I am a fifty-one-year-old divorced Catholic man who is the primary caregiver for two elderly parents. Much of what I've written in the last couple of years have been observations on how my parents have been progressing through this stage of their lives. I would have to say that they have been my major influences. It's harder for me to pinpoint my major literary influences, though. I love Tolkien and Grisham and Crichton, but I'm more likely to read something religious in nature (Aquinas, Augustine, etc.). I love to write short stories, and have binders full of stuff that's barely made it through the idea phase. There's one that I call "STRANDED ON A CAJUN PLANET!" An astronaut has a crash landing and is rescued by a couple of cajun fisherman. We see the planet through his eyes: every tributary is filled with beer not water; all of the buildings are either houses, churches, or bars; the flavor of Tabasco and Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning permeates all the food. And the women are the prettiest in the entire universe!
Another unfinished piece is called "The Delete Key". An alcoholic writer cannot concentrate on what he's doing with his laptop while at his favortie coffee shop. He blames his writer's block on all of the "suits" infiltrating the place as if they're intruding on his personal property. He quips to a barrista that they smother all of the creativity out of the air. The barrista playfully suggests that if he'd hit his delete key, maybe the "suits" would dissapear. Well, guess what happens when our writer does just that? An old friend in a suit, a happily married business professional with a large family, stops to get a cup of coffee on the way to work. Our writer gets a stroke of conscience when the friend shows family pictures, and tries to bring back the "suits" he'd banished to "computer hell"!
I have some finished pieces that I will share here. One is called "The Gossip Table". I based it on a converasation that I overheard. One of my aunts was bragging that the only way that you could sit at her table for coffee at 10:00 every morning is if you had good gossip to share. I wanted to write a piece about a character like her and show what happens when HER family becomes the town's gossip.
Another one is untitled, but it is probably my favorite piece that I've written. Years ago my father told me a story about how his father was involved in the murder of a black man in the 1930s for committing the serious 'crime' of whistling at a white woman. I decided to take the older man and have him face his mortality. He tells his youngest son the story, and asks the young man, as his dying wish, to find the black man's mother so he can make amends. The younger man is just weeks away from being a father for the first time himself. He has to cope with that, and managing the town's only grocery store, and now this request from the old man, about something that he cannot believe happened anyhow!