Thinking Out Loud

Real Life is like fiction...

So why not write about it?

It is time, actually overdue, to recharge my creative batteries, set a new aspiration to challenge myself with. I do not remember a time that I was not writing something, even as a small child I scribbled in childish scrawl little stories and made notes my father proudly called his "five year olds diary." I was a very early voracious reader and to the chagrin of my siblings and later my classmates I had a vocabulary and ability to spell grades above the one I was currently in. My aunt would show me off to adult friends when I was a kindergartener and say to me "Spell Czechoslovakia!" to be followed by "Spell encyclopedia! hypothetical! observatory!" and her favorite: "Mississippi," which she had taught me as M-I-S-S-I-S-S-I-P-P-in-your-I" to my mother's annoyance.

Naturally as a youngster I wrote fantastical stories where my mind wandered into far-fetched situations I imagined myself as the hero. Pure Fiction. My notes were observations of things I saw, thought about, lists of things I wanted to do, devised out of boredom when I was riding in the car with my parents or waiting for something or someone. All Non-fiction. As I grew older, around eight or nine, I started becoming more interested in history and started reading some good quality history books. Although I still read fiction, it was mostly historical and political things I was interested in reading.

As an overactive child, both in mind and physical activities, my parents had a lot to deal with in keeping me occupied. My father had the idea I start writing a history of where we lived, to keep me engaged during certain times, when my parents, sister, aunt and uncle and cousin, needed a break from me. He figured it accomplished two things, kept me quietly preoccupied and out of others hair, as well as develop my writing abilities. Due to my reading interests, the result in the long term was that by the time I was 13, my interest was focused solely on writing non-fiction.

It was a pattern set for life. Through undergraduate and post-graduate degrees and beyond I have taken classes in Journalism, Non-Fiction Writing, Technical Writing, Historical Writing, Policies and Procedures Writing and Legal Writing. I have also written and published, in their medium, in each of these categories. I'm not being modest when I state that a lot of it wasn't very good, since much of it wasn't. My first website in the late nineties was topically political, modeled after Andrew Sullivan's pioneering website blog, where I first got the idea to start blogging. It was far better in my imagination than I'm sure it was in actuality. The same could be said for my writing for a website in the early part of this past decade.

The upshot of it all is in spite of a lot of bad writing, I've learned to write non-fiction, particularly policies and procedures, history and political articles, essays and blogs fairly well. There is truth in the axiom "writers write every day" because it does hone your skills. In times when I wasn't writing anything in particular, I wrote long letters and later email to friends who mutually returned the favor with long well written replies.

In 2005 I became enamored with video and the following year YouTube. Since then I've played around with video blogging and learned some editing and have developed a moderate skill at it. I started this blog in 2007 and for over two years played around with it but have placed back in draft mode most of the work from that time period. In 2009 I decided to get more serious with it and by the end of the year pledged to myself I would work in 2010 at it every day and develop my own style with it, which I intend on continuing.

All that just written to say this: to grow more in my writing I have decided to tackle fiction and am going back to the very junior college, now a Community College, that I began my college career at decades ago. I'm taking a freshman level class, although not a beginning one, in structuring and writing fiction. I decided to take the classroom route for a variety of reasons, primarily discipline and mostly to be around other aspiring fiction writers. This particular school is known for "robbing" the universities of good professors because of the school atmosphere and pay. Therefore the instructor is not only your standard PhD but also a published author of recognizable books and an interesting character in his own right. It also opens the door for me to be less intimidated going to writer's workshops. My mission is to stimulate and stretch my imagination to keep the creative juices that sustain me flowing.

This blog will remain what it is, a work in progress of non-fiction blogging of my personal observations of real life and social commentary about it. My ultimate intention is to learn the new world of self distributing ePublishing and if I end up writing any worthwhile fiction, I will produce it in the form of e-books, as well as non-fiction work as electronic articles. To me being creative and especially writing is something I can't imagine not doing and will continue the rest of my life, just as some people do woodworking, quilting, photography, rebuilding cars, vlogging, gardening, playing music or whatever captures their verve.


  1. I think the idea of writing more is a great idea; you're a good writer (and no doubt practice has helped a lot; trust me, I understand that) and I think you'll have a great time in the fiction class. I think taking the class is awesome, for the discipline and the feedback but also for the stories it will bring to life just by being there. It's like really-acceptable people-watching, if that makes sense. I think it's great that you're doing it!

    One thing you might want to try just for fun is to gather up some of your blogs and other writings and self-publish them on Blurb or some website like that. I only mention that because I did it as a goof on New Years Eve and today got a printed small book of stuff I'd written over the years. It doesn't stand the test of time, but it's fun to notice all the typos (seriously) and it's kind of inspiring to see it between covers. Just another facet of creativity, I guess, but it's kinda cool to try, just to say you did.

    That's all, except to say that your aunt sounds cool. :)

    Really good and inspiring post, JR. Keep writing, man!

  2. That's a great line about "acceptable people watching" because it's so true. I hadn't thought of Blurb and will check into it.

    My aunt was a big influence in my life because she was a colorful person, interested in all kinds of things and people, enjoyed life and showed me that you could be "normal" and still interesting and full of life.