During the past four years, I have accomplished a great deal. I have also had several setbacks. From professional successes and failures to weight loss and injuries, I have run the physical, emotional and psychological gamut. I found my writing voice in this blog, I chronicled my fitness journey as I lost 60 pounds (gained 20 back), I regaled you with tales of the operating room as I endured two surgeries, including a major procedure on my back, and detailed my travel and running adventures. This past weekend, I accomplished a lifelong goal – I finished the rough draft of my first novel.
I have always wanted to write a book. Ever since I was a young student penning short stories for class creative writing assignments, I wanted to write a novel. Add that to my predilection for Gothic horror and vampire fiction and you have a recipe for my first book.
Writing has always come natural to me. I have never been afraid of a blank page or a blank screen. Writer’s block is something I’ve never known. I know that might make me sound like a braggart. Writing is not an easy thing, especially for most. But I won’t apologize for what I am able to do. I have been writing professionally in one capacity of another for more than 20 years. News, news features, sports, regularly scheduled columns, broadcast news and sports scripts, short stories, poetry – you name it, I’ve written it. But I have never attempted a novel. Well, 13 months and 59,000 words later I wrote the last words of what I hope to be my debut novel.
There was no doubt in my mind this was going to be a vampire tale. I only had a character in mind. There was no outline, no character sketches and no real plan. But there was plenty of Tullamore DEW Irish whisky and Deschutes Black Butte Porter beer. I took days and weeks off. I even would take a full month off. Sometimes life got in the way. Sometimes the story got stuck. But every time I came back to it, I fell right back in and was able to keep trucking.
Now comes the hard part. I sincerely hope that I can get it published. I have been looking into my options and the traditional route looks to be daunting and expensive. Publishing an e-book to Amazon Kindle is free and supposedly easy, but having a physical book on the market in book stores is my first choice. It’s funny. I own a Kindle Fire and I love it. But I use it more as a tablet and for movie viewing than I do reading. I acquire paper books at an alarming rate – I just wish I was buying the time to read them.
I’ve joined a few writers groups on Facebook, I’ve signed up for a few writers newsletters and I follow numerous authors, agents and publishing houses on Twitter. Hopefully, the connections I am making will assist me in going from unpublished aspiring author to published novelist. Regardless, as long as there are free platforms such as WordPress, I’ll keep writing and I hope you continue to read.
Throughout high school, I wondered what I would ever use later in life. Geometry, trigonometry, algebra? Social Studies? Meh. The drafting classes I wasted my time in? Science? I misguidedly wanted to be an engineer at one time. Earth science was fun, biology was okay, chemistry was too hard and I failed physics because my teacher was a wackaloon.
That’s what I took away from high school. I never went to college. But I did receive an education thanks to the United States Navy and your taxpayer dollars. I hate math but calculators help with that. Social studies and history help somewhat when it comes to understanding the world we live in, our government (well, at least up until Nov. 8 of last year) and how to avoid the mistakes of our forebears.
Reading and writing.
We use it every day. At least I do. It used to be you couldn’t order from a fast food menu without the ability to read but now all you have to do is speak the right number for what you want. You can’t apply for a job, do your taxes, buy or rent a car or a place to live, pay your bills, deal with all types of insurance, shop for food, clothing household items and sundries without the ability to read and write. Hell, in this social media, iMsg, SMS texting society, you have to have some rudimentary command of language – even if it’s just a bastardized, emoji (electronic hieroglyphs if you ask me) form of it. You don’t even know you’re reading when you’re doing it. Try driving somewhere without reading. You can’t do it. Try shutting off that part of the brain that tells you to read words when you see them. You can’t do it.
I’ve developed a passion for it. I love words and language and sentences and phrases and prose and stanzas and paragraphs and quatrains and cantos. I love books and magazines and newspapers and web sites and blogs. I love a good pamphlet and I used to read the dictionary when I was a kid.
I have favorite fiction authors and non-fiction writers and newspaper columnists and sports writers. I know several published authors, some of whom I know very well and count as friends. I have counted myself among some, and now I hope to count myself among the published authors.
I’m not sure what my next novel-length project will be. I have a few thoughts. A childhood memoir perhaps? An old Navy buddy’s dad was a nefarious, larger than life outlaw (for lack of a better term). Maybe I’ll craft that story. The only limit is my imagination, which means there are no limits.
When my story is published, in whichever form, I do hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.