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VISITING WASHINGTON COUNTY JAIL, pt. 2

Hillsboro via oregonlive.com

Hillsboro via oregonlive.com

To visit a prisoner in Hillsboro, you need to get on their visitor list. It’s not a drop-in deal.

Then you need to provide your address and Oregon Drivers License number.

No one wants a squirrely visitor raising hell on the block. They’ve got enough problems.

I want to visit one of my son’s friends with his father, just two dads on a Sunday morning.

I’d be in there right now, but somehow didn’t make the list.

If I was there, here’s what I’d say:

“Thank you for putting me on the visitor list. I’ve been thinking about you.

“You’re in jail, right, but I want to know the rest of the story. Not now, but when you put it on the page.

“Why not take a shot and start writing your story? Most readers have too much to look at online, from books to papers, but they still need better stories.

“Your story might be one.

“You’re not a violent offender, not a sex offender. There’s a lot of things you’re not, but shake it off and let’s see who you are.

“Here’s what I see: You’ve always been a competitor. Winning and losing is still important, but not as important as staying in the game as long as you can.

“A high school basketball coach said you weren’t good enough for his team, and you proved him wrong. He said you needed to get bigger and stronger. And you did.

Man Up And Do Manly Things

“Who get’s an athletic scholarship and moves out of state to play? Big timers, that’s who. You got bigger and stronger and made the move. That’s huge.

“Now you’re inside and ready to make another move. You might not be as big and as strong, but you’ve still got game. The biggest of the big time is winning at life. You’ve got the game for that.

“What’s it feel like to be the smart guy in the room? You know what it’s like. You’ve been that guy. Now it’s time to find a new room and learn.

“This is what focusing on a writing project does. You’re in the room with writing heroes. Do you have writing heroes? Find some if you don’t.

“Once you start putting down words that have more meaning to you than anyone else, something happens. Magic starts jumping off the page. Your story plays out on the biggest 3-D screen you’ve ever seen.

“Here’s how you do it: Start with the most embarrassing story you can tell about yourself. Only writers do this. It’s not about trying to shock, but more letting readers know worse things, and better things, have happened to others and it’s okay to let it go.

Letting Go Brings Returns

“Are you ready to let it go? Once you get the worst out of the way, move to the best you’ve ever done. Once you write it down you’ll decide if the worst is all that bad, and if the best is all that good. Once you touch the extremes, the regular stuff opens up.

“Normal life is the crazy stuff, the sort of small challenges and victories everyone goes through. You get more insight because the seemingly small choices that don’t usually lead to life changing events have landed you here.

“Call it jail, but why not call it your writing lab. All you’ve got to do is write it out.

“You won’t find any words more powerful than what you write in jail. It’s not about carving letters into stone, but what you do here that stays with you. Pull out notebooks years from now and you’ll read about a life that feels like it belonged to someone else.

“But it’s you

“Freedom creates more choices than you can fathom. Incarceration limits those choices. If you decide to write, you’re free. You join a class of people who all write from the inside, whether they’re inside like you or not.

“Put a new life in front of you and write toward it.”

 

About David Gillaspie
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