The Spark

It was 3 am and I couldn’t sleep. I kept thinking about what I was doing with my life. I had just ended a relationship with a photo school I was teaching at, and it didn’t go well. I had moved my family to Missoula, Montana, thinking it was the right thing to do, I had a job offer in Missoula, and raising two little kids in a city just didn’t seem like a good idea. We also moved to help my wife’s elderly parents. Now, I had lost my job, fortunately my wife had hers. I was grieving the fact that I had left a good job in Philadelphia, teaching at the. University of Pennsylvania School of Design for the promise of a more serene life in the mountains. I had never lived west of Ohio and considered Montana a flyover state. Never did I ever imagine I would live in a rural state. Self doubt was churning in my brain.

I got out of bed and headed down to the basement, where my office was, booted up the computer and opened up Word. I am not sure what possessed me but I just started writing. I remembered Jack Kerouac writing somewhere that it was his brother who had died at the age of 9 who channeled Kerouac. He claimed it was his brother who wrote, not him. Maybe it was my sister who died at the age of 32 who was channeling me. I started recalling the events in my life in NYC that landed me an assisting job with the world famous portrait photographer, Annie Leibovitz. It was one of those things in your life that if you would have turned left instead of right it would have never happened. Chance, luck or maybe even fate, whatever the reason it was worth writing about. I was getting tired of people always asking me ” what was it like to work with Annie?” What I realized, as I kept writing, is that the story really wasn’t about working with Annie, it was about Sam Cohen, the protagonist of the story, and the journey he had to take to truly understand his past, growing up in Cleveland, the son of a holocaust survivor and a mother who tried her best to fill in but was battling her own demons and his place in the world.

This is blog about that journey, fact and fiction. After all as a novelist I can imagine all sorts of scenarios of ” what if”. For me it was about telling a good story and one that I hope the reader will enjoy reading the funny, absurd and touching moments of an unchartered life.

A photo of a very happy Annie Leibovitz on a boat ride off the coast of Seattle.