I am primarily a small town guy that somehow, someway, fell into writing and found I really enjoyed it. I have been an avid reader since my teen years and started out like all good young boys do, with comic books.
After a lot of saved quarters were spent on those, I made the transition to actual books, but still in the fantasy and science fiction realm. My best friend loaned me The Hobbit and I thought he was nuts because I tried to start it about three different times but could never get through the first chapter. Then one day I pushed through and it opened up a new world. Subsequently I have read The Hobbit and the full Lord of the Rings series probably eight times before the movies were announced and it became popular to be a fan. Next, the same friend gave me some easy reading stuff by Robert Asprin. It was the Myth series and was perfect for a young teenaged reader as it was action adventure, magic, humor, and the small ironies in life.
Intermingled in there were some select titles from Dale Brown about fictional yet realistic advanced air warfare. At the time they were very suspenseful, very thrilling and very fun. I have tried to go back and reread some of those titles including Robert Asprin’s books that I loved so much, but it’s kind of like as an adult, rewatching the cartoons that you grew up with. To the grown up version of you, they suck and it ruins the memory of how good they were.
It was during my last year or so of high school and first couple years of college that I found a little bit of enjoyment in writing the short essays and papers in language arts classes. I never actually took a writing class, but in each subsequent course I found a way to insert my own personal style into writing . Honestly, it never went anywhere.
In college I had one English professor influence me to turn in a couple of papers I had written for him to the school paper and for some reason I did it. I contacted the editor and attended their next meeting. It took some big shot no time at all to dismiss me and my submissions. After a five second scan of my paper he handed it back to me criticizing that he saw the word “I” in it, and how that needed to be dropped. I knew enough to never have “I” in an article, and the only reason it was in there was because it was part of a quote from a local resident I had interviewed. I understand that this bigwig of a somewhat crappy school paper had a good system for weeding out the crap people frequently brought to him, but his dismissal of me left such a bad taste in his mouth I didn’t even correct him and just got my stuff and left the meeting. I was someone submitting for the first time and perhaps felt unsure and out of place and without a strong conviction that my stuff was worth reading, I never thought of doing something like that again.
Into my early twenties I got into a stretch of reading first person biography type books from American special forces solders in Vietnam. Funny enough it was the father of the same friend that first got me reading, who was now introducing me to the world of LRRPs and Six Silent Men. This easily translated to reading books written about the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Around the same time I became active on a couple internet forums. I found a few through some searches for things I was interested in like guns, camping and hiking, but eventually became a contributor to one of the more saner boards that most would label right wing militia bible and gun clingers. This was another one of my now beloved ironies, as I was raised by atheist hippies and have hugged my fair share of trees.
It was during this period that I really found my “voice” while writing opinions and reviews of topics and products. Most were well received and sparked thoughtful discussion. That was maybe always the most rewarding thing, the discussion afterwards.
Early on in this writing process, I told my editor friend of how I didn’t ever think I would show my friends or family what I’ve done or even tell them I wrote something and I currently still hold to that.
The life of a pseudo-survivalist type gun guy is that of two people. In today’s world of employers looking at your digital image, do you really want to be seen posing with an AR15 in each hand? I’m not talking about having strong convictions or not being true to yourself type stuff, I’m saying realistically, it is insanely stupid to handi-cap yourself by having pictures of you drunk and shirtless riding a blowup doll at your buddy’s bachelor party on the internet. It does not make a good impression and the internet is not as anonymous as it once was.
Plus most of my characters started out being loosely based on people I know…so shhh, don’t tell anybody. Especially don’t tell the ones that get killed off or have intimate physical relations. “Dude, was that chick you wrote about based on my wife?”
I actually debated about, and finally did take my anonymity a step further by creating a whole new digital persona as the author of a book to keep my long standing internet user name and representation unidentified and separate from my new written works. Possibly unnecessary, but again “was that guy in your book that did my wife based on you?” or probably worse “Why are you writing about other women?”
Yeah I don’t think I’m completely unintelligent for keeping some people in the dark.
I didn’t really have a reason to begin writing or so I thought. Through the glory that is online book buying, I started picking up titles that I saw others recommend… and for the most part, I hated them. I am hesitant to actually specify which titles I particularly disliked as most people in this select community hold them up on high as prolific life changing works of art. Also, I have no delusions that my work is going to be met with any better reviews.
Quite honestly when all is said and done, within this select genre of subject matter, I hope to land somewhere in the lower middle of the pack of all authors, and maybe in the upper middle of the pack for first time self published authors. As I write this very text, I have just one first draft completed and in to a friend who is editing it for me. I am very aware that I am nowhere close to meeting those lofty goals of mediocrity. I am actually currently wondering if the string of poor novels I had been reading before I started mine unconsciously had more of an influence than anything else. But then again, my editor friend is brutally honest.
So coming back to why I started writing this story in the first place, I wasn’t trying to prove anything to myself and I wasn’t trying to make money or inform other readers. I was just finally writing down the dialogs and stories that still run through my head today as a left over from the very active imagination of my youth. My style may suck, my words and sentences might sound good only in my head and not translate well to print, but I’m putting them down anyway.