My first talent in this life was writing. According to my mother, who raised me on a strict diet of poetry and prose, everyone from A.A. Milne to Emily Dickinson, I wrote my first poem at the age of 2. The poem was:
“Num num num, I chew my gum, num num num.” A masterpiece.
My mother is a writer and so is my grandmother. My grandma still writes today, even though she’s in her 90’s, for the Intermezzo, the magazine of the Chicago Federation of Musicians. And my aunt, an elegant combination of artist and healer, recently published her first book.
My father, an English major and songwriter, raised me on Shakespeare. I can still recite his favorite sonnet: “Let me not to the marriage of true minds, admit impediments…” This is one of the things you couldn’t help but hear come out of his mouth if you spent enough time with him. I never reminded him of how often he’d repeated it to me, because it was my favorite too. He challenged me once to interpret it, in the same way in which my mother challenged me with lines from Dickinson. They would say, what do you think this line means? And they were proud and amazed when I’d be able to understand these writers’ obscure metaphors, which predated my existence by centuries.
My grandmother on my father’s side, was an English teacher. She, I’m told, was a true wit and unfortunately I never got the chance to meet her. My father always says, I would have loved her.
So with all of this literary heritage, needless to say, I’ve spent my entire life writing poetry, short stories, songs, and everything in between. But, I’ve never really attempted to do anything with it professionally.
I remember reading Tori Amos’s biography and her personal account of the moment when she decided to abandon 80’s glam rock, and go back to her roots, arriving eventually at the landmark album “Little Earthquakes” which somehow accomplished the amazing feat of being a breath of fresh air and simultaneously a blast from the past.
Being an avid Tori Amos fan, I look to her life as a blueprint for my own. Could I, at this late stage, go “back to my roots” and find success being a writer?
I’ve been blogging for a long time. That’s, arguably, a form of writing. It really is more like journaling, which I’ve also done since a young age. But I guess I never really took it seriously. These days, you can make a living being a professional blogger. That sounds almost as ridiculous to me as being a professional shopper, or video game player, because like those things, writing has always seemed to me to be more of an escape than a profession. But, I’m realizing lately that the thing which has been missing in my life is doing something as my work that doesn’t FEEL like work. In other words, having that thing which I do without thinking, be also that which makes me a living.
Writing is my most basic gift. Whether I was born with it, or whether I am simply the product of all the Shakespeare and Dickinson I grew up around, it’s in my blood. I think Archie Comics also had a lot to do with it, somehow. But I’m a writer. Pure and simple. I know that by the fact that I am doing this, writing this, right now, to escape “working.” It’s what I run to when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m in pain, when I’m inspired, and when I feel nothing at all. When I change and when I stay the same, I put it on the page as a method of breathing, of processing, of making my way through life. Isn’t it funny that I would just figure this out, at this age. It feels like finally keeping a promise to a friend, which you made about 10 years ago, apologizing all the way. But it also feels like coming home.
I suppose in your late 30’s you start trying to simplify your existence. You look at what you have, which hasn’t disappeared with the travelling circus of your 20’s, and what wasn’t abolished with the “race to face reality” of your early 30’s. What you’re left with, is your core. It’s what were born with, and what you will die with. It’s what you have to offer, and what you can’t escape. It’s your bones.
So, I guess this is sort of a coming out party. Here I am, world, writing at this desk I bought on craigslist, on which sits my cat, and my half-drunk 3rd cup of coffee of the day, in my home office with butterfly stickers on the wall. My name is Lane DiBlasi, and I’m a writer.
June 22, 2016