Creative writing—fiction, poetry—like any art starts, I think, with a “gift,” a talent, a desire to create sense and meaning out of our lives. It may start with a conversation, an event, a memory, even an imagined idea—these are the “cloth” that all humans have; the writer, however, makes something of the cloth: gives it sense and meaning.
So, in December 2020, I discovered a box of journals I have kept—I don’t know why—on a shelf in a closet. The journals date back to 1962—imagine! almost sixty years. Journal writing was something that a high school teacher had probably suggested to our class at Walton High School in the Bronx (I don’t remember). It became a habit for me (and still is). I always distinguished it from keeping a diary which, it seemed to me, required a daily notation of what the writer did or experienced that day. The journal, on the other hand, was not for record-keeping; it has, for me, a far more significant and almost mystical purpose: to write down ideas, experiences, events—whenever they occur, be it once a day or a hundred times a day, or once in the span of a year—which seem meaningful. And by “meaningful,” I not only mean didactic, but also imaginative, inspirational, tragic, ecstatic. . . . I could go on, but suffice it to say that a journal entry could be a single word or many pages; its only requirement was to be an honest representation. In short, the journal was not the place to lie, to embellish, to deceive; after all, I would be the only reader, so why deceive myself? And when I took down that box and started to read those journals, I was ultimately glad to have discovered something important: I was not always who I am now, but who I was has everything to do with who I have become. It’s not always pretty, but it is always enlightening.
As a result of finding and reading through that box, I sat down at my word processor at the end of December 2020, and when I stood up in mid-Februrary 2021, there was a 170,000+ word novel saved electronically. It was a start. So, now I’m a writer. The next step is to try to be an author.