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The Scenic Route

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Having fun and loving it

A small math problem recently arose; of course, a story problem. I began writing for publication when I was this old. And, I’m now that old. Holy, ummm, cow! Thirty years fly by if you’re having fun. Or not, for that matter.

What is there to learn from this? Have as much fun as possible! Within reason, of course. Okay. To hell with reason—unless it’s reason to have fun.

There are some who believe this is my life philosophy, and I promise not to mess with their illusion by getting a full-time job. My no-visible-means-of-support image may be the only hope they have, thinking that someone, anyone, might be able to have fun all the time and get by.

“If Compton can do it, I know I can do it,” someone may be thinking. If you are thinking that, I can help with that fantasy about getting to do whatever you want to do, whenever you want to do it; about having all that fun.

Barring winning the lottery, first, you might decide that there is something you want to do or be badly enough that you are willing to give up another illusion, that of personal security, to pursue it. It might be painting. Or photography. Or teaching. Or quantum physics. Or sculpture. Or writing. Or real estate. Some dreams do pay better than others. Nonetheless, I chose writing.

And, that’s when the fun began.

Actually, writing—words, really—chose me. They reached into my brain when I read about Dick and Jane in Betty Ann Tillapaugh’s first grade class and planted a seed that took 24 years to bud, but the first bud was that commitment of pursuit, a decision to go ahead and be a writer, a crafter of words.

There wasn’t, I admit, a lot of logic involved in the decision. But there was passion. And desire. And desire and talent, thank God, are directly related. This is something for the fledgling quantum physicist to remember when calculus pokes them in the eye.

I still love words and have even learned to write to some extent, but, in my life—in many lives, I believe—nothing happens fast except car wrecks and related phenomena. After that first budding, it was a long time before the pursuit ever bore anything to eat, and it wasn’t many meals at that. My first sale was a piece of fiction, Jimmy’s Gone. The story was one of a collection that still lacks a publisher, three decades later. I didn’t know then that the only way to get a short story collection published (or poems, for that matter) was to be already famous or to publish it myself. I have since learned that lesson, and one year soon, I will publish that collection. It will be a while before I publish a book of poems, though—at least my own.  

If anyone ever has opportunity to call me an overnight success, if it appears that I have become one (I hope and pray), I will have a laugh on them. But, still, I will not mess with their illusion. Again, it may be their only hope; that if anyone can achieve it, so can they. And, they will be correct—if they are willing to work 30 years and maybe a little more for it. And accept that sometimes, that won’t work, either—which is why it is important to have fun in the process.

And, I have. It’s not a sin to enjoy yourself, though some folks believe so for God knows what reason. Enjoy is derived from the Latin gaudere, which means rejoice. Life, even though it often doesn’t go like it we want it to, is to be rejoiced in. I sometimes forget this, even still; especially when I haven’t had enough fun of late. I think we all forget. But fun is always there waiting for us to have.

In the midst of the fun of the past 30 years, I’ve written hundreds of columns, news articles, short stories and essays. I even got paid for some of them. I’ve helped write, edit, design and print dozens of magazines and newsletters and hundreds of newspapers (of which I have delivered thousands). I even got paid for some of that. Six books got written, four got published—thought I admit, three I published myself. I even sold some of them. But, as a self-publisher, I found other work to do, and have enjoyed helping a number of other people publish their work, too.

Kahlil Gibran says in The Prophet, “Work is love made visible.” I understand, though gaining that understanding took a few decades. I may never get rich (dammit!), but I have pursued what I love and sometimes even caught it; and know that I will catch it again. In the times when I have caught it, I have most often been having fun.

Sandy Compton’s story problem solution is erroneous. He has been writing semi-professionally for 31 years, since January of 1980, which is also about the same time he began waiting tables (a total coincidence, assuredly). His “love made visible” is online at www.bluecreekpress.com, where you can actually buy one of his books. He is also the creator and producer of The StoryTelling Company (see the ad on page 15). The world headquarters of Blue Creek Press and The StoryTelling Company are located in the room in which Mrs. Tillapaugh taught Sandy to read. 

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Author info

Sandy Compton Sandy Compton Sandy Compton is one of the original contributors to The River Journal, and owner and publisher at Blue Creek Press (www.bluecreekpress.com). His latest book is Side Trips From Cowboy: Addiction, Recovery and the Western American Myth

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work, writing, having fun

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