I struggle when I don’t write. I don’t mean my writing over at More Than A Fan, but creative writing. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments while I’m putting together something for MTAF that you’ll find me agonizing on the best way to finish a sentence, but that writing is more structured, more goal oriented. This writing is more about just clearing my head. Not everything is introspective or artsy, but all of it writing just to write. That’s what I need. I need to find an idea and hammer away at it for exercise, so I decided to resurrect the Big Fifty. I’ve completely scrapped the idea of going in order and I won’t be answering just the questions from the list, but damnit, I’m going to write something. (Quick shout to Demanding Joy for having this list in the first place. If you really want to try a blog project, this is a good one to try)
The question at the very bottom of your list asks who you would want at your dream dinner party. Living or dead, no rules, just pick a group and go.
Ummm… John Lennon, Jim Morrison, a handful of world leaders and Jesus?
John F. Kennedy, Ghandi, Brad Pitt and Jesus?
You got me, maybe I’m poking fun at stereotypical lists. That’s because I’ve never thought of a list like this, or if I have, I was a little kid without enough understanding of the world to comprehend the depth of the question. This isn’t about famous or talented or rich people, although that doesn’t mean your guests can’t be those things, this is about finding people that could affect change in your life in only one dinner’s time. After a long time thinking about this, I think I’ve got my dinner party narrowed down to a workable list.
The first two people at the table would be Stephen King and Robert B. Parker.
I know that at times it seems cliche to be a giant Stephen King fan, but I always have been. King novels are the first stories that I ever remember reading. Not the first stories I ever read, but the first stories that I can actually remember my reactions while I was taking them in. I remember being scared, nervous and anxious. I remember sitting up over the pages as the stories got intense, or physically relaxing at calm times for the characters. That’s power, and while I won’t be able to steal that ability by osmosis, I’d like to spend some time in real conversation with a man you wields that power so effectively.
Robert B. Parker pens the Spenser and Jesse Stone series of novels, among various other non-fiction projects, and writes in the style and flow that I think I have written in during the few times that I’ve tried my pen at long prose. Not that I write as well as he does, just that I aim for the same wit and pacing. I would ask him how he organizes his thoughts and builds his stories. Not only do I think his advice and intuition could benefit my personal goals, I also think that the personality he puts forth in his work would make him a pretty entertaining guy to have for some post dinner drinks.
The third person at my table is Bill Simmons. Simmons is an ESPN guy who writes, tweets, podcasts, hosts TV shows and recently launched Grantland.com. He’s insanely popular currently, but does still rub some people the wrong way. The reason that I want him there is pretty simple; my current work at More Than A Fan, and all the other opportunities that I’ve been blessed with since I started writing for Lisa back on the sports website that shall not be named wouldn’t be around if it wasn’t for reading his articles and being inspired. Grant it, Simmons isn’t inspiring in some “Oh my God, what a powerful, life changing artist he is” kind of way, but just that his columns always found a way onto my favorite list. He tells me things and he makes me laugh, usually at the same time. That’s what I want for the people who read what I write. I want them to have a good time and learn something. Good writers are like teachers, you know something when you’re done that you didn’t know before, and good teachers are never boring.
Also, I think I could turn a dinner with Bill Simmons into a friendship, and honestly, being buddies with him wouldn’t hurt my career goals.
My fourth guest would be Dennis Manoloff, a veteran Plain Dealer sportswriter. (Quick note: Yes, he’s on twitter, and yes he’s local to me. I’m not linking him or shouting him or begging him. But if you do, I’m won’t bomb your house or anything.) Anyway, I choose him because he knows what its like in the current Cleveland sports market. There are a thousand guys and girls in town who have the same goals that I have, many of them better qualified, and I think Dennis could help point me towards the things that I would need to do to achieve my goals. He wouldn’t be there in the same capacity as King, Parker or Simmons, but as an honest critic for my work. And if he says that I should stick to my day, he’s getting the check.
Everyone seeks peace, and I think its pretty clear that my peace is found by writing. Whether I’m sifting through baseball-reference.com building a case for Manny Ramirez to be in Cooperstown or making fun of the twitter trending topics, I always feel better trying to make my literary voice both a worthwhile experience and a viable way to make my living. The old saying is work to live not live to work, and if writing was my, I’d be set. The last invite to dinner is different.
Sitting at my dinner table would be my uncle. I’ve never met either man, but for two very different reasons. My uncle was taken from my family before I was born during a lawless, chaotic night on a Florida Seminole Indian Reservation. That’s close to the extent of what I know, but that’s really enough. Details aren’t important at this point, anyway. Everyone who knew him and knows me have all said that we were alike. Thoughts, mannerisms, looks, everything. I would like to talk to the man that he would have become, and be able to pass on a fitting goodbye to my mom, his two other sisters and my grandparents.
And, hey, maybe he’d have some kind of supernatural, beyond the grave fix on lottery numbers. Probably not, but it wouldn’t hurt to ask.