I am a writer. The New York Times has never rewarded me with a place on its list of best sellers. I’ve never earned a penny for my efforts. The truth is I’ve never published a book of prose or poetry. The lyrics of my songs have gone unsung for the past thirty-five years. But I’m a writer.
The earliest work that I can recall is a 1945 letter to Admiral Karl Doenitz who inherited leadership of the Third Reich upon Hitler’s death. I believe it asked him to end the hostilities and surrender. I was nine years old. My mother had the letter published in the Daily Home News. I’ve written many letters commenting on political and social issues that have been seen in that newspaper.
I have written (or at least created) poetry from childhood. Rhyme and rhythm have come easy to me. I probably began with nasty poems about other kids before graduating to teen-mentality love songs for my fille du jour. As a professional musician I took to writing more sophisticated lyrics often with a sarcastic tone. It was my youthful nature to spit in life’s eye whenever life spit in mine.
It wasn’t until my second tour of Rutgers University that I finally matured enough to take studies seriously. In my English and American literature classes I came to understand and appreciate what made for good writing. My commentaries and exams impressed my professors to earn myself top grades and, more importantly, praise and encouragement.
Five years in a California prison not only gave me time and opportunity to write but I was also provided with a renowned poet as a writing instructor. This gentleman visited us once a week and gave us “homework” assignments. He would write comments on our yellow legal-sized lined papers that were extremely helpful. I should call 1990-1995 my gray period. (I love Picasso.) It was during this time that I was most productive in writing essays, stories, letters, and poems. I even experimented in poetry in Spanish. I still have several manila folders filled with original manuscripts and notes.
But that was so long ago. Now, at 77 and living in El Salvador, I still enjoy writing but so much of it seems to be for myself. I write Email to family and friends. I post comments on Facebook. I share blogs and news items upon which I add a line or two of my own thoughts. And I write occasionally on one of my three Word Press blogs. My age and being away from English speakers have somewhat dimmed my memory of what makes good writing. I would like to write about what I see every day on the streets of my town, El Refugio, or of the people, sights, and activities I encounter on my long bike rides to and around Chalchuapa. By the time I’m ready to sit down and write, I can’t remember what stimuli moved me during my travel.
There is so much color, movement, and emotion here. I want to be able to convey to whomever should read my narratives as close a copy of what I experience as possible. I want the reader to be standing on my rear axles with hands on my shoulders and peering ahead, to the left, and to the right with me. I want my passenger to be sharing the sights and sounds of a world so different from the one I left behind in the U.S. but in many ways similar to the old American world I, and hopefully we, grew up in.
Mornings in the Kountry King Kastle are generally quiet. Our two kids are in school and Margarita is busy doing the chores that Salvadoran women do. The ones that women of my mother’s generation used to do. The near perfect quiet is periodically broken by the chorus of roosters communicating over red brick walls, the Harpo honking of the bread vendors on their bicycles, the roar of diesel engines from large trucks bearing bags of cement or tarp-covered sand, or the prattle of bolos, the local drunks who sing romantic songs to imaginary women or argue politics to themselves. It’s quite conducive to creating. I really must jump over to El Salvador del KountryKing at http://kountrykinges.wordpress.com and write.