Up in Flames?

I remember it like it was yesterday.  But it wasn’t yesterday.  It was probably forty-five years ago.  That would have made me fifteen or sixteen years old. No, now that I think of it, I may have been younger, maybe thirteen.

My friend and I had left my house just a minute or two before, walking west toward the mall at the end of the street.  We had nothing better to do, so we were walking to the mall to do what teenagers do in malls: hang out.  But, as we passed the vacant house with the badly overgrown tangle of grass and weeds in front, I thought I’d found something to do: play a game of chicken with matches.

I lit a match and tossed it into the tinderbox that was the front yard.  Instantly, the dry grass and weeds erupted in flames, consuming at least three square feet in less than five seconds. My friend screamed at me to put it out. Instead, I just watched, mesmerized by the flames. Fortunately, he stomped the fire out, saving a yard and maybe a house…maybe a neighborhood…from going up in flames.  And, not inconsequentially, saving me from a life very different from the one I have had to date.

This real life experience has inspired part of what may become a novel.  Or should it be a memoir?  So far, the real experiences have merged with other experiences (modified to fit the context) and fantasies and wishes and dreams.  I take that to mean a memoir is out of the question.

I need to find someone who will read what I write, even though it will be out of sequence and impossible to follow (because of its non-sequential nature), and give me brutally honest feedback…plus a little encouragement.  I need someone who will commit to speaking of it only with me.   The trick, now, is to find that someone…that friend who will reliably read and critique what I write and who will keep it private.

Maybe that’s what I need.  Maybe I need something entirely different.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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