Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Written Word

Mom and me as a kid

I grew up in a household without any books…or magazines…or newspapers. In fact it wasn’t until I started my paper route in Seventh grade that I even knew or understood what a newspaper was all about. I used to stop at the last house on my route and sit on their front stoop and read the headlines of the newspaper. I tried to read between the lines. There were stories in those words and I was trying to understand the truth of them. I guess that was the beginning of a lifetime of story-telling in one form or another.

I do the same daily research today…only now its perusing my ipad with a cup of coffee. I’m still filling my head with stories every morning. As I told my students in a workshop recently, story-telling is a one of the most effective ways to communicate because story-telling is really data and information wrapped up with emotion.

Truth be told, I am now a writer in my elder years. I tell stories that are often trapped inside my imagination. They may be recent incidents or relics from my past but they are all stories in need of telling. Perhaps Victor Hugo said it best:  ‘A writer is a world trapped inside a person.’

It wasn’t that long ago that I was riding out west alongside a drifter called Jeb Burns. His story came to me in 1974, was pounded out on an L.C. Smith antique typewriter only to languish for forty years before being resurrected by a high tech scanner and finally publication.

The same was true with another western born in 1975 and finally finding life not that long ago.
Back then I was riding shotgun on a stage coach out west, watching the cunning nature of a man, really a half-breed, by the name of Ree Bannon.

Another story was observing and writing down the adventures and life experiences of a young man much like myself back in the mid-sixties. A coming of age novel that explored driving ambition, class differences and youthful passion set in the turbulent 1960s.

Palm Springs is haunted by the rich and the famous and the broken. It was a concept I devoured in three books that followed the lives of a group of people living out their lives in Palm Springs.

‘Cobbler’ was born five years ago but only recently went under my editor’s surgical pen for release soon. It’s a suspense thriller that takes a couple around the world in search of an elusive icon called ‘The Cobbler.’

Story telling takes on many forms and for me, plays are a new and exciting medium in which to explore the human condition. ‘Riot at Sage Corner’ tells the story of an aging hippie trapped in a retirement community who is causing all kinds of problems.

Fifty year high school reunions are often replete with drama, boredom, assaults on self-confidence and memories unwanted and embraced. It can be a plethora of conflicting emotions. We’ll see what audiences think of my new play August 11th and 12th at the Steeple Center in Rosemount.

Another new play, still festering in my imagination and slowly finding release through my fingertips, is about old age and the inevitability of the end we must all face someday. It’s not a dark comedy but neither is it sad. Instead I hope it can be a celebration of all that makes us human and caring individuals…even if some of us need a nudge or two in that direction once in a while.

Turns out that over the years my blogs have become weekly story-telling on a wide variety of topics. My travels, my time living in Europe, time in the service, the kids growing up and past experiences that shaped my life.

The second truism often embraced about writing is that through the power of story-telling we can learn so much about ourselves and others. Stories are the fabric in our lives that keeps our world interesting. It is what stirs our imagination and keeps our kids and grandkids up late at night, pleading to hear just one more book read to them…or hiding under the covers because they can’t let go of their latest find from the library.

This is what I do. This is who I am.

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