Before I thought, or accepted that I was a serious writer with something to say, I read ferociously. I also watched television with the same zeal. I could literally sit down and watch the last fifteen minutes of a two hour television movie and be completely engrossed in it. I loved all genres then. We only had six, maybe seven broadcast channels, assuming the winds were right and the aerial was in its proper position. And of course, the only one who knew whether the aerial was positioned right was the aerial itself. It was never in the same position twice.
Our televisions went from huge hunks of furniture to little tiny ones that I could bring to college and get one station in black and white, and now they’ve returned to huge wall hangings, mounted like a movie theatre.
One of the things that never left me from my childhood was noticing and watching all of the writers that appeared on television. I don’t mean the people who wrote the shows or the books that the shows were based on, but the characters who were writers.
I grew up wanting to be a lawyer – slash – private investigator – slash – reporter. I always had a notebook with me, jotting down things I’d see on the street, the way the colors hit the water or the street sign or the sound made when a car drives through a puddle. I don’t know why I needed this information, but I did and I would have it when I did need it.
When I went to my first therapy appointment, I noticed that the therapist had a print of a Renoir hanging on the waiting room wall. In my head, in my best Remington Steele accent, I said, “The wall safe is always behind the Renoir. Where’s the Renoir?”
In the writing in my head, I would insert myself into whatever the storyline was, sometimes more than one, and I would be the journalist or writer, much like Richard Castle who the police or PI couldn’t solve the case without. It gave me the chance to be a recurring, supporting character which is something I probably am in my own real life story, never the main character.
I know a lot of my love for journalism came from the movie, All the President’s Men. I was young and impressionable at a time that journalists were revered, both in real life: Woodward & Bernstein, Walter Cronkite, Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and in fiction as well:
Jessica Fletcher of Murder, She Wrote
Ian Stark from Stark Raving Mad
Billie Newman from Lou Grant – my favorite of favorites
Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane of the Superman Adventures
Jake Sisko of Deep Space Nine
Ray Romano of Everybody Loves Raymond
Oscar Madison, another sportswriter from The Odd Couple
Murphy Brown – news writer and reporter
Chuck Shurley, aka Carver Edlund of Supernatural
Iris West of The Flash
Todd Manning of One Life to Live
John-Boy Walton of The Waltons
Richard Castle of Castle
Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza of Seinfeld
Carrie Bradshaw of Sex in the City
Maya of Just Shoot Me
Rob Petrie of The Dick Van Dyke Show
Phoebe Halliwell of Charmed
And those are just off the top of my head.
Today, I have more respect for the real writers and the current ones who inspire me include Lin-Manuel Miranda, Adam Glass, Robbie Thompson, Bernard Cornwell, and Sharon Kay Penman. They are who I go back to time and again because they are just that good. Not to leave out Wil Wheaton who is truly an inspiration and one of the main catalysts to my beginning this blog. Watching him navigate through his own freelance career, adjusting to the markets and changing, rebooting his life, but always writing and contributing; being his own boss, but also his own motivation. Writer and artist, Norman Reedus who inspires me to break out of my comfort zone and experiment with my art.
To call myself a writer, I belong to a family of writers, both fictional and real, and each one gives me something, and that makes me better.