Blog 2: Experience is key
(Blog 2 aims to write the book from before the idea through the final work.)
Our Hero, like your hero, was not truly created of dust.
No sir. He was created out of experience. Life forms us and keeps reshaping us, even if our clay dries day by day, less supple by the day, too.
Or so the prevailing wisdom goes. I think we simply stop watering as much. Without this life-giving elixir, we dry up. Or we dry up faster anyway.
Experience is everything. Stop experiencing, or at least drawing the “new” from the experience, and you lose something. You begin to think you’ve seen it all, know it all. But you can’t possibly. There’s too much out there. And so much you don’t know at all. The real gift of books is the opportunity to experience something new even as we place ourselves in the protagonist’s shoes, soul.
So whatever plot we settle on for Our Hero, we cannot forget that he is shaped by and understood by his experience. And that is what the book’s readers will fasten on.
Generally that experience comes to the influence of other people and how we interpret it. It’s possible to interpret one way at the moment, and a whole ‘nother later.
Of course, there was the time or two Bob Little sat on Our Hero in elementary school. That was indelible at the time. And the message remained clear all these 40 years later. Bob was not really very little. Ouch.
But, there was the time Our Hero’s mentor accosted him his first day at Marengo Elementary, waiting for class. “What’s your name?” “Donny.” “Donny?” “Donny.” “Huh, Donny? Donny. Doughnie. Hey, it’s Doughnie. Hah. Hah.” “Hah.” Sure enough. From then on it was Doughnie, right through elementary school, all through junior high and right up to high school, when a bully type coined “Doo-hickey” and then that stuck, big time. Our Hero’s own sister, flesh and blood, mind you, thought that was a fine name. That and “Dork.”
Our Hero, back in fourth grade when Dan ran things, didn’t have quite the size, sense of self or vocabulary for the appropriate response. Which would have been, “Hey, fuck you. The name is Donny. D-O-N-N-Y. Don’t make me hurt you.”
Now Our Hero can reflect on pecking orders and the value of childhood, understanding first hand the role of underdog and working up from there. These lessons are valuable. Well, helps for understanding films such as “Napolean Dynamite” even if you aren’t Mormon, anyway.
Dan actually was a pretty good guy, as it turned out. Sure, he bedeviled Our Hero at first. But hey, that’s understandable. Our Hero was a skinny, skinny, freckle-faced, scowly little stinker who didn’t realize he was mad at the world ” or at least his mom and dad, who had broken up in an era when that just didn’t happen.
Dan did him a big favor soon after in teaching him the great game of basketball. The game stuck longer than the humiliating nickname, as it turned out.
Pretty soon, the boys were playing one on one in Dan’s driveway. Dan taught Doghnie about the Lakers ” Jerry West and Elegin Baylor. If memory serves, Dan was Elgin Baylor, a big scorer. Doughnie honed his defense, since of course he had no offense not knowing the game yet.
He even watched as Dan’s older brother humiliated Dan far more than Dan could put Doughnie in his place. That was an epiphany.
The boys drifted apart, at least socially, in high school while meeting on the court two our of three years as members of the sophomore and then the varsity basketball teams.
As fate would have it, Dan was the star and now Doo-Hick was the bench warmer who usually wound up covering the star in practice. Talk about war. Our Hero hated for the star to score. Even in practice. We’re pretty sure Dan wasn’t exactly crazy about the maniac he had to deal with during practice. He told Our Hero once that games were a relief compared to practice.
These are memories that stuck 30 years after graduation from high school. The boys went their separate ways, grew to men, got married, had careers, children. The one thing that stuck for both was the great game.
Now Dan, who made a fortune in software, has turned back to basketball as an assistant coach for a Div. II college. And Our Hero still flails in two rec leagues, playing with kids as young as his high school senior son. Keeps him young.
Our Hero owes a lot to Dan, one of those catalysts in Our Hero’s life, whether he knows it or not. Actually, Our Hero is indebted.
Both these fellows live in Colorado now. And their history may not be entirely over. Dan has a gym downstairs at his home. Our Hero can’t wait to play on it, one on one, Dan as Elgin Baylor. …