Please welcome Ray Hamill as Wednesday’s Guest today. I reviewed his book, Free the Leprechaun on Sunday, and hope you caught the review. Ray said one of his favorite drinks is dark Irish tea, although I’m guessing he uses a mug and not a fancy tea cup, but he can clarify for us later. He is Irish and said he really misses McVities biscuits, so I thought I would get some for him, but he didn’t say which kind. I had no idea there were several varieties. Here again, he can clarify if I got the right kind. I’m sure he is willing to share, so grab a biscuit and enjoy….
“Imagination will take you everywhere,”
– Albert Einstein
Although I was completely unaware of it at the time, I first fell in love with writing when I was just 12-years-old.
That was back in the days when I was attending St. Paul’s College in Dublin, Ireland, an all-boys school run by the Vincentian priests and known more for its complete lack of success on the rugby fields than for any memorable academic achievements.
Of course, we didn’t care much about that in those days, instead spending our time teetering between the dreams of childhood and those awkward teenage years, as the priests and teachers all tried to impress upon us the expectations of impending adulthood and how important it was to no longer waste our precious time on meaningless childlike pursuits.
I never much liked school and the constraints it attempted to impose on my mind, but it had its moments, most notably history class, where we read of the brave Irish heroes who fended off the mighty British army with a proverbial handful of pitchforks and the gift of the gab, as well as English class, where we were given weekly essay assignments by our teacher Mr. Madden.
He was a laid-back type who inspired by saying little but instilling confidence, and in his own way that made him one of the best teachers I’ve ever had.
I took his reticence as encouragement when it came to the weekly essays, which I began to write with an ever-growing abandon, testing the waters with my own brand of goofy humor, as much to stave off the boredom of school as through any great ambition on my part, and I decided the fact he didn’t tell me to stop was reason enough to carry on.
Of course, as my classmates pointed out on an almost weekly basis, it couldn’t last. It just wouldn’t do. Goofy ramblings were grand and all in the classroom, but serious writing was needed for the Intermediate Certificate, a set of national exams we were preparing to take the following year, and a set of exams that would shape our future in education and our place in the world, or so we were forced to believe.
For the moment, however, I didn’t care. When it came to writing essays, I was having too much fun to take it seriously, losing myself in worlds only children and writers can dream of, embracing the freedom and allowing my imagination to soar in what was literally a limitless universe.
The following year, things changed. Mr. Madden was gone, and as our exams approached I was forced to take a more serious attitude toward my penmanship.
Since then, I have always enjoyed writing, graduating college as a journalist and forging a career in the field, while writing books, blogs and ramblings in my spare time. You know you’re lucky when your career is also your hobby.
But I never enjoyed the same freedom from my writing as I did when I was 12-years-old.
Or at least I hadn’t until recently, and if publishing a second novel is incredibly gratifying, the process of writing this one was even more so.
Why? Because for the first time in years – dare I say decades – I wrote purely for myself, ignoring all outside distractions or expectations, and I wrote like a 12-year-old again, allowing my imagination to soar with a freedom we often forget ever existed as we grow older.
Simply put, I didn’t care how my writing would be received by others, and I became determined to consciously not dwell on what the finished product would look like, but rather to lose myself in the process, which in turn allowed me to write with the same abandon I enjoyed as a child.