Friday, September 28, 2012

My Back Pages

 by Jim Carey

As I sit here, trying to write this article, my mind wanders to the process that brought me to this point. I have a published novel that I am learning how to market and a second novel in the works. People are now referring to me as an author and a writer. I find it all a bit surreal, especially when people ask me to sign a copy of my book.
My writing career had a less than auspicious beginning start. It began during my junior year in high school when I enrolled in a creative writing class. I took this class partly because it sounded like fun, but mostly because I thought it would be easy. That was my criteria for picking electives back then. Being easy was the best reason I could think of for taking most classes. Unfortunately, I quickly learned that writing is not always fun and it is definitely not easy. Back then I had one rule I followed diligently and that was “why do it today when it can be put off until tomorrow?” As I’m sure you can guess, following that rule often got me into some trouble.
My performance in that creative writing class was rather lack luster until we were given the assignment of writing an original poem. My situation quickly went from indifferent to awful. Being true to my rule, I waited until homeroom on the day it was due to begin writing my masterpiece. As I sat there watching the minutes tick by, panic began to set in. Creative writing was my first period class, so homeroom period was my only chance to get it done. Nothing was coming to me until I looked out the window and found my inspiration. I finished my poem in less than ten minutes and entitled it “Green, Green Grass”.
Feeling quite satisfied with my effort, I turned it in on time and then completely put it out of my mind. Three days later I walked into my writing class and saw that my poem was on the “overhead projector” (you remember those, right?). I sat down, knowing that there was no way this was good to turn out well for me. Once class began, our teacher began going over my poem. It quickly became apparent that there was not one thing right about my poem and lots of things very wrong. Soon the whole class was laughing and I was trying to disappear under my desk in embarrassment. I’m sure it wasn’t hard for everyone to figure out who the guilty party was.

I’ll give you that the teacher could probably have been a bit more diplomatic in her approach to my poem, but in her defense everything she said about it was true. For example, the poem was about thirty words long and twenty of them were the word “green”. What I got out of all that was that I had written the worst poem ever and I swore that I’d never write anything creative again.

I held onto that belief until my early forties when I began to feel an ever growing need to express myself creatively. I tried a few drawing and painting classes, but the results of those attempts were not good for my ego. Having been born tone deaf, I also knew music was not an option. I felt as if I’d hit a brick wall.

Just when I was ready to retire from the creative life for the second time, I began having very vivid dreams. I resisted them for a time, but they kept reoccurring and I began to sense that I was supposed to write these dreams down. One morning I did just that and I haven’t stopped since. My first attempts were rough and almost unreadable, but I kept at it and my writing has improved. This process continues to work for me to this day - so much so that I often feel much more comfortable referring to myself as a storyteller than as a writer. What an interesting time in life this has become and I am very thankful for the experience.

To close, I’d like to quote a line from a Grateful Dead song: My friends,” What a long strange trip its been”.

Set in the time period of the Civil war, this historically edited novel follows a young man named Joshua Miller who, along with his best friend Monte, decides to show loyalty to the South by joining the Morgan County Scouts, a small cavalry unit based out of Alabama. Certain that the boys of the Confederacy would beat the Yanks and be back home in no time, Joshua leaves behind his mother, his beloved fiancée Missy Sue, and his boyhood dog named Blue to seek  the adventure and glories of war. As this coming of age story unfolds, the readers follow the characters through both the human and the soldier’s perspectives of the main battles of the Western theater of the Civil War. Letters sent between Joshua and Missy Sue at first share excitement and anticipation and then ultimately the disillusionment, heartache and true horrors of this time in American history. As the war dragged on and the imagined glorified life of adventure turned into the harsh realities of war, the boys became conflicted with the very concept of what exactly they were fighting for. What started out as a grand adventure became a series of very powerful lessons in hardship and courage, love and loss.

Echoes from Home is the first novel published by author Jim Carey. A social worker, then a chiropractor by training, writing has been a passion for Jim for the past twenty years. Jim describes himself as a story teller.  His interest in the Civil War started early. After seeing Jimmy Stewart’s movie Shenandoah at the age of six, Jim became fascinated with the Civil War. As the years passed, playing with toy soldiers became part of his past, but his interest with the Civil War continued. For years Jim planned to one day write a book that would be a typical civil war story filled with names and places, battles, dates and divisions, but shortly after the writing began, the character of Joshua Miller started to fully develop and he began to realize that the Civil War was to be the backdrop for the life story of this young man and his friends as they journeyed through these powerful events in American history. Jim’s next project will be a collection of short stories based on the Civil War, tentatively entitled The High Price of Freedom.

1 comment:

Liz Flaherty said...

It is amazing the twists and turns the the creative life will take us on, isn't it?