Accepting nominations and compliments is difficult for me. Needless to say, I do not do awards or nominations because, well, put simply, awards distract me. Plus, I never saw myself as this kind of writer.
The longer I am on this path, which I call my art, the more I learn about the person I want to be and the writer I want to become. Humbly, I see myself as this; I am proud to be as I am, which is self-taught. I am proud that I made a commitment to write and stuck with it. The commitment to write is something that I take very seriously. My growth as a writer and my ability to continue, regardless of the readers or the critics, is very important to me.
I choose to do this because this is my voice. This is my desire and passion as well as my outrage and shame. I have learned that one does not come without the other and furthermore, to write and to give a vision or to allow for a view into someone’s life is no different from a superpower from either a hero or villain.
As the writer, I want to be the writer that can give an equal view into either side of good or evil, pleasure or pain. We are all of this. We are the gamut and the entire scale from which the pendulum swings back and forth. Same as the world has seasons that change from summer to winter, and the same as daylight becomes evening, we range from all colors of the spectrum. Some days are warm, bright, and wealthy; other days are cold, dark and needy.
There are writers that veer away from truth to create flowers that do not exist and instead, they paint pictures of fantasy for their reader to enjoy.
There are writers that can take a terrible moment and yet, somehow, their description can be lugubrious or tragic and still, the words lace the view with a sentiment that creates a beauty in their sadness.
I have never been nominated for an award before (that I know of), nor do I understand how this works. However, I have been nominated, so at minimum, I would like to honor a distant friend and author of Emerging From The Dark Night by answering the questions that I was given due to her nomination of The Written Addiction for “The Sunshine Blogger Award.”
Before I go on, the name of the award is enough to make me smile. And, on a personal note, I sat at a local bookstore doing a signing when the first Harry Potter movie came out in one of the neighboring theaters. The bookstore was flooded with fans of the movie, which to this day, I have never seen Harry Potter nor have I seen any of the other Harry Potter movies; and safe to say, this might be why.
I was sitting at a table when a tall, yet somewhat chubby long-haired young man approached the table. He was dressed as a sorcerer. He asked me about my short story and its type of fiction.
He asked, “What kind of books do you write?”
I asked the youngster, “What kind of books do you like?”
“I like Harry Potter books. Is your book anything like Harry Potter?”
This was enough to make me laugh.
“Does Harry Potter come from Hell’s Kitchen in New York City?”
“No,” said the young man.
“Was Harry part of the Irish mob, or does he murder people?”
“No,” said the young reader.
“Does Harry have a drinking problem?”
“Then I don’t think this is anything like a Harry Potter book.”
He walked away with the oddest, disgusted expression on his face; but in fairness, the young man was somewhat comical to me. No one cared about me or my book that day. In fact, no one cared much about my book at all. This was my first attempt at writing a short story. I was proud enough that my story was not published by a vanity press and that yes, in fact, I could say the story was published professionally. The story did not do well and I struggle to read it and cringe when the topic comes up. But still, I can say this was done.
As for the connection with The Sunshine Blogger Award, I smile because I like the name. I like the association with light as a beacon of hope. I like that someone thought enough of me to honor my writing. Therefore, here I am to answer these questions in appreciation for the kindness of a true Author.
Here are my questions:
What experience in your life most changed your worldview?
I can say that I have seen good things and bad. I can say that I have watched people die and seen others find their best path to a state of rebirth. I have seen people recover and watched people relapse into a life that is filled with despair. In fairness, I would be nothing without both sides of my experiences. Safe to say that one of my most moving experiences was when a homeless man offered me a new pair of blue jeans. I was in treatment with him. He never had new clothes in his life. I was going to one facility and he was going somewhere else. He offered me the pair of jeans because he wanted me to know what it feels like to have someone give me something new. He gave this to me without any strings attached, and with no other connection, except for brotherly love. I have never been given anything new ever since. At least, not like that.
I suppose this changed my view because he was black and I am white. As a kid, I was taught to hate skin color, race, religion, sexual orientation and creed. This was the day that I learned everything I was taught about hate was wrong.
This man was a lifesaver to me. Only, he might not even remember me. He might not know the source of light his kindness shone upon me. But I was blind and walking in darkness. I was embraced by a stranger and shown what it is to be a true man. Not white. Not black. Just a man.
Where do you find your joy?
I find joy is everywhere. I like being outside. I love the sunrise. I love the sunsets. I love the smiles I receive and the love that comes back to me in return. The most joyous things I have seen recently was the outpouring of ideas from a young mom that shared a picture of her child with a teddy bear. The teddy bear was a gift that I sent to the young mom’s grandmother. The grandmother was in the hospital at the time. And sadly, the grandmother passed. The young mother kept the bear, which means she held onto the intent of my love. And to me, this is ever-proving that love and kindness do not have an expiration date and sometimes, a simple act of kindness can outlive life itself.
What person in your life most inspires you and why?
It is impossible for me to narrow this down to just one person. I am literally inspired each day, all the time, and by nearly everyone I meet. I look for this the same as a hunter searches for food. I need this to feed my heart and soul. I do this because I understand the meaning of the words lost and hopeless.
However, in honor of the question, I will narrow my answer to my Mother. She would have to be named first because although she might not have known what to do or say, she never gave up on me.
She endured, she hurt and she lived. I often thought about the unfairness of things.
Mom knew all about unfairness. She was hurt by life’s unfairness but not once did she ever look to recuse herself or stop being my Mom. This is the inspiration that only a Mom can give.
What character from a movie or novel do you most identify with?
The answer is simple. Ponyboy Curtis from The Outsiders. That movie is something I relate to. Then again, I also relate to Jim Carroll from The Basketball Diaries. Both characters write about the life they see. They are far from saints, but there is a purity even in their faults.
Name three things about yourself that you love.
I love that I learned the secret of endurance. I love that I have never given up even when people told me there’s no hope. I love that I have people in my life that love me for me and not because I bribed them, coerced them, or because I passed myself off as someone that I am not.
How would you like to be remembered?
I want to be remembered for being part of something good. I want to be remembered as someone that has flaws, made mistakes, and as someone that in spite of this, was someone that did remarkable things; regardless of my sins. I want to be remembered as someone that brought good things into the world. I don’t want to be seen as a tough guy. I want to be remembered as “me” and not in any other way.
What experience or challenge in your life taught you the most about yourself?
I survived addiction, violence, bullying, abuse, trauma, crime, depression, and my sad decisions; but above all I survived suicide. There has to be a reason. There has to be a purpose. And whatever the reason or purpose is, I know I have to honor it.
What is your favorite food?
This puts a smile on my face. Nothing beats a home cooked meal. Safe to say, it’s Mom’s mashed potatoes and her chicken cutlets. This does more than feed the belly. This cures pain, stops the threats of life and feeds the soul better than any medication in the world. Trust me!
If you have ever fallen in love, how old were you and how did you know it was love?
The truth is, I have always been in love with her. I always knew she was out there. I always felt connected. And then one day, there she was. I still remember the smile she wore.
Do you have a favorite poem or saying? What is it?
My first real poem is my favorite.
If I listen, I can hear you in my thoughts.
If I look, I can see you in my dreams
and on the movie screens
behind the walls of my eyelids.
I only hope that someday soon,
I can hold you in my arms for ever.
As for my favorite saying, this comes from the very first words I wrote in my very first journal.
My redemption has nothing to do with your response.
If you had no limits and could embrace any occupation your heart desires, what would it be?
I want to heal and be a healer.
I think we need this right now.
Those were my questions. I don’t do these things but today is a day that I embraced someone’s kindness. And to them, I say thank you.