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An Ode To Writers

Author’s Note

At the risk of seeming self-serving and self-praising, I give you this note of praise for those who continue the fine tradition of writing. To all the writers out there, I salute you.

Dedicated to the finest storyteller I have ever known, Grandpa O’Dowd! Thank you for stoking my fires.

Sitting at the foot of my grandfather, a great story teller.

Sitting at the foot of my grandfather, a great story teller.

The Creatives

They are the eyes for the blind, the ears for the deaf, the purveyors of all five senses, the receptors and the translators. They see, relay in words; they smell, relay in words; they hear, relay in words; they taste and feel, capture the moment, and readers, young and old, large and small, are transported into a scene as real as the one they currently reside in.

They appear quite normal at first glance, nearly impossible to pick out of a crowd, blending in with the normies, no clues apparent, but there is no doubt about it, they are not quite tuned into the vibes felt by ninety-nine percent. They see a tree and a scene unfolds. They walk by a baby carriage and a plot takes shape. A word here, a note there, a sound, as simple as a garbage can banging in the distance, and the origins of a poem are born.

“What are you looking at?” he asks, and she replies “that boat in the distance,” all true on the surface, but that boat is sailing into Page One of her future book, and no way is she sharing that tidbit of information with him, a first-time date not suitable for those types of revelations.

“Where did you go to? You spaced out on me,” and she’s correct, he did space out, while eating dinner, a bite of mashed potatoes, a quick conversation about the kids, a summary of the day’s events, and he was AWOL, concentrating on the dog rolling on the rug, that dog suddenly rolling in a field, circa 1940, England, bombs falling on a pasture nearby, the dog jumping to its feet, racing for home as sirens sound and ambulances make their way to the destruction.

They walk among us, looking quite normal.

They walk among us, looking quite normal.

Where Do They Come From?

Skin and bone, blood and tissue, out the birth canal they come, same as you, same as me, nothing remarkable about it, or every bit as remarkable as any birth, no hint in the birth, no clue that this one, and that one over there, are slightly off-kilter. Watch them crawl, listen to them bawl, early childhoods provide no hint, but . . .

As they grow older, to a discerning eye, it becomes obvious. The Creatives, the writers among them, are the quiet kids, the shy kids, the ones off in a corner, moving little manlike figures around, dreaming up scenarios, play-acting, the actress and director and production managers, all in one.

They are the ones with “heads in the clouds,” the dreamers, the schemers, the ones dancing to the beat of a different drummer, and only they can hear that beat. They learn differently, they feel differently, and oftentimes they act differently, risking the ostracizing and the name-calling, focused on the unfocused, seeing things others cannot, and more often than not it will remain that way for the remainder of their lives, for the muse will not be denied no matter how many obstacles she faces.

Is it heredity? Are there “creative genes” which some kids are not allowed to possess? Or is it simply happenstance, a random roll of the dice, a reaction to this, or that, a psychic detour from the norm?

I have no answers to those questions even though I am one of them. I simply know it is true.

They see what many cannot see!

They see what many cannot see!

How Does It Happen?

The creative process is a mystery. How it happens is beyond me.

I, and others like me, see in similes. We see in metaphors. We see in analogies. The dictionary and thesaurus are our bibles. Black is not black, but obsidian. Blue is not blue, but robin’s egg. White is purity, black is evil, and gray is confusion. There are no absolutes, only layers of intricate subtleties.

Ideas and storylines simply appear without bidding. The world is a giant writing prompt. Shakespeare wrote that “all the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” and creative writers know that to be true. Stories and poems await us in grocery stores, in department stores, and in hardware stores. Characters are born at the park, in church, standing in line for a latte, or during a walk through a cemetery.

Thank the gods!

Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Lee . . . Tennyson, Bronte, Byron, and Eliot . . . from The Divine Comedy, marching through the Ages, to the current best-sellers, writers and poets have entertained, informed, and forced us all to think about life and the ramifications of our actions, and for that they deserve our thanks and deep-appreciation.

Thank the Gods, Again, That It Does Happen

My earliest memories of reading involved the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew. For the life of me, I do not remember the authors of those series, but I do remember the sheer joy their stories delivered. I would hide underneath the covers, literally with a flashlight in my hands, and read long-past my bedtime, dead-tired for school the next day, but satiated nonetheless. The fire was stoked inside of me by the time I was ten, for sure, and it only grew in intensity for decades to follow.

And every writer reading this, right now, understands.

Writing gave me an outlet. Writing gave me a voice. Writing allowed a shy, quiet kid to feel normal.

