How I became a writer

Or…  Why a person might spend all of their time writing something with no guarantee anyone will ever read it.


     I can’t remember a time when I did not create stories.  Though I may not have written them down, they nonetheless played through my mind as I sat staring up at the ceiling on summer mornings before finally dragging myself out of bed.  They ran through the crude and talentless pictures I drew when I should have been listening to the teacher at school.  And they definitely played out in the all-out wars between the Lego or Lincoln Log fortresses I built.

     These stories were fed by the usual diet: Tolkien, Star Trek, Smurfs, Star Wars, Westerns, H.G. Wells, John Wayne, Transformers, Jimmie Stewart, etc.  The essential ingredients for any child growing up in the ‘80s.  Or now for that matter.  But it wasn’t until I was in high school that I shared any of these stories with anyone other than my closest friends.  After all, I needed someone to pilot the Klingon battle cruiser.  So, I had to tell them

         

     Like many before me and, I’m sure, many after me, tabletop roleplaying provided my first taste of sharing stories with other people.  No one else wanted to run the game, and it looked like it would be fun, so I gave it a try.  And I loved it.  I still didn’t write much down (I found I was pretty decent at just winging it) but I loved sharing the story in my head with my friends.  I loved the look on their faces when I surprised them with something or the cheers of victory and high-fives when they overcame an obstacle.  It was great fun, and something I still enjoy every time.

     Coincidently, it was about this time as well that my high school English teacher decided to make us all write in journals.  She didn’t care what we wrote, so, of course, I wrote about the adventures my tabletop group was having.  And for the first time, the stories in my head were finding their way onto paper.  And, as you might guess, I discovered I really enjoyed that too.  It was harder for sure.  I couldn’t just wing it as I did at the gaming table, but still fun.

     Fast forward to College in the late ‘90s where I decided to major in Computer Science.  I liked computers and I knew you could make lots of money with them, so it seemed like a logical choice.  I found a tabletop group (including my future wife) and we were having a grand old time.  We’d sit in the dorm room or at the dinner table and talk for hours about what was going on in the campaign and what should happen next.  By this time, I was actually planning things out and I discovered that despite being more work, it was even more fun.  Which inspired me to start writing those adventures down.

     I changed my major to English (there’s a lesson there about doing what you love and not what’ll make you money) and four years later I had my first book.  I will never forget the feeling of printing that sucker off.  Unfortunately for me, and quite unbeknownst to me at the time, it was garbage.  As in it almost physically hurts to read it now.  It would take me years to realize just how bad it was.  But it didn’t matter, I was hooked.  Though it took several more years to get around to writing another book, I now knew what it was what I wanted to do.  I determined to get myself a Masters in Creative Writing and make sure that the next book wasn’t painful to read.  Whispers at the Altar was the product of those two and a half years of labor.  And I couldn’t be more proud of the results.