While talking to a friend the other day, I was asked why I decided to return to writing my column after almost five years.
At the time, I provided my standard answer, ?I missed writing.?
After thinking about it further, however, I decided that it?s also about my sanity.
To fully understand, one must appreciate that I engage in writing columns much like other people engage in social media?sometimes without considering the consequences of sharing things about themselves that may have been better left unsaid.
Writing silenced all the voices rattling around inside me, much to the chagrin of my spouse, who was sometimes confused by my deep thinking as being feeble attempts to avoid an important discussion.
Around five years ago, I reached a point where I asked an age-old columnist?s question, ?Am I crazy or did I really just share my entire family?s story with people I may or may not know??
For roughly 15 years, I tried to entertain readers about fatherhood, motherhood in the second person and occasionally, adolescence in a narrative of vague understanding.
I was inspired to write humorous anecdotes, like the time I spoke to my then two-year-old son after having inhaled so much helium that I may have levitated for a moment or two. Then, there were those many home improvement projects, which once landed me at a doctor?s office with two black eyes and a concussion.
Humor seemed to naturally spill from my writing, although sometimes it wasn?t shared within my family. Shopping trips with my wife and weekend rendezvous suddenly became unforgettable, thanks to print media and searches on the World Wide Web.
But that was only part of it.
I actually began my writing career after college when I worked as a city reporter at ?The Abilene Reflector-Chronicle.? At the time, I was young and naive, misunderstanding that my title, ?city reporter,? meant writing news stories about anything important or unique that took place at a city within the border of Dickinson County.
For the record, that included nine cities of various sizes. Each one boasted moments that the townspeople considered important, so they sometimes called the young and naive city reporter two or three times in case he didn?t share their excitement about a giant squash that vaguely resembled a famous person?
When I wasn?t covering a news beat, the managing editor provided space for me to write columns. At the time, I thought they were cutting edge and boldly addressed such newsworthy topics as finding spiral bound notebooks for left-handers and understanding the brain function of a hunting dog.
But now, I look back and see why I was the only person in the newsroom laughing uncontrollably while reviewing my work.
During that impressionable time, I remember my father, a journalist who had written news reports for more than 20 years, telling me that he could see a style developing in my stories.
That comment meant a great deal to me and ranked up there with remarks from a favorite high school English teacher, who often shared my first attempts at humor with the rest of the class during creative writing assignments.
Following a break when I decided to?excuse the cliche?focus on photography, I wrote literally hundreds of columns, which led to great reader feedback. Among my favorites were, ?You used to have more humor in your stories,? ?Why don?t you write about issues that matter?? and ?You should work on your grammar.?? Even my family chimed in, ?Why did you think that was funny?? and ?Quit writing about us.?
I was sometimes discouraged, but I kept at it until the end of 2010 when I discovered I actually possessed skills for employment beyond basic story telling.
Flash forward five years of suppressing all those pent-up thoughts and ideas or sharing them solely at the dinner table, and I think my wife has finally had enough. So, I?m back, ready to dole out a few of the obscure and occasionally poignant moments from my life.
So don?t be surprised if I weigh in from time to time when something important takes place, such as a self-induced concussion caused by inhaling too much helium or an afternoon shopping for the latest teen fashions for my 15-year-old son, who only wears athletic shorts and t-shirts. The list of possibilities goes on and on.
After taking a few years away from it, I?ve confirmed that I missed writing. And, that?s not just crazy talk?
Ken is a banker by trade and journalist by gene-pool. He can be reached at Ken.Knepper@gmail.com.