Hello, and welcome to my blog/website/whatever-this-morphs-into. I appreciate you stopping by!
First, introductions: I’m Cal, and the title of this blog pretty much sums up the world as I see it: Read, write, eat, sleep. For me, these are among “the essential facts of life,” (to mess with the famous quote by Henry David Thoreau), right up there with shelter and clothing. The eating and sleeping parts are self-explanatory. (For the record, I prefer seven hours a night and am a practicing omnivore.) As for reading and writing, let’s talk books, let’s talk writing. And while we’re at it, let’s talk about the book I wrote. (More on that later.)
Now, about this writing thing. I’m a writer, and to be honest, it’s more like this identity chose me than I chose it. Before I could write stories, I drew them with crayons, created them with Play-Doh, and acted them out with stuffed animals. As soon as I could spell, I was writing and illustrating my own little books. In elementary school I remember raiding the math paper supply to tell my stories instead of doing math. (Which explains a lot in regard to my math grades.)
I sent my first book to a publisher when I was nine years old. The title: The Poor Macaroni Named Joany. It’s goofy story (elbow macaroni characters who talk, make friends with storekeepers, and are reincarnated as noodles), but a wonderful and encouraging art teacher named Mrs. Carr urged me to submit it for publication, and so I did. Mom typed up the words on our manual typewriter, I carefully created drawings in pen and India ink. The result? I received my first official rejection letter from a publisher at age nine. Sigh.
Actual art from The Poor Macaroni Named Joany by Cal, age 9.
Yet, I kept writing. Not because I’m a determined person with tons of initiative, (not at all, I’m a lazy slob), but pretty much because I didn’t have a choice. After getting a BA in English at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania, I got a job writing commercials at a radio station while freelancing for local newspapers, then eventually wrote for The Chicago Tribune, and Shape magazine. Writing feature articles about people and worlds that already existed was safer than fiction, which requires whipping up people and lives and plots from scratch like a master chef. (And as we have established, I’m more the macaroni-from-a-box type.)
Because I’m a glutton for punishment—or simply don’t know better—I tried fiction again. This time it was a children’s book about a girl, a wishing well, and time travel. It was, in a word, terrible. Yet I still couldn’t kill the dream that someday I would, could, had to, write a book. One that would actually get published. But I needed help.
So I went off to graduate school at the University of Southern Maine, the Stonecoast MFA program, where I had my writing trashed and encouraged in equal parts by mentors and peers. Sometimes I hated the process, more often I loved it, and ultimately, I survived and learned.
Fast forward to today, and finally (wait for it—I want to savor these words): I am about to become a published author. The official launch date of my young adult novel, Being Henry David, (publisher: Albert Whitman & Company), is March 1, 2013. That makes it almost nine months away. (The countdown is on–check the update near the top of this page!) Kind of like a pregnancy, even though the book-to-be is already a full-term manuscript. Now to prepare for its long-awaited arrival.
Instead of putting together a crib, I’m creating a website. Instead of buying him (it’s a boy!) new clothes, I’m discussing cover art and author photos. I’m also making a list of people who will receive “birth” announcements. (Let me know if you want to be on it.)
There’s absolutely no way I can pretend not to be thrilled about this. I am just not cool enough. It’s winning the lottery, falling in love, finishing a triathlon, climbing Mount Everest. It’s a lifelong dream come true, and my heart is full.
I welcome you to stop in to visit from time to time, to read my blog and hear about my journey. If you’re interested, it would be my honor to share it with you.