The Riddle of the Work Beyond the Work Part One: In Which I Bore Everyone To Pieces By Talking About Myself

I’ve been playing at this writing business for a while now, going back as near as I can figure about twenty years.  As a wee boy I tried writing stories in the vein of Howard Pyle and Ray Bradbury, with results questionable at best.  I at one point conceptualized a Batman theatrical production I would write, direct and star in, but that fell through.  As I recall, I was about seven.  At approximately the age of nine, I tried my hand at comic books, crudely drawn with a ballpoint pen and featuring such heroes as the Spider Boy (who spat webbing), Anonymous Man (could fly and had guns) and my personal favorite Bandit (who was able to open interdimensional portals and rifts of any size and shape, including one that was a vast roiling ocean of raw burning energy that he could unleash).  In my teenage years I got into fan fiction, mainly focused on Batman, Highlander, and the Crow.  I wrote a Batman/Nightwing story that won an award on a Nightwing fansite, once.  Still feel kind of proud of that, honestly.  I also tried laying down some poetry around this time, pretty much all of which was absolutely terrible.  I can at least take solace in the fact that the Matrix fan fiction one of my peers had me review for feedback made my stuff look like Hemingway’s Batman fanfic, and that the brief play I wrote for Drama II was conceptually interesting, if nothing else.

I kept of the fan fiction in college, and accumulated several aborted story attempts, fragments and ideas for original stuff that never came together because I couldn’t finish anything, it seemed like.  No discipline, no patience, no understanding of how to structure, no drive to get to the end.  But I was getting better.  My work was getting some polish to it, and I was getting closer to closing the deal.

The summer after my first year of college, I was living with my grandparents, working in a cement plant (mainly jackhammering and shoveling calcified drifts of dust), and I finished my first story.  Wrote it out long-hand in a little notebook, nifty little Twilight Zone yarn about a man who can’t get dead people to stop calling him.  The oldest finished piece of fiction in my portfolio, and I think with some dusting off it’ll be fit for publication later this year.

I managed to finish a couple of other stories around this time.  A couple more supernatural yarns that I can stand to read without too much shame.  I also turned my hand to writing for the stage, since Theater was my minor.  I wrote a few comedy sketches, and I also threw together a couple of short one-act Mystery plays, only one of which was ever performed.  I did Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, a recounting of the Passion from the perspective of the Centurion, and a bit about the Apostles in the time before they hear about hte Resurrection.  It was all-right stuff.

After college I spent a year or two watching movies, reading books, and trying to get my shit together.  A friend got me to write a couple of comic book scripts, then move down to Austin to see about getting them drawn.  I’ve written a few more, knocked out a few more stories, and here we are.

I’m laying all this out here mostly to make a point to myself.  From the time I knew how to read and write, there’s one thing I’ve always wanted to do.  This is the one ambition I’ve never lost sight of, the one passion I’ve never abandoned.  Remembering that, keeping it at the forefront of my mind, serves to remind me that I need to be serious about it.  I’ve wasted too much time to waste any more, accumulated too many useless tag ends and scraps in my “Works In Progress” folder and not enough in my “Completed” folder.  I’m laying it out here so I’ll remember the progress I’ve made, and the direction I need to be moving in.

This is all stuff I need to remind myself of because, as much as I love the business of putting words on the page, I’ve become increasingly aware of what a large iceberg the writing itself is the tip of.

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