Friday, December 11, 2009

An Unfulfilled Promise

I am way behind schedule. Back when I was a kid I thought that by the time I was as old as I am now I'd be a published author. Oh how I've let the little guy down.

This trip down memory lane makes me ponder the reason of why I actually write.

The year was 1993 and I was in elementary school. To say that I did not enjoy school would be an understatement. I wanted out, and I was desperate to find some way, any way, to quit school. Little me hatched what he thought was an ingenious scheme. For whenever he balked about going to school and asked the grown ups why they almost inevitably responded that I would need school to get a job.
"Why do I need a job?" I would ask.
"To make money."
Money, I found out at an early age, was the be all and end all of life. If I had it I could do anything, without it I had to play by the world's rules.

My dad had told me about this kid who collected stamps. He got so good at buying and selling them that left school. He was rich and got driven around by a chauffeur all day, he never even got his licence.

So my brilliant plan was to find something that I could do that would make me money. Just like the stamp kid. Little did I know (oh how ominous those words are) the path that this plan would set me upon.

How was I a mere grade school kid supposed to make money. I wasn't even old enough for a paper route. The answer came to me rather quickly. I would write. It was something that I already liked to do so I figured I could use it to get out of school. It all seemed so simple. But I had to make sure that my parents would let me quit school once I made my millions. Parents can be obnoxious about things like this. "Sorry son we don't care if you can afford to buy yourself a small island your still going to attend school."

And so I made them sign this:

They signed it. A sort of promissory note. Oh I had them now.

Or so I thought.

It was my promise that never got fulfilled. A promise I made to myself to get out of school.

Sometimes I wonder if I write because I really want to or if I have just hardwired it into myself because of my desperate need to escape school. Even now that I'm out of school that need to write is still there. I can't help but wonder if it's genuine.

But then I remember that I did indeed write a book. Way back before the promissory note. Back before I knew how to write. It was an illustrated story about a presidential election between Fire and Water. I still have it somewhere, I'll have to dig it up one day. Remembering it makes me think that maybe I really am a born storyteller. I mean if I was telling stories before I knew words that should count for something right?

At any rate both these events get to the heart of the question of why I write. They aren't the whole answer. I don't know if I can put the whole answer into words. It is something that is felt and thought and spoken. But this is part of it.


  1. Now you've got me wondering about my own motivations. I'm very much driven to say things in precisely the right way (which is probably why I don't do as much creative writing as factual writing). I love that writing allows me to edit and restate as much as I want until the thing is exactly the way I want it and the meaning is clear. I often mess up when I speak and muddle my intended message.

    Also, writing helps me explore my real feelings about am issue and move past my knee-jerk emotional reactions which usually explode with far more passion than my actual feelings contain. I don't have that kind of control when speaking.

    Incidentally, don't worry about letting that little boy down. I guarantee that if you were to foster a meaningful relationship with him, and help him to feel of value, he'd be far more impressed by that than by any professional benchmark or accolade.

  2. I heard somewhere that if you want to find out what you really think then write. I know there have been times when I have been throwing ink on page only to look back at it and say, "Wow. Do I really mean that? Huh, I guess I do." Then I wonder just who am I anyway. I should get to know that guy.

  3. I totally agree. I'm so glad I live in an age of literacy AND access to writing tools!!!