Exploring How My Writing Passions Transformed with Age

Life is full of changes. These transformations happen in every area of our life, including those of us who call ourselves writers. Aging ain’t for sissies.

How has your writing changed over the course of your life?

Personally, from recent experiences, I realize that my writing and what I am interested in writing about is far different from what it was as a kid in my twenties.

As a young writer in my twenties, I was primarily interested in reading and writing fiction. Made up stories featuring heroes and villains battling it out for the greater good. These past two years have changed what I care to write about.

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What’s caused this?

For starters, graduate school has sharpened my writing and research skills. As a graduate research student working on my Masters’ degree in Managerial Science, I spend a significant amount of time writing. Nearly every week in the last 18-20 months, I have pounded out a minimum of one 8-10 page (usually two), academic paper. Each semester, I have had to write a major research paper or create a semester ending graduate project. Often, the papers due each week are longer. Research papers run 30+ pages and require a lot of reading and demand a ton of research to boot. The projects involve learning new technologies and employing new tools.

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In the process of my studies, I have read more non-fiction books than I probably did in my entire life previously. I have fallen in love with the genre. The books I have read span a variety of topics including managing generations, ethics, leadership, organizational development, operations, teams and technology, work in the 21st century, management, and company cultures.

I have grown to love the non-fiction genre and find myself reading creative non-fiction, personal essays, and watching documentaries. Having turned the corner of age 50,  I find that what I am interested in writing has been influenced by all of these new, stimulating inputs.

Naturally, this is influenced by my pursuit and interest in theological subjects and all-things Jesus. Spiritual growth is important to me and my beloved Sweet T. So, I read a lot about faith, God, and redemption.

Having spent over 20 years in active recovery, I also have a great interest in stories demonstrating life change is not only possible, but happens every day. I find God stories are all around me, just waiting to be told.

A student of people, I love writing stories about my interaction with folks that I meet in the most ordinary places and of people who have transformed my life by their presence in it.

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Writing non-fiction is different than writing fiction, just as academic writing differs from creative non-fiction. However, like in good fiction, the creative non-fiction writer must begin with a good story. Otherwise, nobody is going to read it. As is the case in a fiction story, a creative non-fiction writer relies on compelling, vibrant characters to weave their tale. Non-fiction giants such as Ron Chernow, Walter Isaacson, and David McCullough tell good stories through the eyes of intriguing characters. Their talents rival that of any major fiction author.

In addition to these more renowned authors, I have discovered great essayists N.T. Wright, Seth Godin, John Jeremiah Sullivan, and Lee Gutkind. My journey has led me to the brilliant Haydn Shaw and in-depth, detailed writing of Peter G. Northouse.

What about you? Do you find your writing interests have changed as you have grown as a human and spent time on the road of life?

Keep writing!

Blessings.

The Revolutionary Musings of an Optimistic Cashier

There is a young man who I’ll call Walter who works at one of the local big box discount stores. He is cheerful and friendly, talks to people with ease, injecting humor into his brief interactions with customers.

On this particular morning, I maneuvered around the store, finding the large palettes filled with cases of bottled water. My wife prefers the bottled water they sell here because it has a better pH level. I prefer it because it’s cheap. Lord knows, I’m acerbic enough.

I loaded six cases into my gray shopping cart, scolding myself for not choosing one of the larger red carts. The bottled water is wrapped in thin plastic that often tears, causing some of the individual bottles to commit hari-kari by leaping from the safety of the plastic nest onto the tiled vinyl floor.

Standing in line, I grimaced because things were not moving very fast. Never fails, I thought. One checker. And a chatty one at that. I listened to Walter, who I remembered meeting during a previous visit, engage in conversation with the older Asian woman as she rummaged through a small, yet cavernous, pocket purse. The tall black man next in line shook his head as we both looked on as the woman continued performing her desperate search and rescue for long-lost exact change. I felt like buying her groceries just to speed things up. Life was ticking away.

Then Walter asked her, “How is the time change treating you?”

She paused, slipping him a flustered gaze as the man in front of me and I sighed in unison.

“I’m trying,” she responded. “What was the amount again?”

“Twenty-one forty-two.”

She went back to digging.

“I wish they would just do away with Daylight Savings Time, “Walter shared. “It has outlived its usefulness. Times have changed. Wouldn’t you agree?”

She ignored him.

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My heart jolted with joy as the woman handed him three dimes, two nickels, and two pennies. Walter thanked her and handing her the receipt, pattered through his spiel about the online survey and the code at the bottom that might land her a free five-hundred-dollar shopping spree.

