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The Word War   —   Writing - Topical

One of the heaviest questions to hear when you're a kid is "What do you want to be when you grow up?" It may be the first time that we imagine ourselves "all growed up" so the question is both liberating and terrifying at the same time. Luckily, kids being what they are, they rarely seem to dwell on such things. Instead this loaded question is met with the excitement of endless possibilities. Suddenly it's not, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" it's, "What's the coolest thing you can imagine yourself doing when you're big enough to rule the world?" My answer to this question when I was about five was that I wanted to be a veterinarian (animals - yay!). A few years later I added ballerina to that dream (ballerina veterinarian, anyone?), and then a few years after that I replaced them both with, "I want to be a detective." I don't really know where I came up with that one. I liked solving puzzles, enjoyed the intrigue of mysteries, and my eye for noticing the small details of my surroundings was (and still is) impressive. I wasn't a fan of Batman or Sherlock Holmes or Nancy Drew, but it remained my "future occupation" for many years.

When I was 13 years old I saw the horror anthology film Creepshow 2. I fell in love with the story "The Raft" and would watch it over and over again. Eventually I had seen it so many times that I started to feel unfulfilled by its familiarity. It was then that I decided to sit down and write a short story called The Midnight Lake Blob. It was essentially the same story as "The Raft" but with a completely made-up beginning and all new character names. Of course, I had no idea at the time that "The Raft" already existed in short story form written by Stephen King. What I wrote wasn't an original story, no. But it was the first time that I ever thought to myself, I want to be a writer.

I started writing poetry not long after that. I experimented with quite a few non-fiction stories of experiences I had while attending Pow-Wows. Due largely to my Native American upbringing I was a rather spiritual teenager, and much of what I would write reflected that state of being.

Over the span of 8 years I wrote hundreds and hundreds of poems. I was frantically compelled to write poetry, I would have flashes of inspiration and write lines down on any scrap paper I could get my hands on. After a series of events that I don't care to discuss, I lost my writing confidence and promptly smothered my inner passion with self-doubt and fear. However, my compulsion to write was reinvented and maintained through a new shiny toy called blogging. It was there, in 2003, that I started to rediscover my voice. I started to dabble with flash fiction and tried my hand at writing a book called Running on Empty. I made it 20 pages before losing focus and direction so instead I just kept on blogging.

Writing has always been this back pocket hobby of mine. Sure, I wanted to be a more prolific writer - hell, I dreamed of being a published author one day - but somewhere along the road of life I lost my faith in my ability to be a good writer. In all other areas of myself I am extremely self-confident. I have been that way all of my life. It just ... came with the programming, I guess. I've rarely had to work at being self-confident so the idea that I doubt myself about something that I hold so dear is a little off-putting. Because, well, I'll let you in on a little secret - I'm not very good with The Words.

You see, I was never a very good student. I rarely paid attention in school, my mind was always a million miles away, and homework was always a struggle. After high school I decided higher education was not for me, and I hit the road and headed cross country. When I met Adam a few years later I thought, man, this guy is so fucking smart. His words are effortless, his thoughts and ideas readily formed at all times - it's like a superpower to someone like me.

Me - a learning challenged, wannabe writer. I have to fight for every word I write. I sort through the options in my mind, mulling them over and palpating each one as though I'm searching for the perfect fruit. It must be ripe and juicy, ready to nourish my sentence, my meaning, my idea, with its superb being. Sometimes the word that I seek is right at the tip of my tongue and yet, try as I might, I can't reach it. So I search and write and rewrite. The thesaurus is my best friend.

But if the past 20 years of being a "sometimes writer" has taught me anything, it's that I am a writer. To my core, in my heart, through my mind, the words just pour and pour and I catch them all in the palm of my hand and paint the world with them. And it's only now - hundreds of poems later, 8 years of blogging later, a handful of flash fiction later, two book beginnings later, two (awesome) short stories later - that I can admit that to myself, commit to it, and do something about it.

