A wilder time

It’s been close to two years since I’ve sat down to write anything for public consumption. Two years of laughing, and crying, living, and dying since I’ve shared anything with you people. They’ve been rough. I don’t think any of the mistakes have been permanent. I don’t think… I’m a dad though, so my mistakes will play out over the next hundred years or so. I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

For the better part of a decade, my writing was my ace in the hole. Even though my teachers and editors in college didn’t really get it, I had a knack of putting some truth in words and getting people to respond. My job didn’t really call for it. Matter of fact, it confused and befuddled my peers. All it took was someone telling me “right on” though, and I’d be right back at it month after month. The fan mail… the hate mail… I took both as validation that I was doing something right. Little by little, I proved that there were enough like-minded people out there for me to make a living on, and I didn’t always have to put up with the dummies I detested. I could throw out a line here and there, and if it was good every other time people would keep coming back to it. In a PC police state, people were thirsty for anything that reminded them of how people used to talk; the way were were. People also enjoy watching a good train wreck. If I’d pick a fight with the establishment it was fun for them. They didn’t have to risk anything. They just got to sit back and enjoy the show. The haters were my favorites, always sitting back and predicting my imminent demise. Year after year, I kept dancing on the line of what is socially acceptable and morally defensible. They were sure I’d cross it, but I never did. I came close a time or two. Those were the glory days of my self-published writing career. The days when the whole town would talk. “Did you see that?” they’d whisper to one another. “Read your article… what did your mother say?” they would ask me. I wasn’t writing for my mother. I wrote for my enjoyment, and for my livelihood. For a time, the writing business was good. Like so many aspects of my life though, I was about a hundred years too late. I was a creature of the print medium, and it was dying faster than I could succeed. At the same time as readership was dropping for print overall, I was getting tired, played-out, and stale. I was confined to a box. I couldn’t write about the things I was really interested in because the profession, the primary profession that payed the bills, demanded that I remain respectable. There was a family to provide for, and I couldn’t get too controversial and there were risks for which I no longer had a tolerance. My points got weaker, my straight talk more general. The more conservative I became the less my few remaining readers were interested. I tried to move to an online platform, but I couldn’t gain a foothold. While print is starving for good content (for many of the same reasons I was hurting towards the end) the online world is full of good content fighting for eyeballs. As a blog I wasn’t special. Put me up against the lukewarm fools that fill most local newspapers and I’m a phenom. Online, I’m just another guy who can almost write. So I gave up, lost interest, and quit.

So why am I back today? To scratch an itch, I suppose. To feel a little of what I used to feel when I would sit down, pour my heart out, and hope it connected with someone. I’ll post this piece shortly, and few will notice. My adopted grandmother might congratulate me. My mother-in-law might say something to get my goat. My wife will ignore it (she’s already heard all my stories… I talk a lot.) These last few minutes though, I’ve settled down a few noisy thoughts. Will I write again? Maybe tomorrow, maybe never, but every now and then it’s nice to think about when I had something to say; something people wanted to hear. It’s nice to remember a little bit wilder time in my life, and wonder if maybe I did miss my calling after all.

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