Friday, July 17, 2009

A failure to communicate

So here we are, on my friggin’ blog. Does anyone actually read this stuff?

I could digress about how much I loathe blogging from a writer’s standpoint (as opposed to a reader’s standpoint; they’re fine that way thanks), because I actually have very little to say in print. Being the universally unfocused individual that I am, I find typing my thoughts to be arduous process, devoid of the personal rewards that I receive when I speak into a microphone. Setting words down is a bear, for me. Which, I suppose is the reason I find myself doing this. The reward here is going to be adding patience to the embarrassingly terse list of virtues I find when I check my internal resume.

I wish to write. That is, I wish to communicate my ideas in a fashion which can be experienced by others. A process that requires a certain degree of discipline that I tend to lack, honestly.

In my youth, I was supposed to write.

No really.

While I aspired to be a cartoonist, and comic book artist, the one question repeatedly asked of me by anyone who had spent any amount of time in my presence listening to me drone on about my brilliant ideas for stories that I would, no doubt, put to paper on day was;
“So. Are you still writing?”

I was. In my head. In my daydreams. When I should have been doing something productive. Sure. I was thinking about stories. Lots of stories. Tons of them.
These people would repeat this question to me upon any reunion.
“So. Are you still writing?”

They knew. I didn’t.
Or rather, they knew what I should have been doing. Putting it down. Getting it out there to show to others.
I should have been telling stories. Instead, I dreamed them. I hoarded them. Out of laziness and fear and lack of discipline, I found it easier to only tell them to myself. It was admittedly enjoyable, but I forgot to tell anyone else my tales for so long, that they became amusements for me alone, and remained only as potentials.

I wasn’t worried, though. One day I’d amaze the world with my grand tales. Everyone would be delighted and then they’d see what a genius I was. They’d see my saving graces and tell me they never knew I had it in me. They’d see. Until then...

Stories aren’t born until they are communicated. Until that day, they are merely dreams and have no reality beyond that.
And the reality is that I was a dreamer not a writer.

Only recently, as a middle-aged man, bitter and sad from the knowledge of years wasted and opportunities lost, of contacts forgotten and never pursued. Of watching others grow and find success while I stood still, have I realized what I should have done all along.

A dear friend of mine is a cartoonist named Howard Cruse. He’s the creator such classic comics as Barefootz, Wendel, and the astounding graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby.
I met Howard in my late teens when I had a desire to become an ink-slinger, myself ( and also during a period where I more strongly identified myself as a gay man than I do now, more on that in a later post). I was over in his and his partner Eddie’s apartment in Queens, NY, lamenting how I wasn’t sure about my abilities . I honestly didn’t know if I was ever going to be good enough to be a professional cartoonist. How I didn’t know how to get started. I’d drawn tons of pages of work, and honed some decent chops with a pen and pencil, but , being my harshest critic, as I am wont to be, I was convinced I was never going to be adequate to the task of being a pro.

He said something in that gentle Alabama voice he has that has stuck with me ever since.
“This isn’t a race y’know. You’ll be ready when you’re ready.”

That was over twenty years ago. Since then I have moved from Staten Island, NY to Minneapolis, MN, gotten married to an amazing woman, met, befriended, and fallen out of touch with some amazing writers and artists. I abandoned cartooning for other pursuits such as video production, acting, and occasional live performance on a local TV show. I’ve grown up, grown older. I’ve even lost dear friends to cancer.
And after years of searching for a medium to express my creativity, I discovered a hitherto unknown talent in audio comedy and drama.

All the while, the stories where still there. Purring below the surface of my mind. Shifting and growing and waiting to be born. I just hadn’t had the voice or experience to communicate them.

I’m ready.