I tell people it started when I was 12 years old. My parents gave me a typewriter to keep me busy. I wasted so much paper writing down random “blog” posts, pretend news articles and of course short stories. At 12 I tried my had writing my first novel, Cyber Wars. It was a dystopian science fiction story about a war being waged with giant mechs but it was different than the others, it was corporate not political. Even at 12 years old I knew a corporation could take over the world easier than a hostile government.
The truth is my writing began much earlier than that. Even as far back as pre-school age I was crafting stories. I used to delight, and bewilder my close family with tales I would weave. Sometimes I’d write one down in a notebook once I developed the skill to do so. I was reading books in Kindergarten that were at 4th grade level. By the time I was in 5th grade I could read college level books. I never stopped reading back then. I read novels, textbooks, books on psychology, books on religion, sociology and more.
I got my first taste of writing for others while in 6th grade. We had a class newspaper and apparently my essay writing was good enough they gave me a column in the paper. It was amazing seeing my name in print. Sure it was a name I now disown but at the time I was happy to get that byline.
It wasn’t a very good article though. Just a weekly recap of what happened on the most recent episode of the Transformers cartoon. This was the Generation Two era so it was a sloppy cartoon. Nonetheless I was allowed to write six of those column and I was so proud of them. At 12 I was proudly boasting I am a published writer.
Okay I was loose with the word published but I stood by being a writer. I worked hard honing my craft over the next several years. From age 13 until about 27 I worked tirelessly on another novel, Nova Star, I also never finished. This was a fantasy novel that more or less ripped of my favorite D&D campaigns with a lot of borrowing from video game RPGs. Or stealing depending on how you look at it. The novel got about mid way written before I lost interest. The story didn’t resonate with me any more.
Oh I have tons of unfinished works of fiction lying around in digital files. Will they ever become finish works, maybe in time. I have one novel I have completed. It’s a horror/thriller about a man who loses his wife and devolves into a serial killer as a result. I borrowed heavily from my own traumatic experiences for inspiration, sprinkling some slasher movie elements and eventually finished it last summer. I stopped editing it because I began transitioning and realized the book I wrote was written by a transwoman who clearly hated men and wanted to hurt them. My story doesn’t work anymore so it needs tweaking.
IN high school I was given a chance to prove my writing chops once and for all. The assignment was simple enough, pretend you are facing death and write what your final thoughts would be before the lights go out. The teacher was so convinced my letter was a suicide not he turned it into the authorities. After an investigation showed I in fact was not suicidal he gave me an A+ on the assignment and the school district told him he was forbidden to repeat that assignment ever again. That was the most validating day in my childhood for my writing. If my essay was so convincing the police were concerned, I was a writer no bones about it.
By the time I finished, not completed mind you, my formal college education I knew being a writer was going to be a part of my future. Sure, I still had aspirations to be a film maker and do other things I haven’t entirely pursued properly, but I settled on writer.
Sure my first job in the news business was video editor, I was still given the task of writing headlines for the show and coming up teases. It wasn’t much but it allowed me to be creative and get my writing chops professionally. I used that experience to somehow talk my way into a staff writer position at a small town local community newspaper in North Central Texas. That first paper that came out I was so proud of it I was in tears. I couldn’t believe it here I was a full time, professional writer. It was also, at the time, the best paying job I had ever had.
It didn’t take long before my writing aspirations grew larger than that small town. So I moved up in the world to the daily newspaper. I made the most of my time there. I wrote articles for our flagship paper but also our side magazines, our weekly subsidiary papers and of course I kept my website going along side all of this.
Today I sit here looking back and I don’t need validation I am a writer. I don’t need to work for a company that lists writer as a part of my job title or even the job description. I know I am a writer because I write. Plain and simple. And I love it tremendously.