Hours, days, weeks, months, time has no meaning, they bend over a writing pad, or a keyboard, and they write, tapping on keys, bringing scenes to life, bringing characters to life, ignoring chores, ignoring responsibilities, lost in a world only they can see. And then one day, one glorious day, the end arrives, it is time to publish, it is time to send the creation out to the world, to gauge reaction, hit the key, publish, sit back, take a deep sigh, wait for the reaction, wait, wait, wait . . .

And the expected throngs shrink to single digits, and the rave reviews do not materialize; publishers, agents, rejection after rejection or, even worse, compete antipathy from friends and family, a resounding yawn from the online crowd, and what is their reaction to it all? What do the writers do when their precious work is immediately shelved, immediately dismissed, immediately rebuffed with the whip-like slap of apathy?

They sit down and begin writing the next story, the next poem, the next novel . . .

Because writers write!

Their passion cannot be ignored. Their need to communicate, to tell a story, cannot be silenced. Recognition and fame would be nice. Hell, an actual payday would be nice, but the only thing which truly fuels a writer is the love of writing. Without it the scribe, the poet, the author are simply transcribers of words, filling up pages with meaningless letters.

We need more storytellers like my Grandpa O’Dowd. We need more people able to give the ethereal substance, able to feed imaginations, able to provide a diversion from the mundane and the depressing, from the day-to-day stress inherent in just living life.

We need writers! The tradition, handed down through centuries, first begun in caves, around fires, scribbled on rock walls, must continue, and if you are a writer, reading this, I want to say one thing, one drop of fuel to keep your engine running . . .

Thank you!

2020 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

“Helping writers to spread your wings and fly.”

Comments

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 01, 2021:

I greatly appreciate those kind words, Greg. Thank you and Happy New Year to you and your family.

greg cain from Idaho, USA on December 31, 2020:

Hi Bill - from this old hack to you, a real writer, I want to pass along my own thanks, as well. You are an inspiration when time and other externals conspire to keep me away from the keyboard. You are always working at your craft, always encouraging others to do the same. Thanks for being there for us, for me, in that way. Happy New Year, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

That is humbling, Ruby, and I thank you. If my encouragement is important to you, I am a happy man. Thank you and Happy New Year to you.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on December 31, 2020:

Hi Bill, Just when I feel that I have nothing to say, my muse pops in and reminds me that I love to write poetry. I love your writing, especially the trips we take with the doggies. You write so vividly I always feel like I'm there and see the events with the neighbors and the critters as they scamp around. You are a gifted writer, and your encouragement means so much to me. Thank you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Lora, you are always so positive and supportive in your comments. Thank you for that. I hope 2021 is a wonderful year for you. Thank you and Happy New Year!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

You are, indeed, a writer, John, so thank you for the kind words. If I passed your scrutiny then I'm satisfied.

Happy New Year, my friend.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Thank you James! High praise and I'm grateful for it. Happy New Year to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

And you are very kind, Mary! Thank you and Happy New Year to you.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Thank you Pamela. I loved books so much, I even read Crime and Punishment. lol That is the true test of a reader.

Thank you for your friendship, and Happy New Year to you and your husband.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

I believe you are correct, Peg, although I would have never thought of her name without your help, so thank you, and thank you for reading this and sharing thoughts about you dad. Happy New Year to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Thank you Sha! It's hard for me to think in terms of gifts regarding my writing. I just think I need to work harder at my craft and maybe, some day, I'll be pretty good. lol

Great story you shared. Thanks for that. I love the word raconteur.

Happy New year, dear friend, and love always.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Thank you Manatita, and Happy New Year to you! Somewhere, Grandpa O'Dowd is smiling down upon us both.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Thank you, Chitrangada Sharan, for sharing that memory of your father. That is special!

Happy New Year to you, my friend, and thank you for your kind words.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Thanks for sharing that, Denise. I loved Call of the Wild as well. I couldn't imagine a place like the Yukon, so wild and frigid, but it gave birth to many stories in my mind. :) Happy New Year to you, and blessings always.

bill

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 31, 2020:

Thank you Missy! It sounds like there's a lot of writing talent in that family tree of yours. Thanks for sharing it all, and Happy New Year to you!

Lora Hollings on December 31, 2020:

Bill, you captured the soul of the writer in your beautifully written article! Your article helps us to appreciate the miracle that is writing even more. I think we all owe a big thank you to your Grandpa O’Dowd who influenced you to become the marvelous writer that you are. Writers enrich our experience of living in so many ways. Through their articles, stories or poems, they give a voice to those sentient beings who cannot speak for themselves, a voice to those who are abused or oppressed, inspire us with their imaginations, and can help us become better people too. Thank you, Bill, for writing this article! Have a Happy New Year!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on December 30, 2020:

Thank you for writing this Bill. You expressed perfectly what drives a writer or poet to write. I have to agree with every word. I can't imagine a life without stories, poems and books in general. Loved it.

