It’s amazing the difference sitting down and actually working makes. I’ve always wanted to be a writer, even when I was a little boy. The moment I decided for sure was probably around the time my underused little mind aged eight years. I saw a movie for the first time, and although it’s just an ok movie there’s a portion that stuck with me; haunted me.
The movie was “Stand By Me” (This was before I’d even discovered Stephen King so you can’t blame it on that). The scene where the boys are sitting out in the woods and they all beg Gordy for a story and, without complaining, he tells an intricate little story so mature, but then again so quintessentially teen. He tells this story with so much moxy and vigor that when he finishes the other boys all groan, laugh and fall about the place. It’s just a movie sure, but while other people would laugh and shake thier heads, I was enthralled. That was so cool! I thought. Two years later I read an introduction to the “Bachman Books” and in it, Stephen King says that in his head there are many people and they all have a history. The more he looks at them the more the story of their lives takes shape. He also said a majority of his stories started because he would see an image and ask What if?
What if a rabid dog trapped a woman and her child in a car?
What if there were a monster in the sewer?
What if there were a monster in the closet?
What if a little shop of curiosities was owned by the devil?
Once the question was asked, one of the residing characters would take up the mantle and beg for the story to be told.
I thought Holy Crap! Thats me!
So I pulled out a type writer and fed the paper in, relishing the warm toner smell and the crispness of the the fresh paper. I got swept away by the hum of the typewriter and I came up with “The Heavy Metal Bands” and I never looked back.
“The Heavy Metal Bands” was a story of how a few friends got together and formed a heavy metal band, then because of their strong personalities they also became a gang. Somehow this worked in my pre-teen mind. That story spurned four more stories, ending with the lads saving the world. All told, all five of those stories filled out about 4 pages worth of text.
Then I moved onto other things (Like the Marty Brothers, based on myself and my brother Steve; an echo of the Hardy Boys), but length was always an issue. I couldn’t seem to write anything longer than four or five pages. I got so disturbed by this that most of the things I wrote were bulbous unwieldy ten page stories, with more filler than a Twinkies.
I hadn’t yet found out what I was doing, but I thought the point would be length, the story had to be longer for anyone to read it. I started to read a lot at this point, trying to see how people did it and getting lost in their stories in the process. Then my senior year in high school I took a creative writing class, and where almost everything I did during that class was horrible, but I got to see how others wrote and what their process was. I hated the class but it did give me more perspective and a deeper desire to write more.
It’s been a challenge. My whole life I’ve struggled with the juxtaposition of the desire to write and the lack of writing talent. how many people in the world are like this? how many people who strive to actors love the craft, but have no skill? What about painters? What give these people success when only one out of a million people are born talents at what they desire to do.
Stephen King was born with drive and talent, and he’s successful beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. I have drive, I wonder where I’ll end up…
I’m going to give you a short essay I wrote during the “Bowling Alley” era, as well as a current poem I posted on Facebook, because I think they work well together. Be aware that when I use ignorant I use it in the dictionary and not derogatory sense. It is a person who lacks a certain knowledge.
There seem to be three types of people in the writing/reading world. Those with Talent, those with potential and those who’re ignorant. This fact causes great distraction and great despair. I think I could be a good if not a great writer, I think I could have talent, but there is something in my brain which seems to block that switch. I merely have potential.
It’s such a difficult process and yet for so many people it just flows…as if their body were an extension of their mind and their fingers were a conduit for their art. They are the talented. They can sit and let the vision flow through them for hours on end. They see the course in front of them and they don’t think twice about it; they just go.
I have potential. The majority of the populace has potential. This is the ability to see something, to want to create something, but to lack the necessary drive, or vision. This is the collection of people who like to write, like to paint, like to create with their hands, but employ their creativity as a hobby for all the aforementioned reasons.
Then there are those who have no potential. The ignorant. The people who read a piece of literature and don’t understand it; who see a work of art and see it as colors on canvas. There are the people who just don’t care. The reasons are irrelevant, schooling, culture, drive, class, it ultimately comes down to what is the interest. These people would much rather catch a midnight matinee of the new Michael Bay movie. Why would this be? How can anyone look at a piece of art and not enjoy it? Because it’s work.
I study art, but I’m no artist. I contemplate it. I assimilate it. I gorge on it, then I fake it. To people with talent it’s a drive. It’s ever present and forceful. It becomes deleterious to them in it’s absence. The ignorant don’t understand at all. They need to be told what the meaning is, it needs to be spelled out. They don’t want to exert or do the necessary work.
But I have potential. I love art in all it’s forms. I see it, I study it, I embrace it, but I’m not artistically inclined. I don’t have talent, I have potential. I have become a student, I love the idea so much that i want to become it. I crave talent, but it’s work. It’s hard and it takes major effort, but there is a voice somewhere deep down that knows that talent is something you’re born with, it isn’t something you can develop. So I keep telling myself to work harder, to try harder. I have potential, I tell myself.
So I drive and hope people will mistake me for what I truly am. I am a person with potential and I’m a fanatic and I’m trying to fool people into believing that I have talent; that I know what I’m doing. But I’m still learning. I’m still pushing myself forward, forcing the creative side to mesh with the analytic side and create something beautiful. I have potential, but If I work hard enough I hope to fool the world.
And here’s a brand new poem that I think goes fairly well with the essay. I’ve been having some writer’s block while working on my novel and have made very little progress in the last two months. Then one day I sat down and for some reason the creative juices were just there and this poem was the result. I’m still struggling a little, but at least there is some work happening now…
and this state of constant wonder, leads me divided; torn asunder
in this horrid devil’s playground in my head…
My fingers tell the story, of the broken trumped up glory
when my mind refused to listen, drowned out by broken pistons
the silence beating louder than my heart…
The darkened frozen night glows, and the turgid sky just bellows
of my time examining seams, on the boulevard of broken dreams
as words flow down as kindling for my hearth…
But through those wounds of empty pages, who speak louder than the ages
as the clock runs down to zero, I’m not a battered, broken hero,
just a man who wont give up until he wins…