One of the first reasons I had for writing was to deal with depression and anger. Like most teenagers, I had my moments when I felt everything was crumbling down around me. Moving from Cleveland to rural southern Illinois was a huge catalyst for such writing. I spent many hours working on sappy, depressing, angst filled poems and drawing odd, cryptic pictures. I’m not sure if I have any of those early works any more but I do remember they had a similar theme: anger and darkness. Eventually, I worked my way out of it and was better for it. No one read those pieces and I’m thankful for that!
When in college, I remember having an assignment in my first English class to write a story based on my summer. Sure it was an intro level class and the exercise was to get us as students into the mode of writing and expressing ourselves in different ways, but I found out something about myself in the process.
My best friend broke up with his girlfriend just after we graduated high school and both of us being without girlfriends, we spent the summer hanging out with friends and skating all day long (when we weren’t working) We stayed busy all hours of the day and for him, I think it was a way to distract his mind from the heartache he felt.
My story I wrote for class was about our summer through his eyes. The story was dark (where did I get that idea?) and, considering it was an entry level class and I didn’t have much experience writing, it was fairly well received by the instructor. I remember feeling proud of the story, showing it to several friends. That was the first time I felt the excitement of creating a compelling story of my own. I was thrilled at the prospect of writing, of creating, of doing something productive and lasting.
So…I made history my major.
Why didn’t I pursue creative writing? I guess I wanted to have an education that prepared me for supporting my family. In hindsight, I suppose seeking an education in the art of writing may have been a better choice as now I devote more of my time and energy to the craft, however I think studying history gave me the bones I needed to create interesting stories.
I learned how to research to get the answers I needed. This has helped in my writing. I do preliminary research before working on a novel to give me a feel for the setting and plot so when I do put words down, they have a reference point.
I also found a love for the medieval romance stories of Arthur and his knights. I was entranced by Celtic myths. I dug deep into the histories of monks and the Christianization of Europe, particularly the British Isles. To this day I feel a pull towards those stories and they are special to me.
My path to writing is not traditional and I’m sure not entirely unique. But…it is my story. It is how I got to where I’m at today. I’ve got a long way to go. I push myself to be better and I try to engage with others to improve myself. It’s a process and I’m thankful for the opportunity.