I’m back on the road again
by Rick Watson
Oct 09, 2011 | 1939 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Rick Watson
Rick Watson
I let myself get a little down Friday as I prepared to write this column. I’d read some short stories by my friend Dale Short, and the stories that won Rick Bragg a Pulitzer Prize a few years ago.

I thought to myself — who am I kidding, I’m no writer.

Jackson Browne wrote a tune called ‘A Song For Adam,’ and one of the verses in the song seemed to fit my mood:

Though Adam was a friend of mine, I did not know him long.

And when I stood myself beside him, I did not feel that strong.

I study, read and the Good Lord knows I practice writing every day, but when I compare my work to the work of others, I feel as though I’m still in writer kindergarten eating paste and printing with one of those big fat pencils.

There are those who say that being able to write is a gift — you’re either born with the gift, or your not. But there are others who say that writing is a skill that can be learned.

As with any skill, you have to learn to crawl before you can sprint. I know that somewhere in between lies the truth.

So, where do I go from here? I know I can’t go back.

Writing has become a part of who I am.

As I struggled to come up with a decent idea for this column, I started feeling a little sorry for myself. I decided to take a break and get away from the keyboard for a while, so I went to see my mom at Ridgeview Nursing Home in Jasper.

As we sat talking, an elderly woman with hair as white as aspirin bottle cotton pecked on mama’s open door before wheeling herself into the room in her rolling chair.

She had a copy of my book Remembering Big in her lap. She said “are you the one who wrote this book.”

I told her I was. She rolled a little closer and said “I just finished reading it, and I loved it.”

Not once did she mention that I needed to bone up on my grammar, word selection, and paragraph transitions.

She didn’t point out that some of my analogies were stretched as thin as a depression dollar.

She simply said that she loved my stories and after reading the book, she felt as though she knew me and my wife Jilda.

It was a heartfelt complement that I found touching.

I could have hugged her neck.

When I returned home, I took a moment to reflect and put things in perspective. I’d lost sight of the fact that writing isn’t a race, but a journey.

All writers are at different places along the way.

I have to admit, that some writers have made better time on their trip than me, but the road is long.

The main thing I need to be concerned with is being a better writer today than I was yesterday.

Thanks to the little cotton-haired lady at Ridgeview for helping me out of my rut, and getting me back on the road again.