One of the symptoms of my instance of Parkinson’s disease is micrographia, a disorder of the basal ganglia that results in small and cramped handwriting. Granted, in the scope of things, this is not the worst disorder to suffer from, so I’m not looking for any pity from anyone on this one. Those who have known me for any length of time know that my handwriting was always bad. But at least in the past, even if it was incomprehensible to everyone else, at least I could read it. Now, I can’t make heads or tails out of most of my own scribbling.
This can be an unfortunate handicap for one who’s trying to pass himself off as a writer. It means that unless I have a computer handy, I can’t write – not in notebooks, or journals, or random pieces of paper. Even taking down a phone number can be a lost cause. So it is that I lug my laptop with me to meetings of the Kenosha Writers’ Guild, and anywhere else that I might have the opportunity to write.
The result of all this is that I don’t have a real, true journal that I write in, where I put down my daily thoughts and ideas and experiments For the past three and a half years, the closest thing I’ve had to a journal has been this site, “Drivel by Dave.”
What “Drivel by Dave” has actually been is beyond me. Sometimes it’s a blog, sometimes it’s a website, sometimes it’s a dumping place. It hasn’t been very successful at one of the goals I had for it, which was to build a platform for me as a writer. While it appears that I have a very small and loyal group of readers, the numbers haven’t grown significantly in the past three and a half years. This is mostly because I am painfully bad at promoting myself, and I don’t have any unifying strategy or goals for gaining a large following.
But I really don’t give a crap about that. All I want to do is write, and in that regard, “Drivel by Dave” has been moderately successful. Since I started whatever the Hell this I, I’ve posted exactly 200 tidbits to it. DBD has kept me writing and given me a place to post whatever’s going on in that defective brain of mine. Many of the 200 have been instantly forgettable and awful, there’s a few haven’t been too bad, and a small percentage that have actually been pretty good, that show some growth, that I’m actually proud of. Overall, I think I’ve been pretty good at articulating what was on my mind at the time – the fact that so many of them are incoherent muck is because so much of my brain is incoherent muck.
And that’s the thing – what you see is what you get. Regardless of the quality of the output, I think I’ve been pretty honest and open in my writing. As a journal, taken collectively, I think the aggregate of the posts represents an approximation of the sum of the man. To put it simply, what I am is contained in these ramblings.
When I started writing several years ago, in the first sleepless nights in the early days of my diagnosis of Parkinson’s, my goal was first to express what was going on inside me, and second to record my thoughts and memories so that my children might have a record of who their father is and was. These goals have expanded to writing short and long fiction and maybe, someday, one or two people out there might consider me a serious writer. But however lofty my goals and aspirations become, writing will always be first and foremost an exploration and articulation of who I am. The act of writing, even when it produces some of the worst drivel, is always intensely personal to me, and there hasn’t been a time that I haven’t sweated some trepidation when I’ve hit the publish button.
Earlier this year, I self published my first novel, Ojibway Valley, and I finished the first draft of my second, I Don’t Know Why. The final copy of IDKW is a ways off, though, as it is still very, very rough and needs a lot of work. I still think it could be pretty good when I get around to finishing it, and when I do, I’d like to take another whack at getting published via an agent or small press. When I pursue that, I suppose I’ll have to get more serious about promoting myself, which would include figuring out what has to change with “Drivel by Dave.” I’m thinking, before I retire the site (as we know it today), that I might self publish a collection of the best posts plus some other short pieces I have laying around.
I’d appreciate any ideas or suggestions from any readers out there …
3 thoughts on “What I Am”
I always enjoy your writing. The first thing I read was your review of Michael Perry’s Chicago “reading” 18 months ago. You were able to put into words all that I had experienced at his performance and book signing. I truly appreciate your openness and vulnerability in this post. Thanks for sharing about your life and health. I look forward to reading your books, and buying them for the library where I work.
Dave, I enjoy your blog and appreciate your openness and honesty. I wish I had a great idea for you, but I think you’re doing fine … plugging along is the life of a writer. Ideas and possibilities will continue to show themselves as you stay open to them. One word at a time …
Because you set a lofty but good goal of being a recognized writer, you are negatively prejudiced when you assess your growth and strong development. Quite a lot of your friends and fellow writers can see how far you’ve advanced to be a skilled and sensitive writer. We want to see everything you write because you are in it and we then can see some of ourselves too. Your negative self evaluations are dog shit, so please instead listen to us who care about you and want to see more of your excellent writing. Just because every piece you write isn’t Pulitzer, only justifies being human just as we your readers are. Your writing is a gift to us. Let us enjoy it. We’ll tell you if it isn’t up to your best or has gone past your previous best. That’s for us to tell you and you to accept. Period…..Now take that and put it in your computer and write