In just a few days I’ll celebrate my second anniversary of blog writing. I enjoy the discipline, but lately I’ve been discouraged with my writing. I wonder about my blog stats and if I’ll ever write “something else.” Am I really a “writer?”
I know there is always one person who reads everything I write.
He was born in Indiana and although his mother sent me pictures, I didn’t meet him until he was eighteen months old. Eventually, he moved to Maine and I watched him play hockey, baseball, and even soccer. I watched him graduate from high school and cheered him on through college. When I wasn’t looking, he finished graduate school. Sometimes we would write letters to each other.
It’s been a long time since I read stories to him.
I laugh when I look at that old picture. My nephew is very special to me. Had I my own children, I imagine they would have shared the empty place that little boy filled in my heart before I ever met him.
He’s thirty now and even though he’s my nephew and not my editor or literary patron (what’s that?), I sometimes share my writing discouragements with him. He’s always thoughtful in his response. Just the other day, I told him I had an idea for a book I’d like to write. I sketched out a general outline.
He responded, in part:
“…sounds like a promising idea. What would be the first step you need to do to get started on this?”
Sitting in a cubicle in my old office and reading this on my Tic Tac phone, I spit out a half-chewed cinnamon gummy bear, laughing out loud. The corporate environment juxtaposed menacingly with the image of the little boy in the picture. Yet once again I was encouraged by his mature, practical, and business-like response.
What would be the first step I needed to do to get started on this?
Darn good question.
I do good thinking when I’m walking and investigating places alone. In the spirit of finding answers and taking first steps, I looked at a map and for no particular reason said “I will go to Gardiner and see what I can see.”
Gardiner is approximately 30 minutes from my house; it’s a pleasant drive on back roads or a speedy ride on the interstate. Although University of Maine Black Bear hockey fanatics may disagree with me and consider Eric Weinrich the most famous Gardiner-ite, I consider Pulitzer-prize winning poet Edwin Arlington Robinson the town’s brightest light. He grew up on Lincoln Street (now Avenue), in a house his father rebuilt in the Italianate style.
His relationship with his home was complicated. He considered the town dark and stifling. His Tilbury Town poems subtly echo his dissatisfaction. He finally left Gardiner for good at the turn of the century, never to return. After more than 35 years living in New York City, his ashes returned after his death and were buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, just down the street from his family home.
Bitterly cold yet blazingly bright, Tilbury Town provided me with a vigorous workout yesterday. I had never realized how many cemetery statuaries are topped with crematory urns until I found myself searching for the Robinson-Palmer family plot. Discouraged, I turned to leave. Where was it? I did one more internet search on my phone and refocused my bearings based on “find a grave” dot com.
Was a winter walk in the cemetery the first step I needed to take to get started on my book project?
As Mark Baumer might say “Yeah, I’m not sure.”
Meanwhile, take a step back in time and read Danny D. Smith’s treatment of the poet Edwin Arlington Robinson at a website maintained by the Gardiner Public Library.
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.
A fitting quote for a Monday morning. Thank you!
All books begin somewhere. Having “birthed” three books, it’s never easy deciding what is the “right” choice for a book topic. However, books are a compendium of words, and then sentences, paragraphs…etc.
I’d encourage you to outline some of your ideas. Walking, investigating, these are also places of beginning.
There are so many subjects that are in need of a book.
Writing about hometowns is hard work. Trying to finalize another book and closing it out with an essay on Lisbon Falls has been particularly difficult for me.
Thank you for the encouragement, Jim! Blog writing provides “instant gratification” of seeing our words in the world. It’s good practice for the harder stuff.