April 18, 2006

A Wanna-Be Writer

So yeah. What's that all about?

It's like this: In 1978 or 1979 or thereabouts, I realized I had two passions, two things I was really good at. One was math, which I parlayed into a career in engineering. And one was writing. I had a high school english teacher (shout out to Mr. Herlihy) who turned me on to literature and made Shakespeare come alive. And I found I could turn a phrase. I actually was one of two essay finalists in high school (think I scored a $500 scholarship) and I always felt on some level I took the easy way out going to engineering school - chasing the easier and more sure path.

Now, in those pre-PC days, doing papers and themes often involved typing, and I got good at banging things out, head to paper - on an archaic 1909 Underwood typewriter, the loss of which I still regret. Clack-clack-clack. And despite going to an engineering college, I pretty much avoided engineering as much as possible - minoring in music, and taking every Shakespeare course offered. I wrote long letters to high school friends, but pretty much did nothing with my writing.

Fast forward to the early 90's. Coming off a marriage / divorce, getting into therapy, I started to write: journals at first, then creative writing through some adult ed classes. In those classes, the teacher often pulled me aside after the first assignment and asked "What are you doing here?" I was welcome to stay and work, but really, there was not much they could teach me. Yet those classes produced the small bursts of creativity and growth that I am able to claim from across the years.

I took a job that involved a lot of writing - reports, training programs, applications notes. And I purchased my first computers - an Epson PX-8, then a 286 with a 40 Meg Hard Drive. Life was good. I still remember getting online at 300 Baud, and typing faster than the connection speed!

Eventually, I started writing a great deal. I was involved in the GLBT community and wrote for / eventually edited a monthly newsletter. I wrote essays, chatty pieces, technical tidbits, humor, editorials, advice columns. I continued to write for work - technical papers, apps notes, training programs. I have branched out into websites and create a lot of the content. I've blogged - here, of course, but in a previous blog incarnation as well. I write, I write, I write. If one were to collect my works, it would amount to perhaps 1000 pages of competent and occasionally good content. Not anything worth collecting and publishing - just word upon word, page upon page. Always writing.

But all along, I've had a dream. I want to *be* a writer. I want to write for publication - newspaper, magazines, short stories, essays. I want to take an assignment. I want to change the world. I want to touch hearts and souls.

There are two impediments to this dream, however. First, I need a goal: an assignment, a deadline, a purpose, a project. I need something to write for - I do not have a driving passion to create for the sake of creating. I want to write, but I am not sure what I want to write. Second, I need discipline. I need to set aside time to write, time in which I write much or little, where I work hard or doodle. I need to get into the habit of writing, to hone my chops, to explore and experiment.

There has been a lot of change in my personal life of late. Winds bringing new scents, surprising opportunities, and in general gentle seas. I am opening my life and heart up to many new things. Perhaps then, it is time to begin laying the groundwork for my next career.

This weekend, I signed up for a Writer's Workshop. It might be good, or it might be a waste of time. But its something. I want inspiration, I want connection, I want some ideas on how to start. I'm keeping my eyes and ears and heart open for whatever might come along.

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