Saturday, May 30, 2015

The depth of a purpose

During lunch this afternoon I began reading Roads to Quoz by William Least Heat-Moon and on page 13 found the quote that epitomizes who I am and what I aspire to become.

"I've spent so many years rambling alone and not knowing exactly the reason, I now believe the answer to why we 'were thus upon the road' lies in both the why and the how I became a writer in the first place: to break those long silent miles, I must stop and hunt stories and only later set down my gatherings in order to release them one day to wander on their own."

In July 2012 I relocated to Denton, Texas to begin the quest for a Master's Degree in Journalism at the University of North Texas (UNT). The question I asked myself, "What kind of writer did I want to become" I had a blog and also wrote a couple of pieces for Route 66 publications, but did not know what exactly was next. After taking Reporting and Practices, taught by author, journalist and teacher, George Getschow, I slowly began to wonder am I doing the right thing or do I know what the hell I am doing.

On an evening just before the end of the first semester I walked into George's office. I began to slowly reveal  myself by telling him I wanted to be a highway writer, a person of sorts to drive along two-lane highways in this country, look for interesting facets and write about it. I was not, yet, certain about being a story teller. He glared at me, momentarily, almost as if he was sizing me to see if I was worthy of such a large task. Over the next year and a half he encouraged me to sign up for his classes. From a woman's undying attempt to bring a state historical marker to a Texas community along the Red River (still in progress) to a West Texas rancher, who despite facing a scarcity of water and other obstacles over the ranch's history continues to fight on, I have begun to dig into the strata of my soul, which some people call a gift. However, after the story, he invited me to part take in a class he taught fellow inspiring writers in Archer City, Texas, a half hour outside Wichita Falls.

While I felt timid and unsure, I decided to give it a whirl and in mid-July ventured away from the daily routine of work, go home, watch I Love Lucy re-runs and just do nothing. Instead, I chose to get off my lazy carcass, begin writing with a purpose and in the process let the imagination roll like a slab of Russian thistle running across Route 66 in Holbrook, Arizona. While meeting various writers like Kim Cross kept me in a state of awe, it was a can of Coors Light, the bed of a Ford-250 and a dark foreboden night outside of the Archer City limits where things slowly began to change.

Admittedly, to that time and even moments before I got up on the flatbed there were doubters including George. While in a drunken stupor, he did admit to my positive characteristics, yet felt I could not quite make it as a writer. The sting of that moment is still felt (we all need to keep an chip on our shoulders), but it enabled me to get on the flatbed. "I know I am uptight, but what the hell, I have nothing to lose." While that was not as potent as the Gettysburg Address, it helped me, for the first time, feel free of any insecurities.

After the class, I continued exploring each fabric of the American roadside, but have not written anything as extensive as the pieces on the rancher and cemetery. However, I have written a thesis and continue to write about experiences across the highway. A good writer, regardless of the size of a piece, continues to perfect their craft. 

The roller coaster experience over the last couple of years has taught me one thing: there is still hope...still hope I find the spirit and carry it with me as I look to fly out of this dormant body and discover what lies beneath the American ethos .

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