Friends, Romans, Countrymen--
(...lend me your ears, for they taste really good salted, but I'm sorry, for you won't get them back!)
Last night, I began the precipitous climb forward to delivering a short fiction piece I intend to shop to writing magazines in the vain (let's hope not) hope of obtaining an agent and actual employment in the literary field. (I know, I need to join AA--Authors Anonymous.) The climb started waaaaaay at the bottom of the mountain...or if you prefer, at the foot of the McDowell Mountains, where I currently reside. This is my second part of said climb, We'll see if I can't crank out some Pure Imagination (TM) two nights in a row.
So, why do I write? Short, funny answer: Because I suck as an artist.
I'm sure some of you are laughing at the above, and some of you just don't get it. The longer version is that I grew up reading comic books. I still read comic books. I read actual books, too, but yes, I hold a fondness for the comic, of which I shall never let go. Ever since I was little, I had a fertile imagination. I would take sheets of blank paper, fold them together, staple them down the middle, and doodle a cover featuring Spider-Man, or the Hulk, or one of my own superheroes, the all-powerful Goober Man. (He was star of my very own imaginary Marvel Comic, with the oh-so-cool name of Marvel Print. How lame can you get?) And, aside from a story I distinctly recall about Spider-Man and the Hulk fighting in some underground parking garage, I don't think very many of those interior sheets of typing paper ever got filled. It must have driven my parents nuts, to think they were buying all this typing paper and only about 1 in every 10 of those pages ever had anything on it. So sue me, I was young.
And it took me a few years to realize the salient truth: I couldn't draw!
Well, I could lay things out. But my execution...makes me look back and want to execute myself. Sure, I took art classes, and even scored straight A's in two drawing classes in high school. Somewhere during that time I even created a cosmic-styled character named Infinitus (later, I discovered the name was that of a one-off Spider-Man villain!), and his cadre of cosmic folks. I even created this creature of ultimate evil made flesh, called the Behemoth. I drew up the first issue of Infinitus and had some copies published in the school's back rooms. Still, I never felt comfortable with pen pointed to drawing pad. So somewhere in high school, I determined to only casually draw, and instead focus on my writing talent. Having a personal computer helped.
Oh, throughout the next few years, I wrote and wrote. Then after college and all the wonderful stories I wrote in Professor Schneeman's fiction writing classes (R.I.P.), I wrote less and less. Then I got my first "real" job, and wrote some more. I started writing this blog as--you guessed it--a method of rebuilding my atrophied skills in hopes to start writing bigger things. I failed then, but you have no idea how badly I want to succeed this time around. I have two novels in my head (thinking too big!) and one short story with several more to follow if only I just start that first damned short story. (No, it won't be damned short, but it will be a short story. Just damned.) Think of what I'm doing now as flexing the mental muscles. I know the skills are up here (pointing to my head), it's just a matter of getting them down here (wiggling my fingers). We'll see what I've learned in the intervening years and go from there.
They say you write what you know, and you pick up tricks from what you read. I've enjoyed some genuinely great books lately, thanks to my own interests but mainly those of friends. This is my chance to say thanks to Ben for introducing me to Joe Hill's opus Heart-Shaped Box, a crackling good yarn (isn't that term a cliche?) if ever there was, and thanks also to Stephanie for getting me to order Malcolm Gladwell's Tipping Point, which is an absolutely fascinating exercise in social psychology and an immense boon to me as a writer reaching for that next novel. Hill earns style points in a way his dad never could with me, and Gladwell's just fascinating for laying out social psych theory in a way that just makes my brain tickle with anticipation of putting these ideas into play in a future story.
Y'know, a couple of years ago, when I was putting together ideas for a big novel, I jotted everything down in a Five-Star Notebook. I had lots of good ideas but had no clue how to brand the narrative to fit what I wanted to accomplish. Now, a few years later, I find some of the concepts in that notebook weren't so bad, but now have a whole other method of using the ideas contained therein. I think I'm finally going to put a few years' worth of research to good use and write what amounts to the story that I should have been planning all along since 2005. And on top of that...I still have another novel in my head, one which will see the return of characters that made their first appearance over ten years ago, in that all-but-forgotten Friday the 13th/The X-Files crossover story. Of course, they're being tweaked a little, as they were created as little more than Mulder and Scully clones, but then again, nobody else is ever going to see that fanfic story from yesteryear, are they?
Did I answer why I write? No?
Simple answer: because it's fun.
Maybe you won't hear me tomorrow. Maybe I'll be too busy spinning my agonizing story of karaoke gone horribly wrong.
I speak from experience on this one. And no, it won't be comedy.
Because that would be hard, wouldn't it?