Mid-way through his law enforcement career, David Barnes made a deal with his wife. She would go back to school for her Master’s degree while working full time, and someday he would do the same. Two decades later, she held him to the deal. [More…]
“She had decided it was time, and she let me in on her decision after she’d planned it all out,” David remembers, laughing.
“I kept coming up with stumbling blocks,” he says. “But she’d saved up the money for the first course.” So, after years of retirement from the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation, David Barnes went back to school.
Writing and telling stories, it soon became evident, was a calling. As a cop, David had long been interested in the people he met. “Most of the people I came across just got caught up in a series of bad decisions. I was interested in people and their circumstances. I wondered about the root of what happened to people who were marginalized.”
At the University of North Carolina-Asheville, David crossed paths with novelist and creative writing teacher Tommy Hayes. “I wanted to learn how to write, and people said, ‘This is your guy.’ They were right.” Decades of life at the dark edges of society began to come out in David’s short stories.
It was then that David met another mentor and teacher, David Martin of Fine Lines. “He’s the same kind of person Tommy Hayes is. He quietly demands that you do better than you think you can.”
Martin and the Fine Lines community of writers offered David Barnes the encouragement and help he needed as a new writer. “For someone who wants to learn how to write better, this is the best way to do it,” he says. “The feedback is all positive, pointing you, nudging you, in the right direction. David is a teacher, and a damn good one.”
“I attended every Fine Lines workshop but one,” he adds, “when my wife and I were driving Route 66.”
Not long ago, an old law enforcement friend asked David about his writing, expressing surprise that he would write for no pay. “Why are you doing this if you’re not getting money?”
“I can’t do anything with my hands,” David answered. “I’ve tried woodworking and auto mechanics, but I’m not mechanically inclined at all.
“But I can build things with words.”