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The First Step is Admitting You Have a Book (You're Writing)

Friday, October 26, 2012 | 0 Comment(s)

For me, and every other normal human writer, he hardest part of any writing assignment is the blank page.  It's like it has eyes.  Staring at you, daring you to ruin its splendid pristine void.  Sometimes I just try to write two sentences and then take a break, knowing that when i come back i'll have a piece of writing that's already been started "for me."  Makes it easier.
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When I began sixth grade, my folks went to the parent open-house.  It was early in the year, so the teachers were still getting to know us students, and thus parent night was less one-on-one conferences, and more parent orientation for each individual subject.  This is the only time i remember my parents returning home from one of these nights giggling.  My brother and i (he was in 8th grade and thus this night was ├╝ber stressful and relevant to both of us) snuck closer to be sure it was giddiness we were registering and not seething.  A misinterpretation like that would be akin to begging for permission to lead the infantry's surge.  

Nope.  It was definitely giggles.  We emerged from our dining room lookout position and made our presence known in the kitchen.  "What's so funny?" i asked.  "Well," my mom says,  "your English teacher, Mrs. Daily, she goes up in front of the class and holds up a blank piece of paper."

"Oh, let me tell it," my father butts in.  "She holds up this piece of white lined paper and is all, "in this class, we make something out of nothing!?" 

That was pretty much it.  There was no "completed work" to juxtapose the empty lines, hanging unused and generic, in front of the onlooking parents.  No, philosophy of writing or goals for the year.  Just a blank page of off-white, probably not recycled paper, flapping in the breeze of her arm's undulations, daring her students to produce literary excellence.  Mrs. Daily was not a horrible English teacher, but something about her speech to the parents was just too much of an SNL skit of what a horrible teacher-parent English-class orientation session might look like for my parents to keep a straight face.   At home, they gave off the distinct impression that said giggles were not reserved for our amusement, but that they may have crept out during the live performance.  Great.  My parents made fun of my teacher.  I was sure this would somehow negatively affect my grade (of course it didn't).
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So here i am.  Out of graduate school, staring at the blank page of my life stretching out before me.  And this blog post is an attempt publicly announce the first two lines of the next stage of my life, so as to make it's completion that much easier.

The first step when you have a problem, is admitting you have a problem.  To that end, i admit to you, my readers, that I have begun to write a book.  To be a writer.  Moreover, i'm not playing towards my strengths and publishing something in the academic realm.  Instead, i'm going non-fiction humor.  Similar to this blog.
I am taking the chance that with all this education and opportunity i have been afforded, that i may have found what makes me feel most content and rewarded moving forward.

I want to write forever.  I want to share knowledge and learning and difficult bowel movements with an interested audience.  I want to make people belly-laugh, and empathize, and relate to my experiences.  While some strive to become the enigmatic figure people wonder about, I want to be known.  Not known like famous, but known like being understood deeply.  Being a mystery has never held much allure for me.  How can you comfort or relate or connect with an unknown?   I prefer the fear and potential energy created by emotionally pogoing myself atop my audience, hoping beyond hope they caught my crowd-surfing metaphor, and hold me up for just a few more paragraphs.

And, if i may be real and inhabit the unhidden person i say i am for a second, i can reveal that i am scared about this.  I am risking myself in an entirely new way, and leaving myself open to criticism, failure, and ridicule (then why did you go to school for all those years???).   I mean, there is a tv commercial making the rounds these days in which a husband makes "completely oddball" suggestions to his wife, who subsequently nixes them.  one of them is, "is it ok if i quit my job and start a blog?"

I don't want to be a punchline.  But i understand that you have to risk being the butt of the joke to create anything truly new.  And the fear and nerves inside me are slowly, with the encouragement of my wife, boss, and friends, feeling more and more like the nervous excitement you get before going onstage to perform.  And as this inhibitive fear morphs to motivating adrenalin, i get brief snapshots of a life doing what i love.  And those images are vivid enough to outshine both the outside and inside doubts regarding my ability to turn this dream into a reality.   And if i, a white upper-middle class american male with a phd, don't capitalize on the privilege of professional freedom i was lucky enough to be born into,  how can i expect anyone else to?  And moreover, what was the point of all that education if i don't even trust my own intuition?

There are still a lot of questions to be answered.  How do you promote yourself?  Do you need a book agent?  Self-publish?  In other words, besides writing the book, i have no idea how one goest about writing a book (if any of you reading this have insight or are personally wealthy and want to 'Great Expectations' my ass, be in touch).  This being said, we only have so many years to be ourselves in this life on this planet -- and it's time for me to create.  It's time for me to create those words to be read, and reread, upon my untimely demise.

me and my groomsmen/boy band

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