I can’t really tell you the day I decided I wanted to be a writer, or had to be a writer, or needed to be a writer, or whatever it is that compels us to do something. I can’t tell you because I don’t think there was a day, one day, where that dawned on me. I was always weird, always creative, always telling stories and the writing sprang from that. I can tell you that the first story I remember wanting to write, or starting to write, was about a killer doll. I remember telling my mom about it when I was fifteen. The first story I liked that I wrote, really liked, was called The Tragic Life of Death and is in my book Back From Nothing. That was written for a high school class. There was no one day though where I decided this is what I wanted to do, or would do.
The same goes for photography and painting and drawing – there was no day.
I loved drawing as a kid. Loved it more than I loved anything else. In high school I had a Commercial Art class and the teacher, who felt I didn’t belong there (and maybe he was right) told me one day I was no artist, when doing my final evaluation at the end of my seni0r year and I pretty much gave up art after that for a very long time. It was an ugly enough thing that it made me hate the thing I had loved for so many years. Who can say what he meant by what he said but, for me, a kid with a lot going on in his head, it was the exact thing I didn’t need to hear and it was enough to turn me off of drawing, seriously drawing, for a very long time. That changed, over time, as more and more I wanted to do art for what I wrote but, really, the fire that had burned so brightly had waned considerably.
Painting was something I had wanted to try my hand at for years though but had never had the guts or gumption to do it. I got involved in a local arts group here in Flint and with a small bookstore and, as the bookstore got involved in the monthly art walks in Flint, and the group started putting art shows, suddenly I wanted to do and be involved in art shows. Some friends and I started doing these small indie art shows in town (a vast story unto itself) and my appreciation of art really grew, as did my need to get back to doing it. A dear friend who paints got me an acrylic paint set for beginners one Christmas and that was two years and change ago. It was scary, at first, and still sorta is, but I love, it, dearly. I am no great painter, as I have said, but I love it. I love that I can tell different stories than I can with words. I am finally back into drawing as well. Not a lot, not like I was as a kid, when I would draw everything, but I am falling back in love with it.
Photography was another thing I had always liked and had wanted to get more serious with but never did. When I got my second digital camera, a step up from my original, I started seeing the world in different ways. In stories. In images. So I started taking photographs. They are not the most technically saavy things but they are passionate and true. Even more than with painting I felt embarrassed to take pics. I know so many ph0tographers, many of them snobs when it comes to their art, that I felt unworthy. It has taken a lot to get past that and even today I am still low key about my photgraphy. I am working on that though and now, with my first ‘serious’ digital camera, I feel right. IT feels right. Like the camera was always waiting to be there.
There are so many things that we come to love in our lives, passions that we find and so often we leave them behind as we get older and life gets fuller. One of the saddest things in the world is that my mother and sister turned their backs on their artistic talent. My mom channels hers into other directions, so it is still there, but muted, and that saddens me. I don’t always have time to write fiction – let alone to find the gumption to send it out to editors and publishers, eesh – but I cannot imagine stopping writing completely. I used to toy with the idea; play with the idea of breaking up with writing as if it was a lover grown stale, but I never really did. I never could.
You can turn your back on your passions but they are always there, an itch you refuse to scratch. To me, if ‘growing up’ means turning your back on your loves, then why do we bother at all?
Very few things in life will make us truly, utterly happy. Few things will put us in touch with ourselves and who we are. And it is very rare to be able to give the world the gift of pure, simple passion. Maybe it is time to make time for the things we can’t find time for.
Maybe it is time to give back to ourselves for a change.