My Morning Habit
I’ve reached the point in my life where you sit me down in my chair, wind me up, and I write. As my friend Tony Plog has said about composing, you start with inspiration, move to discipline, and finally settle into habit. I’m sitting there now.
Years ago, when I was relying on inspiration and then discipline, I started out writing novels for kids—stories of mystery, sports, comedy, adventure, science fiction. My goal was to entertain, and I did it for fifteen years.
Next I caught the theater bug, and in the following decade I wrote plays. For a general audience, they explored the worlds of umpires, symphony trumpet players, cartoonists, and child actors.
Two of my plays were selected for the National Playwrights Conference, where I learned to write with more depth and substance. Sadly, none of the plays was produced, and I woke up one day to realize I was basically writing for myself and an audience of about twenty. Some of my friends barely even knew I was a writer.
Alarmed at the thought, I returned to the world of books, where I discovered that my writing had changed. I was no longer satisfied just to entertain young readers; I wanted to move them, inspire them, make them think. I stumbled onto historical fiction and loved it. My characters hung out with John Scopes, Elvis Presley, Richard Feynman, Martin Luther King Jr., and the Carter Family.
When the pandemic began, I kept writing novels, finishing up a story about a kid who goes bicycle riding with Albert Einstein. However, the events that gave me extra time to write had decimated the book business, and now my manuscript—in fact, my last two manuscripts—were stuck in limbo.
Caught up in my habit, I barely noticed. I finished an opera with Tony, helped him with another one, and planned a couple more. I cranked out short pieces reflecting on my life, current and past. I prepared to publish a series of eight novella-length memoirs I had written over the years, which I called “Stories from My Life.”
I looked up, and the landscape had changed. I had entered a new stage. I could feel the train speeding along but wasn’t sure where it was going. I liked that.
And so each morning, as always, I’ll pour myself a cup of coffee, plop down at my computer, turn it on, and see what comes out.
It will be a good day.