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Doxology: Brian Holers’s Debut Novel

Doxology, the debut novel from author Brian Holers, is available in both paperback and digital format now! Fathers, sons and brothers reconnect over tragedy in this blue-collar Southern tale of love, loss and the healing power of community and family. Doxology examines an impossibly difficult...

Brian Holers

Writing helps perfect a world

We all search for ways to perfect our little slice of the world, to vault us over the hardships. I’ve always found respite in stories.  Even as a small child I made up stories as I woke in the morning, greeted the gray dawn whispering, as if narrating my dreams aloud.  After decades of avoidance, finding fleeting solace in work, sports and reading, I finally sat down and tried to write some stories.  As badly as I wanted to be able to do it, it was hard.

I have no idea why I took so long to start writing a blog.  No idea.  I mean, it’s all hard, sometimes writing a grocery list is hard.  Fiction, that’s a whole different game.  Fiction has helped me carve out a completely different, parallel universe.  Blogging, though, helps me organize this world better, the one I actually live in.  I’ve known for years how to do it, several years ago we traveled with our son and we kept a blog so friends and family could keep up with us.  And I so enjoyed describing the experience of traveling with a child in places far different from the one I call home.   But then I came back to regular life and to work and didn’t figure I needed a blog anymore, I could call or email the people I wanted to keep in touch with.  Maybe it’s my age, I’m not that old but I’m definitely not the first to keep up with technology.  I still organize my days with a day timer and wouldn’t have a clue how to send a tweet and frankly, it sounds silly to me.  But this I do know.  This is only my second post and already, blogging is making my life better.

People who write tend to think a lot.  I’ve got a regular life to keep up with, making a living, keeping paint on my house and the grass cut, taking my son to school and baseball games and squeezing in homework.  Then there’s all my thoughts about life and current events, politics, economics, all of which have to be organized some way.  Writing helps.

Just going through life, with all its responsibilities, drudgery, and disappointments, is hard enough.  We certainly can’t have everything we want.  We find ways to keep a lid on things, as a means of assuring the mortgage gets paid on time and we get enough sleep.  But here’s the problem.  Now that I’m actively, almost daily, giving up other things so I have time to write, this giant lid has come off.  I was never exactly a slow thinker, but now that some of my thoughts are finding a place to live other than inside my head, brain activity is ten times what it used to be.  For years I’ve been working, doing productive things, I guess you could say I’ve been doing the things I was supposed to do, learning the lessons I was put here to learn just by living, being married, being a parent, running a business, paying taxes.  I’ve always known there was something greater than just ordinary life, not to knock ordinary life and all the joys and pleasures it contains.  But now that I’m taking part in this thing that opens up other worlds, sometimes it’s overwhelming.

I grew up in a world of storytelling.  We’re not talking back in the old-timey days, when you had to crank a car to get it started or anything like that, I’m not talking about old men in overalls sitting on the porch spitting in cans, holding court with each other and anyone around who would listen.  It was more just the form conversations took.  Whether lengthy or brief, they were colorful.  Nearly everyone I knew, except for the strikingly dull, spoke in expressions.  No one over the age of eight or ten would miss an opportunity to elaborate, or would describe anything with a simple adjective.  To speak three sentences without a simile or metaphor would have been simply uncouth.  Years later, I carry with me a trenchant desire both to entertain and to be entertained (and ideally, educated) by conversation.  This back and forth thing some people call conversation but sounds to me like verbal text messaging, I doubt if I will ever get that.  For a business transaction, or just in passing, okay, it’s fine.  But on personal time?

I’ve lived in Seattle for a long time.  I love Seattle.  It’s beautiful.  It’s never too hot.  The scenery, mountains, water, wow.  A Starbucks on every corner.  Ooh la la.  So fine, no place is perfect.   Me, I’m an energetic guy.  Highly social.  Lots of writers are, I believe the term is “shrinking violets”, passive, inward, anxious.  Maybe I would be a better writer if I were any of those things.  But I’m not.  I like to talk to people.

