The last poem i posted here, “fine, ” drew some unexpected reactions.
Nearly everyone who responded liked it, thought it was well written, and found it melancholy. Some thought it was closure. Some thought it was tragic. Some thought it meant i was in some dire train of thought.
Initially, i scratched my head.
i have finally accepted i am a writer. Sometimes, i’m a pretty decent writer. Sometimes, i’m not. Having escaped the word limits of print journalism, i am not terse, far from it. Occasionally, my writing is short, i hope to have deeper meaning than most of the longer stuff i write. Or, in some cases, it is more humorous shorter than longer.
My lone non-fiction book, Steel Decks and Glass Ceilings, is one of the few pieces i’ve written for a specific purpose and in its writing, morphed into more than that purpose alone. The morphing was not intentional.
My other writing nearly always begins with some strange thought, unassociated with the other things bouncing around in my head like in a pinball machine, popping into my head. When i expand on that magically appearing thought in my head, i usually have a purpose, my purpose. i am writing primarily for me.
i hope you enjoy what i write. i love to get feedback. i prefer positive feedback, but negative feedback usually, i think, makes me better. i write for you to read, yes. But i really don’t write for you. i write for me. i break a lot of rules for writing. That’s really me.
i used to think writing was a great career…if i made it a career. Never happened. i was too busy off at sea looking for Fiddler’s Green.
i used to think i had a “passion” for writing. Had it really been a passion, i would have stopped doing everything else, like living, and just write. i enjoy all of that other stuff, especially living, too much to ever do nothing but write.
Writing, for me, it’s just there, coming from something inside, a need, a desire, a never ending demand. Don’t know where it came from. Don’t know how i was infected. It’s just there. And when i’m writing, i am in my briar’s patch — ha, we’ve politically correctly taking that definition of “briar patch” out of existence, which is a dog gone shame.
When i began puzzling over the responses to “fine,” i recalled something Dave Carey said to me once a long time ago.
Dave Carey, in case you don’t remember, was a POW in Vietnam. His experience became the source of a marvelously positive motivational speech, which he turned into a book, The Ways We Choose: Lessons for Life From a POW’s Experience.
i joined Dave in the Leadership training for the West Coast and the Pacific Rim in 1985 at the Naval Amphibious School in Coronado. We were the primary Navy guys who shepherded the creation of “The Command Excellence Seminar,” for senior officers, which replaced the one-week Prospective Commanding Officer, Prospective Executive Officer Leadership, Education, and Management Training course, (a mouthful and as with nearly all things military, became PCO/PXO LMET) — hmm…perhaps that is what took that wonderfully thoughtful and useful two-day workshop into extinction: no one ever turned Command Excellence Seminar into an acronym.
When Dave retired to provide motivational speeches and work in team building and executive coaching, i followed him into the lead facilitator role of the seminar and the director of the leadership training out of the amphibious school — now folks, if you have to have a Navy twilight tour, Coronado is a great place to waltz into retirement.
After, i retired, i worked with Dave on a number of team building projects. i had written the first try at capturing Dave’s speech in print (we determined it would be better in first person, which Dave achieved a couple of years later). One team building workshop was for the Fresno Police Department. We were headed there in Dave’s car.
i asked, “Dave, when you give your speech, what do you want the audience to get out of it? What thought to you wish to convey.”
Dave drove north through the Tulare Basin of California, thinking thoughtfully before he answered.
“Well, when i first started, i had some specific points i wanted the audience to learn from the speech,” he began.
“Then, i had an engagement at a luncheon in Texas,” he continued, “At the conclusion, folks were gathering around, and this big Texan comes up to me. He shakes my hand, puts his arm around my shoulder, shakes his head knowingly, and says, ‘Dave, you know everyone gets shot down once in a while.’
“After that, i realized that folks get out of my speech what will be helpful to them. It may not be what i had intended, but it will be positive for them. And that’s enough,” Dave concluded.
When i write anything, anything, i turn to Dave’s thoughts and know i want folks to get out of what i’m writing, what will be helpful, useful to them.