In the past few months I've been dedicating myself wholeheartedly to writing. I created a horror movie review website called Movies in the Dark where I write reviews for all of the horror movies I watch. I've started a serialized fiction story called The Redburn Diaries, about a woman and the end of the world. I've been reworking and writing more of my idea for a novel called The Door. I'm reading two books on writing and joined a writing group. Things are going well.

Though the more I write and put myself out there, the more I am convinced that television and smartphone games are replacing books and reading. It seems that not many people carve the time out of their busy days to sit down and read a good story. Trying to be an aspiring writer today feels like opening a rotary phone shop next door to an iPhone store. But no, that's not going to stop me. I just so happen to love rotary phones.

My main focus right now is The Redburn Diaries, I'm only 6 entries in and foresee dozens more down the line, so I've got some work to do. Though I've started to encounter an unanticipated issue while writing the Redburn entries, it's that the place in my mind where it exists - it's just so damn dark there.

In the normal state of my mind I am sitting in a comfortable rocking chair in a ray of sun. I have a warm blanket, an endless cup of excellent coffee, a purring cat, and the best book I've ever read. I am content and calm, warm, but never sleepy. I am in a perpetual state of ease and light humor. But surrounding that ray of sun is complete darkness. In this darkness lies the most wicked beasts. This darkness breathes with dark alleys, haunted mansions, swamp monsters, possessed children, machete wielding madmen, sexual depravity, starvation, cannibalism, demons and so on. It's an endless sea of hell orbiting my perfect ray of light. I glimpse at them all, musing briefly and appreciating their evil but never touching it. In writing The Redburn Diaries, I not only touch it, I dive into it. I bathe within it. It shuts the blinds on my ray of sun and swallows me whole. There is no light.

It's hard to go on that journey because I'm not always in the mood to be there. And once there, my day is different. But, on the other hand I'm starting to be compelled to accompany Victoria on her journey through that wasteland. Together we will seek out that light in the darkness, and be comforted by it.

Posted 4.25.2012 7:18:33 PM

stef wrote:
i'm digging the redburn diaries, and glad you're pursuing your passions. i look forward to the day when you have your own book signing at powell's!

p.s. i also love rotary phones. i had an ancient one until it broke a few years ago. sadness ensued.
Posted 4/26/2012 2:55:34 PM
Tom wrote:
I don't think writing is going away. It's just changing. I read more now that I have a Kindle (which isn't saying much...). As a self-confessed writer, you get the wondrous duty of writing AND figuring out how to evolve your writing to keep pace with the way people are changing their reading habits. Lucky!

There's TONS of writing opportunities out there. Novels may not be as hot but TV, Movies, internet videos, comedians, politicians, and more all need writers!
Posted 4/26/2012 3:23:09 PM - Tom's website
Tom wrote:
*there're/there are
(I'm so embarrassed)
Posted 4/26/2012 3:25:47 PM - Tom's website
N@ wrote:
Um, I thought I was your best friend. Stupid Thesaurus. Just cause it sounds like a dinosaur doesn't make it cooler than me. No, wait - I just processed that statement, and yes - yes it does. Damn.
Posted 5/7/2012 1:02:47 PM
N@ wrote:
PS: How did you get Kitten to sit in the address bar? HOW?!?!?! Aaaaarrrrrggggg! Everywhere I go he's sitting there watching me and I can't touch him! His reach has extended to the interwebs!!! WHY!?!?!? Aaaaaaahhhhhhhh!
Posted 5/7/2012 1:05:25 PM
N@ wrote:
PSS: Thank you for letting me spew crazy all over your blog comments. I feel like a REAL blog commenter now. Wait...."GOD! Blah blah blah REPUBLICAN! I disagree with everything you say unless you're argreeing with me, and then I'm confused!" There. Better. I fit right in.

Feel free to delete all of this.
Posted 5/7/2012 1:09:16 PM
Doll wrote:
I pretty much just take all of your crazy comments on my blog to mean, "N@ WUZ HERE" written in wild spray painted graffiti. ;)
Posted 5/7/2012 1:22:43 PM
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