For me, this is the spring of commitment, a contract with my new novel, The Double Sun. I vow to listen to my characters, to let them tell me their story. When my protagonist, Caroline, courts danger, I will trust her to find a path to safety. When her brother loses his basketball scholarship, I will allow him to express his rage. When Caroline’s parents struggle to repair a failing marriage, I will wait for them to find the answers. I will give voice to and write down the words of the people who inhabit my imagination. My lack of balance often threatens to overwhelm me. I immerse myself too often in obligations and responsibilities, forgetting that art requires space, time, and a quiet mind. Imbalance was a condition of the past; balance will be a condition of my future. Therefore, I have decided to leave behind me the guilt of abandoned stories and unfinished projects, for they inhibit my creativity. Someday I may return to them, but I will do so without regret. The dog and I shall walk the neighborhood every day, finding joy in small pleasures: the bloom on a cactus, the scent of the air after a rain, the clever mimic of the mockingbird. I will then return to the writing desk, refreshed and renewed, ready to listen and to write. No regrets, no guilt. Just pleasure in the craft of the art.
“Define Your Own Road in Life”
. . . It’s up to you to define your road in life based on what you’re truly passionate about. By discovering that sincere path, you’ll end up contributing to the world in your own distinct way. Imagine the collective impact of an entire generation discovering their own roads and using their lives to build more efficient vehicles, cure cancer, or teach elementary school kids how to learn in a fresh, new way. When we discover our own paths, we’re not the only beneficiaries; the world is waiting for us to manifest ourselves and needs us to rise up to that challenge. . . .
According to legend, a sportswriter asked baseball great Joe DiMaggio why he always played so hard. DiMag replied, “Because there could be a kid in the stands who never saw me play before.”
A lovely sentiment, from those pre-SportsCenter days when kids might see their hero play on only a single occasion, that such a hero would feel personally obligated to give his best.
That sentiment motivates my writing. Maybe there’s a kid who never read my writing before–a boy wondering why his football coach invokes religion and his priest sermonizes about football; a girl who’s been told she can’t bring novels to school. Maybe those kids encounter my scribblings before they’ve formulated the thought that their President is a tool of the rich and powerful or that their religious leaders are frauds or that their assistant principals are sadistic brutes.
Or maybe they’ve barely begun to formulate those thoughts, and maybe they need a voice to assure them those thoughts are okay. Maybe they need the voices that I had, the voices of Heller, Vonnegut, Orwell.
Or maybe they need my voice. Maybe I’m too old and cynical to change anything, but maybe those kids will change the world if and only if I can provide them the voice that says it’s okay to think those thoughts.
Incidentally, I don’t believe that the story about DiMaggio, a cramped, selfish man, was anything but a press agent’s fiction. I don’t believe in DiMaggio.
But I believe in those kids.