I was born in mid-coast Maine a few days after they expected me, yet just barely gave the doctor enough time to get in the delivery room when I was finally ready. I'm sure that means something important to a psychoanalyst, but I'd rather not delve too deeply.
Until the age of twelve, I lived in a very old house about a mile from the Atlantic. The Maine woods are very thick and tangled, and I benefited greatly from the ability to take ten paces into them and be in my own world. Every place has some magic in it, but I'll go out on a limb and say that Maine has a little more than average. You may seek a second opinion on that, but I think you'll find that some impressive individuals may back me up on this.
'At twelve, I moved west (all alone, with only a pack of cigarettes and a half bottle of whiskey) and lived in Las Vegas briefly. That didn't seem quite like a big enough change, so I went ahead and moved to Bullhead City, Arizona, then Mojave Valley, then Lake Havasu. I managed to keep the travelin' jones in check long enough to finish high school in the latter city. You may detect a whole Colorado River theme here. There is one. I can't explain it.
For those of you who want to know what I was up to in school, here are a few observations: I found the curriculum fairly easy, and did well in the standardized battery of tests. I also found that my primary athletic skills were rooted in endeavors regarding lifting heavy objects and knocking people down. I had the opportunity to continue to do these things at a higher level, but elected to let those pass and concentrate on my intellectual pursuits (ah, yes, those of you who know me well are laughing now).
I went to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas for a year, but once again, Sin City and I had a tempestuous relationship. I adjourned to the comfortable environs of Flagstaff, Arizona for the remainder of my college career. I learned how to say, "I hold a Bachelor's of Arts from Northern Arizona University. I graduated Magna Cum Laude with an English Degree." I enjoyed saying that stuff for a time, but soon found that the words meant little, and I was supposed to actually do something with my life.
I worked for the school system in Page, Arizona (yes, next to the Colorado River, for those of you keeping score). Soon enough, I had the best job ever: teaching Native American kids to play guitar. Of course, I am self taught and frankly, a fairly lousy hand at anything much more complex than "Smoke on the Water". Having started with the electric bass, I am somewhat of a knuckle dragger, though my aspirations still remain high. The long and short of it was that I lacked any real qualification to continue in my cherished occupation. As this fact impressed itself on me, I came back around to the essential truth of my existence--that I needed to write.
I wrote a great deal of poetry. Free verse, Haiku, some pretty good, some pretty iffy. I wrote the obligatory Conan novel. I wrote a flawed story about a big blond guy with a funny name that I still cherish, but wonder if I'll ever be able to fix. I got to work on those 500,000 mythic words that you have to write to get something good out. Along the way, I was able to get published in several poetry anthologies that I didn't like very much and recieved a little card to put in my wallet commemorating this minor accomplishment.
Next up for the kid, a trip to Salt Lake City, to preside over the doctors saving my father's life by cracking his chest open like a clam, as well as the slow death of my oldest aunt. I went ahead and wrote another, much larger book about the already-mentioned blond guy. This one, clocking in at a good eight inches deep in manuscript form, took me a good little chunk of time to complete. Unfortunatly, I liked it even better, and found it nearly as difficult to shape into a marketable product.
More poetry. A lot more. Books and book fragments enough to choke an ox. I found a job at the Salt Lake City Public Library, much to my own surprise. Much like my other moves, it seems to have been a complete accident. Happily, I enjoyed the work, fixing their computers when they ceased to function, and I'm still there now.
I suppose that brings us up to the present. Here I am, not the smashing bestseller I'd initially hoped to be, but still writing and still honing the craft. I'm no less in love with the process, stem to stern, as I ever was, though I might be a bit wiser. I would caution another person who wanted to follow my steps. I would warn this acolyte of the pen and page that this is a way of disappointment and pain, of hard striving against an ephemeral enemy, that blank white space which always taunts us. Then again, I would also say that each person deserves to feel the elation of creating something out of nothing. It is as deified as a heathen like myself can feel.
I find myself here, after so many thousand hours at the keyboard, a hopeful man. I still feel that my words will get out there, that a book on the shelf will have my name on it someday soon. Perhaps it's madness, but I will judge that it is an inspired madness, and I cannot renounce it.
It should be noted that the biographical sketch above has not been checked for factual content, and may, in fact, be somewhat fanciful in places (PMT).
All original content Copyright Patrick M. Tracy All rights reserved.