A History of Writing

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, or rather, I’ve been creating stories, which for me is a good 90% of my writing process; the act of transferring those stories to the physical form of words on paper – writing – plays only a small part.

Like any child, I created adventures to put upon my plastic soldiers, or whatever toys I was playing with. Yet, unlike many children, I think, I would imagine an adventure in great detail – all I’the plot points, the protagonists and their enemies, and the story’s conclusion – long before beginning to play.

I recall one particular day when I laid out a rather involved war story, a Where Eagles Dare kind of adventure. I had all my men in place, arranged the living room just-so to accommodate the landscape I’d envisioned, and prepared for battle. Just then some friends of the family showed up with their son, who was about my age, and who I was instructed to play with. He immediately tore into what I had painstakingly set up and proceeded to ruin my plans with some kind of improvised conflict he made up as he played. (Sacrilege!) I was very unhappy, as much by having my “story” dashed aside as by his encroachment upon my maturing anti-social tendencies.

My writing would take many forms. I created comic books, complete with advertisements. Mind you, these were not artful in any way, the drawings were simplistic and rudimentary to say the least, but they were a means to put my ideas to paper.

I typed up short stories on an old Remington. Very short stories, with random plots to no logical conclusions. And then, I discovered a friend’s Super-8 movie camera! From there, for many years to follow, I put a great deal of energy into film making. (Wasted energy, it turned out, as my heart was never really into the technical aspects of making movies; it was only about the telling of my stories.) I attended the San Francisco Art Institute and discovered the world of avant-garde film…which I had no idea what to do with, but loved.

I wrote a horrible one-act play in college, and throughout the 80’s and into the 90’s I penned a few screenplays. Action movies, mostly. None of which, of course, made it to the big (or any-sized) screen. There’s one, however, that I was quite fond of, which I co-wrote with a friend. It was a horror story about a newly married couple who are killed in a car accident. The man is brought back to life by an experiment with a regenerative spell cast by a coven of would-be witches. Unfortunately, the man comes back to life in the same condition as when he was dead – with a broken neck and mangled limbs. He takes revenge on those who caused his car to crash, and hunts down the witches with the intent to use their spell upon his dead bride. It was sort of an homage to the Dr. Phibes movies, starring Vincent Price, that I loved so much as a kid.

One of my goals as an author is to not always write the same kind of novel. I don’t want to be stuck in one particular genre. Sure, I will probably have some recurring themes, but one story may be speculative while another may be a western,and the next a mystery thriller.

My first rule of writing is to create something that would want to read; I write for myself, in other words. With that, I’ve enjoyed reading a variety of genres – science fiction (Asimov, Clarke); mystery (John Straley); action-adventure (Clancy), and literary (John Irving, Umberto Eco) to name a few.

Also, I don’t want my work to be predictable. One of my favorite authors is Iain Banks because when I crack open one of his books I’ve no idea what I’m getting myself into. All too often I’ve enjoyed a particular writer (or filmmaker, or band) only to not want to read them ever again because they simply become a predictable derivative of themselves.

When it came to market my book, I had to put it into some kind of category, wherein I discovered the wonderfully ambiguous and interchangeable labels of literary, mainstream, and contemporary – the perfect homes for writing that doesn’t adhere to strict guidelines of any one genre. The irony here being, of course, that literary, mainstream, and contemporary are considered specific genres.

The landscape of publishing has changed dramatically in recent years. The traditional path to getting their words to readers is no longer the only option available to writers today. Through a number of self-publishing platforms, authors can see the goal of their work being read within reach. You can connect with some of those writers by simply searching the web. Better yet, pay your local Independent Bookseller a visit, or order copies through them. If anything, it’ll give you a chance to get out of the house. Thanks for reading!