Becoming a writer can happen in so many different ways. Some go to college, take creative writing and get an early start at it. Others may become an expert in their field, like homicide detectives and lawyers who fictionalize their cases and really add life to crime, law or modern day thrillers.
I didn’t take any of those paths. I started writing in high school, but never did much more with it. I went to college to get my degree in Computer Science in 1990. In 1998, I ended up in a job on the night shift where my job was to make sure that computer systems didn’t go down. That meant that I had eight hours a day to do some basic, menial tasks and little else. Being quite imaginative and bored out of my mind, I began writing a fantasy novel about how I imagined the war between God and Satan actually played out, told from the perspective of a very meek, shy, simple child.
I wrote the first fifteen chapters or so, and came to a stark realization: I had no clue what I was doing. I still have that original manuscript. It’s horrid. I discovered, through some mutual friends, that there was a writer’s group in town, and they were willing to critique my work. And boy, did they! Each week, they ripped my work to shreds, pointing out each echo, adverb, pronoun confusion, paragraphing mistake, typo and grammar issue.
And in those moments, I learned what an echo was. I learned about buried dialogue, the “rule of said”, the necessity of a chapter hook, characterization, plotting, … I really give a nod to Steve, Carol and all of the writers at the Crossroads Writer’s Group. For ten years, every Monday night, I sat, listened and learned how a good story should be written. I had the good fortune to listen to writing from every possible point of view. From screenplays to westerns to mysteries to sci-fi to chick-lit to horror… and everything in between. you name it, we discussed what made a story in that genre good.
While I didn’t get my Masters in creative literature, and I don’t have the depth of knowledge of past greats like Tolstoy that others may have, I am still very proud of how much I’ve grown as a writer. I’ve learned more in those Monday-night sessions than I could have paid to receive at the best universities in the nation.
In two weeks, it will be the one-year anniversary of my first book published, Death Has a Name. While it has been the wildest year of my life, it has been the most explosive for me as a writer. I’ve had to learn so much more about layout, editing, proofing, and marketing than I’d ever thought possible. And it has been a blast.
I can’t wait to reveal some of my latest works. I’ve resurrected a story that I started in 2002, and is one of my favorite characters. While 2011 has been explosive, I’m hoping that 2012 will blow this year out of the water, and I can’t wait to take you all with me.
I haven’t taken a very traditional route into this path, and in the beginning I felt inferior to those with the PhD.s and other degrees in English, journalism and creative writing. But through this year, I’ve come to realize that my writing is good in its own right, told from a very unique point of view. I’m proud of where I’ve been, and how far I’ve come, and I hope you all stick with me as I take you along for one very wild ride.