As We Go Through Life, We Learn…
I learned to read in my mother’s lap.
A toddler, barely old enough to talk, she was bound and determined to share her love of the written word with me. Her thin fingers pointing out each word, her gentle voice, patient and kind, helped me sound out the words and letters as we flipped the pages.
Her skin went from porcelain to jaundice, her lessons from a hushed whisper to a raspy cough, as the cancer killed her slowly.
She was gone by the time that I turned 6.
I learned to love mysteries from dog eared paperbacks.
A lonely high schooler, curled up in bed, after a day wandering through Haslam’s Bookstore or Wilson’s Book World, I would open the yellowed pages, inhale deeply, and the scent would carry me away. From Rex Stout to Sherlock Holmes, from Gregory McDonald to Walter Gibson, from Erle Stanley Gardner to John Grisham, each author taught me something different, but they all taught me to value character over fad, plot over gimmick.
I learned to write behind an IBM Selectric.
A Staff Sergeant stationed in the United Kingdom, a kind teacher from Writers Digest School named Jerry Williamson taught me the basics of story, of conflict, of dialogue. The midnight shift began as it always did, behind guarded doors, and with a large pot of coffee. As the communications center equipment whirred in the background, I typed out each lesson, and waited for weeks to get his red-lined response.
I learned that you never quit learning.
As the years passed, I continued reading, I continued writing, I continued learning. After the military, I was accepted into the Creative Writing Program at San Francisco State University. I ran the city’s largest answering service during the day, napped on the train ride out to the campus, and spent my evenings learning how to write the novel. I won an award, was nominated for a few others, and I thought that I was on my way.
I learned you can plan and dream all you want, sometimes life has other plans for you.
I haven’t written that multi-million dollar best seller yet, but I have written books that I am proud of, and that folks seem to enjoy.
I learned that a good story can change a life.
I learned that great characters can wrap you up in that story like a warm blanket on a cool fall evening.
I learned that sometimes the process is its own reward and the journey can be more amazing that you ever thought it would be.
I hope you will join me on this journey.