How I got into writing

I got into writing by accident, but once I did I realized I’ve always been a storyteller.

It was about this time 4 years ago that I sat down and started writing my first book, Annihilation. I didn’t want to become a writer, I did it to figure out the self publishing process. My goal was to make the first timer mistakes on my own project so that I could do it right for a better writer.

One of the things I found intimidating when I was first getting involved was other peoples stories. There are so many people out there who have been writing all their lives and can’t imagine what they would do if they didn’t write. These people love books and post about grammar and plot structure.  I don’t think it was anyones intention to intimidate me, but as a math major who generally hated english class I didn’t think I was supposed to be writing. Other writers stories wound up reinforcing that belief.

As a kid I was always out playing. You name it, if it involved getting sweaty, dirty or injured I was going to try it. Sitting around and writing a story was not something that even occurred to me. Seriously if you have given 12 year-old me a notebook and told me to put whatever I want in it I would have used it as a base for kickball.

But I lied, a lot. They weren’t malicious lies and they were not just stories to get out of trouble. I would go off on bike rides by myself and see things that no one else could prove or disprove. Near car accidents, planes that almost crashed and rare animals darting across the road. I’m sure my stories went in one ear and out the other, but I made them up and told them anyway.

With six kids in my family, vacations were always within driving distance, and my parents like to drive so that was a pretty wide range. I didn’t like reading and I couldn’t sleep in the car (this was before cell phones and hand held electronics) so I would sit for hours, staring out the window, immersed in my own world. Most of those worlds are now gone because I never even imagined that it was okay for me to share them.

So fast forward to 2012 and my wife approaching me with a confession. She had been writing. It started with fanfic and morphed into novels. She wanted to take a weekend for herself and go to the local RWA conference. She had been reading up on pitching agents and submitting manuscripts to publishers and hoped this conference could help her with those things.

When she came home from the conference we were both introduced to self-publishing. It sounded like a viable approach but it felt like there were a lot of moving parts and plenty of opportunity for big mistakes. Since she had a full time job and I was a stay at home dad to three kids in school I dove into the research.

It didn’t take long to make a decision. There was no doubt in my mind that being an indie author was the way to go. But her story idea was so good and her writing so professional that I worried I would steer her wrong and ruin what she had written.

I had a story in my head, I used it at night to stop thinking about my to-do list, and decided I would write it down and publish it. No problem if it was terrible, because I would learn about each of the steps needed  to get a book from a word document to a Kindle screen. It took me a couple of months to write but when I was done I swapped stories with a critique partner, found an editor, hired a cover designer and taught myself about layout and formatting.

Going in my assumption was that I would like the process stuff and we would be a great team where she created and I published. But I LOVED getting the story out of my head and into a document. Getting lost in the world I created and caring so much about my characters was something I had never experienced as an adult and it just felt right. Writing turned out to be my delivery mechanism, but it was telling the story that mattered to me.

Four years later I have 8 novels and 4 novellas published. I have work in two anthologies and am in the middle of running my third sixth grade creative writing challenge. My hope is that each of my stories is well edited and professional, but for me the story is more important than the mechanics.

Writing wasn’t something I grew up doing or something I considered a part of who I am. I got into writing as an experiment,  but I keep writing because there are stories to tell.

How did you get into writing?

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