Wow – I can hardly believe it, but it’s been one year this week that I unleashed this blog to an unsuspecting public! Lots has happened in that time, including many lessons learned, mistakes made, unrealistic expectations thwarted – but above all, there’s been lots of introspect and reflection, most of which I covered in a post a few weeks back and so I’ll do my best not to re-hash those points again. Having said that, if on the odd occasion a fragment of those observations sneaks into these reminiscent musings, please accept my apologies in advance. (What, me repeat myself? Really?)
2013: Who The Hell Did I Think I Was?
But wait, hang on a minute – who the hell did I think I was this time last year to even entertain the idea that I could be a “writer”? I mean seriously, who was I kidding? Since I never attended University, I certainly can’t be called an “educated” person; actually, truth be told it’s even worse… I played “sick” most of my elementary years, barely struggled through junior high, and – due to my “slacker” attitude – didn’t graduate high school! The best I ever did academically was to eventually settle on a G.E.D. at the ripe old age of 48, something I remember as a terrifying ordeal, since I almost blew due the whole deal over a confusion between Sir John A. MacDonald and Sir James Douglas! Fortunately I squeaked through and passed. My point it this: Being academically challenged most of my life, where the heck did I come up with the idea that (a) I had anything to worthwhile to say, and (b) that I could espouse my thoughts, feelings and experiences eloquently enough that someone – anyone – would take notice?
Well, I guess I’ve always had a lot to say, so finding topics to write about didn’t appear to be an issue. Also, I’ve been fortunate to live a life full of great adventure, and been able to do some pretty cool things over the years. Plus I also I read a lot, and of all kinds of genres including the classics. My favourite books ever are “Walden”, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” and anything Hemingway wrote (except “At First Light”, which published posthumously and consists mostly of Papa drinking G & T’s in Africa) so all in all, I’ve been subjected to some of the best writing ever. I relish how these authors command the most awesome use of the language, and the incredibly articulated detail they use to describe the most simplest of things. I find these authors (and many their literary peers) incredibly inspiring and poignant; and simply love, love, LOVE the stories they tell, and why not? And why not? They are written by real WRITERS – not by some goofball sitting behind his computer, one who could only DREAM of plunking out greatness on the wireless keyboard in front of him. Which, obviously brings this thought back full circle… what made me believe that I could ever be a “writer”?
How to Be A Writer: Step 1: Begin Writing. Step Two: Keep Going.
When I (unfairly) juxtaposed myself against Thoreau, Hugo or Hemingway, the whole idea that I could do what they do – “writing” – seemed preposterous, and daunting at best, but I gave it my best shot anyway; bit rather than writing classic fiction, I decided to try and write about things I know about and enjoy, hence the five separate categories. I say “five” not “six” since to be honest, “Random Musings” is really just a twin to “Life Happens”, but I needed one more to even out the page… Hmm… probably not a problem a pre-internet Thoreau had, so let’s chalk that particular dumb decision up to being a novice blogger, shall we? Anyway, my first post was about a subject near and dear to my heart – being frugal. The post was titled “24 Ways to Save & Debt Fast” and was the first time ever that I charted my efforts to save as much money as possible so as to pay off our mortgage. I’d read somewhere that “list posts” are pretty popular so this idea made sense to me. So how’d I do?
To be honest, the first time I saw my words on the web it made me feel like a fraudulant hack trying to “trick” his way into an exclusive club, hoping my dirty little secret would never be found out. Then, after a couple of days went by without the “Writing Police” knocking down my door, I figured I’d duped them, and so I got busy writing a second post, and guess what? Still no thundering rap on my door! So I got back at it and wrote a third post, and then forth, and so on, since the habit appeared to be setting in. And the more I wrote, the better I got, often catching myself in little errors (cut down that run-on sentence, dammit!) and correcting them. Before I knew it, I’d been writing for a couple of months, and – while I wasn’t quite ready to join the esteemed alumni above – I will say my writing was hovering somewhere between the 5th and 6th grade level. For me, between this and learning that the “Writing Police” don’t actually exist, all in all I was feeling very encouraged about my new venture!
But as well as I felt I was doing, I still wanted (okay, needed) some guidance from experts. This is where I tend to say to the world “Give me some guidance” and like most things in my life, it shows up in one form or another – which in this case was in the form of an amazing little book called, “Do The Work” by Stephen Pressfield. I read it, heeded his advice then followed it up with another book he wrote called “The War of Art”. Pressfield writes mostly fiction, (His first novel was “The Legend of Bagger Vance” which was made into a Matt Damon & Will Smith film) however he generously took time out to write these two short treatises that explain to wannabe writers (like me) that (a) there are no shortcuts to being a good writer, and (b) if you have the heart, the guts, the determination AND do the work, you will eventually become a writer. Here’s an example of his eloquently put advice on the subject.
Thanks For The Epiphany!
After reading these books (and then the introspective, yet very funny “Bird by Bird” by Ann Lamott ) I finally got it. If I wanted to be a writer, what I had to do was write, and keep writing, again and again. What’s so cool to me is that these books actually gave me the permission and courage to know that – despite my dubious education background – that I too, COULD be a writer! A ll I had to do was sit my ass down and write! And so that’s what I did, and have done, for the past 12 months. And you know what? With all the practice, trial and error, and the occasional of the “middle-of-the-night” editing brought on by waking up in a cold sweat wondering “What the hell was I thinking?” I’m overall happy with my progress this past year.
So in honour of the first anniversary of my blog, I’ve taken time to reflect on why I began this project in the first place; and that was to learn more about myself, and grow my skill set as a writer. Looking back, here are some key points that I believe consistently writing has done for me:
- Given my life more purpose, by doing something worthwhile that benefits me, and helps me grow far more than simply “surfing” the net
- Allowed me to be creative, and tell my stories, in my way; it’s taught me to that my words can make a difference, and mean something to people
- Connected me with the most amazing people who have been kind enough to let me tell their stories; most notably J.D. Lewis, Crystal Blue and Alex Sheen
- Helps keep me accountable to do the things I say I’m going to do; because once it’s out there, it’s gospel
- Helped me develop the skills to begin developing the next phase of my life, which is to professionally speak and train people in life goals
- Been awesome therapy, which has totally helped me through some pretty rough patches in life!
- Most of all, consistently writing each week has allowed me to develop a confidence I didn’t have before. It’s allowing me to continutally strive to be better in all areas of my life, and take more risks than ever
A year ago I wanted to “be a writer”, and today, with 130 posts under my belt, I am one. And while I might not be in the same category as some of the earlier mentioned greats, I am still a writer. And to think all I ever needed was to combine four things I already had: a computer, a chair, an ass, and the time (and desire!) to write; once my writing mentors pointed this out, I was well on my way!
Happy Birthday davidknappfisher.com! Looking forward to the next 130 posts! Now, I’m a bit hungry… where’d I put that cupcake?