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art theplaceHow do you do it? I get asked this question quite often. Folks, whether friends, family or strangers, approach me and wonder how I’m able to write, day in and day out, about anything and everything. 

“How are you able to put thoughts into words?,” “Don’t you ever get burned out?,” “Do you ever run out of subjects to write about?”

Well, to be honest, I don’t look at anything I write as some magical act of creativity or earth-shattering form of literature. I simply look at what I do as a way to connect the dots of humanity in ways people either didn’t know existed before or have merely been forgotten about since. Storytelling is a way to bridge the past, present and future, a way to map out where you came from and where you’re going, a way to make sense of intricate subjects, feelings and situations. 

In essence, it is the only thing that makes sense for me to do. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but who I was growing up and where I came from was the ideal foundation for what I’ve ultimately become — a writer. 

When I was a kid (and even today), I interrupted, a lot. Anytime a teacher, friend or my parents would be talking, I’d just jump right into the conversation. I didn’t do it with any bad intent. Rather, it was some impulsive action within me that I couldn’t control. “I have to get it out,” I’d tell my mother. 

And I “have to get it out.” Whatever I’m feeling, for good or ill, I need to get it out, and on paper. My fingertips are like 10 sink faucets, my thoughts rushing water waiting to be released. The second my fingertips start typing or writing, the faucets are opened. Once my feelings and ideas are put to paper, they’re out of my mind, where only a clear slate remains to move forward into the day. You know, I’d probably go crazy if I didn’t always have a pen and paper to write on. 

I’m a writer who reports, not a reporter who writes. I fell in love with writing in college. Majoring in public relations, my goal those first couple of years in school was to someday be an MTV VJ (video jockey) on Total Request Live. I figured that was the ideal career path for me, for whatever reason.

But then three things happened to me. 

First, I discovered the 20th century masterpiece On The Road, a novel by Jack Kerouac about hitchhiking around post-World War II America. The book was a line in the sand for who I am today. Reading on my first solo road trip down the East Coast in 2005, it changed everything. Right after, I went back to college that fall semester of my junior year, I changed my major to journalism, immediately taking writing classes. At that point, I never wrote or read more than I was assigned for school. But I knew one thing: I wanted to be a writer.

Secondly, I met my dear college friend Aly. Entering my senior year, she and I became fast friends, smoking cigarettes over endless cups of coffee and discussing the works of Kerouac, gonzo journalist Dr. Hunter S. Thompson and Norman Mailer. Aly was the first person to really encourage me to pursue my writing aspirations. For Christmas, she gave me a three-pack of Moleskin notebooks (best writing paper/notepad out there). She told me to write down anything I had to say or saw in them, and how “all great writers have to start somewhere, so start with these.” I spent the next three years filling those endless pages with words, thoughts and scenes as I wandered the country in search of my dream.

And finally — just do it. I never have once questioned being a writer. I’ve known from day one that THIS is what I want to do for the rest of my life. And the only way to achieve my goals is to push further and farther everyday. Wake up every morning and know today is another day to reach for your dreams, and to do one more thing, whether it be a phone call, email or interaction, that puts you one step closer to your goals.

Want to know how to write? Be honest, be open with yourself and the world around, and always (always) know that success in anything creative comes from a pure heart, hard work and a sense of self only found when vulnerable to the cosmos. Sure, a bit of luck and chance does help, but never forget that you are in control of your fate. You hold the keys to whatever door you want to open. Remember, there is only one of YOU in the world, and with that, only YOU can tell your story. 

p.s.

Here are some literary selections: Post Office by Charles Bukowski, Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerney, The Great Shark Hunt by Hunter S. Thompson, The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, On Writing by Stephen King, The Last Picture Show by Larry McMurtry, Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut and An American Dream by Norman Mailer.

 

 

Hot picks

1 The Shining Rock Riverfest will be held from noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 13 at Camp Hope in Cruso.

2 The Boots and Bling benefit will be held at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 13 at Bloemsma Farm Barn in Franklin.

3 Newgrass/string band Brushfire Stankgrass will perform at 8 p.m. Sept. 19 at Innovation Brewing in Sylva. 

4 The 6th annual Youth Arts Festival will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 20 at the Jackson County Green Energy Park in Dillsboro.

5 Tom Kelly, a former KGB employee and football coach, presents his memoir at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at City Lights Bookstore in Sylva.

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