SKF NOTE: I’ve written about some of my key musical influences. But what about my writing influences? When did that start?
I am surprised I cannot pinpoint a specific moment when I fell in love with writing. My parents were readers. Growing up I read comic strips, comic books, young readers books, (i.e. The Hardy Boys Series), magazines (MAD, and Famous Monsters of Filmland, hot rods and auto racing), and children’s history books about The American Revolution, The American Civil War, pirates, WWI fighter pilots.
My father graduated Syracuse University with a journalism degree. All my life he was a magazine editor, then a book editor. He worked first for Boy’s Life, then Sports Afield, and most of my life, Outdoor Life. I have memories of my dad on weekends, sitting on our living room sofa with a typed manuscript, a yellow legal pad, and red pencils, editing magazine articles. That was my first look at proofreaders marks.
Writing letters to grandparents and other relatives, I suppose, was my intro to writing. Long distance telephone calls were too expensive. If I wanted to communicate with family members, letter writing was the best means of communication. My letters were written mostly in longhand. We had a manual typewriter at home. Sometimes I used it and two fingers to peck out a personal letter. But that method was slow. My brain was always working faster than my two fingers could type.
I learned penmanship, grammar, and spelling in school and at home. I was also privvy to my father’s rapid writing on his manual typewriter. Wanting to learn how to type with all fingers on both hands I enrolled in a high school typing class. Typical of my attitude about school (forced confinement!) I learned how to type and how to format business letters (headings, dates, introductions, closings, tabs, margins), paying little attention to the rest.
So early on I loved reading, history, writing to communicate with people, and, on a manual typewriter, I was typing with accuracy 100 words per minute. CARToons magazine published my poem, “The Midnight Ride of Paul Chevelle,” when I was 15-years old. That was a complete surprise. My poem was just a Chevy fan’s response to a pro-Ford Paul Revere spoof CARToons published. That was my introduction as a published (unpaid) freelance writer.
In junior high school and high school, through new friends at school, work, and in my neighborhood, I was exposed to more and more varied musicians and writers. Time now to sort out those experiences and how they – and other experiences – were my training ground for getting paid to write about musicians, mostly drummers.
To be continued….