Lately, I’ve read a few bios for some author friends as well as some stories about the importance writing has had in some of their lives. That got me thinking, what kind of role has writing played throughout my life? I have a tendency to downplay and minimize my artistic endeavors, never really feeling like my efforts are adequate, so I really wanted to give it some serious introspection and see if I could connect any dots. Turns out, I think I can…so I did.
In elementary school, I couldn’t read enough. I was reading chapter books in second grade. By third grade, I started writing my own adaptations of stories. As a child, I was fascinated with the Challenger space shuttle story. I wasn’t old enough to comprehend the severity of the situation, but I was quite aware that people seemed to be enthralled by the event. For all my adolescent brain knew, one of the astronauts on board was from my tiny hometown (definitely not the case), and that’s why people felt so connected to it. A national tragedy was nowhere on my radar as a third grader. Regardless of my misplaced interest, I wrote my own version of the shuttle’s fateful flight, complete with my own illustrations. Looking back, that’s kind of weird maybe.
I also got sucked into one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons in my young life and may have plagiarized the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles plot. I may have then been called out by a classmate because it was blatantly obvious. I also may have lied about it to protect my reputation, because that’s always the way to go, right?? It didn’t work. My reputation was tarnished, which wasn’t even good to begin with. On top of that, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to deliver a proper book review for my demanding teacher. I tended to get stuck on oddly specific dialogue in the story that really didn’t play any role in the overall plot. I completely missed the overall themes or morals to the stories. The combined frustration of both of those events pushed me away from reading and writing both.
A couple years passed before I caught the writing bug again. I created a video game magazine that I wrote several issues of. I cut pictures out of weekly sales ads, taped or glued them into my magazine, then supplemented them by drawing my own interpretations of in-game screenshots. I haven’t mentioned yet that I was never allowed to have a video game system when I was growing up, which means that I relied heavily on gaming experiences at friends’ houses and my own imagination. I even got permission from SEGA to use their trademark. I tried to get Nintendo, but they were a little more selfish with their intellectual property and didn’t want to share it with a 5th grader who had no idea what he was doing. Stingy Corporate America slime balls, amiright??
From there, I developed biographies of people I admired. In middle school I got grounded for something I have no recollection of; not that it was something so wild that I’ve blocked it out of my memory or even deny that I was guilty, but rather simply because it was probably for something minor that I tended to do fairly regularly. My punishment consisted of something along the lines of not being able to read sports stories unless it was school related. So I convinced my middle school P.E. teacher to let me write a story about a sports figure to turn in for extra credit. As soon as he said yes, I dove into a multi-page bio for NHL goalie Grant Fuhr. How random is that? My punishment consisted of not being able to read – not banned from TV or my bicycle, but reading. Seriously.
In high school, I was forced to take a speech class. The big project at the end of the semester was to write a 5-10 minute speech on a topic of our choosing. I absolutely loathe public speaking, but I knew I could write a helluva script, so I went to work. I researched one Jimi Hendrix, put together an awesome hand out to supplement my speech as a visual aid, you know, so people would look at it instead of stare at me the whole time, then fumbled my way through the speech part.
In addition to that nightmare, English was always one of my worst subjects in school. I couldn’t care less about what a past participle is, or a dangling modifier (which just sounds off-putting), or a gerund. Hell, I still couldn’t tell you what any of those things are. That still didn’t deter me from wanting to write though. I tried way too hard to be deep and took a crack at writing poetry in high school. I convinced my English teacher to let me turn them in for extra credit. I wrote a translation for each poem in layman’s terms because I wasn’t sure the point would come across very clearly. Yeah, I guess you could say I had confidence issues in my abilities. She asked to submit one of them to a local writing competition, which I was pretty excited about. I lost. The life of a writer, eh?
When college rolled around, I got way to busy (read: distracted) to read or write anymore. I got lost in my band and creating music. It wasn’t until after college that reading came back to me in a big way. My first job after graduating was in a correctional facility and provided a LOT of down time throughout the day. I was consuming multiple books a week and loving it. At some point, I decided to start a personal blog just to see what would happen. I wanted to share some stories that I thought would be funny and worth telling/reading. My first blog was actually inspired by listening to The Bob & Tom Show on the radio one morning while commuting to work. A feature they did at the time was sponsored by NAPA Auto Parts and featured stories about people’s first cars. I have a fairly decent story surrounding my first car, and thought it would be worth sharing. No, I’m not going to delve into a retelling of that story. Not today, anyway.
From there came this website where I could post my short stories and further develop my writing career. Currently, I’m wrapping up the final edits on my third novel with a very short start on the fourth. I have ideas for at least eight more after that – ranging multiple more series, not coming from the Kings of Chaos world.
If that’s not enough, I’ve worked with a handful of other authors who have asked for help with editing their work. I love it. I’m not always great about finding adequate time to do it all, but I absolutely love everything about it. When work stress gets me overwhelmed, the writing craft is my happy place. When I can’t handle the thought of being around people, I find peace in the solitude of writing. I don’t know what the reason is, but I can never seem to stray too far from it, and I’m quite okay with that.
I was always the “weird kid” growing up, and my social circle was quite small. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people might say that I’ve grown into a “weird dude” as an adult, although my social circles have grown considerably. Either way, writing seems to have always had a presence in my life and was a go-to crutch when I needed an outlet. Now that I’ve given it some serious thought and made some connections that I’ve never considered before, it kind of astonishes me how I’ve come full circle and returned to my love of writing as an adult. Funny how life works out sometimes, huh?
Thank you, that is all.