Category Archives: Writing
I was twenty-one when I read my first book. The Godfather by Mario Puzo. I loved it. I loved the story, the characters, the violence, the mafia. For the first time in my life I was transported by words into someone else world. Unfortunately it would be quite some time before I read my second novel. As a child I was not encouraged to read. I can not remember my mom and dad reading anything other than a cookbook or daily newspaper.
I failed English I in high school twice because I refused to read the assigned books that were part of the curriculum. I stayed away from school on the days I knew the students would have to stand up and read for the class.
It wasn’t until I became a christian, joined a church and was given a bible that reading became important. King James was the only bible we were encouraged read, right from the horse’s mouth I was told. So being a slow reader to begin with, learning a new language (King James’ ), mixed with dead brain cells from years of drug abuse and you can only imagine how slow a process it was for me. I had to re-read a sentence up to three or four times before the words would register. I was so spaced out I could barely retain any information.
The bible and writings based on the bible and Christianity was all I read. This suited me just fine. Slowly but surely I was able to overcome, with God’s help my reading disabilities. As the years passed I started reading Time and Newsweek Magazines with a dictionary at the ready. I was expanding my vocabulary at a rapid pace.
When I left my church quite many years ago I started to read other books outside the God, Jesus and Christian genre. I particularly loved lawyer court room drama and murder mysteries. There was a whole new world out there I never knew existed and I devoured fictitious novels as though they would be banned at any time. Add christian writings, throw a little self-help in the mix and I had what I believed was a good balance.
Because I didn’t read when I was younger, writing was out of the question also. During a period of time when everything was free hand with a pencil or pen my writing skills were non-existent. Yuk. If you saw my handwriting you would understand why. I couldn’t even read what I had put on paper seconds after I wrote it. It was a no win situation for me.
I engrossed myself in these marvelous, well written novels by great authors. I could only envy such gifted men and women. Wait, envy is too soft a word, I was jealous of their writing abilities. If I entertained these jealous thoughts for too long a time I started to despise these writers. What did they do but write a good book. I wanted to be like them yet I wanted to keep an open mind so I could despise them at the same time.
I’m smiling now as I write this as I look back about eight years ago when I decided to write my own book. The only expertise I had on any subject I felt comfortable writing about was my me, my life. So I set out to write a novel, like the big boys and girls. I wrote every day until I finished a fictional account of my life. Over 300 pages. A first draft on my first attempt. Man, I was empowered by the whole experience. I don’t know where those 300 pages are now.
I found it was easy for me to write first drafts but I had no idea what to do after. I didn’t know anything about editing, re-writing, language structure and all that goes into the process of making a book. I was out of my league. Then I stumbled on blogging. Once I got my head around this new way to write it became my best writing friend. Through blogging I learned the basics. Write, edit, re-write, edit, hit the ABC button, correct spelling, hit the publish button, categorize, tag, read other blogs, like button, comment.
Reading blogs from writers who I knew had the education (Bachelor, Master degrees and PhD’s. Not to mention light years of writing practice under their belt and did I forget to mention that every author mentions the books they published. “I’m a published author you know” I felt like a fish out of water most of the time.
Then there are those who testify that writing has been a passion in their life since they could hold a pen. Carry a notebook or journal at all times, write stories, read them in class. Work for the school paper, learn to edit at ten. There is no doubt the passion that oozes out of these wanna be writers. These people will write until Jesus comes back no matter the outcome. Passion is passion regardless of its success.
I lacked passion for writing. It was quite obvious to me that I didn’t love writing. I kept writing hoping that someday I would fall in love with the craft. Then I would be passionate like the millions of those who make it their calling in life. Without the necessary love and passion needed to write my story how could I ever succeed.
That is why it was so easy for me to stop writing eight months ago. Not even think about writing a single line because I could live without it. Writing was not in my blood. It was not my calling.
The eight months without a word written opened up other opportunities for me. I used the extra time to read, specifically memoirs. Story of people lives, experiences and memories. I taught myself to read outside genres that resonated with my thinking. I read some fantastic books and my eyes were opened to something I never saw before in relation to writing.
One of the things that came to me while reading these memoirs is that many of these authors did not have the background in creative writing nor the passion for writing. Writing was a means to an end. A way to get their story out to the world. A way overcome their past. A way to be open and honest about life, their life. What did these memoir writers have that I didn’t have. They had a love for their own life, their own stories and they would make a way to talk about it. Writing was the way they chose to do it.
Up until this time I thought my life not important enough to talk about. Not exciting enough that others would want to read. Nor honest enough to be able to bear my soul on paper. God has give me, each one of us, for that matter, a very special gift. Life. Every memory, every experience is recorded somewhere in our hearts or mind. My life is special.
