If readers of this blog get the notion I’m one melancholy bastard, they should consider themselves perceptive. Plagued with self-doubt, stricken with introspection, addicted to apathy - I’m guilty of ‘em all. It started in my childhood. Devoid of athleticism and ripe with reticence, I plodded through my youth with the growing knowledge that failure just might be my strong suit. Sure, I could always make the girls laugh, but rarely - if ever - could I make them swoon. My teachers were equally vexed - pulling me aside at regular intervals to remind me I still wasn’t living up to my potential. None of this I blame on my parents. They did the best they could with a kid who never could seem to get very psyched about success. When adolescence hit, I giddily embraced my new excuse for being sullen. Cigarettes, truancy, and a mountain of THC followed. Before I knew it, I’d blossomed into a red-eyed hoodlum wannabe - albeit one with a better vocabulary than the rest of the losers fumbling for ecstasy in the back of a Trans-Am. By all accounts, I should have followed my gifts for indifference into a life of factory work, acid-washed denim and petty crime. But Mama taught me better. On a whim I joined the Navy, met the love of my life and conned my way into the local TV station.
So why am I telling you this? Hell, I don’t know. I merely made a pot of coffee, locked myself in my upper lair and threw myself into a trance. That’s what writing feels like to me - during the good times, anyway...that dreamlike sensation of watching my fingertips dictate my interior voice - the voice that has always been there - even back when I was unsure of everything around, about and inside of me. For the most part, those days are gone. I sit before you a working journalist with a nice house, a fantastic wife and two wonderful daughters who confound and enchant me on a daily basis. Were I struck by a bus tomorrow, I’d breath my last gasps knowing that somehow, I’d won the game of life. But it ain’t that simple. While mildly successful at what I do for a living, I - like everyone else on the planet - yearn for so much more. Not material possessions, mind you. I don’t lay awake at night coveting my neighbor’s new speedboat. Nor do I hunger for any degree of renown. I know way too many marginally famous people to ever think happiness comes with being recognized at the Food Court. No, I ache to simply write. To make love with words and perhaps leave something behind that will better explain my thoughts and actions to any descendants. I'm telling ya, life would be a whole lot simpler if all I wanted was a pair of jet-skis.
‘So, write!’ you say. For the past five years or so I’ve done just that - first with turgid short stories, then serial message-boarding and finally this very blog. It has been my salvation. Always one to marvel over simple written words, I knew from the moment I first learned to read that scribbling my thoughts made me happy. I just wish I’d gotten around to it earlier. At a young age, it occurred to me I expressed myself best on paper - but I thought everyone did. As a boy, my Uncle Jennings - a man of words himself - made a big deal over a letter I’d penned. I doubt he remembers it, but I sure as hell do. In the Navy, I earned the nicknamed ’Poet’ - after foolishly drooling over a particularly eloquent paperback passage to my porno-watching shipmates. As a rookie photog, I jumped at the chance to write my own scripts and not just to get away from vapid reporters. When I first moved to the Piedmont, I began haunting the periphery of local writer groups in hopes I’d learn the secrets of journaling. I didn’t. It took 35 years and one mother of a professional slump to force me to sit down and transcribe my more linear thoughts. I’m so very glad I did, though I foolishly assumed it would only get easier. It hasn’t. I still struggle with what in the hell I’m trying to say and lately, I delete more than I share. But don’t worry. I ain’t depressed; I’m just me. If writing truly is in my blood, it only makes sense that I occasionally have to open a vein. Sorry if I got any on ya.