It was over 21 years ago, January 1st, 1996, I believe, when I first made the conscious choice to pursue a career as a writer. From that very first moment, I knew that I wanted to be a storyteller, a weaver of fictional dreams like the authors whose works I’d personally loved most since childhood. Books like J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, and Ray Bradbury’s The Illustrated Man were just a few of the books that spurred my imagination and allowed me to see myself in a world without limits, where my disability no more important to the life I could lead than the color of my eyes.
Those authors created stories that pulled you right into the page and took you on adventures that, once it was over, left you as frustrated as a child who wakes up from a beautiful dream to discover that Santa didn’t leave you a pony under the tree. And on top of it, it’s still six months to Christmas!
And once the adventure began, you never wanted it to end. It wasn’t until years later that I began to wish to have that skill, maybe because having spent so much of my youth going on the adventures of others, that I finally realized that I indeed had the power to concoct adventures of my own.
I’ve written a lot of stories, poems, and a novel or two over the last 21 years. In the early days I was dogged in my writing pursuits. I wrote a lot, submitted to various markets almost compulsively, and studied the craft of writing all of the time. Books like Word Painting by Susan McClanahan had huge impacts on me and my understanding of what it took to be a great storyteller, showing me how to make the words leap from the page and come alive.
I’ve also spent (i.e. wasted) a lot of time chasing other pursuits, dealing with health issues, doctors, a couple of hospital stays (which led to the additional tether of supplemental oxygen to my life) and the other mental distractions that are an ordinary part of this enigmatic thing we call life. Life is vast, beautiful, unpredictable, complicated, annoying, fascinating, and scary. Things happen that threaten to pull you from your projected path, and sometimes, if you aren’t wary, they will succeed. So, while I never completely lost sight of my dreams, my vision of it grew fuzzy and dim, the same way that an actual dream is wont to do upon waking from it. But through everything, the desire to be a talespinner lingered in the back of both my mind and heart, even though summoning the mental fortitude to get the words flowing proved an uphill battle for years afterward.
From the Shadows, a Griot Emerges
A part of me always wanted to adopt a cool pseudonym, not for reasons of concealing my identity, but to brand myself and my writer side, the way Beyoncé dubs her on-stage persona as “Sasha Fierce”. And since I strive to be a storyteller, like a modern-day African griot in the digital world, I came up with the moniker “The Digital Griot”, and the accompanying author pseudonym of Drew Griot. Since I’m in the process of resurrecting my passion for writing, might as well do it with a fresh, new “face”.
I hope that by using this new persona, that I can be bolder, fiercer, more inspired to write about the things that most affect me, that stir me to anger or joy or sorrow or fear. The things that bring out the passion in me. Not that I won’t write happy things also, because there are just times you HAVE to write about puppies and bunnies and kittens and such, right? But the truth is that it’s easy to talk about the good stuff. It’s our human inability to face up to the bad stuff, to deal with the things that make us uncomfortable, that haunt us, taunt us, stress us, where the best stories lie.
And those are exactly the things that “Drew Griot” will tackle head on in both my writing, on social media, and on this website, along with news, reviews, poetry, prose, art, and anything else I’m inspired to write, create, or share. Before everyone had a computer or a cellphone or a tablet in hand, we used to write out our math problems on paper and work through to solve them. I like to do the very same sort of thing with the life issues of today. I write not so much to find the answers, because very often there are no answers. I write just to either get a better understanding of things, or sometimes, maybe just to find a place of acceptance for those things. No matter how unfathomable some things can be, .
And hopefully you’ll be willing to stay tuned and come along with me for the ride.