Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wednesday night in Alpena, Michigan

Kids settling in their rooms. S.B. gone to a meeting. So it is just me. The dog. The cat. Winter out there somewhere. Pushing its way toward this old house. And as the dog sleeps at my feet. The cat sits next to me and purrs. I finally come down from another day of doing what needs to be done so my brain can stretch its legs. Warm up. Then run. Take me down the road. To the time when winter comes for good. The warmth and light are gone and I’m left standing in an empty room. Just me. The Unknown. And the highlight reel. One last chance for me to revel in moments I missed while I was busying being alive. My childhood on The Ridge. Running the woods and fields with my best friends, my brothers, Kevin and Keith. The three of us a team and together no matter what. The shitty years of school. Elementary through high school. Being teased. Picked on. Shoved aside. Fully of worry and a great lack of self confidence because nobody could have ever known what was going on inside. Moving out on my own. The apartments. Jobs. Friends, parties, and girls. Coming alive and recognizing my strengths at CMU. Then Minneapolis and Saint Paul. Where everything rose up like a great wave then came crashing down. Because I had not yet learned the art of moderation. And then back to town. To find love through fearless loving. And follow it. Meet my boy. Marry my girl. Discover my daughter. And begin putting together the bits and pieces I’d gathered over the span of 33 years so I could make good choices. Be the best husband and daddy I could be. And somehow get here. Wednesday night in Alpena, Michigan. Kids safe and sound. Slipping slowly into dream. My wife out there, putting her goodness into the world. So it is just me. The dog. The cat. And winter whirling around in the trees. Forcing autumn to move along. Get on with the change, so it can come and stay for good. Threaten us with darkness. Cold. That subtle emptiness that fills quickly with regret and worry when we’re alone. But that’s why it means so much that we have this. This old house. Dog sleeping at my feet. Cat purring. And time—finally—to come down. Do what really needs doing. So the brain can stretch. Warm. And run me away from the Unknown. So I can revel in the highlights and remember that this is IT. My last chance to live the moments that are sometimes missed when I’m so busy being alive. ~ K.J. Copyright © KJ Stevens 2012

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the every day

I'm supposed to blog here to increase my chances of being a successful writer. I'm supposed to write about writing. I'm supposed to read other blogs. Get involved. Be a contributor. Provide feedback. Share tips. A writer these days needs to network. Employ social media. Write about politics, religion, current events. But I’m raising kids. Trying to make my wife’s life the best it can be. And all I ever want to write about is THE EVERY DAY. But this—it appears—is not enough. You must want more. And you must be able to do more. The requirements of success are only met by having a broad skill set. But mine has been narrowed—over the years—to one. And that, my friend, is like being bitched from the start when all you’ve ever known is that you want to be the best fucking writer since Carver, Davis, Shaw, and Hemingway. But you aren't supposed to want to be the best. You're supposed to build a portfolio. Provide constructive criticism. Run workshops. Teach English Comp. And—most importantly—you should embrace the flavor of the season. Vampires, erotica, the election. Because if Stephanie Meyer, E. L. James, and Mark Owen can do it, you can do it too. Just read them. Imitate. Emulate. And before you know it, you’re selling books. Doing readings. The next best thing. But I don’t want fifteen minutes or a series of like-minded books. I want a lifetime. And if that means I’ll never cash the checks, pay the tab, make the house payment, and I’ll always be that guy from Michigan that drinks too much, writes too plainly, and never hits it big, then I suppose I’ll have really accomplished something. ~ K.J.