James C Moore from Joliet, IL on December 30, 2020:

You nailed it. Writers write. And, I can tell this piece was written by one of "us." It seemed like you were telling my life story except for people's names.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on December 30, 2020:

Thanks again for the encouragement, Bill. You truly are the champion for writers.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on December 30, 2020:

Bill, this is a wonderful, beautifully written article, I think it describs writers so well. I also think it is an inspiration to anyone who wants to write. There is nothing wrong with being a dreamer, and it is great to write stories.

I have loved to reading all my life. I read I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books and those you listed. I read Gone With the Wind of over 1000 pages in grad school, and I will always read. I missed the comment deadline today due to a doctor appt. and was glad to find this on my feed. LOL

Happy New Year to you and Bev!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on December 30, 2020:

Indeed, more Grandpa O'Dowds or people like my dad who could hold 3 kids in Rapture for hours as he retold a story from his past. He wrote a partial novel in his time and was hijacked by a careless comment about too many characters to keep straight. But those are the stories worth reading, the ones that entertain, make the reader nod their head in understanding if not agreement. "Every meal a banquet, every formation a parade." Thanks for this, Bill. You truly understand the dilemma and exhilaration of writing.

BTW, I believe one of the writers was Carolyn Keene.

Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on December 30, 2020:

Bill, this is brilliantly written and one of your best pieces yet.

I see much of my little girl self in this essay. I preferred to have my imagination entertain me. I'd see stories in the texture of my bedroom walls when I was four. I'd trace the lines for hours while a story blossomed in my head.

I, too, read Nancy Drew and kept each book neatly lined up on the bookshelves in my room. I was a voracious reader as a child and carried the love of reading with me as I grew older. Reading takes us to places we may never see. Reading expands our imaginations and fuels the spark necessary to keep the muse warm.

I remember sitting on the floor at my maternal grandfather's feet, mesmerized by the way he told me about the "injun" who patrolled his property at night ensuring the safety of my family members. I never tired of his stories. He was not just a story-teller, but a raconteur. I have him to thank for embedding creativity into my soul.

Thank you for this beautiful, soothing example of your creative spirit. You have a gift, my friend.

Lots of Love,

Sha

manatita44 from london on December 30, 2020:

Another shout for writers. Exquisitely expressed! More praise to Grandpa O'Dowd. Peace!

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on December 30, 2020:

This is such a delightful read, and absolutely relatable to me, like many others here. You are an inspiration to many of us, as I have always said.

I believe, I have it in me, due to my father. Though, I am no match to him. He was such a well read person and brilliant. Even if, I am a little like him, I feel good about it. Both my parents read a lot, and encouraged us to read. I used to write in my personal diary, since a very young age. My grandfather used to write letters regularly and encouraged us to reply those letters. If there was a mistake, he pointed out in his next reply letter.

You have reminded me of such great memories. Can't thank you enough.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful article.

Denise McGill from Fresno CA on December 30, 2020:

I hated reading until I was 13. No one knew I needed glasses and reading gave me headaches. At 13, armed with glasses, I discovered books! My first was Call of the Wild by Jack London and then someone gave me Carolyn Keene's Nancy Drew Mysteries. What joy. I must have collected 20 or so before I turned to other books as well. But my time alone in a corner was filled with scribblings and drawings. I so identify with your monolog. I am a creative too and I appreciate your thanks. Happy new year, my friend.

Blessings,

Denise

Missy Smith from Florida on December 30, 2020:

This made me smile the whole time I was reading it. I, too, have some people of inspiration on my mom's side. My aunt loved to write, and she got a few things published. My cousins, her sons, are really great writers. I think her oldest son still profits from some of his whimsical tales. He is a lot like me; he likes to explore all his artistic talents. I would also say my grandmother was a writer, as well. She loved to write letters to people. I kept one she wrote to me before she died. I definitely would consider her a storyteller. Unfortunately, she never realized it.

Also, my daughter majors in creative writing and minors in film. She is an absolute genius at storytelling. The scripts and stories she comes up with keep the reader engaged the whole way. I am so in awe of her talent. I am immensely proud to be that kid's mom. She thinks it comes from me. However, she is way, way, more talented than I am. I cannot take credit for her abilities at all. I am excited about her future and what it holds.

