Tag Archives: Irving High School

Randy-writing as part of a performance

On the Irving High School parking lot I would park my 1953 blue Chevy convertible every morning and pealed out every afternoon; I bought the car with five hundred dollars I earned at Safeway.   Not many kids my age owned their own car, even fewer paid for it themselves.   As I sped down the streets to work my radio blasted the new sounds of Rock and Roll.   The boy in the car knocked a hole in his muffler on purpose and replaced custom hubcaps with spinners, all to attract attention and girls.   For me this attention seeking was serious business; my buddies, to attract members of the opposite sex, had far less to work with.   And yet I don’t think I was ever satisfied: Larry was a football star; Cecile was smarter; and A.J. led the clique to belong to.   Feelings of inferiority often attracted ridicule in my case.   And when I wanted to be a member of the clique and the star of the football team and obviously couldn’t be either one, my self-image plummeted.   I was a junior; I felt excluded; but I had to become famous.

On Friday nights during football season, I always took off work to become a keeper of Big Irvi, the school’s mascot.   Big Irvi, the most beloved stuffed tiger in town needed someone like me.   Sure.   All I know is that standing on the sidelines during a football game in my orange overalls suited me more than sitting in the stands.   Actively participating in the event rather than watching it satisfied a basic need I had then.   The first grader, who as I remember played Santa without a suit in the Christmas play (see the YOU BETTER WATCH OUT blog) also had the same drive.   The drive was the same that led me to write my first snippets of dialogue; each time I had an audience.   Playing before an audience seems important to me, as does the theater.   For most of my life I have had a strong need to perform, and yet until recently I haven’t felt comfortable performing.

Self-consciousness, starving for attention and writing became intertwined in me.   From my earliest exaggeration to my most recent creative attempts, including my motivation for creating El Ojito Springs, I have sought the limelight…the limelight that so often corrupts and leads to compromise.   And my writing has been part of that.   And luckily as I’ve aged I’ve become less driven and more self-effacing, and more often than not, I have sought fame vicariously; this has led me to showcasing other people’s work before my own.

These past two years have been good to me.   I have helped many artists, musicians, and writers by providing them an outlet for their work.   Now, as this evolves, I’m very happy and satisfied with what I’ve done.

Good night, Randy Ford

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Randy-Acceptance and encouragement essential for a writer

       The most important acceptance of me has to come from me.   I am from Irving Texas and not New York.   I am a product of Irving High School and not some prestigious prep school.   I was a television baby and grew up on As the World Turns.   The biggest tragedy I remember in our home was when one of the characters of that soap died: my sisters sobbed.   My mother’s inability to spell and write a complete sentence has added to my insecurity and has certainly contributed to my rejection of my past when as a writer embracing it would’ve been more productive.   I was a highly energetic boy, with a whopper for an imagination.   (Perhaps I’ve said all of this before: I do forget and repeat myself.)   I married a good editor, whom I met at Trinity University.   Trinity, I wouldn’t have gotten in there without first having gone to Baylor University and having had some pull.

      My education has served me well, although until recently I haven’t relied on it.   (I pride myself in not planning; I enjoy traveling without a map; and that aimlessness led me into the field of social work, a career I excelled in.)   Something has kept me from making too many mistakes: nothing has kept me from landing on my feet.   I’m like my dogs: it doesn’t take much to get me excited about something.

      When a very good writer told me that I could write better than she could, with that encouragement and the free use of her computer (I didn’t have one then), I wrote my first short story.   (Not true: I took a short story writing course taught by Robert Flynn at Trinity and he required a short story a week).   From that day until now I haven’t stopped writing.   Just a word or two was all it took.   Off I went.   And I don’t think if I had stopped and thought about writing quality I would’ve gotten very far. Quality, sure is important.   But, I think, for a writer quantity is more important.   Practice.   Practice, practice, practice.   Slap those words on paper.   You can always go back.   Then judicious pruning becomes essential.

      During my development as a writer encouragement has been key.   Like I said, it didn’t take much, but I was not a natural.   I didn’t have the background for that.   That brings me back to a message I heard over and over again this weekend at the Society of Southwestern Author’s conference Wrangling with Writing.   I heard story after story about teachers and how they have changed people’s lives.   In my case that was certainly true.   A high school teacher first sent me to the Dallas Theater Center.   I would like to ask her today what she saw in me.   She said…she didn’t know what to do with snippets of dialogue I had written for classmates in my study halls.   (I had two of them back to back that year, which thank God bored me.   The only thing I can figure is that I first started writing out of boredom.) A start, a spark, I don’t think there was much there, but there was enough.

      Good day, Randy Ford


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