Yesterday, I met with two young men, not far out of college, who are sort of in the same line of work I’m in. They have their whole lives and careers ahead of them. They asked me several questions, but ultimately asked me what to do to not get frustrated doing the work I do for a living. I told them to keep doing personal work that no one can touch, that is only theirs to shape and create.
For twenty-five years, I’ve been doing mostly that. Writing between jobs, whether it be novels, short stories or poetry. It has sustained me through a long career that has seen its ups and downs, but more importantly provided an outlet to create something of my own, and to move forward.
A little over a year ago, my friend, Joe Fugere, set up an introduction between me and Garth Stein, a fellow neighbor and writer whose book, The Art of Racing in the Rain, took off like a shot and has been published all over the world, and still is selling like crazy with a movie coming out shortly. It was at this meeting that I decided it was time to start putting my work out there. Garth had worked magic with his third novel and I was just finishing up my third one after eight long years of off and on work on it. Another impetus for all this has been my turning 50 in a few short months and as the old saying goes, “You better xxxx or get off the pot.” So I did, before it got too late.
I decided to put The Palisades out with a paperback and Kindle release for many reasons, which I’ve explained before, but first and foremost, to see if I was any good. I also decided to start putting my poetry out there as well. The response has been extraordinary, validating, and humbling.
Extraordinary because now people are reading stories and poems crafted out of thin air that have come from a deeply personal space. Validating, because one never knows if one has the chops to move other people. Humbling, because I feel I’ve wasted several years not writing, not putting my work out for others to enjoy, and not using that energy to create new work.
It has been an amazing year on so many levels. I continue to work in corporate with people I truly enjoy, and have a couple of upcoming projects that are outside of the norm that will prove exciting. I’m also writing at a more concentrated pace on work that is deeply meaningful and hope it will be for others once it’s out there.
Being finalist now for a Lambda Literary Award for a debut novel, winner of The Creekwalker Poetry Prize this past fall, and my deeply felt poem, Swimming With Michelango, about to be published has been, without a doubt, gratifying. And to those people, who knew I wrote all these years, my teachers, workshop leaders, and the few readers who’ve read early drafts of my books, I thank you all.