If someone asked me 10, 20, 30 or even 40 years ago, “What is your purpose for being on this Earth?” my response would have been different each time. Part of the joy and beauty of growing up and growing older are the changes we go through as part of that process. Some people find their purpose early. They may have been blessed with musical or athletic talent and thus they put it to good use at an early age. Others, like me, find our real purpose at different stages of our lives.
When I was in my mid-teens, my inner being told me I would one day write the Great American Novel. What is so striking is that I can remember so many details about that day. It was daylight and I was crossing the gravel-covered parking lot at the corner of Division and Sedgwick, across from Cooley High School on my way home. I can remember laughing when I heard that proclamation. In my mind, all the Great American Novels had already been written.
Even though I didn’t believe I could one day write a novel, I have always been passionate about writing. I still have the journal my English teacher had us do in high school. I was the kind of kid who had enough sense to know that too much free time led to boredom. Boredom led to doing things that shouldn’t be done, and often that led to negative encounters with others — or the law. So rather than be bored, I went to summer school every year even though I didn’t have to. I took all my requirements for history during summer school as well as my third and fourth year of English. I wasn’t a genuine nerd, but I was pretty close.
Although I have always enjoyed writing, it took me getting laid off from a job I had worked for over 30 years to make me write my first book. Having a computer to compose my story on was another major factor. I am not the greatest typist and if I had to type a manuscript and manually correct all the misspelled words, I don’t know if I could do it. But having a computer to write the words into a document makes that aspect much easier to do.
I am proud to proclaim that I have never suffered from writer’s block (the inability to come up with something to write). My biggest problem is choosing what to finally write about. Part of the reason I always have something to say on paper is that I have formed opinions regarding many subjects and thus I can readily state my position.
One of the reasons I know that my love of writing is real is that I don’t have to force myself to turn on my laptop and begin writing. Some writers sit in front of the computer, or typewriter, or just with pen in hand to try and put words to paper. If I struggle with anything, it is writing short stories with a twist. Once I have actually figured out the beginning, middle and end, then the words just flow.
Strangely, I am the exact opposite when it comes to writing a novel. I have written a total of four novels with just one being published. I am preparing to self-publish a novel and when it becomes a major bestseller, I want to have the other ones ready to go to print.
I’ve been rewriting one of those novels because during the many problems I’ve had with my various laptops, the version of Word I created the novels in changed the formatting of my book by either adding extra spaces where they shouldn’t be or not having the correct amount of spacing it should have.
I’ll end this column like I began it:
What is your purpose for being on this Earth?