One of the questions I get asked lately, now that I'm comfortable with telling people I'm an author, is how I got in to writing. Most of the time I tell people that writing is a way for me to quiet the voices in my head, to which, I usually get a couple chuckles. I take it as a win. There is more to it, so I thought I'd share the story, my story.
From an early age I actually loved to read any books I could sneak off with. The stories I liked to read were considered "too mature" for my age, but I read those books anyways. I knew I wasn't a complete rebel like James Dean or Clint Eastwood in those movies, but everyone has their own moments of rebellion. I started reading Stephen King and Dean Koontz before I was 10. I'll never forget sitting in the dark under the basement stairs with a flashlight reading IT. Now that I sit back and think of it, I was probably in the most terrifying spot to read a book like that, aside from a sewer drain. I was never scared, just mesmerized by the story and the characters. The Loser's Club from the story was my club, and I snuck away often to hide in that little cubby hole and read these creepy tales.
The road from that young kid to where I finally sat down and began writing was a long stretch of hazardous driving. The journey was like having to drive on the freeway (any freeway in any major city that is always dealing with construction....so, all of them) There were a lot of accidents and repairs I had to deal with and navigate to get to writing, and traveling that road was a white-knuckle thriller to say the least, but I'll save that story for another time.
There was a very dark and lonely moment in my life (rock bottom, or whatever you want to call it) and I began reading to escape the world in which I lived. I read to buy myself time to rethink my approach and perspective on my life. There was one author that popped out in my head as one that provided me that escape, that time to heal myself. Stephen King. I began binge reading all his novels and somewhere between 15-25 novels of his under my belt, I came across his nonfiction book On Writing. In that book was a writing prompt that he offered any of his CR's (Constant Readers). The prompt was about an abused wife who finds out her abusive husband had just escaped from prison and he was still on the loose... something close to that, and I was supposed to pickup from that and finish the story.
There have been some books that I've read that were not the greatest, you know the ones where you scratch your head and look to see who published it. As I sat and read this writing prompt I felt a wave of confidence, reassurance, and motivation to begin writing. It was a very unusual feeling, especially given that it came to me when I was living in such a dreary moment in time of my life. I put pen to paper and wrote (yes, handwritten was my only option... never again though!) . My attempts to keep my story in line with the writing prompt that Stephen King had proffered in his book went out the window within the first paragraph or less! Before I really knew what was happening I had written 10 pages.... then 50... and a couple months later I put my pen down and stared at a stack of lined paper, handwritten front and back, and totaling over 400 pages!!
I was extremely proud to have actually finished a story that I created, but the biggest impact that I was left with was the calmness that writing brought me. My mind was not racing, and I didn't feel as "lost" as I once had in life. This was my calling, my place in life where I was doing the one thing that brought me joy. No cubicles, factories, offices, or uniforms for me! Writing is my passion, it is my job, but most importantly, it is the opportunity to share with others so I can have or leave a positive impact on someone else's life, much like Stephen King with his wonderfully spun tales and his writing prompt had done for me. Perhaps some young kid will hide in a dark cubby hole under the basement stairs one day, reading one of my novels and being a rebel.
Below is a picture of me standing in front of Stephen King's house in Bangor, Maine. I was surprised with a trip to Maine for my birthday that year and it might have been the best birthday gift ever!! I didn't get to see Sai King, but when I waived goodbye to the house I'm pretty sure I saw a shadowy figure behind one of the curtains waiving back to me...