Little Mo began with an essay, a required submission within an on-campus university graduate writing seminar. I’d returned to the academic world after a 26-year hiatus from campus life, having completed my BA through what was then referred to as a “distance” education program from a highly reputable, fully-accredited small, Christian college. Our (the class’) assignment was to write “memoir”; indeed, my life has been filled with excitement and adventure, I guessed this project to be a breeze. I was, of course, wrong.
I’ve been told for most of the last 30 years that I should be a writer. I knew I could write, having had a rather substantial opportunity to share certain convictions within the scope of the regional newsgroup “Guest Editorial” spotlight and being fortunate enough to have encountered editors, locally, who supported my efforts with the positive feedback so often crucial to a continued process. And I’ve been lucky enough to have had some work featured nationally and internationally. The pay’s pretty darned good and writing seems so much less offensive to the myriad of aches and pains I gained during my lifetime as the ersatz woodsman. Yeah, ‘twas a writer I should be.
I’d never been told to do a rewrite. I’d never done a revision. In a lifetime of “writing”—for pay or grade or pure personal pleasure—I’d never been told that my first submission didn’t cut the mustard. I’d always gotten the first one published or graded (“A”, most often) or mailed off to some chum; heck, I’m not sure that I even knew where to begin with a revision! But my little memory about the two little boys who cobbled up a rocket from all the cast-offs of their culture back in the mid-‘50s came back with a whole bunch of margin-notes. Inasmuch as the guy who pencilled the stuff in my margins wrote the book on writing creative nonfiction (honest, he’s the author and coeditor of the text!), I figured I’d do well to follow his guide. I never spent so much time writing a four-page paper in all my years of college! After about ten revisions and a thousand pages of castaways, I thought I had it right; I thought that I was finally saying just about what it was that I wanted to tell you. And so did the “prof”.
Like what always happened to me when I was a young pup with a hot gal, well, one thing led to another. My memory, seeded so deeply with all those colorful images, began to sprout all over the place. I began to consider my student enrollment as my “day job”, my writing of Little Mo my passion. Some seeds do best if planted near the surface, others have to be poked deep into the warm, moist, fertile soils. All germinate in the right environment. Suddenly, my garden of tall tales began to burst forth with new growth each moment of my life. My work station became a tape-tree of thoughts and titles and sentences and points of focus, all stuck here or there around the keyboard and monitor. And, as I write you this, more remembrances get jotted down on shards of torn paper, taped in place until ripe for the harvest. Little Mo is just the first pickin’s of the bunch.