Monday, June 26, 2006

acting on it

it feels good to take a clean sheet of paper and start to realize a dream.

about twenty-three or twenty-four years ago, i surprised my mother by showing her i actually could read words and sentences in the stories she'd been reading me nightly. over the next few years, people would pay me quarters or candy to show off my reading skills. i devoured any book brought my way.

about nineteen years ago, i started writing in a little diary my dad bought for me to write in. i still have it. there began a lifelong habit of articulating feelings, thoughts, and dreams on paper.

about seventeen years ago, i wrote one of my first stories, inspired by all of the books i was reading. already at that point, i'd begun to understand such things as character development, plot momentum, climax, and bringing a story to a close.

about sixteen years ago, i wrote a biography of myself from the standpoint of the future - who i thought i would be when i grew up... it's not quite who i'm turning out to be, but the little narrative shows imagination and promise.

about twelve years ago, the teachers realized that i should have been in advanced placement english. i thrived under their encouragement.

about eleven years ago, i started writing poetry about boys and stuff...

about nine years ago, i chose not to major in writing seminars or creative writing. i had no idea what i would do with such a degree besides teach english somewhere. it didn't seem reliable or practical. i took a intro level class in the english department. bored me to tears! but i came to love some of the more advanced courses that allowed me to build and defend creative theses on interesting literature. besides the riveting discussions and reading from the social sciences classes i took, these papers (and laudatory comments that graced their A's and B's) were the highlight of my time in academia... it was about this time that i heard spoken word for the first time ever.

six or seven years ago, with dreams of writing novels that would treat others to stories like the ones i grew up devouring (and an actual semi-autobiographical story idea in my back pocket) i uttered before witnesses for the first time that i was going to publish a book someday.

about four years ago, i was bored at my library job, and a poetry thread on a message board caught my eye. i started with haikus... then worked my way into poetry with free verses, full of imagery, folk wisdom, observations, and various manifestations of love.

about three years ago, i went to my first open mic. i found it online and went out by myself in search of spoken word. i loved the atmosphere and the people, but most importantly, the creative use of words. i did not have the nerve to get on the mic.

about a year ago, i moved to philly in search of urban life and a place where there would be more poetry venues. i went to an open mic and read for the first time in front of others - someone told me to be humble enough to recognize that i shouldn't keep God-given gifts to myself. not much time passed before i started blogging and hitting every open mic i could. i joined a poetry collective and was a featured poet at a few venues.

twenty-four years and i'm just now turning all this over in my head, realizing who i am and what i'm supposed to be doing with myself. but even more so, i'm ACTING ON IT.

it doesn't often take too much energy or courage or initiative to dream. but what about taking action? at some point, you have to get the ball rolling... time doesn't hesitate in its passing. i don't want the years that start each of these paragraphs to increase indefinitely before i'm autographing covers. so i won't let them.