During my first attempt at sobriety I started writing. Mostly journals about what had happened in my life and how it affected me at that time. I found it quite therapeutic. My writing stopped when I went back to drinking and didn’t resume until I quit drinking again. Now, since October of 1994, I’ve been writing.
My writings have led to two books and a third being written. It gave me the courage to start a newspaper column, which needed the help of others to be successful. Now these writings have found a home around the world thanks to the Internet. My poems and stories have found homes at different venues, with different agenda’s, in numerous publications.
And it was all made possible because of a small poetry column in our local newspaper, entitled The Poets Pen. The column was written by a retired gentleman named Bob Stalder. Though I never Bob in person I considered him a friend. Over the course the next six years Bob published numerous poems of mine. In his column he would mention a letter I had wrote him and how it pertained to my poem.
Every time I sent Bob a poem I enclosed a personal letter and every time he published my poetry he shared a little more about me to the readers. It was his confidence that gave me the courage and try to get a book of my poems published, this dream became a reality in 2004 with the release of Damaged Merchandise. Sadly though, I never got to share this joy with Bob Stalder as he passed away before it was published.
For the next two years, most of my poetry appeared on the Internet and more people began telling me how much they missed that column. I did too. The Poets Pen was a welcomed guest in many home’s every Tuesday night. I wanted others to experience the adrenaline rush I had when that column showcased a poem of mine.
So I wrote up a “sales kit” for the newspaper that The Poets Pen should be reborn. For over two years our newspaper didn’t have a poetry column and I wanted it back. I told the editor what I wanted to do and how I hoped to make it work. And while I wanted it to resemble The Poets Pen, I wanted it to have an identity of its own. She thought it was a great idea and The Poets Quill was born.
It wasn’t long after the column premiered that I began to get some very steady poets. And with a couple of them I could sense how they felt because I felt like that a few years earlier. And for the first time, I understood how Bob felt and how much joy it gave him watching as poets began to blossom in their own writing prowess.
In a round about way, I was “paying it forward.” What was given to me, I was now giving to others. But unlike Bob, I have had the joy of watching one of my contributors have a book of his poems published. And as we continue to share stories with each other, I see in him, my own excitement after Damaged Merchandise was published.
Now it’s his turn to keep it growing. To encourage others to write, offer advice through his experiences and let them embrace their own nirvana. As a writer and poet, I can’t make you “a good poet.” In my world, we’re all good writers and we’re all good poets. But it can only grow by your own efforts, not by me doing it for you.
Awhile back, I received a call at home from a lady who had read my book and named some of the articles she had read about me. She wanted me to help her write a book. I have helped write materials for veterans, alcohol abuse, and the American Cancer Society and I’ve done it for free. It’s kind of my “pay it forward” belief.
But with this lady, it would not be paying it forward. By me helping her, we both would have lost. I tried to explain to her that I have a 40 hour a week job, plus my newspaper column, plus managing numerous websites, and I honestly didn’t have the time to help her. If she truly wanted my help then it would have to be treated as a business affair. I would have to charge her for my time.
She asked if I would at least come and see her. This was a 70 mile trip one way, so again I told her I would have to charge her for this service. I could tell she was getting angry over the phone and we talked a little more.
I told her about my experiences with writing and where to go to get some ideas on how to proceed. By the end of our phone conversation she came to the belief that maybe she could do it on her own. She never called back and I’d like to believe that she realized she had the talent and ability to do it on her own. And if her dream of writing a book becomes a reality, she’ll feel better knowing it was entirely her “baby” not someone else’s. And if that day ever comes for her, I hope she remembers me. How I wouldn’t do it for her, but rather just pointed her in the right direction, and helped her find the writer that was always waiting to come alive.
©2007 Dave Harm