I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. The other kids in the neighborhood thought I was crazy, because I would spend summer afternoons under the shade of the giant Maple tree across the street with a pen and paper, doodling, scribbling, writing and creating fantastic worlds.
I guess you could say I was born to write. It took a long time to find that out though; sometimes the passion was obscured by life’s little detours and dramas. And, let’s face it, we’re not all great writers right off the bat. There’s a lot to learn. Also, sometimes we take an end-run at what we really want in life; we do things the hard way.
I always wanted to be a cartoonist. I read them constantly (but what kid doesn’t?) and I wanted to make my own. When the parents found out, they gushed; “our protege!”, however, sometimes parents can lead you to believe anything, and I wasn’t the greatest cartoonist. I think I was being praised for simply trying; and that’s deceptive. Now, I would never blame a parent for that, I would have done the same thing, but it adds an interesting layer to the tapestry. It let me find out things for myself.
Then there was music; I picked up a guitar one day when I was 16 and found I could just play. Just like that, I was off joining bands and playing bars; detours. I had a journal at the time, so writing was present in my life, but nothing could beat the feeling and acceptance I got from playing that guitar on stage; a thousand watts of power, sound, people out there past the lights in the dark yelling, hooping and hollering for me. Writing, naturally, took a back seat. It was a few years before my dreams of becoming an artist were dashed as well.
My college art professor, David Blustien, animator extraordinaire, ran his classes like a boot camp. He was tough; he had seen the carnage out in the field. He pulled me aside after the course was finished. He told me he hated my drawing.
He hated my drawing, but he loved my writing.
This was a man who had drawn comics for Marvel, Mad magazine and many others. He was an animator for Disney. When he told me, after 8 months of classes, that my drawing was weak, I was devastated. But he loved my writing. He loved my writing.
So, comics were out. My last band had devolved into egotistical pettiness (as it will, in a band) and I quit. I had nothing left. Except to write.
But it hasn’t come easy; if it was easy, everyone would do it.
So Writing and I, all we have is each other now. There’s nothing else. Nothing to dilute or distract or weaken this passion I have. I still play guitar, and I can still draw comics, but I always come back to her, the written word. Some can express a dusky sunset with a song, some can paint a visual masterpiece of a misty mountain range on canvas with oil paints, but I can only describe it in word pictures; can only bring people there through the power of the page. That’s my gift.
If I had only discovered that before.