Do You See What I See?

That phrase comes from a Christmas carol (not Dickens’s A Christmas Carol), but it’s also an appropriate question for both readers and authors.

Over the years I’ve been writing, I’ve been pummeled and praised from all sides about the philosophic underpinnings of what I write, and called, if sometimes indirectly and gently, “every name in the book.” At times, it may have been merited, but most times, it’s because the reader and I don’t see the same thing.

There’s another old saying – where you stand depends on where you sit. And where you sit depends also on where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what you’ve seen, really seen.

I now live a comfortable life. I admit it, but there were more than a few times when the money ran out before the month, so to speak, and there were a few times when there was no money and no job, and months of pounding the pavement and sending out resumes and following up leads. I’ve been hired, and I’ve also been fired. For all that, I always had a roof over my head, and one that didn’t leak, or at least not much. I’ve been married, and divorced, a single custodial parent with four small children, again married and divorced, and, thankfully,for the past twenty-five years, very happily married.

From my time in politics and in the business and consulting world, I’ve also been close enough to gilded world of the very rich and very powerful, briefly passing through it on assignment, as it were, but I’ve also been in mines, factories, refineries, and in worn-down farms deep in Appalachia, in the near dust-bowl plains in parts of Colorado and Kansas. I was an anti-protest protester during the Vietnam War, and then I was first an enlisted man and then an officer in the Navy… and a search and rescue pilot. I’ve seen grinding poverty off the beaten track in South America and Southeast Asia, and I’ve seen incredible showplaces of now-vanished British nobility and the Irish ascendancy.

I started at the bottom in grass-roots politics and ended up as a fairly senior political staffer in Washington, D.C. I’ve run my own businesses, not always as successfully as I should have, from the first one doing fairly physically demanding manual labor to white-collar regulatory consulting. Along the way, there were stints as a life-guard, a radio DJ, and several years as a college lecturer.

That’s why what I see may not be what some of my readers see, but all good writers write from what they know and where they’ve been, and if you read closely, you can tell where an author’s been… and often where they haven’t.

4 thoughts on “Do You See What I See?”

  1. R. Hamilton says:

    Where in all that did the familiarity with woodworking, smithing, and horses come from? It seems as if you’ve done some of at least a couple of those if not all three. If you have done woodworking, I wonder if there’s a photo of one of your better pieces that might be seen. 🙂

    1. I have done some woodworking, but the only piece worth mentioning was a cherry cradle I made years and years ago for my youngest daughters, which was most recently used for my youngest granddaughter. The smithing took a great deal of research, as did the horses, and some of the horse knowledge came from my wife’s friend, who was a barrel-racer into her fifties and who also has one of the premier English Shire hitches in the U.S. , if not in the world.

      1. R. Hamilton says:

        Thanks. If it’s hard to tell what’s research and what’s experience, your research is serving you well indeed. The difference was perhaps that the love of woodworking (Lerris, post-apprenticeship) came through more than that of the others. And from your description, I wonder if that wasn’t also a reflection of the personal meaningfulness of the piece you mentioned.

  2. I’ve always noticed a great respect for craftsmen in your work, and for rulers and soldiers or policemen, combined with some disdain for ‘High Holders’ and ‘Factors’ who are only interested in golds.

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