I’ve written about how I write. I’ve sampled my writing. I’ve even tried to give pointers and advice to help you write. But I haven’t delved too deeply into what drives me to put pen to paper.
My mother went into rehab when I was five or so and continued a trend of bouncing in and out for years. She worked as an exotic dancer on and off until my junior year of high school. My half-brother and half-sister lived with my step-dad (their dad, who I plan on writing about as well), and he was full of spit and fire even when he was clean, which happened less and less. My father was a drunk who was married to a bi-polar drunk and when they weren’t beating the shit out of each other, they were running from the law for beating the shit out of each other or in jail for beating the shit out of each other.
None of them touched me, aside from a brief period when I was young where my step-dad thought spanking was appropriate. It shifted not long after to periods of standing in the corner for time-out. My grandparents, once I lived with them, favored restriction. That’s a fancy pants term for grounding the hell out of me, for anybody unfamiliar with that.
After a series of brutal sinus infections when I was young, I was left with sleep apnea and had to get tymponostomy tubes to go from being mostly deaf to partially deaf. I had a bowl cut until I was in 7th grade. I’ve had corrective lenses since 4th grade. I had braces throughout middle school and into my freshman year. In 6th grade, I was forced to either join the gifted program again (I dropped out due to lack of interest the previous five years) or join band or orchestra and stay in for the full year. My friend Eric begged me to play the flute so he wasn’t the only male flutist. He and I became the best in our age group in the state for three years. I’ve loved Spider-Man since I was 4 years old.
What I’m trying to say is I got picked on a lot. I got snubbed by girls because I was shy around them. People made fun of me physically, they made fun of my bookishness, they made fun of my love for comic books (and now The Avengers is the 3rd highest grossing film of all time, go fucking figure), they made fun of my desire to learn and my tendency to score well on tests. I developed a tendency to be kind of a smart-ass, which occasionally landed me in fights that I sometimes won but sometimes didn’t. I learned early on to make friends with the meanest and biggest kids and then have nothing to do with them until I needed them. I learned the art of subtle revenge and the brutality of a perfectly timed public revenge. I liked none of it.
I couldn’t escape from it at home. When I wasn’t with my grandparents, it was drugs and alcohol and arguments all around me. When I was with my grandparents, I was worried about my siblings or my dad would call me and get more slurred during the conversation. Or my mom would call me and tell me for the hundredth time that she had been “clean for three weeks”. It was always three weeks. I have no idea why. It was all this cloud of shit that I couldn’t escape and I had very few friends I could trust to talk to and even fewer who could really understand.
I grew depressed. I felt alone and insecure. I felt ashamed of my appearance and my intelligence and j felt untalented. I thought about suicide a lot and came close to it a few times. I got shitfaced in a bookstore parking lot in the middle of the night once with the intention of wrapping myself around a nearby pole. A friend…well, former friend, called me out of the blue because she had a feeling I was in a bad place. She drove all the way across town to talk me out of it, hold my hand while I cried and take me home.
I’ve never told anyone that story.
I read a lot. I read voraciously. Mostly fiction, mostly fantasy but I was down for horror and science-fiction and anything that took me away from my life and my lonliness and my mind. R.L. Stine, JK Rowling and KA Applegate turned into Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman, Orson Scott Card and Stephen King with a quickness. I played Dungeons and Dragons and an online text-based Dragonlance role playing game. I’ve read probably thousands of novels of all kinds of genres.
It was the only way I could escape, and if I didn’t have that, I would have died. I needed adventure. I needed heroes and villains that could be vanquished. I needed majestic monsters and beautiful worlds and incredible technologies and magics. I needed things to stop being so fucking real all the time.
A side effect of this was a desire to write. I wrote a lot of bad poetry back then and some silly short stories. I didn’t know what to do with them, and I never considered back then turning it into a career. My senior year of high school, I wanted to do something for my best friend, so my buddy Skyler and I co-wrote a 40k word romantic-comedy novella that, eight years later, I still need to polish and put up for sale.
It wasn’t until 2010 or 2011 that I took writing seriously. I had just been fired from a job I enjoyed because of illegal mistakes I made that I had no justifiable reason to have made. I lost most of my friends, definitively lost a girl I loved, had to move from Los Angeles to a couch in Seattle. I was not only broke but deep in debt and accruing more because of medical issues and no insurance. Hell, I accidentally (mildly. I just became severely dehydrated and had some heart palpitations, stomach cramps, chest pains and nausea) overdosed with a terminal-cancer-patient-level painkiller that I took with a friend because he was going through a divorce and he needed a friend to help him “take the edge off”.
I was in a really bad place again, and this time it was all my fault.
My friend got me a temp job testing video games. It was awesome, but it was tedious. They had access to a computer though, and one night I was rifling through my still-packed bags and found the first three chapters of a story I had written during the two months I willingly allowed myself to be used as a rebound until I got alcohol poisoning, blacked out and almost died in the woods.
It’s been an interesting ride.
Anyway, I took those three chapters to work and typed them up, rewriting them where it was appropriate. I worked out a full outline and, with the aid of some heavy duty cough syrup I was taking for a severe bronchial infection, wrote a 184,000 word beast of a novel. Waypoint, first book in the Convergence trilogy (and available for sale here, here, and here).
I released it tentatively to solid reviews from friends and family. With tremendous anxiety, I put it up for sale to the public with a five day free promotion during which it was downloaded almost 2,000 times. It went well. The sales are slow, but the feedback is good.
I began writing Waypoint and treating the story seriously because I fucked up everything else. And when I realized that reading wasn’t going to cut it as an escape for me that time, I decided to make a story of my own. One I could control. And one that hopefully could be an escape for someone else.
Looking back and seeing how much reading has protected me from and helped me get through, what reading has opened my eyed to and inspired me with…I wanted to do the same thing for others. I wanted people to be able to pick up my books and just stop stressing for a little while. Stop hurting. Stop fuming. Stop crying.
Stop all that and start hoping again. Finding strength again.
Since the first book was released, I have had people tell me that I convinced them to like a genre they usually had no time for. I’ve had people go from hating a character in the first book to loving them in the second. I’ve had people tell me that I’ve inspired them to start reading again. I’ve had people tell me I’ve inspired them to finally start writing the projects they’ve spent years only thinking of.
One man bought my book because he’s my friend. He’s now using it to help deal with the severe dyslexia he’s struggled with all of his life.
All of those things are why I write. Because men and women before me decided they wanted to open up the minds of people and transport them elsewhere, and when they did that, it saved me.
And I know, I just know that there are boys and girls and men and women out there who are struggling and hurting and thinking of giving up. I want to be able to entertain them long enough that they remember just how strong they are.