I gave you a glimpse of the future with my Five Year Plan. I thought I’d end the week by taking you back in time and sharing my journey of self-discovery that led to me deciding to be a writer (thanks for the inspiration, Sean M.).
If you’ve read the About page here at Pens & Swords, you know that I “started writing” in the third grade. I wrote my first “serious” short story as a senior in high school, which I entered in a state competition (and lost). I knew then that I wanted to be a writer. However, stuck in the back of my head was the old warning that you can’t make a living as a writer. So, as I prepared to go off to college, I decided I would become an English teacher–yeah, I know, teachers really rake in the bucks–and write on the side. It was also around this time that I began the first incarnation of what would later become the opening novel in the Chronicles of Arunda trilogy.
Well, college was not what I expected. I ended up going to a community college instead of a four year school due to funds. It took me five years to finish. In that time, I bounced around majors from English to Education to Business Management. Finally, I just decided I needed to finish and get my Associates degree. I had been in the hotel industry for several years and figured I could make a career out of that. Who needed a Bachelor’s.
My writing was sporadic, I had met my wife, and we were getting married. She had read the first and only chapter of my novel and loved it (in fact, she still has a hard copy of that original manuscript). However, I had started to develop as a writer and saw a lot of flaws in both the plot and the characters. Some drastic revisions were in order.
A few years after getting married, I decided I needed a career change. Our hotel had just gone live with its first website, and I was designated as the Sales contact for updating the content. I wanted more. I wanted to be a web designer. So, I went to back to school.
I took a three month course from one of the local community colleges that covered a range of web skills. However, when I went to find a job, everyone wanted a candidate with a four-year degree. With no alternative, I enrolled in the graphic design program at Portland State University.
The department was still in its infancy and didn’t have a large focus on web design. I struggled through two and a half years of package and print design. During my junior year, one of my professors was kind enough to sit down with me and bring to my attention that it was obvious I wasn’t enjoying myself. I agreed and switched majors once more. I had gotten “A”s on every paper I had written in the last four years; I knew I could write and enjoyed it as a creative outlet much more than graphic design. I considered English, but would have had to take two full years of a foreign language to meet the necessary requirements. I still wanted to graduate in a year, so I decided on a General Studies degree.
Fears of not making enough money as a writer continued to haunt me, so I minored in Technical Writing. I took my first fiction workshop and saw my ability and productivity grow in leaps and bounds over the quarter. I also learned about the open call from Wizards of the Coast. I turned in my proposal, graduated, and three months later our son was born and I got that fateful call from Peter Archer.
In all, it took me over ten years to finally realize I was meant to be a writer and to pursue that career direction in my life. I’m not where I want to be yet, and here’s hoping it doesn’t take another ten years for me to get there.