(Just Like) Starting Over

I’m 51 years old, which is kind of late in life to start a career, but it looks like it’s only going to get later from here. The idea of starting over, starting from scratch, turns out to be a very liberating and exciting one. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? Certainly not an old dog.

When I was about fifteen I learned how to play guitar. From the moment my fingers dug into the strings, up until a few months ago, it was my dream to be a professional musician. Better yet, a rock star. I spent a large portion of the subsequent years playing music, writing music, recording music, producing, arranging, performing and dreaming about music. Almost every friend I made in high school, college and beyond got roped into playing music with me. And we jammed and jammed and jammed some more. And then we jammed some more after that. It felt too good not to. We wrote and sang and played in bars around lower Manhattan under the name Late Model Humans. Time passed, a lot of time, and the musical career never got off the ground. All other facets of life grew and faded but that one just sat there. Most of my bandmates found other careers. Music became for them what it never was for me: a hobby. So I quit the band.

All the while, as I was writing songs, I was also writing other things: short stories, then novels, then screenplays, then a stage play and more novels. A few years ago my novel The Zoo was published. More and more of my creative time and energy shifted from playing music to writing fiction.

I first started to be a serious reader in high school when I read Slaughterhouse Five, and found in Kurt Vonnegut’s words a solace and a kinship that I found nowhere else, not even in music. From then on I was as immersed in the world of books as I was in the world of records. Mark Twain, Dostoyevsky, and Walt Whitman were as essential to me as The Beatles and Dylan and The Ramones.

I intend to use this corner of cyberspace to explore my creativity by any means necessary. Each Monday and Wednesday I’ll post some short fiction, or song, or essay, and I’ll accompany the words and music with imagery: photographs, drawings, paintings or video. There’ll be collaborations with other artists and each Friday will feature an original piece of flash fiction. And I will fumble forward the way I always have: with Words & Music.

Tomorrow: Late Model Humans

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