The man in front of me set down his red carbonated soda, salted peanuts, and chocolate candy bar. Walter rang up the items, chatting with the tall man who I surmised was a little older than me. The man handed Walter a ten. Walter made change, prattling non-stop. He threw in his philosophical commitment on revolutionizing the world by eliminating Daylight Savings Time. I wondered how long he intended to hold his paying customers hostage with his verbal tirade. The older man chuckled at the hardships this young buck presumed to endure. “Changing the clock ain’t too hard for me, “the man said, “Been doing it all my life. You do it and you move on. Simple as that. Have a good day now.”

He left Walter teetering on the edge of speechlessness. But not for long. “How are you, sir?” Walter welcomed me to the register.

Finally. My turn. At this point, I had begun doubting the value of the cheap water I was buying. Perhaps it wasn’t cheap enough. But, I admit, I found the young man’s upbeat, cheery attitude refreshing. Being a Gen-Xer, my demeanor isn’t always dazzling.

The Revolutionary Musings of an Optimistic Cashier

“And how is your day going today?” Walter must have sensed that I don’t always wake up on the right side of the bed. “Are we adjusting to the time change?”

I glanced over both my shoulders to see if my invisible friends had turned visible. Nope. Nobody there. Good.

Clearly, Daylight Savings Time was having a profound effect on Walter, who I surmised to be a young Millennial. He did not seem quite young enough to be one of the Generation Z kids that I had seen protesting on TV recently. I could be wrong. Maybe Walter felt inspired and decided to start his ‘Kill Daylight Savings Time’ initiative. No doubt, us old folk were messing up the world. If only a generation would come along that knew what it was doing. Kurt Cobain was probably turning in his grave.

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“Whoa. That’s a bunch of water. Thirsty? “

“Not really.”

“How many cases we got there?”

“Six.”

“What are you going to do with all that H2O?”

“Drink it.”

Walter nodded. “Makes sense. But not all at once, surely.”

“Right, ” I said, presenting my best happy face. “Not all at once.”

“How long does that last you?”

I glanced at the three people waiting in line behind me. I feel your pain. “A few weeks,” I sneered.

“Got it.” A beep sounded each time he scanned the bar code of the case nearest him. “One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. I believe I got ’em all. That’ll be eighteen dollars.”

I handed Walter a twenty. Smiling, he opened the register and handed me two dollars in quarters. “Sorry, I’m out of ones right now. I hope quarters are okay. My manager is working on getting me some fresh money. If you want, you can wait.”

I shook my head. “No, that’s cool. Thanks.” In a world of plastic money and virtual payments having a pocket full of change had become a rarity.

“Have a momentous day.” Walter handed me my receipt. “Don’t forget to go online and fill out the survey. You could win free money. Be sure to tell ‘em that your cashier talks way too much. My name’s Walter.”

“Thanks Walter. My day has already been life-changing. Good luck getting adjusted to the time change.”

“I’m done with it. Daylight Savings Time is outdated. We do not need it anymore. It’s not like we’re living during American Revolutionary times.”

“No, we’re not.”

I am sure the winding line of people waiting patiently behind me were relieved to see me leave. But not as glad as I was to be going. Is this how revolutions get started?

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The Remarkable Truth About Writing in a Monumental Transformative 21st Century

We live in a busy world on the move amid a hodge-podge of multiple cultures and different generations working together to achieve the boss’s goals. A happy boss makes a happy you. Rapidly changing technology demands that we become continuous learners, adapting to the new ways of communicating and performing work. Artificial intelligence and robots are on the horizon threatening to alter how we live, work, and play. Maybe ‘threatening’ is the wrong word. But be sure, change is coming.

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How will these changes affect you as a writer? Technology has changed how we write. We are far removed from the days of feather plumes and inkwells. I recall how dramatic having a word processor instead of a ribbon typewriter was for me as a young aspiring writer. Now as an aging aspiring writer, they have apps for that.

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Our multi-generational, cross-cultural world will influence the type of characters we write about and the stories we tell about them. How can they not? As a kid writer, I conjured up several aliases and pen names I could write under, since I didn’t see a bunch of books on the public library shelves written by authors with strange-sounding, odd-spelled names. In comparison, today my name doesn’t seem as out-of-place as more and more international writers are finding space on the local bookshelves.

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Advancements in technology have also made publishing more accessible to more people. This is both good and bad. The publishing houses do act as a filter, working diligently to ensure a certain quality of writing is published. However, you don’t necessarily need a publisher today. You can self-publish. Of course, this means you gotta get out and hustle to sell your books since you don’t have the marketing department of a publishing house behind you. Distribution is another challenge. Go to your local bookstore and tell ‘em you wrote a book and you’d like them to sell it. Odds are that won’t happen. Plus, with everybody and their dog being able to publish, there’s a lot of junk that gets in the way of skillful writing by people who have worked hard at their craft. But hey…who am I to judge. Creativity is a good thang, right? And that’s the truth.

Keep on writing…I believe in you.

~TDG

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