PS I think you’d have loved this one, played loud, really loud.
I remember when you loved that song by Staind “It’s Been Awhile” so much that you named a horse Benawhile. Benny’s still around, last I heard, giving lessons to kids.
Don’t worry, we’re doing okay 95% of the time. Today I’m said because it’s your birthday, remembering trail rides and dinners and laughing and crying and loving; i miss us looking up knowing exactly what the other was thinking. Damn I miss you but onward I travel, books to read, books to write, songs to hear, friends to make, horses to hug, dogs to cuddle, people to love, you get the idea 🙂
This past weekend I saw a homeless man collapse, his head inches away from cars whizzing by on a busy four lane road. My 15-year-old car was being fixed and I’d been stuck in the waiting room for hours, irritated and worried about another $900 repair bill. I’d been watching the man through the window because pedestrians are rare on this particular stretch of road but also because he was elderly with an unsteady gait.
When he fell and remained unmoving, I yelled for the mechanics to call 911 and raced across the street. I stood over him on the curb so that the cars would slow and ease to the other side of the lane. The man stirred and a couple minutes later sat up. By this time more people had run over to help. Two young women (one with a blond ponytail, one wearing a hijab and both surgical techs) took his pulse, a middle-aged tall guy jumped out of his car in the parking lot to help; a middle Eastern gentleman, an employee from the store next door, ran over to see what he could do; a young man (I’m not sure where he came from) remained on his phone with 911 and directed them.
The injured man told me his name and shook his head no when I asked if had any family that I could call. He just wanted to get to his motel room, he said, which was about 400 yards away. Well, that might as well have been 400 miles since he couldn’t even stand.
Then came the sirens and flashing lights. The cavalry arrived. When the man told the paramedics that he was 61 years old I was shocked. He looked closer to 80. He seemed confused, possibly inebriated or possibly mentally ill, repeatedly saying he got dizzy with panic attacks and that he didn’t mean to cause any trouble. His clothing was simple – tee shirt, pull on pants, slip on shoes, a Chicago Bears cap. He needed a haircut and shave. Was he a veteran? Was he a parent? Grandparent? What had happened to him? I didn’t know.
I admit I worried that the paramedics and police officers would be brusque and impatient with the man After all, the news over the past month has been filled with gut-punching stories about cutting federal funding for the elderly, the homeless, the poor, the mentally ill; from rationalizing its necessity to outright glee that we, as a country, wouldn’t have to support “them” anymore.
I was flat-out wrong. Everyone involved that day, from concerned bystanders to overworked emergency personnel, men and women, young and old, different races and faiths, all treated the man with respect. Eventually, the medics and police officers gently coaxed him with humor and kindness into going to the hospital. And once there Social Services would look out for him after he was discharged (which he was later that day).
This incident on a Saturday afternoon reminded me that people are basically good. I’d forgotten that, or misplaced it, or stopped believing that as long as there are good people in this world, there is hope. Simplistic? Maybe. But this realization made my day brighter and I’ll take that over a gut punch all day long and twice on Sundays.
Because I hadn’t even known how desperately I needed the reminder I am sharing this story in case anyone else needs it.
When people find out that I’m an author I get comments that I bet many authors get like:
“I’ve never heard of you.” Um, it’s Anna Kyle, I just introduced myself (I say silently, people, silently)
“Oh, I only read NYT bestsellers/nonfiction/thrillers.” Nod and smile.
Sometimes it’s a simple “that’s nice” before they move on to someone more exciting. And that’s totally okay.
But the really interested people, the ones whose eyes brighten and you know instantly that they love reading and writing and possibly yearn in their heart of hearts to be published, will ask questions and the #1 question is a version of “How do you do it/What’s your process?”
I love talking to them. My answer will be different from other authors simply because I’m me. Everyone’s journey in life is different and writing is no exception. My writing process is constantly evolving but some things remain constant.
WRITE WHEN YOU FEEL PRODUCTIVE. I write best in the morning so I like to wake up early on my late start days for work and write a bit. My alarm goes off every morning at 5 a.m. even on weekends. Yes, that’s the ass-crack of dawn today and the middle of the night during winter. I’d be lying if I said I write every morning, but I do it a lot. I’ve become a morning person. In my days after college I’d stay up writing until 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning writing fast and furious. Not so much anymore. Work, life, responsibilities have transformed this night owl into a grumpy morning lark.
OMG GET YOUR IDEAS DOWN. I write down all my ideas, well, the good ones. Readers and writers are cut from the same cloth or two sides of the same coin, in my opinion. By that I mean we both have active, fertile imaginations. Ideas are fleeting, ephemeral. When one sparks, write it down because you WILL forget it. And yes, I keep a pad and pen by my bed but tbh, I only used it twice.
WRITE A LOT. I also don’t usually write every day (four to six days a week depending on the week). Unless a deadline is zooming toward me, then, yes, I write every day
LEARN IT. There is no substitute for learning the craft of writing. I have a writing background as a reporter and later freelance writer but I found out quickly that fiction is another beast entirely. I attended workshops and read tons of books on the subject and, if asked, that would be my #1 nugget of wisdom to readers aspiring to be authors.
Thanks for having me, Night Owl. It’s been a hoot (ugh sorry, not like you haven’t heard that one ten thousand times and cringe L I’ll show myself out 🙁 )
This post originally appeared at nightowlreviews.com in June 2016