Sometimes the urge to write overwhelms me. And quite often, I will sit myself down in front of my computer, today's version of the old Royal typewriter, and start up my favorite word processing program. And then, nothing. As I continue to sit there staring at the blank sheet of virtual paper, a kaleidoscope of stories, tales and themes swirl in my mind, but my hands remain poised over the keyboard, motionless. From the tumult of story ideas, nothing emerges as a candidate story. Is this the result of that famous malady, writer's block? (Am I even qualified to have writer's block?) Or, is it simply, a lack of ability? Or, perish the thought, I have nothing more to say? Have I exhausted my well of interesting tales to tell? Have I said all that I ever wanted to say in my writing, amateurish as it may be?
Why does nothing emerge from the morass of ideas that swirl in my mind? So far in my long life (almost twice what I've heard was common for men from our ancient past) I have been loved, had much, suffered too little to even mention, lived large (often beyond my means) and traveled extensively (ten other countries and all but four of the US states or its "possessions"). I have lived in both small and large houses, in highly populated areas as well as in rural America (I once took two weeks of leave from the USAF and for a very short time was a ranch hand in Idaho - $2.00 per hour and keep). I have children, grandchildren and will soon be a great-grandfather. I have been married only once (and still am), but came close on a couple of other occasions. I have been friends with so many interesting people from so many places and walks of life. In my life, I have been blessed with many animal friends from cats and dogs to a Shetland sheep and a Capuchin monkey. (As I sit here now, one of my kitties is laying between my feet, asleep!) And I can find nothing to write about?
I came from a large extended family that like every other family in the world had "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly". I was never mistreated as a child and only knew love and compassion. Even though my biological father was MIA (Missing In America), my Mother was there for me at every moment - and still is. My Mother eventually found a new person to share her life with and I still count my Stepfather as a Friend. In my early thirties, I tracked down my Father and we eventually formed a bond that lasted until his death. I have a Sister, five Brothers, one Stepsister and one Stepbrother (see footnote). And each has their own stories that they could tell! So why do I have nothing to write about?
As any of the hard news writers and commenters (at least any of the few that might know me) can attest, I don't write hard news stories - I am after all not a professional beat reporter. I generally do not write about topical or controversial subjects even though I have my own opinions on each. Sometimes I comment on your articles and seeds about these more weighty matters, often I don't. I guess that I don't want to ruin your opinion of me as a kindly, old country bumpkin (admit it, some of you have that opinion, don't you?) by ranting about the Right or the Left, abortion, religion or politics. My few forays that I made into these story areas in the past were cooly received, to say the least. (Isn't it interesting how we pigeonhole people entirely on superficial observations!) So i tend to stick to stories about simple things such as the length of my kitten's tail. Or the hawk that was killing our white homing pigeons. Or my wife and her flowers. So why is it that I sit here now, with nothing meaningful and cogent to write about?
Could it be that I fear not meeting your expectations? I admit it, I have often wondered what your expectations for my stories are. And would I really want to know what they are? Would I want to find out that all of you really do think of me as a country bumpkin, or worse? Probably not. Some of you know me better than others and I hope that you would see that behind the "Aw, shucks, Ma'am" tone of much of my writing, that there are other dimensions to my personality and character. But perhaps none of you do. And should I even care? Am I writing for you, or for me? If I am satisfied with my small tales, do I need to worry about your opinion of them? Somewhere deep inside me, I know that I do. I doubt that there are few who would receive any pleasure or satisfaction from writing only for themselves. I cannot imagine writing a story and locking it away from everyone. Or am I such a narcissist that I simply know that you will want to read the drivel that I write? I don't think so, but you may disagree.
If you do perceive me only as a simple country bumpkin, or just a simpleton, please don't tell me. Continue to lie to me if you happen to read one of my stories and make a comment. Or say nothing at all. I can endure your silence better than I can you shouting "Fool!" for all to hear. I still wish that I had something meaningful to write about. Something that would help someone get smarter here...
Footnote: Legally speaking, others would say that I have half-brothers and a half-sister in addition to a stepbrother and a stepsister: I don't. If there is common blood, they are my real Brothers and Sister. And they are whole and complete people, not half-anything. I even count one Uncle as a brother because we were raised together, as close as brothers in our early years. He is gone now, I miss him, and he is still my Brother.