I just started this blog about a month ago, and I’m gradually figuring out what I want to do with it.
I’m planning to start posting a personal column once a week, on Mondays – about me, who I am as a writer and a person, what I’m working on, and what motivates me to be a writer.
I thought I’d start out with why I write.
I’ve been an avid reader since I was a little child. When I was in my early elementary school years, growing up in Tucson, Arizona, my Mom started be on the Lord of the Rings, something I am still grateful to her for.
I was a bit of an introverted kid, and I took to Middle Earth like a duck to water, devouring all three books in a few months. I still remember how I cried and cried when Boromir was killed, and how I wondered over Lothlorien and thrilled when the One Ring was destroyed. And even at nine years old, I found the Hobbit to be a little too juvenile for my tastes.
As I got a little older, I branched out, exploring my mother’s bookshelves. I explored the Foundation, soared with the dragons of Pern, and visited the strange spaceship Rama that swung through our solar system without stopping to see who we were.
I loved those worlds, those amazing future speculations.
In Junior High, I discovered Shannara, and soon after, I decided I wanted to write on my own. It was no longer enough for me to read about the worlds of others. I wanted to create new ones of my own.
I’m the child of divorce. My parents called it off when I was maybe three or four? I don’t remember exactly. But I used to spend every other weekend with my father, and there were often large stretches of time at his house when I had nothing else to do. I got some of my stepmother’s stationary, and began to construct a world on the back side, taping one sheet to another as I built it city by city. My favorite sci fi worlds were plagued with regular disasters – Pern’s thread, for example, so I decided Antana would face regular flooding until the world figured out a way to stop it, building a crystal ceiling to rein in the excesses of the weather. I constructed a history, national flags, maps, and much more. And then I knocked it all down in a fit of worldshaking proportions.
At last, I set out to tell the story. I wrote the first part of it on an old manual typewriter, the clickety clack of they keys my companion.
Looking back, I don’t know how writers ever managed to complete, let alone edit, a manuscript on those old things.
Some time later, as a Senior in High School, I took the first two pages of one of my stories to my English teacher, Jeanne Brondino (a friend of mine to this day), and sat back and waited while she read it. I was so excited, ready to receive her praise for my great writing accomplishment.
“It’s a good start,” she said, handing it back to me with a terse smile.
Ah, the humbling life as a writer.
Undaunted, I set to it. and wrote a number of short stories, sending them out for submission.
Angel will get a kick out of this one – here’s a rejection letter for Avalon, a story I wrote about a gay couple who deal with a fatal illness. I particularly love the scribbled note “not suitable for our younger readers.” Angel’s press Mischief Corner Books finally published this story in their Quarterly earlier this year, 21 years after I wrote and submitted it:
I also completed my first novel. It took another 8 years, but in the mid nineties, I submitted the novel, “Forever”, to ten publishers.
Twelve months later, all of them rejected it.
I gave up.
Life intervened, as Mark and I quit our day jobs and started our own business. We moved to Hawaii, and then back to California, and the business grew. From time to time I’d make a halfhearted attempt to write again, but it never really stuck… inevitably, I’d get sucked back into regular life again.
Then one day, three years or so ago, I resolved to try again. I’d always had this weird thought that I’d write when I was in my forties, when I had more life experience under my belt.
I got going, starting on a prequel to Forever to fill in the blanks before I attempted a rewrite.
Things were going well. I finished a novella, and started in on some other short stories I had written long before. Then life intervened again with the passing of Mark’s mother.
Everything in our lives ground to a halt, as it does in these situations – work, play, writing.
And once it was over, I told Mark how I was disappointed that I had once again been stopped, just when I was getting going again.
He looked me in the eye and said “the only one stopping you from writing is you.”
There are a few pivotal moments in each person’s life. Events large or small whose significance does not become clear until much later. This was one of those moments for me.
I picked up my metaphorical pen and got back to it. Within a few months, I had submitted a number of short stories, and not much longer after that, my first one was published in an anthology from Dreamspinner.
Then another one was picked up, and another. I was finally on my way.
In the end, I think I write because I have to. It is the thing I was put here to do. The talent that I was meant to express. When I’m not writing, I’m not happy. The stories spin around in my head, seeking release onto the page.
I’m just lucky I’ve now been given the opportunity to tell them.