Cathi loves and excels at games that involve patterns and numbers. Just try and beat her in a card game involving speed or Boggle. She will spend hours playing Solitaire or Sodoku. I tend to gravitate towards creativity games such as Scattergories or Outburst. I'd rather shove the Soduku book in one ear and out the other than actually attempt one of the puzzles inside. Why people subject themselves to those things is beyond my rightish brain capabilities.
It is my right brain that has driven me towards this blog. Since discovering this free, creative outlet, I have been able to allow my right brain expand to new proportions. Writing these little, pointless ditties has been fun and entertaining others has been my main goal. However I feel inspired to write something more for myself. It is like I am joining "The Finer Things Club" and I have only invited myself. I have considered inviting you all, but more on that in a minute.
My goal is to write a book. I have deliberated on what kind of book to write. I would love to write a short children's story or a book of short stories. However, I think that my current mood and desire is to write a short, comic novel. I have no further details at this time about the content, nor do I have any idea where to start. Yet this is something I have always wanted to do and there is no better time to start than now.
I do not have any grandiose thoughts of fame or even publication. In fact, my primary intention is to finish this project for my own selfish needs and to cross the task off my ever-expanding bucket list.
Writing is like singing in that 50% of Americans think they are good at it, 10% actually are and only 1% are great. American Idol proves this theory again and again. When it comes to writing, I am not sure what category to place myself, but if I had to guess it would probably be category #1. I know I come from a family of fine writers including my Grandfather, Father, Brothers and even Cousin. I do not consider myself more skilled in the textual arts than them in any way. Nevertheless, I do have some confidence in my use of words, especially when it comes to compelling semantics, quirky humor and engaging storytelling.
I first realized that I might be skilled at writing in college. (I mean, I knew that it was a strength in high school but I never took it seriously.) I was taking a race relations course from the best teacher I have ever had, Dr. Theresa Martinez. The first assignment we were given was to write a three page paper on our personal race, class and gender. The assignment was easy for me and I had completed it within an hour. I didn't give it a second thought and I turned it in the day it was due.
Approximately two weeks later Dr. Martinez stood at the front of the classroom with two of the papers in her hands. As was customary in her classroom, she selected the two best of the 100 or so papers and read portions of them to the class. I was stunned when she began reading the first words of my essay. She did not reveal the author until she was done and I sat in my corner seat, embarrassed and proud at the same time. What stunned me more than the actual reading was some of the reactions of the students in the classroom. I looked around to see many of them actively listening to what was being read. At one particularly emotional and stirring point of my story, there was a collective gasp from the audience. I was blown away. My words created that gasp. They had molded a palpable mood in the room that had many of the people on the edge of their seats. I never knew that my writing could have that kind of effect on others.
As she completed her reading, the audience burst into applause. Of course, it may have been the jealous, compulsory type of applause, but it was applause none the less. I felt a sense of self-assurance I had never felt before as she announced the paper was mine and gracefully walked it over to me. I took every class she taught and there were several times that she read from my work. This brought me a newfound confidence and I was humbled by her sincere acclaim.
From that time forward in my college career, I never received below an A on a piece of writing. Dr. Martinez had given me the confidence to succeed and even experiment in my writing. She may never understand what kind impact she had in almost every phase of my life. I had never had a teacher in all of my youth that I considered "great". Her influence helped me in my decision to select a career that would make a difference in the lives of others. I will always be in her debt.
Beyond my love of writing, I have an even deeper love for storytelling. My favorite classroom activity is to simply sit in front of the students and make up a story; the more outrageous, the better. I will liven up each chronicle with various voices and humor. I will build the anticipation until it appears that the students are so engrossed that nothing will take their attention from my face. Most stories end with the children laughing senselessly until their sides hurt. I had a student teacher last year and she told me that I was the best storyteller she had ever heard and that I could simply tell stories for a living if I wanted to.
I do not tell you these past events to boast. I am simply explaining the all of the events that built up to my current decision to write a book. I am still not convinced that I am anything more than an above average writer. Notwithstanding, I have a strange feeling that my writing efforts, combined with my skill in storytelling may actually result in a tale worth telling.
My plan is to write a chapter a week and post it on my blog. Please provide any and all feedback on the current chapter. Furthermore, in order for me to place this personal quest for your viewing pleasure and criticism, I will need some level of dedication on your part. I need some sense that these entries will actually be read by more than Tammy and Lori and that the feedback will include more than, "That was a good chapter Abe." If you are interested in me actually posting each chapter for you to read, please put a comment below. By doing so, you are signing an unseen contract that you will read every entry and provide honest feedback. If there is not enough interest expressed, I will simply write the book on my own and become rich and famous without you.
As a teacher, I read a ton of children's literature. A byproduct of all this reading is that I am exposed to a lot of very crappy stories. I would say that only about 30% of children's literature is worth the time it takes to read it. Often, when I complete a story, I simply shake my head and wonder - now why was that published? Is it because the publishers think that kids won't know any better? On the other hand, there is some truly remarkable and inspiring children's authors that I have learned to love. I do not want to prove that I am one of the 30%, I just want to prove that I am better than the 70%.
I have now posted my first semiserious blog post. It is a very strange feeling. Do not fear, as I write, I will continue with my cheese posts you have all come to acknowledge and tolerate. I just read a professional blogger state that people do not want to read more than a couple paragraphs per post, so I am way beyond that limit. If that is true, you have probably not read this far anyway. Thus, I will end this dissertation now and simply ask for your feedback about all that I have said.