Before I was blind but now I see, if not blind then very blurry. My life is becoming my passion, my stories, those hidden treasures of experience and feelings. Those deeply engrained memories that are just bursting to find their way out of the place I have buried them.
It”s about honesty, transparency. Humiliating myself by allowing others to read about my shortcomings, mistakes and the matters of the heart. Like getting undressed in front of a stranger. They see the good, the bad and the ugly.
My blog, Surviving My Son’s Suicide is a testimony to that. It is also a prelude to the bigger picture in my life.
Writing is not my passion. At least not today.
Today, writing is a means to an end.
I read an article a few years ago. A journalist was interviewing a successful author who made his living on writing horror. Many of his books were made into movies, TV Teleplays and TV shows. One of the questions the journalist asked, “why did you choose horror as a genre?” I can envision the author staring right through this journalist as he answered, “who said I had a choice?” He didn’t expound on his answer neither did the journalist ask a follow-up question.
“Who said I had a choice” as though some unseen force was on his shoulder whispering words as his hand worked furiously putting pen to paper trying not to miss a word. Whether his answer was meant to be literal or metaphorical it had quite an effect on me non the less.
A question I have been asked over the course of my christian life. Why did you choose to become a christian. That question confused me but I had my stock answer at the ready. “When I was 22….and I went on like a kookaburra”. This was a gray area for many years. I never gave serious thought to the answer.
Growing up in the Jewish faith I was sheltered from the knowledge of Jesus and Christianity. I had no idea what the the Christmas hype was all about or the billboard signs that read, repent or perish. As I got older the name of Jesus was quite popular in bars and pool halls and I could never figure why this guy Jesus was so popular with some of my girlfriends when they shouted out his name with delight.
I travelled across America from the east coast to the west coast when I 21. Stopping in Los Angeles to visit my sister I felt like I was transported into a strange new world. Charles Manson was on trial for his gruesome murders. Girls walked around in flowing dresses that almost touched the ground. Young people my age wore jeans with patches and rips in them, not the kind that the young people get in shops today. Hippies I believe they were called. To top it off I was walking down the street in short sleeves in January. Not at all like my eastern seaboard upbringing.
Meandering down Hollywood Blvd I could see two lone figures up ahead seemingly engrossed in conversation. As I walked past I heard these words. “Jesus was Jewish”. I thought, Huh, so Jesus was a real person. I continued on without breaking stride.
Some time later as my friends and I were leaving California heading back to New Jersey I was sitting in the back seat watching the sun set over the pacific ocean. I had this peacefulness that came over me. The seed was planted.
Eight months later I was hitching across Canada with my dog Sunfish. A beautiful Shetland Sheepdog that some hippies gave me while camping in the Blue Ridge mountains in New Jersey just a few months prior. She was my best friend and greatest travel companion. No problems getting rides.
Pitching our tent at a free campground I borrowed a bicycle from a fellow camper. Peddling down the country road with Sunfish jogging behind I heard a thud. Jumping off my bike and turning to see where the sound came from I saw Sunfish lying on the ground lifeless. She was hit by a car. My first and only dog was killed. I carried her back to the campgrounds and buried her in the woods. That would become the saddest day in my life.
Numb from my loss I packed up my belongings and headed towards the highway. I took a ride as far as the driver could take me. Dropping me off virtually in the middle of nowhere I walked aimlessly and took the first dirt path that lead off the highway. Open fields on both sides with cattle or sheep far in the distance grazing on the lush flat land. Up ahead a loan oak tree standing with its heavy branching almost touching the ground. Beyond the tree was nothing as far as the eye could see until rolling hills met with the skyline.
Dropping my pack at the base of the tree I slumped to the ground my back leaning up against the oaks trunk. My mind dull with the thoughts of not having my new best friend by my side. The last thing I remember was tears sliding down the sides of my face as I fell asleep.
Waking the next morning the sun breaking through the boughs of the old oak I realized I hadn’t moved my position. Something was noticeably different. The sadness was gone, replaced by a sensation I had never experienced before in my 22 years of living. I was overwhelmed with the an unmistakable feeling of happiness. I recognized this feeling as love and it was so overwhelming I thought I would explode.
Grabbing my pack, with a smile that was starting to hurt, I hurried down the path to the highway to catch a ride to God knows where. All I understood at the time that I had this great feeling of joy, happiness and love that I somehow had to share it with others. To this day I cannot explain what happened to me during that night as I slept under that oak tree. What I do know is this, it changed my life forever and I knew right away it was Jesus.
Much later I learned that my experience was a phenomenon known as being born again.
Now if I am asked why I chose Jesus being a Jew I can say with complete confidence, “who said I had a choice”.