My fifth birthday as a blogger nears, and I'm at a loss for appropriate words. Laughable, if you've read this for any length. I've often wondered what would be worse: losing my hands with which I chronicle the strange travels of my mind, or the eyes that have witnessed this (and my family's) entire life. If rendered unable to walk or talk, as doctors predicted from my birth, writing would still be possible.
Even if I couldn't see, I could feel the keys. Here's an interesting tidbit for you... I often write with my eyes closed. This mind's eye sees what it is that needs to be said, transmits signals to these hands that have known a keyboard since they owned but a gentle dozen years, and words appear. To me, it's quite natural, second nature.
As a young journalist, I learned to compose on a manual typewriter. Each keystroke had to be precise. The mind and hands became one early on. Always the insufferable perfectionist, I quickly learned to feel when my fingers keyed mistakes. I would backspace without looking, "x" out the offending characters and continue without losing the muse. Hey, I'm wandering off into tangential nonsense. Let's return to wherever it was I intended this to be.
Perhaps I've been putting off the difficult... what to say. I could put down a thousand words and not say anything. Nothing worthwhile, that is. For a four-almost-five-year-old, that's about as normal as it gets. Judging from my stats of blog hits and book sales however, you're evidently tiring of the tirades and bad attitude Deke has fallen into. I get it. It pisses me off too.
A Station Agent tonight asked how the book is doing. I didn't know how to correctly answer the question. "Hasn't sold as much as I hoped," was the only reply I could muster.
"Well," he asked, "you didn't expect it to be a bestseller, did you?"
"Hmm," I replied. "I guess not. But I had hoped to sell more than 500 books by now. Guess my sights were set a bit higher."
Why did I go into this project? Deep within, I knew it likely wouldn't set the literary world ablaze. After all, I'm a simple transit operator describing what it's like to drive a bus. Perhaps I hoped it would resonate with the other working Joes and Janes who make the world's economy roll. What I've learned from this experience is that there are people who read, those who buy books just to say they did, and folks who believe there's no time to read. Some of us would rather not read about what consumes the best of us, especially after completing yet another excruciatingly-tedious shift of one of the world's most depressing jobs. Of 80,000+ drivers in this country, I had hoped to sell books to a tenth. It's more like a hundredth so far. A handful of people from Scotland, Canada and Australia have chipped in a few bucks to see what I had to say. Other than that, poof... go the dreams of a writer who likely waited too long to put himself out there.
Sure, it's a bit disheartening. It's important however, to acknowledge the great things that have happened through the experience of publishing my (first) book. For the first time in nearly four decades, I returned to a radio studio. This time, on the other side of the microphone, as a guest. Oregon Public Broadcasting, perhaps in a move to rid itself of a social media pest, agreed to interview me on its "Think Out Loud" program. It was a prestigious invitation which I'm still awed and honored by. The Northwest Labor Press called for an interview, as did The Portland Tribune. Our local Amalgamated Transit Union 757 leadership have been very supportive, and I've appreciated some uplift from our International as well.
The rest of our local media has remained silent. Willamette Week "passed" on reviewing the book, as has (evidently) the Mercury and Portland Monthly. I wouldn't even give The Boregonian a chance, given its heavy transit management slant. The others? Must be afraid to rock the transit bully's boat. If you rock it too much, some are too afraid to brave windy waves to do anything but row toward calm water. Predictable, the staleness of the local media. Unpredictably, management hasn't seemed to mind one of its operators dared to blast it in print. Maybe it's just waiting for the opportune moment to pounce. If it doesn't know my true identity at this point, well... you just can't fix ignorance. I've written about that enough in this blog though, so we'll leave it there.
My brothers and sisters have been amazingly supportive and complimentary. This means more to me than any other acclaim I could possibly achieve. They find me, sometimes hanging on to the book in wait for the moment we meet again, so I can sign their copy. More than anything, this is an absolute honor above all others. Thank you, my brothers and sisters of the road, because you are who I write for to begin with.
Oh well. My first frolic into the literary morass hasn't moved many, but I'm moved by those who have taken the ride. It's fun, when I stop to see a lifelong dream realized. I keep pulling myself up, and am often treated to encouraging words and hugs of support. Anyone else might be discouraged, but I'm feeling the opposite. Deke has more words to become bound. There's a certain story I came up with while driving over the Tillikum Crossing that is a work in progress. Maybe it's just a speed bump in front of a long hill. Even so, it's something that will last beyond my heartbeat. And that, my dear friends, makes it so very worthwhile.