Thank you for writing this, Bill. It was a delight to read.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

I actually loved the Nancy Drew novels when I was a child, Rosina! It turns out I had good taste, since you loved them too. :) Happy New Year to you!

Rosina S Khan on December 30, 2020:

Thank you, Bill, for this note of praise and encouragement to the writers of HP.

When I was a child, I loved reading Nancy Drew and when older, I loved to read Agatha Christie's novels.

I really enjoyed reading this article, and I am sure it will uplift the spirits of any writer who reads it. Thank you for sharing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

Linda, I love that you said that to your daughters, and encouraged them to read. What a beautiful gift you gave them.

It is my pleasure, Linda. The old teacher cannot be silenced.

Eric is back! Great news for us all!

Happy New Year dear friend!

Linda Lum from Washington State, USA on December 30, 2020:

It is a miracle of sorts, isn't it, Bill? We all have the same words, the same 26 letters of the alphabet at our disposal, but only a very few can put those letters and words together to transport you. . . anywhere.

When they were young, I would take my daughters to the library every Saturday. I told them that when they read they could go absolutely anywhere in the world, and beyond. Obviously, the same can be said of the author, the one who puts pen to paper.

Thank you for all you do to encourage the loners, the introverts, the misfits of us to do what we were meant to do—to visit old worlds or create new ones, to stir passions, and perhaps brighten the lonely corners of someone else's world.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

Thank you, Audrey, for rising early to comment. You are a gem, and I am humbled by the praise for my writing. I appreciate you greatly, my friend.

Happy New Year!

love,

bill

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on December 30, 2020:

"The world is a giant writing prompt" - wonderful description! So beautifully written. I want to carve every word in this masterpiece into my mind. I love your writing. I love your teaching. Thank you for sharing your artistry with us. Pure inspiration!

(I set my alarm for 6 am to make sure I could comment before this goes to the niche Gods.)

Love,

Audrey

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

Thank you Peggy! If I inspire others, I am a happy man for it. Thank you for sharing part of your experience with us. I, for one, am grateful to have you as a friend.

Happy New Year, Peggy!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

Thank you Umesh, and Happy New Year to you!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

A smile is on my face, brother. Welcome back, Eric! You had us worried.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on December 30, 2020:

Like you, my parents read to us, until we could start reading on our own. The spark for literature, once ignited, is hard to extinguish. I also grew up with storytellers in my family. From my mother, and grandmother, I learned much about our family history, and what the world was like generations ago. My grandpa challenged our ideas and made us think about our thoughts, and what we might express about one thing or another. He did it with humor and intelligence.

I also grew up having an artistic bent. While I have not polished my writing skills as you and others have perfected, I notice small things when walking or looking outside. My dreams are vivid and detailed.

Keep doing what you are doing, Bill Holland. The world needs people like you in it to inspire others!

Umesh Chandra Bhatt from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India on December 30, 2020:

Interesting reading. Thanks.

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on December 30, 2020:

Thank you Bill, this is just what I needed as I return to the pad and keyboard.

I think my big brother Brian is the best storyteller I know. He is a river guide and has been telling them to guests around a campfire for nearly 40 years and they are a prize for all.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on December 30, 2020:

Amen to all you said, Ann! I, too, wonder why others don't see what I see when they step out the door. I'm staring at a story and they are staring at the car and pavement. But I'm very grateful that's the way it is for me. Writing has allowed me to "have a voice." Without it, I'm just a doddering old man grumbling through my day. lol

Happy New Year, my friend. Yes, a little love and friendship would certainly be a nice change of pace.

bill

Ann Carr from SW England on December 30, 2020:

Amen to that, bill! The original storytellers dealt in heritage and tradition, mostly verbal and then written down or painted. Many civilisations owe their knowledge to those who cared enough to tell it like it was, the importance of characters, spirits and events.

Both my granddads told me stories. I grew up in a house full of books and parents who read to me as soon as I could understand words. I had my favourites; they made me laugh, they made me cry - they prompted my emotions.

I can't understand why everyone doesn't see things in the everyday, why they don't conjure up words to go with all sorts of visual, aural, olfactory and tactile stimuli. I consider it a blessing and a gift and I try to use it as much as possible. Words are gold-dust, words are emotions and a way to express anything we want.

A thank you to you for encouraging so many to write and a thank you to you for supporting me, giving me confidence.

I'm actually sitting here, a bit stuck with a couple of pieces of writing, but you've given me a prod in the ribs to see the way through!

Happy New Year, bill, and let's hope all the writers can manage a message of love and friendship in this beautiful but sometimes cruel and difficult world. All power to our elbows!

Ann

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