A writer’s diary Part I
Let’s walk for a while. Here. In pretend land.
I think I’ve always been a writer, though I didn’t know it, until very late–perhaps too late. As a boy, I was a very good reader, and in the area that I lived in, there were only a small number of other children to play with. This, combined with a relatively unhappy childhood, caused me to dream wakened dreams, to form characters out of nothing, to idealize heroes of ancient myths. I loved comic books too. In class, I would day dream, and when I read books, I would become so entranced as to lose mental contact with my surroundings. Back in the third grade one day, I was reading the book, Baked Beans for Breakfast. Even now, I remember the tattered cover. As I read, my feet kept wandering into the aisle, and my body, turning in my seat, sideways. My teacher told me several times to keep my feet clear of the aisle and to sit straight at my desk, however, my mind lost contact with my appendages, and after several warnings, I was sent to stand in the hallway. When Darth Vader’s protoge’ (The school principle) made his routine patrol of the school, he found me standing outside the classroom door. I told him the reason for my excommunication, and I could see a look of surprise on his face. He told me with an uncharacteristically weak voice to return to my chair and keep my feet under my desk. I think his message did the trick. My feet are under my desk right now, but I do sometimes lean my chair back on two legs. Oh well.
My reading continued all through high school and college. One time in college, I overheard two of my professors talking about me. It’s always fun to be a fly on the wall, so I listened to the whole thing. My speech class teacher was telling my creative writing teacher that my speeches were very good and original, and the creative writing teacher replied back that my writings were the same. Looking back, I wish they’d come to me personally and spurred me on a little more, but it’s not their fault. They were extremely busy, I know.
After graduation, I went to work for the US Border Patrol in Arizona, but returned to Maine after only a year, for family reasons. Then, I gained a job with the Bangor Police Department. It was there that I learned more about myself, other people, and the world, than at any other time in my life. I owe a debt of gratitude to ex-Chief Donald Winslow for giving me the opportunity to wear the badge, to serve with honor. People were always asking me to tell them stories about my experiences at the department, and the more I told them, the more they wanted to hear. They said I told the stories well, with an animation. Most of my friends were disappointed when I left the department because they wouldn’t get to hear my stories anymore! One more thing that bears relevence here: When I wrote my police reports, I remember a strange feeling would come over me, like the act of envisioning the circumstances, combined with the movements of typing or penning, sparked up a portion of my brain that lay dormant under normal circumstances. Before I would start the report, I would feel a sense of dread, but once I began, I seemed pulled along. It’s the same now. Of course in my reports, I left out fiction!
So that’s the road to here. One novel finished–maybe to never see publication, but a learning experience nontheless. Steven King had four of em in a trunk; they went unpublished until he finally wrote Carrie.
In my next installment, I’ll talk about the writer’s trance.