I have a backlog of character origins and figured I would do one a day for this week. How could I start this great event that will be rough tomorrow since I will be hanging in NYC with one of my closest friends? Tell my own origin story because I actually get asked a few times how I knew I wanted to be a writer. For those wondering, that’s me and my wife at Red Newt Cellars for our 5-year-anniversary. It’s located in the Hector, NY, which is in the Finger Lakes region and it’s where we got married. This is the best picture I had of myself because the others were me bundled up for winter or looking like I just lost a fight to an angry mob. *end of first digression, but I warn you I may ramble*
I began writing in 2nd grade where my teacher had learning stations. There was reading, math, writing, and another that I don’t remember. Now, I was writing joke books, animal books, and books about my weekend, but I was loving it. I still have a satchel full of this things. We got to present our books until she made a rule that we couldn’t present joke books any more. I was interested in making people laugh, so I got a little derailed until I started writing informative books. The gem in this mess was a book based on King Kong that actually had some plot development, character development, and the concept of hero/villain/heroine/quest in it. For a 7-year-old to figure this out on his own would have been exciting, but I made it for a friend’s birthday and gave it away without showing it off. I was derailed again due to two factors and this is my memory, so I could always be wrong. One factor was that I began hiding under the writing table and writing when everyone went back to their seats. I was tiny and sat in the back due to alphabetical order, so it worked to net me 5-10 extra minutes. I screwed this up when I answered a question from under the table, which also started the trend of me doing things without thinking. The other factor was that I was bad at math, so my focus was being redirected. Writing fell by the wayside with nobody noticing and me not thinking much of it.
Over the years, I flexed my creative muscles while dreaming of being a scientist. For those wondering, this dream died when I was introduced to the dissection project and I moved on to international assassin because I was reading a lot of comics. Anyway, I wrote a few skits for a friend and I to do for a project, made my own Greek myth in 6th grade social studies, and a children’s book that starred my pet turtle and my sister’s pet hamster.
Then came high school where one friend introduced me to Dungeons & Dragons and another friend introduced me to Fred Saberhagen’s ‘Books of Swords’ series. Something clicked in my head and I fell in love with writing all over again. I would spend my free periods in the band room creating characters, monsters, stories, and all manner of things in my notebooks. I began writing my first book in high school called ‘Immortal Wars: The Summoning’ about a group of teenagers from Earth who discover they are immortal and have to defend the universe from 9 evil, magic weapon wielding immortals. It wasn’t a horrific idea, but it wasn’t a good idea even after I self-published it. I took every creative writing and poetry class my school had and took a college-level English course in 12th grade because I was going to be a great author. I would be remembered like Tolkein and Lewis. I was a blindly flailing idiot with a pen and a notebook who became even more deranged after a summer trip to Israel. It was a teen tour that had an artist section, but the writer part was cut during the flight over because there was only one writer in the group. (YO!) So, I continued my notebook work while trying out the less terrifying of the other arts and putting together a collection of 100 poems for my final project.
Then came my time at SUNY Oswego where I went for a BA in English Writing Arts . . . and nothing else. A lesson to be learned here, people, is that unless you are a child prodigy or find an amazing mentor, you need to have a back-up degree. There were great teachers at this school, but I was a fantasy writer, which meant I had nobody in my actual genre to talk to. So, my studies helped me hone my style while my spare time was spent having fun in the college way and designing Windemere. Yes, this is where Windemere was born, which I have already gone into. I spent a lot of time fostering this idea to the point where it grew bigger than I expected. I was ecstatic to get it started and thought nothing could stop me now.
Graduation happened and I got stopped by a metal wall covered in barb wire. Then, I stumbled into a lake of lemon juice. I lived years of rejection letters, toiling at office or retail jobs, struggling to survive, and following the idea that if I work hard, I’ll get the opportunity to follow my dream. Depression would set in and my stories would become darker as I began to think that I really was a talentless idiot that the universe felt like beating on. I managed to write the first three books of Legends of Windemere before I got swallowed by ‘practicality and the real world’. You hear about downward spirals, but you never realize how terrifying these things are until you get stuck in one.
A series of misfortunes, bad luck, and depressions later brings me to an odd moment in 2012. I’m not sure what caused the snap, but it probably had something to do with the jobs I kept getting close to and losing. I just found that I couldn’t care about doing office work and getting the job to survive. I already felt dead and beaten, so what was the point of dragging myself any further. Many of the people around me seemed content to let me sink away, voicing their complaints that I was negative and pessimistic. These are the same people who were quick to tell me why something I was excited about would fail, so screw ‘em. So, I was nearing the point where my notebooks with 20+ series and all of my writing gear was going to be put in a book and tossed into storage. It was become painful to even catch sight of the notebooks because I felt I had missed my chance.
This me to the actual snap, which was caused by two things. A guy I went to school with starting posting about his books going on Amazon Kindle. I had heard of this, but was still stuck in ‘paper print’ stubbornness, so I asked him a few questions. He’s been pretty successful and I began to wonder why I didn’t try it. The other thing was that I had a son who I would one day have to tell ‘you can being anything that you put your mind to’. How in world would I be able to tell my son to shoot for his dreams when I never did it? I let everyone around me use me for support, but it was never reciprocated and that was about to stop. I announced this and my wife supported it immediately because she’d never seem me fired up with so much determination, rage, passion, and madness. My parents were a lot harder to convince and it’s still a matter of debate when bad moods are rising, but that’s family.
This brings me to today where I run this blog/website, am waiting for my cover art, writing novellas, outlined all 15 books of Legends of Windemere, and finished the first draft of the fourth book. It makes me feel like I’m regressing to the writer I was in college, but with more polish and wisdom. So, that’s the path I’ve walked to become the half-crazed fantasy writer of today. I’ll apologize for the length, but it’s been a messy, stumbling trip.