It’s been three years since I wrote the post below and, sadly, I haven’t been able to stop my dad from destroying his journal entries after he writes them, especially the ones about the military. His writing is more of an emotional need, a purging, if you will. An attempt to relieve himself of the troubles still lingering and weighing him down, never intended for other eyes.
I was able to find one of his yellow legal pads about a month ago, a partial with around 25 pages left in it, and hid it from him in my bedroom. A tiny victory!
I’ll see what happens and remain hopeful as time continues to tick by.
(Originally posted 9/11/2011 on Writingscape V.1)
For many years, I’ve wondered what planet I dropped in from.
No, seriously. I’ve always been the odd bird that never fit into her surroundings. Most people look askew at me when I’m doing things or when words are coming out of my mouth. I’m the one that co-workers can’t help asking, “Do you know you always eat everything perfectly counterclockwise off your plate, without any of it touching?” I’m the one who can’t stand anything on her desk being moved a millimeter from where she left it, the rabid multi-tasker who needs a clean work space and four more hands, the chick with amplified “dog” hearing who hones in on sounds other people don’t notice and hears regular sounds 5x louder, the woman who completely understands Terry Brooks when he says, “I am not all here.”
The real world has never been my home, just a vacation spot.
I’ve gotten used to sticking out of the “normal” landscape like some cardboard cutout, and it’s okay. My family is somewhat acclimated too, after all this time. If they ask me a question and get only a blank stare, they don’t panic anymore. They assume that one of my fiction characters has asked me a question at the same time, and they simply walk off.
(Sorry. The point of this post is coming, I promise.)
Why I was born a writer never made sense. (Why I’m a fantasy writer, with uncountable ethereal worlds and strange and wonderful people fighting to get out of my head is also quite unfathomable by most. Why a black woman is creating “that stuff” instead of manuscripts that are “fighting the establishment” or “waiting to exhale” or “furthering the movement” or “literature that makes Oprah’s book club weep” does not compute to them. But that’s a whole other blog post.) I say “born” because I’ve never been able to control this from as far back as I can remember. Writing is something I have to do, or the color will drain from this world. Jumping in and getting my hands dirty, giving characters a voice, honing my craft, telling stories that hopefully one day will enrich people’s lives by transporting them out of The Dull for just a little while is what I live for.
But WHY? Where did my writing bug come from?
(Ah, now we’re getting there.)
My family members have many natural talents that they are driven by. There are inventors, artists (paintings and drawings of all mediums), interior decorators, florists, bakers, chefs, engineers, seamstresses, crafters, actors, singers, athletes, musicians, photographers, and educators. But NO writers of any kind that I know of, except for me. I don’t think anyone has even kept a diary. My own child is an elite athlete who was heavily into astronomy, oceanography, and math in school, and while quite intelligent, would only read and write if I put a gun to his head. *sigh*
So, I’d finally decided to stop wondering about it and just accept the inexplicable when lo and behold, out of the blue (get a load of those cliches, eh?) my 77-year-old father, the best baker in the entire family, took me to the side last month and whispered…
“I’m writing a book. What do you think?”
He proceeded to show me the yellow legal pads that he’s been secretly journaling in for years, in longhand. And, come to find out, the man has destroyed several books’ worth of writing because he’s retired military and won’t take the chance that something from that period is still classified.
After I picked myself up off the floor, we sat down and he gave me a verbal, detailed outline of his memoir and I gave him pointers on how to get started, answered his questions on structure, told him yes, I would help him and made sure he knew I was behind him one hundred percent.
I’ve listened to his military and “before Civil Rights” experiences growing up since my childhood. It makes me giddy just thinking about the amazing and historical stuff he has to give to the world now. Why is it only now registering how alike we sound when we’re verbally storytelling?
I wonder if he’s really going to be able to stop destroying his journal entries, and be comfortable with having his written word — unclassified stuff only — exist long enough to get this book put together. I not sure that he can. But he’s a stubborn ol’ bird and so, we will see.
He’s very particular about what pen he writes with, like me. As it turns out, we prefer to write our longhand with the exact same kind — Pilot Precise V5 Rolling Ball, extra fine, black. He needs a pristine work space, like me, and now that he’s moved his writing spot from his bedroom to the living room, it’s easy to see that he writes on and off all day long. Like me. You can see that look in his eyes when he’s writing that tells you he’s not all there.
Can you believe it? This acorn may live in another world, but she didn’t fall as far from the big oak as she thought.
(That’s his space up there, and here’s mine. Book(s). Pad/notebook in longhand. Pen. Sparse. O_O)