James Michael Pratt
"ABOUT" LONG VERSION with AUDIO BACKSTORY:
"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
--Robert Frost "A Road Less Traveled"
I no longer feel the need to hide some truths which made my story what it is; though now revealed through the ink of vulnerability and revealing normal human weakness.
Every life has a story being written day by day, influenced by a “backstory” that few seldom see. We see the surface of things in people as we pass them by, but rarely the deep underneath where life happens and paths diverge from others more traveled.
Brutalizing day-to-day around-the-clock pain begs for total attention. When decades pass by this way you get to a point of accommodation; seeking what you can reasonably do hour by the hour rather than what you'd love to do with enthusiasm. Giving anything total attention when creating a family, friendships, and a living is required feels impossible, yet...
Experience teaches us.
Life tests also color our individual lives with a unique worldview. That becomes a personalized "point-of-view" -- and for better or worse naturally adds a flavor and style to my writing.
I choose to be transparent in hopes to give readers who may suffer similarly the courage to pick themselves up one more time and take a road less traveled as they trip through life. Who knows? Perhaps what seems painful now may become a wonderful story.
Uninterrupted success and continual bliss are a mirage. Success, in reality, is less a sprint and more a long-distance run with hurdles.
And from boyhood through adult life, it was as Forrest Gump said, "...if I was going somewhere, I was running!"
I loved playing heroes like Superman as a boy. The Adventures of Robin Hood, Rin Tin Tin, Zorro, The Lone Ranger, with John Wayne's Fort Apache were filmed one mile from our home at the old Corriganville Movie Ranch in Simi Valley's Santa Susana Mountains.
At its 1950s heyday, the movie ranch had more visitors on the weekends than Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm. Our front door literally opened to the view of the ranch. For a boy back then, it was like having a lesson in storytelling every day.
Heroics were played out physically; Cowboys and (politically incorrect) Indians, combat stories from World War Two, Knights and Ladies in distress from medieval times.
There were no video games or "virtual" heroics. You pretended to fly -- jumping off a roof with one of Mom's towels draped around your neck -- physically hit back, tackled, dove, climbed, fell, ran... and imitated swashbuckling, rope swinging, gravity-defying, cliff-climbing (never told Mom) cave exploring adventures of the old Hollywood heroes of the screen.
The LA Rams were my heroes from the time I got an imitation game helmet at 7 years old. By 1968 High School Football was like a magnet to iron. I was willing to run through 11 adversaries on the opposing side using my head as a battering ram to get through 3,000 pounds of combined muscle as long as a chance of breaking loose to the end zone existed.
"Pratt, get back up! You just had your bell rung is all," I recall hearing during those years of seeing stars I never knew existed...
The only compensation for what I now recognize became traumatic brain concussion injuries is how fun it was breaking through tackles; how challenging it was being considered tough enough to take the pain being dealt. Must be testosterone, because otherwise, such an attitude doesn't make any sense.
While the camaraderie of players and fellow fighters with memories of all the good times lasts a lifetime... so does the pain.
It was May 1997 and I was continuing a fight that began in 1971; a neck, head, and true "back" story which would add 16 titanium screws, assorted plates, and rods to hold my body together in coming years.
I had just finished my first novel and... I was bleeding to death.
AUDIO SNAPSHOT: What follows, is a first-ever audio-recorded snapshot of authorship under certain physical and personal backstory modifiers of life that influence my writing journey to this day. For those choosing not to listen to the audio vignette, it may be summed up like this :
My youth experiences influenced my writing along with 50-year disabling pain and associated life-long injuries to the spine from the pelvis to the cranium. In fact, I never would have become a published writer without the physical punishments including nearly bleeding to death twice.
Experiences benefit us and may be used to further professional and private causes. Stronger resolve or surrender are the options when opposition confronts us, and opposition always comes. Never give up. Be an "over-comer." Smile; use your pain. Don't let it use you. See the blessings. Serve others. In the end, we are all here for each other, and God in His infinite wisdom is in control of the refiner's fire.
For the 'Rest of the Story,' as Paul Harvey would say, click Record Player below: