Updated: Jul 13, 2020
| This is the 49th story of Our Life Logs |
We plant seeds very early in our lives, hoping they will blossom quickly, much like that of honeysuckle. But not every plant is a vine. Strong trees need many years of fertilizing and nurturing before they can bear fruit. My love of writing has grown like a strong tree. As a young man I cultivated a love of creative writing, but as I matured, I pursued technical writing to establish a career. It wasn’t until many years down the road that I found my writing to develop back to its creative roots where the seed had been planted.
I was born in the year 1950, raised by my parents in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My parents spoke to me about the importance of getting a secure job, which didn’t mean much to me until later in life. When I was 13, I became the editor of a newsletter for a high school fraternity. I used these big machines called “spirit duplicators.” These allowed me to manipulate colors and text on the physical copies of the newsletters. It was so interesting to see words brought to life like that. Though this editing position was short-lived, I believe this was the first seed planted on my journey. I gained experience and fostered a love of writing.
After college, I started my career. At age 25, I was doing technical work for MCI, a telecommunications company that later became Sprint. During this time, I had also published technical articles in a few magazines. That gave me a chance to share my knowledge of technology. After that job, I used more of my skills by writing books on telecommunications. It seemed like technical writing was my way into authorship, for my success in this field was growing like a weed.
In the late 1970s was a busy time for me. I married, started consulting, and presenting at seminars to share the information in the books I wrote. I traveled frequently to different cities around the world and spent a lot of time away from home. I didn’t get to see my wife a lot during the early part of our marriage. I did the seminars and travelling until I was 28 when my wife and I had our baby girl. I wanted to be home, so I could be around for my daughter. I landed a job where I continued to produce technical-style writing.
Life took a few unexpected turns in the late 1980s. Unfortunately, my wife and I concluded that our relationship wasn’t going to work, and we divorced when my daughter was only eight years old. I started working in the field of computer programming, getting away from writing as the sole purpose of my career. This transition in my life felt like my leaves and buds were being torn off my plant, but now I understand that I was being just being pruned. A few years later, I met the woman whom I am still in a committed relationship with to this day.
Around the late 1990s, my girlfriend’s parents became ill. We made the decision to move to San Francisco, California, so we could help take care of them in their time of need. The move meant that I was going to have to find a new job. I spent the long drive from Pennsylvania to California setting up job interviews and ended up landed a programming contract with Visa while the company was developing the first electronic bill platform for Chase Manhattan and Citibank’s VISA cards.
I remember I almost got fired my first day on the job. Little did I know that businesses on the West Coast, including Visa, had entered the world of “business casual.” So, I showed up to the office, as nervous as anyone is on their first day, and my colleagues looked at me like I was from the planet Mars. After hours of stares, I asked someone what was going on. He sized me up and said, “you’re wearing a suit! We went to corporate casual three days ago and we don’t want you to screw it up for us!” I promptly pulled off my suit jacket, rolled up my sleeves, and laughed with relief. Fun time. I continued to program software for many major companies, always cautious of the dress code.
I had been given a contract that required some airline travel around the year 2001. But after the attacks of 9/11, traveling was proving to be more difficult than it used to be. Companies pulled out of airline travel while they evaluated the new economic climate. Needless to say, I was out of a job.
I stayed unemployed for a couple of months. This pause in life’s busyness inspired the growth I needed. During my unemployment, I wanted to try of creative writing. And so, in my early 50s, I started working on children’s books.
Around 2004, I moved to Reno, Nevada with my girlfriend, where we’re still settled to this day. I continued to work on children’s books while doing contracting work. I continued to explore my creative side.
I believe my pursuit of writing children’s books was influenced by the prospect of my first grandchild. Though my daughter was only considering children then, I began thinking about the idea of “legacy.” What was I going to leave my grandchildren if I do not live long enough to meet them? I knew the most valuable thing to pass on was the wisdom I had learned over the years of my life, and I wanted to be a part of my grandchildren’s growth. I knew I could speak to them at any time through my writing.
My first few children’s books were atrocious. I’m not joking either. They were dreadful. I have assembled a stack of rejection letters that could fill a whole sock drawer. I had one book that was so mediocre I was thankful it was never published. Socks Are Fun overlooked a major detail that didn’t make any sense. The book began, “left shoe, right shoe, left sock, right sock.” The problem with this beginning is that there’s no such thing as a left sock! What was I thinking? Having something like this in a kid’s book would just confuse children. In hindsight, I’ve realize that those lousy first tries pushed me to produce a higher quality of writing that make kids eager to read. In 2006, I took a State of Nevada job. My passion for creative writing did not dissolve and continued to work on my children’s books. Soon enough, I created books worthy of publication.
My most successful children’s book so far has been The Monster on Top of the Bed. This book was published in 2014. When I was a kid I was terrified of monsters under the bed. I wanted to tell that child, even if I couldn’t be here, that the key to banishing monsters lies in my two important belief: (1) Do unto others as you would like to be done onto you; and (2) It’s difficult to be afraid of a friend, so the key to making a friend is to put yourself in the place of someone, treat them with dignity and respect and ask a favor of them. Doing so creates a valuable foundation for a friendship.
A few years later, my daughter had a beautiful baby girl. I am grateful to know and love her. Though I do wish to teach my granddaughter, I don’t need the legacy of my books. I now write books to encourage all children to discover some of my values and life lessons. I’ve also begun working on fiction books for adults. I have about 60 projects I’m currently working on. My goal is to have at least three of my projects turn into illustrated children’s books.
I used to create my own crises by caring too much about how much I was getting paid. Money is important, but only when I didn’t have enough of it. Now I write to share my wisdom, knowledge, and life experiences with my audiences. I write for love. Though I planned to find my way early in life, I forgot that strong trees need time to grow and change before they can bear fruit, and truly, the fruit of producing children’s books that have changed lives is worth it for me.