We can never be sure that small beginnings will become bigger or significant or worth the time. But we still need to explore them because as we wander, we often make discoveries we wouldn't have made otherwise.
That’s what happened to me.
My parents divorced when I was eight years old. That meant my dad picked me up on Saturdays and we’d hang out most of the day. Often, we’d stop by his paint shop (he painted commercial properties) for a few minutes while he did some paperwork. That meant I had free reign over his typewriter.
Yes, typewriter. I’m that old.
One Saturday, I grabbed an Elvis album, pulled out the liner notes and began to type them. Why the liner notes? I don’t know. Because they were there and because I loved the magical sound that the keys made as I stroked them on the typewriter. I’ve always been enamored with words and the way they made me feel. And seeing them pile up on the page that day was immensely satisfying.
Shortly thereafter, I started a comic book about a man who was walking through the park one day and ended up yawning and swallowing a bird. He became Birdman with all sorts of bird-like qualities. I wrote and illustrated each issue and sold them to my sister for a nickel. I hope she didn’t save any of them because they were awful.
When I became a teenager and discovered girls, I didn’t know how to deal with my angst over not being able to catch their attention, so I wrote poems about how I felt.
After I started playing guitar, I transitioned to writing songs. I recently came across ten songs I recorded on audio cassette. I think one other copy exists and I hope it’s long been lost or destroyed because it, too, was awful.
In my twenties, I usually ended up in corporate positions in which I was responsible for systematizing company procedures. For me, that meant writing procedure manuals. Those weren’t awful. People found them helpful, and that was a good feeling.
In 2004, I started a baseball blog. It had a small but faithful audience and it eventually opened the door for me to become a sports writer for various newspapers.
That lead to more than a dozen nonfiction books, and finally, three novellas.
None of that would’ve happened if I hadn’t been willing to wander down the pathways of small beginnings. None of those experiences were wasted — not the Elvis liner notes, not the comic book, not the poems or songs, or even the procedure manuals. It was all training.
I’ve always been a writer in some form or fashion. I just didn’t necessarily know it. If you look back at your life, what common thread can you see? Whatever it is, keep taking the next step because it might lead to something bigger than you ever imagined.