An Introspective Retrospective, part 3

As the release of my first published work draws closer, I have been thinking about the events and course that got me here, for better or for worse. In case you care about them, here they are (part 1 | Part 2)

College:

College was pretty easy. I went to a total party school on an athletic scholarship and pretty much partied all the time… No, wait, the other thing. I took on a pretty massive course load and barely had any time off. To blow off steam, I outlined a story about mining in asteroid belts, and corporations arming themselves to protect their interests. So I did what anyone else would do, and flew to my grandma’s on literally my last day of school (skipping graduation). I stayed there for a month and wrote an entire manuscript, but I’ll back to that in a second.

My Grandma lived in north Virginia, right by DC. There was an awesome Italian bakery with fantastic quiche right across the street, and I’d go over there and read the paper every morning. There was a Borders there, too, and James Gleick (one of my favorite non-fiction authors) did a reading there, and I got to talk Feynman, Newton and chaos with him. It was the first time I had been able to just write, and I fell in love with it.

Then I came home and went through that manuscript. The story I loved. I let other people read it. They loved it. I didn’t, however, love the tone of it. The writing was simply not mature. it wasn’t even bad, as far as I could tell, but it wasn’t something I would be proud to release. (if, indeed, it got to that point).

So I threw it away. I kept the story idea kicking around, and moved on from it (if you’ve been reading my rants from the last couple weeks, I implore more people to do the same). iw rote more, and felt the same way about them- good story, good writing, but just not… mature.

I moved, changed jobs, traveled, and did a lot of the things one does in their early and mid-twenties. One day, I got a call. It was an offer to work on a large, high-profile project. Essentially, career-wise, the opportunity I was looking for. Or so I thought.

I won’t name names here, because it would be pointless to do so, but suffice it to say, it was for a big company and was on the news more than once. Now, I like to think I am at least a good writer, but I know I’m a good engineer. So it was extremely frustrating, to say the least, as warning after warning of mine was ignored or swept to the side, only to come true. Not even a year into it, I wasn’t sleeping well, my fuse was short to non-existent and I was ready to explode.

I thought of that failed manuscript and how much I enjoyed creating it. I thought of the others since then, and my reason for not pursuing publishing them- they weren’t mature enough. I had always written to write (which is always the best reason to write). I had matured, certainly, in almost ten years since I wrote that, and I decided it was time to do more than just write.

I stayed up all night that night, outlining and writing. It gave me a peace that had been missing for the previous few months, and by the time it was time to go to that day job, my mind was made up. I wrote on the whiteboard next to my desk:

I will publish this book.

I will be successful.

That was the night of April 23. A year later, I get to write something new– mostly about the follow-up to that first release.

So, if this series of posts seems somewhat self-indulgent, maybe it is, but over that year (well, 51 weeks as of right now), I think about the people I’ve met, who have read it, supported me and given my indispensable feedback, advice and guidance- thank you. No matter what happens next, this is a dream come true for me. Thanks for helping me get here.

DESR

An Introspective Retrospective, Part I

That's mine on the right. My sister's sole literary contribution is on the left.

That’s mine on the right. My sister’s sole literary contribution is on the left.

As the release of my first published work draws closer, I have been thinking about the events and course that got me here, for better or for worse. In case you care about them, here they are:

Origins:

This is the origin story, the part where I get bit by the radioactive spider, my homeworld is destroyed and/or my parents are murdered tragically in front of me.

Or something. Whatever.

Anyway, I was eight years old at the time. I was a too-skinny homeschooled kid who didn’t particularly care for the socially-awkward, too-religious homeschooled kids that comprised most of the homeschooling contingent back in those days (this has improved greatly; back then homeschooling had only just been legalized in Washington state and most of the families who did it were a little… off). In any case, there was some manner of homeschooling writing competition that it was insisted I enter (in case you think homeschooling equates to sleeping in and doing easy work… not in that household).

I wrote about a kid who moved cross-country, and his struggles in adapting to a new sport (I loved soccer at this point of my life).  I think because my parents had both grown up moving about, they were fairly set on remaining in Podunk, Nowhere and I wanted to move around (‘write what you know’ was and is somewhat foreign advice to me). I didn’t think too terribly much of it- not that I didn’t put effort into it, but it wasn’t a huge deal to me at the time- and I submitted it without really caring what happened next.

At this point, I loved to read. If you stop by that Podunk library, the librarians will be all too happy to tell you stories of my bumping into walls and people as I tried to read one book and carry upwards of twenty more out the door. While I loved to read, I had no aspirations of being a writer.

The event itself was, somewhat ironically, in the junior high gym. All the various ‘books’ were laid out on tables, with notebook pages next to them for the assorted parents and such to make comments on. Truth told, I don’t remember much of the event itself. There was a comic book by one of the older kids, hand drawn, lettered and colored that was bloody fantastic and a bunch of stuff that was, well, written by a bunch of homeschooled kids (my cheery attitude was at full force, even in those early days).

Two things stood out to me:

1) They kept having to put more paper next to my story. Apparently a bunch of adults really liked this story by an eight year old. Cool enough, right?

2) My dad’s reaction. When I showed it to him before the event-thingy, he was pretty impressed. I chalked it up to parental pride. After the show, he gave me all the notes from the event and re-emphasized that it was really good, way beyond my age. I’ll never forget the look on his face, like he was imploring me to believe it. For going on twenty years now, he still talks about that story. Something clicked then, in the way, I suppose, that only comes in those moments where a parent or mentor or friend expresses some belief in you, and that moment is married with a realization that comes with time, age or maturity. As a kid who loved to read, books came from the library, and beyond that, it didn’t matter too much who wrote them.

Suddenly, it did, and for the first time it dawned on me that I could tell those stories.

DESR

PS- I have had this is my drafts for about two weeks, and kept wondering what happened to that story. I didn’t know if my parents kept it, or what. Then a couple days ago, dad sends me that picture. Talk about timing.

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