I wrote my first short story at eight years old. We had a small flock of Muscovy ducks– remarkably ugly and graceless animals. The drakes engaged in an odd behavior where they gathered in a circle, heads facing in, and hissed and bobbed their heads at each other. In my short story, these drakes were members of a secret cabal which absorbed all the news of the world every morning and ruled the world with their combined knowledge.
Enchanted with my idea but disappointed with its poor execution, I laid writing aside until thirteen years old. At that point, I realized no profession drew me like becoming an author. I drafted novel plots galore but could not figure out, again, how to satisfyingly execute my visions. Through my twenties I continued to dream of being an author. Life kept intervening–distracting me with incidentals like college, marriage, children, drama, poverty…
On the occasion of my twenty-eighth birthday, two things happened to change my perspective on writing. The first was that I turned twenty-eight. “Two years until I’m thirty,” I thought, “and I haven’t written a thing.” In concert with that realization, my brother gave me a birthday present. Stephen King’s book On Writing inspired me as no other writing guide before or since has. His gentle, wise, direct advice showed me the way into producing a novel.
Two of the things he said stay with me to this day. “Writers write,” he wrote. “If you write, you’re a writer.” And to paraphrase his corollary: Don’t set out to write the Great American Novel. Set out to write a certain number of bad words every day.
At twenty-eight years old, armed with the knowledge of my impending thirties and Stephen King’s kind advice, I wrote my first novel.
Fifteen years later, I’ve published Sage Courage, available on Amazon as we speak. Give it a browse and let me know what you think.