Saturday, July 7, 2007

Becoming a Writer was like...My God I'm Somebody's Mother!

They were sparkling souls-- those who encouraged, chided, leaned on, threatened and goaded me over the years. Wonderful mentors, professors and teachers showed up when the student was ready. They used whatever method worked at the time. But mostly they said one word: “Write!”

Thus the one word smith (One Wordsmith) born of the frustration (Write!) of “elders.”

I remember when my Art Teacher said to me, “You must practice saying ‘I am an artist’ until you believe it fully yourself.” (gulp) One day I just no longer choked out the words; they came out quite nicely. That was the day I sold my first painting.

I loved poetry, read a library of poets and began to write it. For the first few years, my musings sounded stiff and like a child’s hand had written them. Once again I tried the method that had worked for me. “I am a poet.” (double gulp) The first time I was published in an anthology, they called me to ask if I would read my work at a reception for the authors. Oh Nooooooooooo! Poetry was a performance art? Who knew! How to go from closet artist to public speaker? And a little voice said: “How much do you love poetry?” Geez.

And to this day, when something is published I feel like I did that day in the hospital when they handed me this squalling, pink, fragile little body wrapped in a blanket and I thought “Oh my GOD I’m somebody’s mother!”

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A few Thoughts...

When I think about it, my own life is no less rich and the living no less inspiring than my pioneering ancestors and I come from a long line of Indians and outlaws so don't ever turn your back on me!

Life is, after all, a slice of human consciousness lived from its place in human evolution. "From here to eternity" as it were-- from earth to the stars, from personal space to cyberspace, from a small local footprint to the world reduced to the size of a notebook and sitting on your lap!

As a child I lived with the perpetual and immenent threat of annihilation. That's child abuse! It wasn't a kid-friendly world and I couldn't understand why the grown-ups who were in charge weren't doing something?

So at age seven with my face in the window eyes turned up into the night sky and staring at the stars I made a vow: "When I am a grown-up, I will do something."

My writing is that something and I write to "simply change the world." If that sounds like a lack of humility it isn't because I know that one person absolutely can change the world and I've met some who have.

Kay Kennedy put together an anthology that puts the reader in the midst of history to view it from the inside out.

When I was in high school and even college, history classes were stale and boring featuring memorization and regurgitation of dates that coincided with events that had no human face, certainly no magic, and no life!

Anthologies are great fun and stores are rich remembrances. History books chronicle; stories are little narrative slices of living. History comes alive through story. I often think of my grandmother and her story, her life-- the history she lived. In her lifetime she saw humankind evolve from horse and buggy to man on the moon.

I was a sixties kid and for the youth of the sixties, turmoil, disillusionment, and revolution were everyday 'business as usual'. Like a radio perpetually on low volume, fear and death dronned on in the background. The superpowers threatened to extinguish all life on the planet, the Vietnam War was escalating and peers were being escorted home under American Flag blankets. The civil rights and equal rights movements were testing human civility, and faster than one could recover from one shock another real life hero would fall to yet another assassin. Despair was commonplace. Contrast that with a man on the moon... we could conquer space travel but couldn't make nukes or war obsolete! It was a time when youth needed hope because hope was scarce. When it was finally resurrected, it came in the form of idealism and a philosophy of brotherly and universal love. Perfect principles; imperfect execution.

For others who contributed to "Looking Back," the history is different for each because the "times" were different as well as the perspective of the individuals. The stories of human societal evolution are enlightening, heartwarming, poignant and spellbinding. They put a human face on the past.

And there are people now who are putting a face on the future...