29 June, 2017

Sabbatical

The school across the street from me let out today for the last time until September. This makes me a happy man because our driveway is finally our own.

I'm going to take a summer vacation.

Not the vacation I want to take -- leave that for other people, this year. No, I'm taking a vacation from this Breadbin.

Do I want to do this? Honestly, not really. But I should. For several reasons.

Life has gotten a bit intense around here of late -- nothing that need alarm my readers, but also nothing I am at liberty to talk about. Matters domestic are going to require a little more attention than they have in some time.

It's not like I won't have ANY time to blog. But...

Look, I've been writing here for more than 13 years, now. And for at least that long, I've thought of myself as a writer.

I'm not a writer. Not yet. I'm a scribbler. A word-dabbler. I have yet to earn so much as a nickel for anything I've written. My most viewed posts have been seen by a couple of thousand people and most of them average fewer than a hundred views.

Now, don't get me wrong. Readers: I love you. Each and every one of you. I thank you for reading my words. I hope they've made you think...and feel. Whether you've been with me since the beginning (all three of you) or whether you're new here, I'm glad you have taken the time.

If I'm EVER going to make something of myself, it'll be my words that do it for me.  I'm really, really late to the party: Gods alone know what I could have been by now had I done this right. I'm not conceited enough to think I OUGHT to be among that fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percentage of people who write who can make a living at it. But I think I should try.

And I gotta start somewhere. I've written literally millions of words here over time. I'm not proud of every blog...some of them, to be honest, stink, and more than a few are mediocre. But every once in a while the words pour out of their own accord, almost as if I'm being directed, and that's when I know I've hit a vein. The blogs that result from that feeling I am proud of. More: I think when that happens, what comes out is worth something tangible.

What, I don't know. They don't teach you any of this stuff, and it's so much easier when I have a thought to type it out here, hit publish, and not worry about it being rejected. Over and over and over again.

But I want to find out. Because I think...I THINK...I can deal with rejection now.

Intellectually, I've always known a rejection slip is not a setback. It just means you're standing still. But emotionally...

People have been praising my writing since second grade. I used to write painfully derivative horror stories then nevertheless managed to scare the pants off my classmates, and rare has been the teacher who has dared to give me anything less than an A on anything I've ever written down.

The one who did -- a Mr. Cliff  "Stoneface" Martin --  gave me a C-on some composition or other. I FREAKED. Embarrassingly. In front of all my fellow OAC classmates. He took me aside after class and deconstructed my essay, explaining exactly why I had EARNED that C minus. By my standards, my writing was, well, crappy. I'd tossed it off, and you could tell. He certainly could.

"Really, Ken, you can do better. You're a very good writer when you try," he said.

"But that's just it, Mr. Martin," I replied. "I don't really try. I just write."

Whereupon he said something to me that I've never, ever forgotten.

"No, Ken. You try. You just try faster, that's all. Oh, you don't have to try to get words out, unlike many people in this class. But EVERY writer tries to get the right words out. Or at least, they should."

Somewhere along the way, I stopped trying as hard as I could have. Because the allure of that "publish" button is too great. I get the right words in one blog out of every ten or twelve, and maybe once every thirty or forty I transcend "right" and get power.

I want to see if that power can get out there out of cyberspace and into the real world. I want to see if people like my words enough to give back for them. And that wanting is...I hope..finally strong enough to overcome the fear that I'm wrong.

This is Step One...and I'm here to tell you that I could sweat blood between here and Step Two (hell, I'm not even sure in which direction I'm going to step yet)...but the difference between one and two is NOTHING compared to the distance between zero and one.

I have two people to thank for getting me here (and you may laugh, I'm nowhere yet, but nowhere is actually "now, here"). The first is of course Eva, who has never pressed this on me and only allowed me to evolve to it, however painfully slowly (thank you, love).  She has always had confidence and faith in me.

And while I love Eva immensely, I've always felt this niggling finger of she's crazy to think like that. Until someone else came along and gave me her own faith and confidence. One is coincidence; two is a pattern. Thank you, Kathy.

School's out. It's time to work.

Let's do this. Let's take steps. And see where they go.

See you in September.

--Ken

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