A fish story

“Barc Shif!”

-attributed to Fishy Man

I saw it today. It happened at a chance meeting with the artist who is doing the cover art for my first novel, Tripio. I loved it of course. What I saw was a mock up for the cover of my novel. My name on the cover. It looked like a real book from a bookstore or online page. My name as the author of a novel.

After this serendipitous meeting, I spent a good deal of the rest of the day going about my blue collar job. From time to time I tried to recall when I first I dreamed of being a writer. My oldest surviving effort is a cartoon entitled “Fishy Man”, a fish that resembled a carp and who changed into a superhero after saying the magic words, “Barc Shif”. The phrase was intended to be crab fish spelled backwards. It’s not. But I was nine years old and so hiring an editor has not yet occurred to me.

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Fishy Man never made a splash, so to speak, but the desire, wish, hope, dream of being a writer stayed with me. I can’t exactly pinpoint a summer day moment at the kitchen table where I was drawing Fishy Man, and looking up to my mom and saying, “I’m going to write novels!”. If I claimed that I did, this would be a totally different type of fish story.

As I got older I ditched Fishy Man for The Beats and wondered through my post college years into parenthood, stopping for four years to work at Starbucks in Chicago. During those years, I wrote novels and kept journals as time presented itself. Parenthood suddenly became all the time I had for the next twenty years but I did continue journaling. The day on the job that brought me to the chance meeting with the cover artist was a typical day in my life now as a single parent of four grown kids.

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Now headed home from the work day, I wondered if not for the 20 years of raising kids, of watching them create every day, would I have forgotten my childhood creation of Fishy Man? Fishy Man, who was born in the moment of pure creation from it’s own sake. Fishy Man, who was swimming free of intent, the desire to impress, the condition he be edited and monetized. Fishy Man, who couldn’t spell, but whose superpower was to create for his own sake, to follow his imagination, to become Fishy Man just for the fun of just being able to do it with no strings (or hooks) attached!

I don’t know for sure of course. I just hope the some of Fishy Man’s superpower made it into Tripio and all my other writing. Because one thing I have realized since that day at my kitchen table is that hanging onto that moment of pure fun creating is a lot more difficult these days. Maybe when I sit down next time to write a post or work on Back outta the World and it is not happening, all I will need to do will be to take a moment to recall my day at the kitchen table and utter those magic works….”Barc Shif!”

“May I help who’s next?”

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