Tag Archives: Writing inspiration

A Change in Perspective

A long time ago, at the dawn of the personal computing age, I dreamed of being an author. Toward the end of high school and through college, I wrote a few short stories, started a novel or two, and even wrote the opening scenes of a screenplay. I didn’t get published; Hell, I didn’t even try. I didn’t finish my books or screenplay. And yet I still dreamed of seeing my words, my thoughts, my stories in print and on bookstore shelves.

Life happened. The writing dream faded into the mists, a whim of childhood, replaced by the day-to-day grind. Career. Responsibility. Family. Debt. Promotion. Work more. House. Kids.

And no spare time.

Looking back, though, I realize it wasn’t a lack of time that kept me from pursuing my dream. No, it was a lack of commitment, of passion. Every once in a great while, my wife would ask me about writing, usually when I was grumping about this or that. She’d never forgotten what I wanted to be even though I had. When she broached the subject, I’d cringe and grouse that I’d used up all my words at work. Which, in a way, was true. I’d poured more than my daily allotment of meaningful words into meetings, emails, various technical documents, and random corporate discourse. At least, that’s what I told myself.

Years passed. Within the corporate gearworks, we speculated about our executives and what they would do when they hit forty. If they bought a motorcycle, it meant that they realized they’d reached the highest position they’d ever attain and accepted it. Otherwise, they’d buckle down, work harder, and grasp that next rung on the ladder.

Then I hit forty. Six months later, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. For the next five months, I split my days between being in the office and in the hospital with her, taking conference calls and checking emails from the waiting room to keep my projects on track.

She passed away in May. I left the company the first week in June.

Nothing makes you evaluate Life more than Death. So I did. After being in the corporate world for so long, though, I was trained to think a certain way—to get back into my field, to earn that paycheck, to resume that proverbial climb up the ladder. As I sat at my desk polishing my resume with all the vim and vigor of a sun-dried lemming for that inevitable plunge into the IT job market, I knew there had to be more. I didn’t want to return to a tedious world of cube farms and perimeter-lined offices, meetings scheduled to talk about meetings, and the humdrum slog making software widgets. My mom worked until she received her diagnoses and didn’t get to enjoy her retirement. I still had twenty plus years to grind away. Did I really want to strap on the yoke of the corporate overlords again? Hell no.

I glanced at the crammed bookshelves lining my wall. Fantasy novels. Stories of elves, dwarves, and dragons. Of knights and wizards. Of magic and chaos. Of good versus evil, light versus dark.

And in that moment, I remembered. Long ago, I wanted to be writer. It hit me hard and fast—the inspiration, the direction, the passion. Lost to the dream, I told my wife what I wanted to do. She and the kids supported my decision without hesitation. And so a writer was born.

The fact that I didn’t know how to write a novel really didn’t matter. I would learn thanks to David Farland’s classes and a strong, helpful writing community. But that’s a story for another post.

Finding Courage in a Harsh World

Many stories, from mystery to science fiction and fantasy have inspired and awed me. But my road to writing has been a tough and painful one. It wasn’t so much inspiration I needed as the courage to overcome an environment that discouraged reading, let alone writing for a living. One author gave me that courage.

Imagine growing up in a family where reading was never encouraged and was viewed as being lazy. Where farm chores and homework were the priorities. My father occasionally read westerns and Archie comics and then only after we were in bed. My mother just read recipes. Now, imagine the frustrations of a child whose imagination is so taken by the Dick_and_Janerich worlds in books that she wants to write but must suppress that desire and limit it only to school assignments.

What did I love to read? I still remember Dick and Jane’s antics in the grade one picture books –  “See Dick run. Run Dick run!’ – those first words excited my tiny heart and showed me the power of words on paper. Then came rhyming and Dr. Seuss filled my world – “One fish two fish, red fish blue fish’. nancy drewBy grades five and six, I was sneak reading the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys on the bus ride home – a book a day. Somewhere in junior high school, I discovered science fiction, fell in love with it and then got into trouble with teachers because my imagination and verbosity were greater than assignments demanded. When I took a degree in English and drama, I had relatives who shunned me for years.

Perhaps I should have quit then and for a few years life took over and I almost did. But I always dabbled and always loved reading. So, what changed? What gave me the courage to write and to overcome all the discouraging influences? Where did I find the confidence to achieve my goal of mastering and communicating in my second language? Oh yes, English isn’t my first language and throughout my life, I’ve had a desire to master it and rarely feel I have. Yet, one book, one writer gave me the courage to pursue my dream wholly – to throw myself into it with a modicum of hope to succeed. I owe my courage to J.K. Rowling.

Harry_Potter_and_the_Philosopher's_StoneWhen I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, I thought that if she could do it, so could I!”. Her life story, her courage to write and  her perseverance to find a publisher were the inspiration I needed. Since then, I’ve written many wild tales. I can write! My childhood desire to engage in worlds so far removed from reality, to master their voices and breathe life into them in words not my own has blossomed!

Which authors inspire me today? They all do as do the readers who buy their books. Everyone who has the courage to pen their imaginations, to give life to new worlds and voices, and to all our readers who encourage us, I give you my heartfelt thanks.

Cheers and happy writing (and reading too)!