After some mind-bending and provocative thought in this aging brain, perhaps it's time to diverge from the well-trodden path and explore a different trail. For this entry, anyway.
The moniker 'Deacon in Blue' was chosen in homage to a favorite
Steely Dan tune, and also because the uniform of local transit
operators happens to be blue. It came quickly as the question of what
pen name to use as the first blog entry was written. Now that it's
been about a year since that initial foray, we can take a look into
why the Deacon writes. Although he can sound a bit preachy at times,
the term 'deacon' isn't linked to any one religious identity.
Information here is put forth for your entertainment as well as
practice for even more industrious future wordplay. Hopefully it is
interesting, sometimes finds you laughing or at least mildly amused.
If not, hopefully you will voice opinions of this nature and chastise
the author for boring you.
Becker and Donald Fagen on the 'Deacon Blues'
This will be a tough exercise, for the task today is to refrain
from referring to the author in the first person. It can be said that
someone who prefers to use the ninth letter of the alphabet too much
is a bit vane and/or literarily lazy.
Having toiled at several diverse occupations, they have merely
been a means of gathering material for the Deacon's true purpose.
Since the tender age of eight, writing has always come naturally to
him. Words dance into view and are plucked out of space, clicked to
life on a keyboard and transmitted to you. Here. There. Wherever the
reader happens to be. Once upon a time, these fingers clumsily
clunked and clanged one-fingered exercises on a 1920s Smith-Corona
typewriter. Yes, an old-fashioned relic then and antique now, it was
a fascinating piece of machinery. Typing class in high school offered
a chance to be one of four boys amongst 25 young ladies, and this was
truly alluring. With the realization that none of these lovely girls
would entwine their digits with mine came the epiphany that typing
class had a deeper meaning. The skill these fingers learned propelled
an aspiring wordsmith into a career of journalism and then
While the young poet scribbled his lines with a pen, the
journalist began in that form but his final product was typed. As
typing speed increased, the quality of written material did as well.
The words developed in the mind and were transcribed much faster than
if they were handwritten. To this day, handwriting remains a slow and
laborious practice reserved for thank-you notes and other items
requiring a personal touch.
Back in the late 1970s, the college newspaper was produced in
several steps, as opposed to current methods. Reporters would
research a story, interview various people and take handwritten
notes. A rough draft would then be typed and submitted to the editor,
who would usually dissect it with a red pen and send it back for
revisions. This pen could be wielded ruthlessly as to make the ink
resemble bloody stab wounds in the reporter's proud creation. They
would re-write the piece adhering to the editor's strict notes and
submit a second and hopefully final draft. Once approved, all stories
would be estimated for length and assigned column inches in that
edition's design. Headlines would be crafted, photos would have
captions created, and advertisements designed. Then the whole batch
would be sent to the printer to be set in type. Photos would be
re-imaged as "halftones", which meant the pictures would be
transformed into an image that was a series of dots; the more dense
an area of dots, the more ink would adhere to the paper in the
printing process, creating shades of black, gray and white into a composite image the human
eye sees as a photograph.
Having found journalism in the professional world to limit
creativity, the Deacon left that world. It also didn't help that he
made a goofy mistake which got him fired from his job as a reporter.
(Telling another how much one makes when it is more than the other,
more experienced reporter is paid, results in an embarrassed and
angry boss.) Somehow, it became more interesting to work in the
pre-press and printing area, leaving the writing to people who didn't
mind that mundane world of city council meetings and sewer projects.
The Deacon found himself a typographer who could accurately keyboard
at 100 words-per-minute with very few mistakes. It was very creative
and technically challenging, and paid well. Writing became less a
priority while earning more was vital as a young father. Short
stories and personal letters became the Deacon's literary exercise.
As he found himself inching toward middle age, he found
inspiration in the pages of Stephen King's book 'On Writing' and
began creating his own GAN (Great American Novel). Some 16 years and
970 pages later, he hasn't finished this expansive
semi-autobiography. The first 700 pages were produced in the first
few years, while the remainder has come in fits and starts, coughs
and burps. He wonders how so much time passed so quickly and whether
his life experiences since he began the project have altered the
mindset present at the book's launch.
There have been inspirations for funny stories, sad times of
eulogies and self-reflection, happy times of love and growth. Each
person has a story within, yet few find their voice to express
themselves. Some think if they lack grammar skills, their story
shouldn't be told. Balderdash and bullshit! That's what editors are
for. Just write! Write what you know, as they say. Avoid agonizing
over planning a story. Just write it down. Fix it later.
Thanks again for reading. I'm happy we've had this time together. (Oops!)