Tuesday, November 29, 2011

where am I?

It is time to get back on track.

My energies are becoming too scattered to make any great impact on the various endeavors I am involved in right now and I feel the best way to re-task my spirit is to identify where my spirit and soul is being applied. What follows is a listing of what I currently see myself involved with. This is not to say these are the only circles in which I stand as only God can determine where I will truly find myself tomorrow. For now, with these 44 year old eyes, this is what I see.

I am a: Husband, Father, Brother, Son, Uncle, Engineer, Photographer, Guitarist,  Politician, Educator, Friend, Enemy, Stranger, Confidant, Cook, Cleaner, Laundryman, Catholic, Dreamer, Wisher, Disappointment, Surprise, Help, Hindrance, Hunter, Gatherer, Polluter, Guide, Distraction, Walker, Seeker, and, I am a Writer.

Odd how I would put that last one in the last position, Writer.

Writing, communicating through the written word, is something I always longed to do but until recently lacked the confidence. I take every opportunity I can to craft words, to communicate emotions, events, and feelings. Even in greeting cards I disdain simply signing my name and instead become prosaic. Making that shift from writer to author would be a dream come true. How great it would be to create a touchstone in someone's life that would return to them whenever they saw the cover of a book. I just had that experience and I will share it with you now.

I recently read a publisher's blog which bemoaned how the picture book market is suffering from poor market research. Publishers were led to believe that parents would not buy picture books with a lot of words since their schedules would not allow fo a great deal of reading to their children. Instead they marketed books with vibrant pictures and fewer words with the idea that parents would prefer to let their children look at the story through pictures, on their own. Apparently they were wrong, since picture book sales are suffering, more than likely due to lack of substance.

My wife is a Librarian for two schools, one a middle and one an elementary. Last week she handed me a stack of children's books to look at because of a story I was working on. It started when our four year old mispronounced the word Santa and a plot line for a picture book story came to my head. That night I put the nanowrimo I was working on aside (well, I wrote one more chapter) and set out on the story for my youngest son (truth be told, the first picture book manuscript I wrote was based on something my oldest son said, so now they both have a book). When I was done, it clocked in at 2,400 words, a length I thought was unusable for a picture book. This is why she handed me the books, because they were picture books with similar word counts, and they would serve as examples to dispel my discouragement. One of those books was the story of Babar the Elephant.

My sister gave me a copy of that very book when I was ten years old. As I looked at it again, my hand gently traced the images on the jacket and I delicately opened the cover. The words, typeface, illustrations, all brought me back to the living room of our house in Elmwood Park, the worn red carpet my parents couldn't afford to replace, the smaller TV that worked balanced on top of the old console TV that didn't, the palm tree in the corner, the sheer curtains over the windows, the room my grandmother died in.... these images, feelings, they were all with me once more. Time that had escaped me returned and it was beautiful.

How I would love to be the person who could return that favor to someone else, to be able to restore their youth and wonder through the printed word and the smell of paper. I dream and hope that someday I will. I have a children's story under consideration with a publisher in London and another entered in a contest at the MeeGenius website (see story by clicking here). I would like each of you reading this to think of a story that meant something to you when you were a child, and dream of passing that legacy onto others. To be able to do this is what I want.As the Smiths sang, "Please, please please, let me, let me, get what I want..."