Tuesday, May 12, 2009

OK, So It's Not the Normal Course

Krista Engl of the Arts Council with Tom (center) and me at the taping^

My business partner, Tom Field, and I went over to Cox Cable this a.m. to tape a segment for the Arts Council of the Blue Ridge's annual Perry Kendig Awards dinner in June and Krista Engl asked a question I wasn't quite ready for.

Tom and I have been named winners of the Arts Council's first literary awards (the council has concentrated on visual arts in the past) and Krista asked what "turned" us toward "the literary life."(The "literary life"? Me? I'm a hack journalist, Krista.) Tom survived a number of challenges that would have floored a lesser man, but the passion for the printed word (and the illustrated word) was there and he thrived with it. All good stuff.

My experience came through the backdoor. I was never a reader (until recent years) and didn't do especially well in school, so what was it for me? "I learned to dive before I could swim," I said. "Then I learned to swim to keep from drowning because I really liked to dive." Krista looked at me like I'd just grown a red wart on my nose, crinkling her brow, puzzled.

I went on: "I did the same thing with writing," I said. "I got a job with a newspaper when I was 18--at a time when you could still do that--but I couldn't write. I couldn't even type. I had to learn to write to keep the job, which I liked, so I did."

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