On this Thanksgiving holiday, 10 reasons to give thanks for this particular writer:
1) For two parents and two grandparents who showed me the love of books and story at the earliest age, and ignited my love for the written word.
2) For Tom Robertson, freshman English teacher at Carlsbad (CA) High School in 1973-74, who replaced a boring study of poetry with six weeks of rock music lyrics from the Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Cream, Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, David Bowie, T. Rex, The Kinks and others … and ignited my love for poetry.
3) For NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), which has me up at 3 in the morning writing my next novel, “Open Mic Night at Boccaccio’s.”
4) For the students at Ananda College of Living Wisdom, so passionate about their writing that they have stoked the creative spark of an old teacher… and for the faculty, an incredible mixture of minds and souls with whom conversation is not merely a stream of words, but a learning experience … may we shepherd souls towards their highest potential for many years to come. Thank you for welcoming me into the family.
5) For independent booksellers and fellow lovers of the PRINTED PAGE … may we remain together until eternity, e-books or not.
6) For my friends at the Southern California Writers Conference, in particular directors Michael Steven Gregory and Wes Albers … thanks for bringing me in, and thanks for continually believing in new writers.
7) For Richard Jaffe, Holly Youmans, Marsha Aizumi, Steve Victorson, Kevin Hines, Christian Monroe Holliday Douglas, Timothy Dean Martin, Debbie Haas, Perry Martin and Isaac Lomeli, whose books I have edited and worked on this year, whose stories and experiences are matched only by their wisdom — wisdom and stories that the reading world will get to see in the next 12 to 18 months. Congrats to all of you on your wonderful work.
8) For my bosses at the Blade-Tribune newspaper, many years ago, who saw some teenage talent and gave me assignments in every section of the newspaper. The versatility continues to manifest: In 2011, I have written blogs, poems, essays, fiction, magazine articles, online courses, prescriptive writing, travelogue, narrative non-fiction, video scripts, book jacket copy, websites, promotional material, photo essays and, beginning this holiday weekend, collaboration on a motion picture script. Thank you, Bill Missett and Steve Scholfield, for letting me roam in the newsroom.
9) For my friendships with Gary Snyder, my favorite poet for over 30 years, and Taylor Mali, one of the finest spoken word performers on Earth … thank you for the times we’ve shared, the talks we’ve had, the poems we’ve read, and most of all, the way both of you continue to teach young people how to convey their passions in words and how to love learning.
10) For my love, Martha, to whom the deepest writings of my heart & soul are addressed … thank you for stoking this writer’s fire, for sharing those long-ago high school classes in freshman English and senior Creative Writing, and for putting up with the wee-hour writing sessions.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. Curl up near a fireplace or under a blanket with a book (or, in Southern California this weekend, on a beach chair), and let your favorite author take you into another world while the masses crash and collide on Black Friday.