Once I crossed into my teenage years, I quickly tired of nature’s wide-open spaces. For me, life in a small town was dull and dreary. I longed for new adventures, determined to leave Kingman at my earliest opportunity. I’d always viewed myself as an adventurer, dreaming of a life searching for truth, and making my way by telling stories on the road to find out.
Like most young teenagers at the time, I was enamored with the Beatles. I could see the girls swooning and knew a musician’s life was the life for me. Yet, it wasn’t just the girls. Though I shunned the piano due to early lessons against my will, I was genuinely intrigued with music and wanted to play. I saved my money for several weeks and bought a cheap snare drum. The appliance repair shop that sold musical instruments on the side, threw in a couple pair of drumsticks for free. Suddenly, I was a drummer.
My friends and I formed a band. Faking it in bedroom jam sessions, practicing harmony as we walked the streets on our way to practice sessions. We practiced for months before we got the opportunity to play in public. And we still sucked. At first the music was terrible, screeching and caterwauling, aggravating the neighbors. Eventually, we improved and I took to writing lyrics, poetry and short stories on the side. We played all the school sock hops and weekend dances at the local Armory. I made good money for a teenager without a real job—money I promptly wasted on partying. Then came the girls. Then came trouble.
An outcast in High School, I didn’t much get along. Most of the teachers and school administrators wanted to get rid of me as badly as I wanted out and I graduated by default. My favorite class was English Literature, one of the few at which I excelled and where I was formally introduced to creative writing. The teacher was a gem, encouraging my writing. And I am eternally grateful. For the first time, I felt like I could create something worthwhile, something people might enjoy reading.