Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Fiction!

Thanks for checking out this blog. I have started this as an outlet for me to talk about trying to crack into the whole “writing thing.”  As a kid, I did a ton of reading.  I graduated from Hardy Boys and Choose Your Own Adventure books at 9 or 10 to my mom’s books.  I was a big fan of Christopher Stacheff, Robert Aspirin, and Piers Anthony.  But even on top of writing, creating was a passion of mine.  I started writing in competitions at school while I was still in elementary, and continued all the way through high school.  I also loved creating worlds and stories… brought about by running Dungeons and Dragons games when I was in 2nd grade… And have continued doing so until present.  Creating stories was something I loved to do.

College kinda put the kill on it.  I went to a technical school with the goal of “making video games.”  The pros:  Lots of D&D players at nerdie tech college.  The cons:  Not a whole lot of curriculum to exercise the right brain and encourage creativity.  Making video games was the best way to go for me.  The problem that existed that I didn’t know about then was that I wanted to design video games, not necessarily to program them.  Don’t get me wrong, I can sling some code with the best of ’em.  But the cold truth is that my favorite activities involve creating the worlds, designing the people, building exciting plots that blow people away.  And that’s what I really wanted to do.

Fast-forward several years.  I graduate from my school and get a nice technical job.  I climb the corporate ladder and start doing well for myself.  I enjoy teaching and leading people, and coming up with solutions to our problems to make everybody’s lives better.  Seems like a happy open-and-closed story.

But I know something is lacking.  I have a burning need to create.  It consumes me when I lay down at night; it churns at me during the long office meetings and strategy sessions.  I went through several phases of this.  Ironically, I first tried to meet the craving by circling back around to what I left from college.  Make video games.  I started picking up programming books again, started looking at the Unity engine and thought, “Hey, I can make a game.”  That didn’t feel right.  I started to try and crack the problem.  I thought I could come up with something that would be less technical, more creative… This led me to create “custom maps/mods” for video games.  I took map and campaign editors and started working on stuff.  This seemed kinda cool and I was definitely digging it… For about a month.

Finally, my wife hit on something that had completely slipped my mind.  Something I hadn’t thought about in years.  She looks at me and said, “Honey, what I really think you ought to do is write a book.”  That smashed into me like a hammer.  I had no idea why it hadn’t occurred to me.

I was meant to be a writer.

So how did I approach this new problem.  Like any good tech guy, I picked up reference manuals.  I bought every book that had a 4.5 star review on amazon and read up on the craft of writing.  Great works, all.  One year later, I’d written exactly… one short story.  But!  I had a whole slew of partially digested first-5 pages crap.  I needed to do better.

Nanowrimo changed my life.  Nanowrimo, for those unaware, is National Write a Novel Month (because the world needs your novel!).  They give you a 50,000 word quotient and you just write.  Lots of evidence pointed to this being the right way to go.  Every single book I read said, “The best way to get writing is to… WRITE.”  Wow.  What a novel concept (that’s right… I said it).  Nanowrimo helped me do it.  Not only this, but my leadership books pointed to something similar.  John Maxwell talks about an art class experiment involving clay pots where the professor splits the class.  Half the class gets graded on weight… 50 pounds of pots equals an A, 40 a B, etc.  Half the class gets graded on only one pot… But it must be a “perfect” pot.  Ironically, the half graded on quantity churned out better pots by the end.  The “perfect pot” class all had theories and conversations… and piles of dead clay.  The quantity class had the better showing.

Because they practiced.

Nanowrimo helped me do that.  I didn’t make the 50,000 words.  I hit about 30,000.  But the novel continues.  And will keep going.  And when it finishes, there will be another.  I will write as much as I need to in order to get on the map and get published.  I want to start churning out clay pots.  My writing might not be the best at first, but I can guarantee one thing… People who get published write.  So that’s where I’m at.

This blog will chronicle that journey.  I’m climbing in the car, and I suggest you do the same, because this isn’t just your standard race.  There will be stops.  There will be changes of tires.  Hopefully no wrecks, but we don’t know yet because the competition is fierce.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Start Your Fiction!


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