The dialogue below is a mock interview between a Snuffbooks staff member (me) and Larry Dale Sowell (me).
SB: How did the idea of Snuffbooks come along?
LS: When I was driving trucks.
SB: You were a truck driver?
LS: Still am. I drive trucks in the summer. Fall and winter, I teach, if the opportunity arises.
SB: So, you write between deliveries in the back of your semi truck?
SB: Have you ever taken a writing class?
LS: There were the required writing composition classes in college. I was OK. My essays were a little sappy, but I got through it. I don't necessarily consider myself a writer. I'm actually more of a showman. I love theater; the advertising, the thrills, the smell of freshly printed programs, the overture, the twists at the end, the actors, the critics, the crew, the sets, the lights, the music...
SB: So, pretty much all aspects of theater.
LS: Yes. That's why I enjoy Snuffbooks, I think. It allows me to use many aspects of theater. I am pretty much a showman in that regard.
SB: Is being a showman the same as being a "show-off?"
LS: I don't believe so. I think it depends on your motivation. I love to make-believe (thank you, Mr. Rogers), to incorporate theater into my stories, by using sound effects, to expel characters to other places and situations. But, the problem here is that it can get borderline compulsive, depending on real life circumstances.
SB: How do you mean?
LS: Like many people, I had childhood traumatic instances where I was left with two options, endure the pain or escape. Like most kids with no mechanism for rationalizing painful events, I chose to escape, mentally. For the purposes of self preservation, my mind distanced itself by going to a place more serene, endurable: theater. As I became an adult and as this survival mechanism became less needed, discerning reality from illusion became challenging. I was very clumsy and dishonest. It warps your thinking and your relationships for sure. I had no idea who I was.
SB: How did you get through it?
LS: In 2007, I took a break from everyday life and centered my attention on self-healing. I sought spiritual advice which led me to meditation, teaching me how to endure the emotions that are triggered by real life circumstances. You, know, it's amazing how life re-inserts you into the same destructive environments you were exposed to before, until you don't need the chaos anymore. You become stronger by letting go, surrendering. Acceptance is very similar to surrender. Acceptance is simply letting things be as they are, without judgment. I think it's important to say that you are not accepting (or agreeing with) the situation itself as much as you are accepting that the situation is. How can you argue with what is? This idea brought me immeasurable peace. It taught me how to see things as they are. When we take a moment to observe that space where things just as they are, you notice there is no time; no past or future. Just things we are experiencing now. When you realize that, sanity surfaces, your life changes.
SB: So, after your spiritual self discovery what happened?
LS: Regularly meditating, I began to make better decisions, not because I thought I was a "good" person (good people make good decisions), but because chaos did not reflect my natural energy anymore. The increased absence of excessive thinking (the source of all chaos and drama), made creativity more of a priority.
SB: Is that how Snuffbooks came about?
SB: What has been some of your challenges?
LS: Well, like anyone, my thoughts begin to surface and I begin to self-doubt. ("Is this weird?" "Does this matter?")
SB: What are other challenges?
LS: Sometimes, I want to be perceived as a good person.
SB: That's a challenge?
LS: Yes. As a whole person, there are things about me that could be deemed admirable by society and there are things that could be deemed shameful. Sometimes, as I create, there are some ideas that surface that one could be uncomfortable reading or viewing. So, I ask myself "should I include this into my story?"
LS: Death, for instance.
SB: Like in The Taco King?
LS: Yes. I struggled with that ending.
LS: I think because of a fear that readers would think that I would personally and purposely do harm to another human being. But, I stayed true to the original ending and just allowed those thoughts to be. Sometimes, I think as artists, it's part of our responsibility to make folks a little uncomfortable. Being uncomfortable starts the process of seeking peace, right?
SB: So, when you are truly at peace, nothing can really make you uncomfortable because you have accepted life and all of it's circumstances as it is.
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