When I was a freshman in high school, there was a required essay distributed to our class. It was “Time is the king to all men – why?” I don’t recall how much time was allowed to answer this question or if there were some criteria to word count, but I picked up my #2 pencil and began to write.
Now, 35 plus years later, I don’t remember what I wrote, but I did scribble my answer down and hand it in. Little did I know, whatever my answer was, it was the catalyst that would set my life in motion in a direction from which I never wavered.
I now know “Time is the king to all men” is actually taken from “Time is the king of all men, he is their parent and their grave, and gives them what he will and not what they crave.” This particular quote is attributed to Pericles (494 BC – 429 BC), a prominent and influential Greek statesman, orator and general of Athens during the Golden Age.
A few days after handing in my essay, I was called out of class by a woman whose name and department she worked in I don’t recall. I was seated at a desk in the hallway with a few other fellow students, who I knew were not the smartest kids in class. As my grandfather would have said, their elevator didn’t go to the top floor.
We reviewed my essay and the long of the short of it is, I was told I couldn’t write and I needed special help in this area.
Up until this point in my life, I had always written letters to my grandmother and great uncle when they wintered in Florida. I always had something published in the school newsletter when I was in elementary school, written book reports (and enjoyed doing so), created and wrote a family newspaper titled the Funniest Newspaper in America. I had written much poetry, perhaps a couple of notebooks worth (which I still have), and even had a poem or two published; so, I felt I had the writing thing down quite well. So, I was taken aback by being told I needed special help to write.
While I don’t recall what we discussed or how she “helped” me, I do remember what has happened since that day. Once I was a Junior and able to sign up for electives, I took two English classes: Literary Composition and Journalism. This was the pivot, the moment when my life came into focus.
Both teachers, Mr. Alberino and Mr. Barron, saw some creativity within me. They encouraged me to write. It amazes me now, as I sometimes teach a class or working one-on-one with a writer, I use some of the techniques I learned by being in their classes. In 2016, on a trip up to Connecticut, I was able to treat Mr. Alberino to lunch – to finally say thanks. On my next trip up, my first priority is to treat Mr. Barron to lunch and say thanks.
Fast forward a bit, I took an essay course at Middlesex Community College, a film writing course at Sacramento State University, and countless adult education courses, online courses, read numerous how-to-write books, attend many writing meetings, and now I teach classes on writing. I’ve gone on to publish eight books (with another four titles slated for release by Feb. 2018), over 400 articles, founded a national magazine, own an editing business, and teach a course on how to create income through writing.
And then there’s Kathleen, my mirror in my life. She’s a dream-driven, passionate writer with a few titles published, and a partner not only in the business, but in my life.
All of this, in hindsight was attracted to me because I wanted to prove I could write and didn’t need any special help. If I were to take that essay test again, “Time is the king to all men – why?” I would pick up my #2 pencil and scribble, “why not?”