Michael Allan Scott
Down from the Skies
I was born and raised at the edge of the high desert in Kingman, Arizona. My earliest influence was my mother. From before I could walk, she read me to sleep, launching me on amazing adventures almost every night. Immersing me in a world of fantastical characters living in magical lands. Ozma of Oz in the Emerald City, Winnie the Pooh, Gerald McBoing-Boing, Cat in the Hat, Kipling’s Mowgli, Mole at Toad Hall—all served to fire my imagination very early on. I soon hungered to create those worlds for myself, curious to know how to draw, to read, to write.
Seeing the Light
While my mother was an artist and the creative influence, my father was big, strong and pragmatic, instilling personal integrity and a positive “can-do” attitude. He was at once, intimidating and my hero. We lived a hundred miles or so from the above-ground nuclear test sites in Nevada. And I recall starting awake early one morning to what I mistook as lightning and thunder. White light flashing through my bedroom widows brighter than the sun—the explosion’s roar rattling the windows, shaking the walls. My father, the only one who could comfort me.
As a small child, life at the desert’s edge was always an adventure. I spent long days exploring on my own, darting between boulders and greasewoods as an Indian brave outfoxing the cavalry, catching bull snakes for my terrarium and running naked in the rare summer rain.
Once I crossed into my teenage years, I quickly tired of nature’s wide-open spaces. For me, life in a small town was dull and dreary. I longed for new adventures, determined to leave Kingman at my earliest opportunity. I’d always viewed myself as an adventurer, dreaming of a life searching for truth, and making my way by telling stories on the road to find out.
Like most young teenagers at the time, I was enamored with the Beatles. I could see the girls swooning and knew a musician’s life was the life for me. Yet, it wasn’t just the girls. Though I shunned the piano due to early lessons against my will, I was genuinely intrigued with music and wanted to play. I saved my money for several weeks and bought a cheap snare drum. The appliance repair shop that sold musical instruments on the side, threw in a couple pair of drumsticks for free. Suddenly, I was a drummer.
My friends and I formed a band. Faking it in bedroom jam sessions, practicing harmony as we walked the streets on our way to practice sessions. We practiced for months before we got the opportunity to play in public. And we still sucked. At first the music was terrible, screeching and caterwauling, aggravating the neighbors. Eventually, we improved and I took to writing lyrics, poetry and short stories on the side. We played all the school sock hops and weekend dances at the local Armory. I made good money for a teenager without a real job—money I promptly wasted on partying. Then came the girls. Then came trouble.
An outcast in High School, I didn’t much get along. Most of the teachers and school administrators wanted to get rid of me as badly as I wanted out and I graduated by default. My favorite class was English Literature, one of the few at which I excelled and where I was formally introduced to creative writing. The teacher was a gem, encouraging my writing. And I am eternally grateful. For the first time, I felt like I could create something worthwhile, something people might enjoy reading.
Out of the Ashes
I moved to Phoenix with the promise of life in the big city and the hope of becoming a professional musician. Living hand to mouth, I barely fed myself with a smattering of odd jobs, sleeping on friends’ floors, bumming rides to the gigs. I quickly failed to reach my goal of stardom and instead achieved only notoriety, squandering my dreams on excess and dissipation.
My father encouraged me to go to college, learn a profession, make a decent living. He offered to help support me If I took him up on it. He was only trying to help, but I was in tough shape and resentful. Yet it seemed like my only option at the time.
College, much like High School, had little appeal. I simply went through the motions, looking for a way out. I soon found it, hitting rock bottom and winding up in jail. I quickly learned the hard way, jail wasn’t for me. Locked in the Felony Tank at County, I took a beating from two lifers looking for sport with nothing left to lose. They were on their way to the state penitentiary for killing a convenience store clerk in an armed robbery that netted them fifty cents. Having sustained a broken nose, cracked ribs and a punctured kidney, I was branded a troublemaker and served the rest of my time in solitary confinement.
I was released from the Maricopa County Jail at 5:30 a.m. on a Tuesday. My mother and her friend picked me up out front. All skin and bones from the jailhouse fare, she took me to IHOP to celebrate with real food. I nearly made myself sick, stuffing my face with a tall stack of buckwheat pancakes slathered with butter and drowning in syrup. While it was close on a couple occasions, I never went back to jail.
The Straight and Narrow
Disillusioned with life’s adventures, I worked at cleaning up my act, valiantly attempting to tread the straight and narrow. Eventually, I worked my way into real estate sales, having decided that paying the bills was more important than my artistic integrity. I still played my drums every chance I got, hoping to make it. I worked in all the local venues from biker bars and trendy clubs to cocktail lounges and resort hotels, playing everything—blues, rock, pop and jazz. I even did some studio recording gigs with an up and coming songwriter. And while I enjoyed jazz the most, I never really made a living at it.
One night, while playing with a lounge act at a popular luxury resort, I had an epiphany. Sweating it out in an uncomfortable tux, I was bored to tears while carrying the beat for the Tony Orlando and Dawn classic, “Tie A Yellow Ribbon.” It was by request and the third time we played it that evening. I knew if I made it out of there with my sanity, my music career was over. That was 1976 and I haven’t played professionally since.
A few months earlier, I found the woman I love. And I’m very fortunate that she’s put up with me all these years. When we met, she already had two beautiful daughters that I soon came to love as my own. They are grown now, with children of their own. I’m a lucky man to share in their lives.
Never Looking Back
In early 1978 I formed a commercial real estate company and never looked back, continuing to secretly write stories and poetry for my own satisfaction. Knowing full well, that like music, writing as a career was simply out of reach. I’ve since changed my mind. Today, I’m riding a different trail.
Here and Now
I learned to read for knowledge and for the sheer joy of it. To this day, I’m a voracious reader. Mostly, it’s what inspires me to write. I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words. And like my foray into music, most of the early stuff is garbage, simply learning my craft. For me, learning is a journey that I expect will never end. I continue to practice, to hone my skills, to perfect my abilities. The more I write, the better I get, and the more I enjoy writing. It often reminds me of jazz improvisation. Entertaining others with a good story is a gas. I love it and I hope you enjoy reading my work.