, in your own unique way, and do it with passion, so the passion conveys to others. It might change someone’s life one day. And it might just set the world on fire.