Every writer has a story of inspiration as to how they took up the desire to become an author. In the article that follows I share my origin…
Of Freshman English and C.S. Lewis
I’ve been interested in writing ever since an English assignment back in 9th grade in which Mrs. Collins asked us to write a paragraph using a lot of detail. I’m not sure if I completely understood the assignment but I wrote a scene in a bank where a guy was coming out of the bathroom and witnessed a robbery in progress. The detail portion came in when the witness described the robber to the police. I don’t recall the grade I got on it but I’m sure it was good because I decided then that I wanted to be a writer.
Between 1982 and 2005, I made several attempts to write a story. It was my goal to write the great American novel, you know the one that everyone wants to own and read. My first attempt was a murder mystery called Mansion Murderer. I co-wrote it with my best friend, Garry. Actually in truth, he wrote it from ideas that I fed him and the end product was more convoluted than the mystery itself. I had in mind a traditional Agatha Christie mystery, but I’m not sure what he had in mind. Anyway I attempted to rewrite it without success.
Having read the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis and all fantasy books by David Eddings, I took a stab at Fantasy with minimal success. Even tried my hand at Science Fiction with a couple of buddies while I was in college. The bottom line was I lacked discipline and the desire to stick with any one project. That all changed in 2005.
The Casebook of Charlie Chan
In early 2005 I began to write The Askinar Towers, an idea inspired by John DeChancie’s series Castle Perilous, using my daughters as the main characters. I had once made a vow that I would write a story for each girl, one a year, until a certain age and I would present those stories to them. My first daughter was born in 1998 and nothing came of my promise until the Towers story. I had decided just to write one book with them as my MCs.
In the meantime I had created a blog called The Casebook of Charlie Chan to support fandom for the Charlie Chan movies. I posted articles, photos, and interviews on the blog plus spotlighted certain actors and actresses that appeared in several films. For the month of October I hit upon the idea of featuring virtual haunted houses that were in abundance on the Internet. I used Don Knotts’ character, Barney Fife, as the host and would feature one haunted house a week.
A Girl and Her Haunted House
One of the first houses I came across was a place called Spooky Street run by a girl named Dana who lived in Ohio. She featured a librarian named Sorcha and a hearse that you can “use to drive up and down the street”. So through e-mails with her, I got to “borrow” the hearse for a ‘patrol car’ for Barney Fife and used the Tor Johnson character, Lobo, as his driver. Each week I would have an exchange with Barney and Charlie Chan about the haunted houses. The whole experience was a lot of fun!
Dana and I developed a strong friendship as we realized we were both writers. She introduced me to the National Novel Writing Month website (NaNoWriMo) and encouraged me to join. So I looked over the site and signed up!
NaNoWriMo and The Trilogy
The NaNo Challenge during the month of November is to write a story of 50K words from November 1st through November 30th. Naturally this is only a first draft and will not go straight to the bookshelf from here (that’s a whole separate article). This writing challenge taught me discipline and striving towards a deadline. The drawback though is that I haven’t maintained that discipline through the rest of the year.
In November of 2005 I began, or rather restarted, my Askinar Towers book. The goal was 50,000 but my personal goal was to do half that just to give me something to shoot for. I had most of the book in mind but had no idea how long it would be. By 2007, I decided in order for this story to avoid my personal slush pile I would transform it into a trilogy. With that in mind, most of what I had written in 2005 would make up book one and then I move on to write the foundation for book 2 in 2007 and book 3 in 2009.
That’s just the first half of my writing origins. I’ll share the other half in the near future. One of the primary reasons I write is to share my stories with the world. I don’t have any real desire to become the next Stephen King or Terry Pratchett, though if I do I won’t complain. I just want my stories to be read and enjoyed by everyone.
So what’s your origin? How did you become a writer and what drives you to continue to do so today? Share your stories in the comments below.