I'm going to tell you all a secret. It's the secret about how I write...Before I start working on a story I usually say two words in my head and they are...wait....this takes a little buildup, so here goes....
...Sitting in my countrified office filled with Longaberger baskets, hand carved wooden stars, and wooden signs with sayings such as "Love when you can, Cry when you have to, Be who you must, that's a part of the plan," I am reminded of how much of my mother's son I am. It goes beyond how I decorate my office, or my addiction to running (of which I always attribute to her.) But deeper than that. I have her in everything that I do.
After reading "Little Corner" and listening to "Holy Cows" as well as most of my other projects, people have often asked..
Why do you always write about small towns and the importance of family relationships? Did you grow up in a small town?
Nope, I grew up in the Southern California Suburbs.
Why do you write about the importance of family? Did you have that ideal family experience?
I had two of them. My mom's house and my dad's house.
but I don't write about Southern California or being raised in dual households.
What I do love to write about are small town, strong family units, who gather together at baseball games and church, who see community theatre, see christmas tree lightings in the park, have large holiday parties, with parents who are proud PTA members, who hold lifelong friendships with the families down the street, who gather together on saturdays for bbqs, and who create a sense of family community that is passed on from generation to generation.
You know...fairy tales. Right?
I remember spending a lot of time being a mouthy teenager. (I'd like to forget some of it.) But back then, my biggest gripe with my mom was that she seemed OBSESSED with trying to maintain that image of a small town community and the perfect family. And, as a mouthy teenager all I could see were the imperfections. As someone who was straining to find my own identity in the world, I just couldn't understand why someone would fight so hard to try to create the ideal sense of community.I thought she was trying to make my Southern California childhood something from OHIO.
She throws an annual Christmas party, (where santa attends and a slide show is watched.) She shops at the main street country store and buys baskets from Longaberger Basket Co in Ohio. She believes that family is incredibly important. And most important...she surrounds herself with people she loves.
Ew! As a moody teen, those things were the most outlandish ideas I could imagine. I just wanted to be in my room with my lego's and video games.
But upon growing up, (a little) as I began to write and create stories, I found myself drawn into that world. I found that every story I wrote began to stem from that place. All of them.... small towns and family bonds and baseball games...small towns and family bonds and viagra factory clouds...small towns and family bonds and musical murder mysteries....No matter what outlandish plot I threw at the page, I found that it needed to take place in that world.
And now, I have become obsessed with it. I love that world. I love those people. I love the themes. In essence, I am writing the story my mom worked so hard to create. I've spent the majority of my writing career writing my mom. That's my secret.
Looking at how I live my life, its blatantly obvious how much you influence me. Just look the ways...
1)" I always have a Christmas Party"
2)" I believe country stores are amazing."
3) "I believe family is incredibly important"
4) and this is a big one..." I Surround myself with the people I love"
You've been doing that for years. You've worked hard not only to create an amazing family, but an amazing community of people who love and care about us and you. You are more than just an incredible mom, but a huge cheerleader and support, and an incredibly role model as a strong person. You've taught me so much about who I am and what I do.
and, without knowing it, you're telling all the stories. I'm just writing em down.
...and maybe adding my own quirky spin...
Either way, I don't say thank you enough. I don't say, I love you enough. I don't say I miss you enough. How could I? Words won't describe it. What I do say, though, is "hello mom" every time my fingers touch my keyboard. Then, when I type to words "the end" I think to myself "yep, mom would like it there."
Thank you for everything. I love You. I miss you. And of course, Happy Birthday.
That one guy from ENCORE! on ABC. NYC based Writer/Actor/Storyteller. Theatre Maker. Husband. Bad Hombre. Cat Taunter.