Monday, March 18, 2019

Howie Balaban: Looking for the Write Stuff

Before anyone says anything, the answer is yes. I am fully aware of several things.

Among those things? I haven't contributed anything written to this site in months. My goal of reading 52 books last year fizzled out with the arrival of spring and all the outdoor work that accompanied it (and I ended up at 33 books). And with those two items fully admitted to, what you're about to read next is either completely out of the question or completely inspired.
Or both. But we'll find out together.

As many of you are aware, one of the co-founders of this site, George Root, left us to play the great gig in the sky earlier this month. It was obvious he touched plenty of people's lives simply by looking at the response to his condition on social media. He was even trending on Twitter for a short time as there was a movement to find a way for him to get a preview screening of this summer's Godzilla movie. Alas, it didn't happen.

Also, as many of you are aware, many of my previous writings on this platform have somehow, some way, made some sort of pop culture reference. For months, Craig (Bacon, another co-founder) and I have discussed the possibility of me doing a short and simple pop culture podcast. Something every week or so to look at a new book, a review of some of the most recent episodes of popular TV shows, or a review or preview of one of the latest movies. That may still happen, but it hasn't yet.
However, some of the shows I have enjoyed this season have pounded home the idea of living life to the fullest. 

Finally, there are my employers. As a stay-at-home dad, I have multiple bosses and the youngest turns 5 this May. She's a laugh riot half the time and reading to her before tucking her in at night is one of my happiest times of day. Most recently, we read the original "Winnie-the-Pooh" and currently we're in the middle of the original "Bambi." Her sister, who will be 10 in May, is usually pretty easy going and seems to have inherited my roll with the punches attitude and appreciation for classic rock. She's even suggested I go with her to Darien Lake to see a Heart concert this July as her birthday gift to me.

But their brother - my eldest child - is the one who I think was the one who caused me to realize what I've been looking at all around me. He's finishing 7th grade this year, and he's fortunate enough to be taking some college courses through a program at Genesee Community College. He's also decided to join marching band and is studying for a completely separate religious event later this year. For those of you who know us, none of this is news.

To say he and I have verbally sparred would be like saying the windstorm a few weeks ago was a light breeze. 

Without getting too detailed, let's just say we had several disagreements about band and religious studies and how they would coexist on his schedule. I'll spare you the gory argumentative details, but ultimately my point was he needed to see both through. 

That was roughly 2 months ago, and since then his whole outlook on things has changed. Now he's actually excited to be doing what he's doing. And I couldn't be prouder. (I also made a point of calling to thank his band teacher, who I'm certain has played a role in his 180.)

All of these instances combined made me realize something: I was exercising the classic parental tactic of "do as I say, not as I do." For years, my wife and I have asked our kids to do various things or encouraged them to join various organizations or clubs for varying lengths of time because it was what they wanted. For various reasons, our kids haven't always remained members.

Recapping so far: I've failed to live up to what I have tried to do on this site. One of this site's co-founders passed away. TV and movies have a consistent carpe diem theme. 

Above all, I've been hypocritical to my son. 

For the past two years I've said to myself that I was going to write a book. The idea for the book has taken on many forms in those two years, but a few things have remained constant. It will be about baseball. It will take place before Babe Ruth. It may feature underhanded politics.

Know how many pages I've written in those two years?

One. (I could hear Bob Ueker now as Harry Doyle in Major League. "One? One page? That's all?")
So here's what I'm looking to do now. 

I've decided that I can no longer tell my son what he should be doing with his classes or his music if I cannot follow through on one of my goals. I've also decided I need some way to keep me focused. A way of incentivizing my goals so that I can actually see them through.

In the following weeks and months, I'm hoping to take you on a journey with me as I figure out the novel I'm hoping to write. A number of people, many of whom are close to me, know it's what I want to do. I also know that given my track record, there are some who doubt it will ever happen.

I'm going to use this space to prove them wrong. I'm going to use this space to prove ME wrong.
Truthfully, I'm terrified. I've never done this before, and I'm not sure if it's even advisable to share this with you now. However, each passing day is one that I won't be getting back.

There is no time like the present, and it's about time I realize that. I don't know how long this will actually take, but plan on something from me at least twice a month. I'll update you on some research highlights, or on my writing progress, or maybe just tell you about how a book I'm reading at that time inspired me to take a different approach with a character. 

So join me, won't you? And let's see this thing through together.

Howie Balaban is on the write track. Let's keep him working towards his goals. We can all encourage each other.