I’ve always had a desire to write and to be creative. I wrote my first play in third grade and showed it to some friends. They liked it and laughed at the jokes I put in. It was almost three pages long. Sadly, I’ve lost the manuscript.
In my teens I developed a taste for science fiction movies and started to read science fiction books. Then I discovered magazines like, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Analog. If you would have asked me back then what I liked to read, I likely would have given you a long, well rehearsed lecture on “speculative fiction” and how that differed from science fiction. That is in part due to my taste for post apocalyptic books like Earth Abides, Alas Babylon, and On The Beach.
Over time I developed the urge to write and had the desire to become a science fiction writer. It was more than just a bit of a dream, as I actually sat down and started to write a book. Most of the adults who I showed it to were encouraging, but I was young and lacked the persistence to complete the work.
Later, after I started work as an electronic technician in the fledgling personal computer manufacturing business, I tried my hand again, writing a few stories. Knowing that I didn’t really know much about how to write a good story, I did attend a few writing classes and attended science fiction conventions where I’d seek out the writing sessions. I learned a lot and had the courage to send a few of my short stories and a poem to a few magazines. All of which were, quite rightly, immediately rejected. Since that experience I proudly tell everyone that I’ve been rejected by the best magazines in the world.
Then life happened and in my rush to develop a career, earn lots of money, a car, a house and all the “things” my young mind thought were important, I suppressed my desire to write. I did take the odd class in writing from time to time and did write a story or two. There was a fairytale I wrote for my mother’s birthday, a short story about the world falling apart, and one with the title, Turpentine.
That was a strange experience. I had been at the grocery store and smelled the faint odor of turpentine as I got into my car. The word beat in my mind. When I got home, I sat in front of the keyboard and in the early hours of the morning finished a “boy meets girl” story set in an alternate reality.
I showed the story to my friends and they liked it. It was a year or so after I wrote that story that I started dating a woman who was much like the girl I’d written about. It was that realization that drove me to do the only really brave thing I’ve ever done, I asked her to marry me. She’ll be the one editing this post before you read it.
There was another thing in my life that I had always wanted to do and that was to get a bachelor’s degree in English. I didn’t have the money, or family support to go to the university in my youth, so as I approached middle age I was determined to find a way. There were years of night classes at the local community college and years of saving money. Then there was a very supportive wife and at 45 years-old, I took two years off work, and attended San Jose State University, where I earned that BA in English.
At SJSU I spent most of my time studying literary criticism. I read the classics of English literature and wrote paper after paper analyzing them. It was there that I finally admitted that I had lost my taste for science fiction and confirmed my desire to write.
In the spring of 2011, I gathered up my nerve and started writing a blog at www.andrewsviewoftheweek.com. Sadly my first attempts were without much discipline and I didn’t achieve my self-made goals of frequency, or quality.
Then my world forever changed. Late in the year, the doctor called with the news that short circuited my brain. I had prostate cancer and needed to be treated. Between the tears, fears and starting radiation treatments I felt an overwhelming need to write down what was happening to me. I put those words in my blog. They just poured out, and kept coming.
It was that experience that drove me to commit to myself that I’d write at least once a week and in the last three years, I’ve been able to maintain that schedule most of the time.
About a year ago I started having trouble writing. It was becoming difficult to start and hard to complete the pieces I did start. Then an odd thing happened – I started to write a post and out came a poem.
And then another poem. Then came the memory of my teachers telling me I had “lyrical quality” to my writing. I decided to embrace it and now call myself, “A poet and writer.”
When I sat down to write a book about my cancer experience, I decided to do it as a collection of poems. It was the only way for my mind to approach the subject without freezing up at the keyboard. I’ve finished that collection and am now working on getting it ready for publication. I don’t have a publisher for the book and haven’t decided if I’ll self-publish or not.
Writing hasn’t been easy for me. It has plenty of challenges and there are things I don’t do well. I am horrible speller. Seriously, I can’t spell to save my life. In fact in the sixth grade there was serious talk of holding me back a year so I could improve my spelling. If it wasn’t for spell checkers, Google and my wife, I couldn’t spell. Then there is handwriting. I can’t do it. Hand me a pencil and a piece of paper and even I can’t read what I write. If it weren’t for typewriters and now computers, no one would be able to read my words.
And commas, what are those about? My wife claims I don’t breath when I write. Honestly I do commas by instinct and hope Heather corrects them before I press the publish button on my blog.
And the list goes on. I am not a perfect writer and I still have plenty to learn. It’s taken me some time to perfect what skill I have and I am always amazed that I’ve come this far.
That’s what I hope to share here on Today’s Author, what I’ve learned so far and how my writing journey is going. I am convinced that if you have the desire, you’ll be able to write and grow in your abilities.
I am grateful that the good folks here have decided to let me join in the conversation as one of their writers.