Writing can sometimes become an all-consuming activity. Creating characters and imagined worlds may so intoxicate the writer that everyday activities of life fade into the background. Sometimes, however, one must lay aside the heady world of creativity and attend to important milestones of family existence. This weekend, I lived such a fulfilling experience.
Yesterday afternoon, my 20-year-old grandson, Thomas Bell, graduated from the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery here in Phoenix, Arizona. For those unfamiliar with luthiery, it is the art of designing and custom making guitars and other stringed instruments from raw materials. Luthiery combines the skills of musical instrument design and fine woodworking with music theory and electrical engineering. Almost all the music artists our younger generations so venerate play custom made instruments. My grandson hopes for a career catering to the luthiery needs of these artists.
As an engineer and long-time woodworker myself, I marvel at the skills Thomas amassed during his time at Roberto-Venn. His designs are artistic, his woodworking flawless, and his finishes impressive. He completed or made significant progress on seven different instruments during his training. Both acoustic and all manner of electric guitars are included in his portfolio. Their sound quality is fantastic. Any musician would be proud to own and perform on one of his creations. Is a little bit of proud grandfather showing through here? So be it.
Thomas is proving the eternal truth that a traditional college education followed by a career in an office, laboratory, or classroom is not for everyone. Modern society still requires artists, craftsmen and skilled tradesmen as well as those immersed in the world of finance, business, science, or education. The satisfaction from imagining a fine musical instrument and then creating it from scratch has to be comparable to that felt by a master sculptor who sees his creation already formed inside a block of marble and goes on to free the image. I hope my grandson has an exciting life in front of him.
As a bonus from the graduation trip, I got to visit my brother, Tom, who lives here in Phoenix with his wife, Charlotte. Tom and I had a grand time regaling my son and his family with our childhood experiences and our memories of our parents. These happy stories are now burned into the minds of two more generations of our family. We all celebrated our time together and Thomas’s achievements at a fine Mexican restaurant last evening.
Next week, I will be back into my busy routine of writing and marketing my literary creations. My third novel, Asphalt and Blood, will move back to the front burner. U.S. Navy Seabees will battle the elements and the elusive Viet Cong enemy in the dusty landscape of 1960s Vietnam. Tweets and Facebook posts will go out on my regular schedule to keep sales up for my published novels, Fall Eagle One and Hold Back the Sun. But my work will be sharper and more clearly defined because of my life experiences this weekend. No matter how much an author enjoys the art of writing, one must always keep in mind the things that matter most in life.
Note on image: Thomas is the young man in the red shirt holding the blue electric bass guitar higher than the others.
Note: Warren Bell is a historical fiction author with two novels for sale either for Kindle or in paperback from Amazon.com. Both are set during WWII, with Fall Eagle One taking place in Europe, and Hold Back the Sun set in the war in the Pacific.