They say no man is an island unto himself, and with each adventure, I become more fully aware that there is no island called Marlon. Lol. Even in my most narcissistic moments, I chastise myself for having the thought that I don’t need anybody. The fact is that without the help, guidance, and support of others, my life would be quite different. It wouldn’t be a banquet at all, more like a solitary meal of basic things, eaten alone, in the dark.
For most of my years, my writing was a secret thing, done for myself and shared with no one… except for romantic love interests. Even then, I only shared snippets of poetry, because the deeper, more reflective stuff might lead to someone actually knowing me. I liked the idea of being a constant enigma, only understood by me. There were huge barriers erected to protect my “island” and to breach the barriers; someone would need to be diligent, understanding, loving, and trustworthy. Those qualities are quite rare to be sure, but to find someone who possessed those, and was willing to listen to my daydreams and plans, well, my cup overflowed. As our tenth wedding anniversary approaches, I am reminded that this writing journey may never have started if not for my wife Traci Lynn Goldman-Hayes.
One evening as we sat in the basement of our house, I remarked that the computer was slowing down. Her reply was, “If you figure out something to do with all of your poetry and stories, then you can clean it out, and it’ll speed up.” I didn’t know if she meant I should put everything on a zip drive or what, but I organized my poems and short stories into a collection. I categorized each poem or narrative by its meaning and gave them each a color based on my perceptions of the colors of human emotions. Sad means blue, envy means green, passion equals red, etc. Without knowing the ropes, I self-published my first book, ‘The Colors of My Mind’ back in 2013. After I’ve learned so much through trial and error, I refuse to take it off the market, letting it stand as a testament to my evolution as a writer. Yup, this is all Traci’s fault. Lol
As I became more familiar with social media, I joined a few writing groups. I interacted with other writers, some professional, others who were attempting to write, and those on the cusp of finding their voices. I put myself in the latter category, and I soaked up the advice and lessons which were most helpful to my journey. Through these groups, I met three people who changed the course of my life, whether they know it or not. Each of them built houses on the island of Marlon, improving the landscape tremendously. Thank you forever to Kari Holloway for showing and teaching me to treat writing as a job, not a hobby. Trust me, I understand and embody the lesson. Thanks to Jeremy Menefee for perusing, editing, and improving a novel titled ‘Eleven Fifty Nine’ by some guy named Marlon S. Hayes. I also thank him for recommending the novel to a publishing company… with whom I now have seven books under contract.
A couple of summers ago, I took my mother on a trip to Kentucky. The writer’s fair I was supposed to attend was canceled, but we went anyway. Not only was it a getaway with my mother, but it was also my opportunity to meet Dennis Doty, author, editor, mentor, and highly regarded citizen of the island of Marlon. Dennis has opened doors for me, all of which I’ve stepped through, scared somewhat, but never wanting to let anyone down. I confessed my love of the Old West to Dennis years ago, and now, I’ve written Western short stories for magazines, and I’ve completed my first Western novel ‘Over the Horizon.’ One of the best things to ever happen to me was meeting Dennis on social media, and then to meet him in a Cracker Barrel in real life was awesome. My mother is a Dennis fan as well, and we’ll see you again.
My journey isn’t anywhere near the end, but what makes me sit back and smile is the connections along the way which have enriched my life. A childhood friend of my mother has an online magazine which celebrates diversity and the human spirit. My mother suggested we meet, and I’ve written an article for Garden Spices magazine and my “Auntie” Vicky Basley Goldston every two months. I’ve pulled my cousin Collette Jones in as well, and the spirit of Garden Spices has become part of who I am.
Without the connections I’ve made with those mentioned above, the island of Marlon would probably be a barren, rocky place, inhabited by carrion birds. Instead, it’s a green, vibrant place, where the ideas flow like waterfalls, and all of the inhabitants watch the sunset with pride and amazement. Some just vacation on the island, while others such as Tasha Morris, Sherri Malarkey, and Carla Ray-Henson are year-round residents. As for me, I’m enjoying all that is happening on the island, and every time I think of the people and connections that have gotten me to this point, I’m more aware of the power of the Creator.
I walk around the island, nodding and hugging everyone, because, without them, I might be somewhere else. Instead, I’m walking this path with their help and support, right where I’m supposed to be…
Marlon S. Hayes is a poet, writer, blogger, essayist, author, and novelist. He can be followed on Facebook at Marlon’s Writings, on Amazon, and at marlonhayes.wixsite.com/author.