Asking “Soup Questions”


Did you ever see that movieĀ Finding Forrester, with Sean Connery? The elderly Scot plays a retired writer living in the Bronx. He only ever wrote one book, but it was apparently awesome and he retired off of it. (Harper Lee, anyone?)

In the film, Forrester takes a budding young high school writer under his wing and teaches him how to write better. They come from opposite sides of cultural, economic, and racial barriers, so their story is one of finding common ground as they work together. At one point, Forrester (Connery) is making tomato soup, and tells Jamal (the student) to give it a stir on the stove. Jamal asks why Forrester stirs his soup so meticulously as it cooks. Forrester explains that when he was a kid, growing up poor (think Depression-era), milk was a precious commodity, and when you used it to make a condensed soup, you were careful not to burn it.

Later Jamal asks Forrester something personal, and Forrester scolds him, saying the purpose of asking a question is to obtain information that is relevant or useful to you–such as the question about the soup. For the remainder of the film, they have a running exchange about whether what they ask each other is a “soup question”, e.g., something relevant or useful.

I thought about that scene as I figured what I might write about tonight. I’ve been meaning to pay this blog some attention, because I used to write with great regularity. Then I wrote a long post about when I turned 30, and I haven’t really touched it since. I took down the old Grahampage, and my new WordPress site has only a few scant and scattered pieces on it.

Here’s the thing: I went back last year and a read a bunch of my blog posts.

Most of them sucked. They were worthless. Nobody learned anything from the stuff I posted, it was just noise.

Not exactly “soup posts”, you might say.

Since then, whenever I’ve felt the impulse to write on the blog, I’ve wondered whether what I’m saying just sounds interesting to me, or whether it could really be of use to the populace at large. More often than not, the answer was “no.”

Combine that with the schedule that I keep as I work on my third novel-to-be-published, PATRIOT’S GAME. I get up early in the morning, I clock in at 6, I drive a truck and swing a hammer and turn a wrench for ten hours a day, then I come home and play with my cute kids and my cuddly dog and my hot wife, then everyone goes to bed and I stay up for three hours scribbling on the drawing board. I’m a dad, I’m a husband, I’m a commercial driver, I’m an author, I’m an illustrator…I have a lot of hats. “Blogger” falls way down the list.

So my resolution, then, is this: I will write something here when I have something to say.

Until then, I’ve got soup to make elsewhere.

Best wishes, guys.