I generally don’t like talking about myself because there’s not a whole lot to say, other than, old, fat, and gray. Being that I’ve reached what’s called “writer’s block,” now seems as good a time as any to sit back in my easy chair, pull out an imaginary Cherrywood pipe from my gray tweed smoking jacket, and have what radio talk-show hosts refer to as, an open Mike.
A good friend once asked, “Where did you learn to write?” It only took a few seconds to reply, because I still have good memory, sometimes.
Mrs. Doris Harris, my first-grade teacher, taught me the alphabet, via my printing out each letter on a Big Chief notebook, using carrot size pencils. Mrs. Gladys Wood in third grade was also very instrumental in helping me keep words between the lines.
Mrs. Drake in fifth grade criticized my fiction story assignment, although I worked through the psychological trauma. Mrs. Turner in sixth grade helped considerably by praising the stuff I composed, while Mr. Slama in junior high did the same. Before I reached high school instructor’s names, my friend asking the question stopped me short.
“No, no, I mean where does your mindset come from in the creative writing process?”
Why didn’t he say that to begin with! The foremost answer to that question is a man by the name of, Edward Boyd. Mr. Boyd was a friend’s father in Anchorage, Alaska. He was a very successful businessman, real estate broker, outdoorsman, and most especially, dad to his three children, Larry, Caroline, and Jeanie.
The late Ed Boyd was also a prolific writer, having two published books to his credit, “Wolf Trail Lodge” and “Alaska Broker.” If anyone was a mentor to my writing style, Ed was that person.
He wrote lucid, well thought out Letters to the Editor, stepping on people’s toes along the way, while making them laugh at the same time. Ed always got his point across, which was what he’d initially set out to do.
Ed Boyd had a unique way of looking at things and an uncanny means of putting thoughts to paper. I’ll never be able to emulate the man’s writing, but I try, always coming up short.
One editorial in particular clings in my noggin like a wad of Wrigley’s chewing gum stuck under a restaurant table. Anchorage, Alaska has a public transportation system called, People Mover. It’s made up of some fifteen buses running throughout various city routes. Mr. Boyd’s Pioneer Realty office overlooked C Street and Northern Lights Boulevard in the 1970s.
In his newspaper editorial, he made mention of always seeing these large buses driving by with empty seats. The sight of such bothered him as it did others. The metropolis of Anchorage, like all big cities, had a homeless population even back then, made up mostly of substance abusers. Alcohol abuse and drug use was a big problem in Alaska and still is.
Ed Boyd’s suggestion was to allow these homeless individuals to ride the shuttles, as a means during winter for them to stay warm, come summer, keep out of the rain, which it does quite often. Of course, after his “opinion” was out there, he received plenty of static from the snowflake crowd. Yep, they were alive and well back then too!
Mr. Boyd got his message across loud and clear, with that being People Mover buses were a waste of tax paper money, and they might as well be used constructively, instead of burning diesel fuel and polluting the air for naught. I remember chuckling at his excellent suggestion.
Edward Marvin Boyd died on April 25, 2012, in Bellevue, Washington, at the age of 94. The man left behind a legacy in many areas, but for me, he’ll aways be at the top where elite Alaskan writers are concerned. Attempting to follow in his footsteps where my compositions are concerned will never be accomplished.
There’s not much else to be said about my writing style other than perhaps one additional thing. Like Edward Boyd, another published author I try to emulate yet always come up way short is best known for, The Ten Commandments. I’m not referring to the movie version starring Charleston Heston, but the original stone tablets engraved with a finger.
As they often do, the embers in my imaginary pipe have just went cold. Like Elvis, I too have left the building!