By Robin Postell
If you are a writer, like me, and you wonder why in the hell you can’t just write a damn book already, you’ve come to the right place.
Accomplished and as published as I am, I sit here and wonder why I don’t just write the damn thing.
Already. I mean, come on.
Here’s my brief history, to start the ball rolling.
My writing life began as early as I can remember. When I was seven, I started my first journal – which I still have. I carried that habit with me to present-day, which means it’s not easy to pick up and move. There are literally trunks of notebooks, bound journals, and anything else I could find to write on from earliest childhood. Since I’ve been here for five decades, let’s just say that it’s not an easy tote to new locales.
A compulsion, truly, writing was just something I could not NOT do. Writing as tiny as I possibly could, and using front and page pages, margins, headers, footers, I wrote about – literally – every single little (and big) thing that happened to me. Or that I was thinking. No mental or experiential stone was left unturned.
Using my father’s UGA typing manual, I taught myself to type at the age of seven, and wrote my first short book then. I can’t even tell you exactly what it was about, but it was about some kid friends and one of them died and o-so-tragically all were rendered heart-broken. Something along those lines.
And there was my writer/photographer daddy, always cheering me on. He was my proverbial North Star.
My father was a celebrated, if not controversial, investigative journalist, state editor, and author. I grew up following him around in the various newsrooms where he worked, learning how to process my own 35-mm film and print out scads of photos in darkrooms, and rode shotgun on his back road beats of Southwest Georgia, sometimes standing up and hanging onto his earlobe for balance. This was a charmed life.
And before you ask why I wasn’t in a car seat or seat-belted in, this was back in the 70s and my daddy would cut out the seatbelts because they just got in his way. He would drive 100 mph around backwoods hairpin curves, oft ending up wrapped around some farmer’s tree or in a manmade pond where hogs would water. Yes, this happened.
But back to my story.
As a child, I recall waking up to the smell of coffee, bacon, eggs, that early-morning hot-grease South Georgia aroma only someone from the place really gets. And the sound of my father’s manual Royal typewriter keys, banging, banging, banging out whatever brilliant epic front page (or page five, didn’t matter) article he was bringing to fruition with his four a.m. muse whispering in his ear, became a soundtrack throughout my entire life with him.
He would always tell me, “Writers write, always.” I offer that to you, my friends. You. Must. Write.
Yes, yes, write, write, write, that’s all I knew. And read. Of course I was already reading adult library books before I was out of elementary school, although I kept up appearances by reading the “suggested” list of for kids. I won every public library reading contest there was. It was never a challenge.
My father wrote a book about the fairly famous Alday murders, beginning with the slaughter of six beloved members of one of Seminole County’s most revered farm families on May 14, 1973 when I was only five. But the breadth of it carried on for 30 years, until the ringleader of their killers was put to death on Georgia’s death row. But, honestly, it didn’t end there. I’m still on the precipice of writing a sequel to his two books on the topic – thus the purpose of this blog post!
My father would load my mother and me up in whichever high-dollar company car Gray Comm (who owned The Albany Herald where he then worked) had provided for him, and heading to Donalsonville, Georgia where the trials were being held for the four mass murderers who had brutally, “heinously,” as Gov. Jimmy Carter was quoted, taken the lives of The Aldays.
That name will live on in my mind forever. Aldays. Aldays. Aldays. My five-year-old head was teeming with images about what it must have been like to be shot and killed in their home, with all their kinfolk, by strangers from out of town. Daddy would cover the trials and mama and I would hole up at the motel. I’m sure I swam in the pool, and I remember walking up and down the breezeways, running into people, in search of other kids like me (fat chance). The last thing on my mind was murder at that point. I was all about my parents, Disney, and watching movies. We were the self-tagged “Three Muskies.”
We were going to live forever. Together. Guess what! That did not happen, exactly. More on that in another diatribe.
That sets the stage for the fact that my life was full of topics from the get-go. As are, I’m quite sure, all of you writers who might be reading this. What life, truly, has no great masterpiece embedded within it?
I would say none.
So, here we go. I’d like to see what you’ve got, because I’m going to be sharing my own stuff with you. Let’s collaborate. I’ve already written one novel, Underbelly, which was reviewed at William Morris Agency, but alas. I couldn’t take the heat and never sent any editorial suggested copy back. That was too long ago to even try counting.
Underbelly, I will add here presumptuously, is a fine piece of work. I just need to…publish it!
Leave your ideas in the comment section below, or links to your work. I’ll be publishing a wide range of topics, ranging from previous published articles, random blog posts, and creative writing. I look forward to hearing your own ideas about writing, and how committed you are to pursuing being published, either self- or mainstreamly so.
This is a non-judgment zone. My punctuation might not always be absolutely correct because I’m not scrutinizing myself here like I would were I under deadline and throwing myself before editors. Let’s just relax, but write, seriously.
I’ll continue my story on the next episode! Tell me if this is interesting to you, and what aspects you would like to hear more about! I look forward to the same from you.