My Short Story
I was born in East Liverpool, Ohio.
"Mom, where is that? I asked when I was nine years old.
"It doesn't matter. We weren't there for very long. Eat your cereal," she said.
"What is East Liverpool like? Is it nice?" I asked.
"It was a blur. We weren't expecting you. We just stopped for you. Why do you need to know this now?"
"Geeze Mom, I just wanted to know where I came from." She was hiding something.
"We don't know where you came from. We think you were adopted, okay? Now eat your cereal."
I stopped asking after that, so I can't tell you anything about East Liverpool, Ohio. I feel there may have been a vague connection to England and my real family. I know my mom was kidding but that thought and the accompanying paranoia remains even till today. When my dad passed away in 2009, my oldest brother said to me: "You know, dad never mentions you in his will." The following laughter reassures me that it's all just a joke--or is it? I won't ever really know until my mom passes away and the truth is exposed. I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with being adopted. It actually explains why I behave differently than my three brothers who are realist, rationalist and technicians while I tend to climb pretty far out on the limb of weird imagination and philosophy.
Early on, I was excited about sports. I was going to be a major league ball player, a world class Olympic skier, a professional footballer and finally a gymnast. There was no need to study sport because you were either talented at sport or not. You couldn't study sports, take a test, get an 'A' and sign a contract. The word average is a good way to describe how others described my athletic abilities and in 1970 I went to college and graduated from St. Francis University (college at that time) in 1975 with an English Lit degree. No sports contract. I still want to be all those things!
It wasn't until I found my way to Professor Berner's 17th Century Poetry course that I discovered my desire to write. It was a prerequisite course toward my English Lit degree. As a foot note, I originally planned on a biology major and swimming in the deep blue sea with Jacque Cousteau. I was informed that they won't put a dive suit on biology students unless they are above average. So I transferred and sat speechless in Ray Berner's class. It wasn't the poetry that spawned my cravings. Every 3rd week or so, Mr. Berner would sit at his desk, tell us all to close our books as he launched into a theatrical reading of the works of James Thurber. I never knew whether he was entertaining us or himself but it was truly inspiring. The week that he read Thurber's Walter Mitty, passionately reading each part convincingly to thirty mesmerized smiles around the room, was the week that I decided I wanted to be that writer. We all have our moments of inspiration in life but some are more penetrating than others and have the power to propel us in directions unknown and unplanned for. I knew this was my moment.
So I tried. After graduation, I took a job at an advertising firm as an apprentice copy writer. Apparently my grammar and spelling skills were found wanting. My story telling was below average, editing skills non-existent and my persistence muscles had not formed well enough for the rigors of copy writing. Three months later, I was in sales where I finally found my exceptional above average skills. But like the adoption thing, I never forgot the original desire to write, tell a story and make a person smile.
Some forty years later, seventeen with 3M, another ten or so years launching new businesses and the last fourteen developing my marketing business, I discovered something wonderful. Whatever a want-a-be writer lacks in skill in the early days of their education, they make up for in experience after years of laboring through hundreds of relationships, places and episodes. Pour on enough years and the stories begin knocking at your creative door. I also found out that talent is a latent substance of the mind. I rekindled my writing in the year 2000 and found that the skills for writing had actually permeated my skull through the process of osmosis. I also found that good editors could make your worse attempts look good. I self-published Day Dreamer Extraordinaire in 2011 with mild success--mild because without a good marketing plan, you remain lost in the heap. However, the whole experience was fascinating and very enjoyable. Clifford Wendell is my Walter Mitty. I received only positive reviews that stroked my ego with a gentle nudge to try again. I continued to write and have several more scripts in the queue, including my most recently finished action thriller, Pearls for an Infidel to be published in 2015. I'm currently working on a new mystery novel about a boy who was adopted....
I'm not saying I'm a great writer. That's for you to determine; but I'm pretty certain you will find my stories entertaining, and for me, that's where it all begins.
Michael A Durney is the owner of Interactive Marketing, a developer of customer loyalty programs, including the Welcome Back Rewards (WBR) application, which is a cloud based customer loyalty solution designed for independent merchants. Formerly, Michael was engaged with the launch of several other business ventures after retiring from a seventeen year career with the 3M Company. He is the author of Clifford Wendell, Day Dreamer Extraordinaire currently available on Amazon, Barns & Nobel and other book venues. Three new novels are in development. Durney has a BA from St Francis University, 1975. He lives with his wife, Linda, in Front Royal, Virginia. He has four children and three grandchildren. "Writing began mostly as a hobby then the inkwell spilled into a passion that was absorbed by fictional characters looking for a story. I like to write thrillers, mysteries and fun imaginative stories that all audiences can read."