A Brief History…
What I wanted to do in life and what actually occurred during that pursuit is what has defined me as an individual. I was very young when I first announced that I wanted to be a writer, a storyteller, a playwright and a movie maker. I believed that all of those careers were woven together into a single life. My friends wanted to be ball players (basketball, baseball, football, didn’t much matter as long as there was a ball involved). I was a large child, not much has changed to alter that description other than age and maturity, and so I was guided to play the large man positions. In baseball, I was a catcher. In football, I was on the defensive line. In basketball, I was the center (even though I could not jump or dunk). And while I was not the guy who wanted to make a career out of being an athlete, I was always chosen to be the captain of my teams.
I didn’t think much about my natural leadership skills until an incident occurred on the school bus where two of my friends got into a fist fight. I managed to get between them and with one in each hand I sat them down. The only think the bus driver observed was my breaking up the fight. My mother was called into the principal’s office where I was labeled a “trouble maker” by the bus driver. After interviewing the other students on the bus, the principal learned the truth and I was exonerated and labeled “a leader”.
Labels, while designed to distinguish children from others, may also create attitudes. In third grade, after taking an IQ test (didn’t even know what IQ meant at the time), I was labeled as a “borderline genius”. My score was 140. Suddenly, everyone (my teachers, mom, aunts, grandparents, father and step-father) expected exceptional wisdom, grades, careers paths and grandiose accomplishments. I was ten. And it didn’t help matters that both my mother and step-father worked at Stanford University and many of their closest friends were incredibly intelligent. No-one in my family, myself included, on the day my score was announced, ever thought I would be a college drop-out.
I blame John Steinbeck.
Steinbeck dropped out of Stanford after his freshman year. He became, arguably, one of the top three American writers and his works were well received in theater, Of Mice and Men, and on the big screen, Grapes of Wrath, The Red Pony, and East of Eden. In his letters, he spoke of “gaining experience”. I took his words to heart. I didn’t want to go to Stanford, I wanted to see the world, experience life, and write about it.
Funny thing, though. I was much better at math than I was at English. I carried straight A’s through high school in the analytic science and C’s in the written word. While my wanderlust would lead me to Utah and a career as a restaurant manager and eventually owner, and an eight year adventure working fishing boats in Alaska, I was never able to master the skills needed to make a career out of writing. I have had some minor successes, an illustrated book series, some screenplays optioned, a secondary career writing radio and television commercials, technical manuals, business and marketing plans, but nothing even close to the childhood visions.
Although I attended Southern Utah University, part time, from 1978 through 1986, I only managed to complete 2 years of course work. In 2011, I began full time classes at Southern New Hampshire University and in 2014, I graduated Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science, Computer Information Technology – Software Design and Development. So I did eventually satisfy my family’s expectations, but I did it in such a manner that it became something to write about.