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Worthy to Print Column | The Gift of Writing

George Worthy

I’ll tell you a little secret. Writing is hard work. Oh, I don’t mean it’s like driving a tractor or picking up potatoes or any of the jobs found on a farm no matter what you are growing. Those hours are long and hot and sweaty. I don’t get sweaty very often, but I can assure you that sitting down at a desk on a pretty day like we had today is one of the hardest things you can ask of someone. 

Besides, what if you are truly disappointed? You might find offense over something I wrote. That hurt more than anything. I remember the first time that someone took offense over something that I wrote. I am not so sure of myself that I believe it was the only time someone felt that way, but it was the only time that anyone took the time to tell me of my error. You know what the worst thing about it was? They were right to let me know.

Knowing that doesn’t make the medicine taste any better, but it sure made me read and re-read everything I write before I send it to the editor of this fine periodical. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that a compliment is only a compliment if it is meant so. I love it when someone surprises me with a compliment, but I refuse to believe that I am so good as to deserve one.

Do you write very often? It seems as though I try to write something everyday. Not for money. Gad! I would starve to death. But the wonderful thing that happens with me is that someone will look me over and say something like, “I really enjoy reading your columns.” Woohoo! That is my pay for the next six months.

My dad used to assign me some job on the farm and I would try to make him proud of me. I would work hard to gain his admiration of the job I did. He threw compliments around like manhole covers. That is they didn’t come with any regularity. I knew I had done something right if he didn’t say anything at all. Because his vocabulary leaned a little to the four-letter words when he decided to correct me without actually making me feel like I didn’t care if he said another word.

I think all the time I spent growing up in Buck Worthy’s house, the closest he ever got to a compliment was when he was close to meeting his maker and he wrote my mom a letter that stated that I was his favorite. Heck! He might have said that about all of us. All, except my oldest brother, but then when has the oldest son ever been told that he was a favorite. There is just something about fathers and first-born sons.

None of us four boys ever expected or received a slap on the back or a “well done.” As I grew older I began to understand why he was like he was. His mother was the only grandparent I ever had and she was really quick with a jib or laser-like look while she filled her cheek with another load of snuff. She only visited us three times while still alive. They weren’t like those scenes you see in the movies where the grandparent is the one that does everything for their grandchildren.

I actually started to write with a passion when my oldest son was born. Austin and I used to have deep conversations, of course they weren’t together, but our thoughts were deep. Although my daughter was older than Austin and Reed was younger, I never had these altercations with them, but I think it is because I look into Austin’s face and I see myself. 

It was because of Austin that I started writing. You see, I was so sure that I wouldn’t allow our relationship to be like my dad and his oldest son Dudley. Austin and I never had fights like my dad and Dudley used to have, and one day it came to me why. I found out that it is as Kahlil Gibran says in his wonderful book, “The Prophet,” “Your children are not your children, they are the sons and daughters of life’s longing for itself.”

So as much as I tried to be the adult, Austin and I used to have some pretty heated arguments. I was pretty confused. How could a wonderful son like him be sophomoric?

Lorraine was actually the one that told me to write about my feelings. She knew Austin and I loved each other, but she also knew it is difficult to express yourself when the blood is boiling. So I went to Salinas and bought six of those black and white composition books that college teachers used.

I would get up in the morning and go to my office, and before the phone started ringing I would write about my feelings and how I was acting on them. I tried to write about how Austin felt, but that didn’t work. I discovered I had grown old and didn’t know how he felt. I finished four of the books and you would have thought I had invented a cure for cancer. 

I would come into the house feeling much better and I wouldn’t even mention to Austin what I was doing. Writing, I found out, washed away all negative thoughts I had been mumbling to myself. 

That wasn’t the first time I found myself writing. I actually think I have written, in this column, where I found writing to be a gift from God that allows one to take the time to think and see things from a different prospective. I highly recommend this practice if you feel you are faced with a problem that is insurmountable.

In closing this week’s scribbling, I would like to quote Gibran again. It has to do with his reply to a worshiper who asked about the children. “You may house their bodies but not their souls. For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow, which you may not visit, not even in your dreams. You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.”

God Bless.