The earliest things I remember writing for pleasure were stories of Pegasus II and Cygnus with my friend Ted, I think we started talking about them in Spanish class (as we weren’t big on paying attention). We had characters that were partially named after Spanish verbs like “Jorge Dar” was a character. It was our comic book based on ourselves and my practicing religion of the ancient Greek gods. It was interesting to try to write in a way that I found readable – I’m not very good with dialogue still to this day, but I keep trying. I kept writing those stories until I was about 21 or 22.
Once in a while I’d write a different story – a house fire and all the neighbors come and gawk, the little girls charred doll clutched in her hands and the father drives off in their Buick regal, I liked that one, don’t know what happened to it; a student struggling to learn something new in class and the teacher who just wouldn’t change the way he taught – it was very rough; the rock and roll band playing in local bars, drinking and causing trouble… stories that kind of reflected what was going on with me and how I lived.
Then I didn’t write for a good long time.
In drug and alcohol treatment they suggested I keep a journal and write down my thoughts and actions for the day – I wasn’t a big fan of that idea, it reflected on when my Ma found my diary on my bed and was mad at what I wrote. It was shortly after xmas and I had received underwear, socks and t-shirts (among many other things I’m sure) and I whined a bit… ok, maybe a lot, in my diary about receiving socks and underwear. Her thinking at the time was that I left it our purposefully so she’d see it, but I doubt I was that clever – sometimes I was just a whiny teenager who enjoyed complaining. So keeping my thoughts on paper where someone else could see them didn’t seem like a good idea – I’m often misunderstood. :-)
In 1998 I was published in The Grapevine. I had read in the magazine that they needed stories to print from members. So I thought for a good long time and then wrote my piece they put in their wet drunk section. I have that framed as it was the first thing that made it out of my paper and into something else.
It was 1999 when I started working at Children’s Hospital in Washington DC. I made some fast friends in my department and connected departments – one of those was Staci. Staci is a psychologist, that means she asks lots of questions, and many lunches were spent with her, Christy and others just talking. When I would share stories Staci would listen intently and sometimes she would say “You should write a book.” I never really took her seriously, this was just my life we were talking about nothing that would capture anyone’s attention.
But that suggestion stayed with me and I started to jot down notes here and there and eventually decided to write where I could keep it always (I remembered not being able to find my old stories) so with the internet being new and blogs not that popular yet, I launched “Jamez in the life” on Blogger in 2005, and I started to write about whatever was on my mind.
So of course the first story had to be about comic books. I wrote about death in comic books and how one time it mattered and then it didn’t. Then I wrote about a visit to my friend Julie’s (she also always wanted me to write a book) and smoking (as I had recently quit).
Shortly after that I went to school for a year (just to prove I could do it) and then I began to write for grades and wrote about learning, that was pretty exciting… and I even wrote about the dreaded math… During school I posted 15 to 20 stories a month, usually pretty short.
I try to get 4 posts a month now and sometimes that’s a struggle. It’s not that I don’t want to write, things get in the way or there are things that I can’t write about for confidentiality reasons and some porn that shouldn’t go here (I did submit it to a magazine though).
I often have many different stories in my head all rambling around trying to find a place to go and when they coalesce I obsess about them and on occasion can’t sleep until I get them out on paper (or the electronic equivalent as the case usually is – though I did write about a savage beating I stopped, on paper as I didn’t own a laptop at the time.)
My friend Staci came to Scottsdale this week to talk about some new therapy that she’s really excited about – it includes mindfulness meditation, of which I’m a big fan. So she and her husband had dinner with me and I let her know about my blog, she might even stop in and read a story or two. I hope she likes it – it was her idea after all :-) We even talked a bit about her research and meditation being good for you and how it seems so hard to find the time to do it.
I’m glad I have this outlet – sometimes just writing something out can change my attitude on a situation – seeing it play out across the scenes and help me to see other points of view and become a better person.