Local author makes sense of his own story by writing it – Monterey Herald

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The late Christopher Hitchens, remembered as an intellectual and influential journalist with a quick wit and a capacity for cynical derision, is always quoted: “Everyone has a book in them and it’s there , in most cases, that it must remain. The smash-hit novelist Jody Picoult, known for building a dramatic story around a moral dilemma, is quoted as saying, “Everyone has a book in it, but it’s no use until you take it out. “

And British author Kathryn Joyce (“Thicker Than Soup”) writes: “We all have a book inside of us. The first step is to recognize it. Writing is a whole new journey.

Robert Feller, 73, has always loved writing and has been writing poetry and short stories since he was 14 years old. Yet it wasn’t until his retirement, after working in the Alisal Union School District for more than 20 years, that he packed up the baggage of a tormented childhood and began his writing journey.

In 2015, Feller gathered his courage and dug deep into his childhood experiences marred by being raised by a bipolar father. The result is “The Bipolar Express,” a memoir that recounts and works through a childhood ruled by an unpredictable authority at home.

“When we talk about our own experience, we write down what we know, what we feel, creating an authentic story. That’s where Robert’s strength lies,” said Dr. Stéphanie Bouc, whom Feller consulted. “By sharing memories of his childhood, Robert found meaning and purpose through his writing.”

“The Bipolar Express,” says Bouc, has been recognized by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

“I knew I would write in my retirement, a time in my life when I finally had time to reflect,” Feller said. “I had been writing op-eds and poetry for years, but I was waiting for the opportunity to write something substantial.”

Grow up and out

Raised in the Los Angeles suburb of West Covina, Feller, whose maternal family was from Ukraine and Poland, while his father’s family was rooted in Vienna, Austria, found in his childhood community a nice place to grow up, despite the heat. That’s why what he remembers and appreciates the most from his youth is the skating rink that cooled his hot summers.

Feller graduated from high school at age 15 to escape his difficult home, escorted to USC on a scholarship from Hewlett-Packard to earn his engineering degree. Two years later, he decided to listen to his heart rather than his head and transferred to UCLA where, at 19, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English literature, with a major in humanities and German.

After earning his teaching degree, he continued with his Masters in Counseling and Spanish. After teaching for 10 years at Huntington Park, in 1991 Feller was asked to teach a bilingual sixth grade class at Salinas. Twelve years later, he became a primary school counselor.

It was at Alisal Community Elementary School that Feller walked into the teachers’ lounge that first day of the semester and noticed a woman with “long brown hair and a dolphin smile.” He and fellow actor Linda Falk married a year later and remained happily married until two years ago when he lost her to cancer.

Feller, who now lives in Carmel Valley, is currently working on a compilation of poetry and creative nonfiction stories, based on things he hears, things he notices, things he experiences, and his own observations. , which make each a story worth telling.

“I’m very right-brained and I have a lot of imagination,” he said. “I write from my experiences and dreams, so I keep a notebook by my bed and also take it with me to write down what happens.”

John Steinbeck in “Of Mice and Men” spoke of the lack of commitment for those who live alone, unable to process what they are going through with someone who has seen what they have done, someone who can say: “I understand”. And so, they often write, turning their experiences into stories.

“My writing is like a companion,” Feller said. “It’s very comforting, creative and therapeutic to write and also to be read, to be heard ─ a kind of validation ‘I was here’. So I will continue to do so. »

“The Bipolar Express” is available on Amazon.com.

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