But here in Seattle, we’re a dull bunch.  Maybe it’s a coastal city thing, maybe just a city thing.  I don’t know.  Seattleites certainly aren’t shallow or image conscious, it’s not that.  Generally polite.  When I moved here in the eighties, I met East coasters who marveled at the way Seattleites drove the speed limit, and back then the speed limit was 55.   Maybe Seattle just makes people inward, like the cold, iron-gray skies that so often close in on us.

But I live here, and I love it here, my business and family are here.  I can visit Louisiana all I want, eat gumbo every day and have odd interactions with people.  But life is here, and for now I’m staying where I am.  Fortunately, I finally quit talking and started writing.  So, in my mind at least, I live wherever I want to live.

I was down recently, visiting my parents and doing a bit of pre marketing for my first novel, which is set in Louisiana.  Mom and dad are still there in the same old place, it’s such a step back in time going to see them.  I’m there, and it’s about ten at night and I’m used to going out to Starbucks about then, drinking a little coffee, seeing what’s going on.

So I drive into town, it’s one of these places that used to be an idyllic little Southern town full of churches where you couldn’t buy beer or liquor.  But now they’ve put in a bypass and you don’t even have to drive down the mostly boarded up Main Street anymore, just go around and stop in at the Mcdonalds or Burger King or Popeye’s if you’re hungry, or at the all night gas station if everything else is closed.

I get some gas and then go inside and—this isn’t Starbucks, remember– pour one of these Styrofoam cups of coffee and I’m looking around for the little packs of cream, French vanilla ideally, and there’s a man and he asks what I’m looking for and I tell him, something about this guy is just humorous, he’s a head shorter than I am, I’m not sure if his eyes crossed or what but he was looking just past my head as he was talking to me and this is what he said.

Yeah I like coffee at night too but I can’t put all that good stuff in my coffee anymore, doc said I needed to lose some weight and my blood’s too high so I got to get on the pills and he’s telling me I’ve got to eat more carrots and broccoli and crap—now don’t forget he’s looking right past me with this odd little grin as he talks—and I told him, I said doc? You got a desk in yo’ office? And he said, yeah, why?  I said, you got drawers in yo’ desk? And he said, yeah, why? And I said, you got a pistol in one o’ them drawers? Here the conversation—and yes it was a conversation, because it was simply a given that I would have similar opportunity to expound in exactly this way after his story was finished, should I choose to—here the conversation took a turn and began to move rapidly toward its ending, I could tell by the lengthening of his one sided smile.  And I said doc, you ought to keep a pistol in yo’ desk, cause if you gonna make me start eatin’ thataway you may well blow my brains out right now.

And I thought to myself, I’m gonna write that down.

 

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5 Responses to Writing helps perfect a world

  1. Mable Houston says:

    Funny how a writer can “steal” his “stuff” from such an innocent, mundane conversation as this one. This post left me wanting more. WRITE, BRIAN, WRITE–”Yes, You Can” I enjoyed reading every bit. You Go! Can’t wait to read the book.

    WARNING: Be careful when talking to a writer–You just might read about it real soon.

  2. Jody Gross says:

    I am watching and admiring you as I always have. You are the bravest man I’ve ever known and I am proud to call you my friend and husband!

  3. JoAnne Tompkins says:

    Love the thought that writing helps us organize our worlds and generates its own creative momentum . It’s so true. And wonderful description of the storytelling culture of your youth. “To speak three sentences without a simile or metaphor would have been simply uncouth.” Fantastic! I wish I’d grown up where you did. It’s clear you’re a natural born story teller. I’m excited to read your book.

  4. Charlotte Garrett Guidroz says:

    Please keep writing. Jonesboro is full of wonderful folks!

  5. Great story…I can so see that conversation happening in that little town of Jonesboro, LA, if that’s where it took place. You have a great gift…

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