I’ve had a blog in some form or fashion for the past 25 years, save for a few moments here and there when I was platform-less. In thinking back, it was during these times that I was without a platform when I wrote, what I consider, my most meaningful work.
Which is why I’m giving up blogging — at least for now.
I never set out to be a blogger and I reflexively cringe at thinking of myself as a blogger. Granted, that’s what I’ve made myself over the last few years. I don’t view this as entirely a bad thing. This blog, perhaps more than anything, helped me work through the grief associated with losing my dad. For that, I am grateful.
But my dream has always been to be a writer, not a blogger.
And if I am truthful with myself, blogging has been a distraction from that goal, a way to put off the hard work necessary to craft the meaningful work of being a writer. Work with depth.
That’s not to say this blog will disappear. It won’t. However, this will be the last email you get from me for a couple of months or however long it takes me to complete one of the writing projects I have made a priority. If it’s two months, it’s two months. If it’s six months, so be it.
I need to get serious because time is ticking, and I’ve squandered too much of it over the years.
And, despite doing so recently, there is little to no desire within me to give my opinion on current events. I’m either preaching to the choir or to an impenetrable bubble. Is either a good use of my time? No. What I do for a living does far more to combat the ills of our society and help the disenfranchised than any words on this blog can ever hope to achieve.
More than seventeen years ago, in 2003, I started When the Lights Go Out at 10:16. The first draft was completed shortly after Jeremiah passed in 2007. I’ve tried and failed so many times over the years to give this story the proper ending it deserves that I’ve lost count. The story haunts me in a way, which, I’ve come to understand, means it’s a story I must complete to be at peace.
There was a letter I came across recently from novelist William Faulkner to Joan Williams in which Faulkner says to the aspiring author: “You will write, some day. Maybe now you haven’t anything to say. You have to have something burning your very entrails to be said; you don’t have that yet . . . writing is important only when you want to do it, and nothing nothing nothing else but writing will suffice, give you peace.”
My entrails are on fire. And, this story I began all those years ago, before I was married, before I had kids, before I was little more than a small town kid, I must return to for that peace.
In a way, having abandoned the story for so long, having failed again and again to pick it back up, has probably been a blessing in disguise. My life was much different then. With so much time having passed, I now can view it from an entirely new vantage point. I’ve joked silently to myself that this story is my life’s work, in that it will apparently take me a lifetime to complete.
I’m not sure I ever will, but I’m going to at least get back to trying.
I hope you understand.
At the end of the day, I just want to put meaningful work out into the world — let it grow legs and embark on its own adventures. Work that makes me think long and hard. Work and words I’ve stayed up late pondering and considering. Work that sometimes makes me angry and sometimes makes me cry. Work that conjures up long forgotten memories and work that makes me crack a smile in reflection.
And, right now, giving any real free time I have to blogging just doesn’t check those boxes in terms of my end goal. Blogging, I’ve realized, has become little more than procrastination against that.
I still remember that summer night in July 2003, twisting my body around in the dark and reaching for the green notebook in the backseat of my car to write these words:
It was 11:30 p.m. on a Friday night as I sat alone in my car at the basketball court. The lights had already gone out at 10:16, like clockwork, as they had for years.
The hummingbird moths had vacated the area over an hour before, no longer dancing atop the wooden guardians that stood along the edge of half court. The crickets crept into my consciousness playing their nighttime lullabies, as the old streetlight next to the stop sign that no one ever stopped at flickered. The light shone bright, then darkened.
The engine of my car was silent, the night air thin as I peered down the hillside leading to the basketball court. A story began to tell itself as I stared at the blacktop’s deep-rooted cracks that had opened up more and more as each year passed.
At that moment, I began to see and hear the ghosts of my childhood. These images were visible as if at hand only yesterday, and they winked one after the other in my mind’s eye like white stars sewn into the black velvet of the summer’s night sky.
“You only get two shots,” a child’s voice called into the night. “Don’t choke. If you miss the second, you have to go . . . all . . . the way . . . back . . . to Virginia.”
“I won’t,” another child’s voice said. “There’s some paper and a pen on top of the microwave in my house if you’d like to take notes.”
The lanky figure stepped to a chink in the gray-black pavement that opened like the veins of a broken waterway, spilling horizontally across the basketball court. He bent his knees. His eyes searched for a direct line to the back of the rusted hoop, and he released a jump shot. The flick of his wrist made a popping sound as his fingers pointed straight ahead. Textbook release.
The basketball found its peak then fell downward from the sky…
He stepped to the next marker.
Each open crack in the blacktop marked a different city, a different state, a different destination we sought to go leaving this small town behind. Only one of us had accomplished the feat of going Around the World in sixteen shots or less without missing consecutive field goals. If anyone would ever escape, it would be him.
It’s time for me to step to the next marker now. So, for now, I bid you farewell. The next email you receive from me will be in regards to one of the writing projects I’m working on. In the meantime, you can comb through my archives which date back to 2012 by clicking here.
Take care. And, as always, thank you for reading.