I wasn’t an avid reader in my youth. Don’t get me wrong, I liked to read books, I just wouldn’t consider myself widely read. What got me telling stories was sitting around kitchen tables playing Dungeons and Dragons.
I started off as a bit player. The older kids had a regular game and one of them couldn’t show up. I was just the annoying little dweeb that wouldn’t go home, and some how I wound up spending the rest of the day fumbling around with a half-elven magic user and bugging the crap out of the rest of the group as they tried to explain the rules. By the end of that first session I don’t think I had a handle on what I was doing, but I knew there was something there I wanted more of. I loved being given the opportunity to be part of the adventure. After a few more tries I made my first ham-handed attempt at running the game. My first story had little in the way of plot but there was a dungeon and there was a dragon, the heroes prevailed and so I guess three out of four wasn’t bad for a preteen with a fist full of dice.
It all sort of ballooned from there. I spent the larger portion of my formative years geeking out with what ever game could be found. Fantasy, western, spy thriller, science fiction, super heroes; if you can name a genre I have been an active participant in a story of that fashion. My compatriots and I got to spend any number of afternoons describing as a group the various adventures of a universe full of protagonists.
My earliest writings that I found satisfying were in a journal that I kept as a way to pass the time while I was homeless and hitchhiked my way from state to state. It was a way to keep sane, my own little piece of mental real estate. It wasn’t my first diary, but it was the first where feel I was writing creatively. Not necessarily fiction, but lets just say that my life as a vagabond looked a lot more interesting on paper.
It was also the first journal I let anyone else read.
It’s a big step to let the general public into your head space. Let them read the things you think about in the dead of night, in the middle of the woods, with no one around but the crickets chirping at you. In a way that journal was the first step towards blogging.
I was dedicated to that journal, I wrote in it everyday (except for the time it went to Jamaica and back without me) until the swampy environs of Florida caused it to molder and rot apart. It’s so hard to have nice things when you’re a vagrant.
There is only so much rough living a body can take, so it does become useful to reenter society. The upside of networking from scratch to obtain lodgings and a source of income is very time-consuming, and my relationship with writing became a little more erratic while I reestablished myself. All the socializing this required did allow me to bring together a rag-tag group of people interested in adventure games. This kept the stories flowing, gave me a chance to develop some skills, work on technique. A well thought out game is some times a lot of paperwork, a lot of writing.
My character sketches were becoming more like narratives, my plot lines more elaborate I was getting good at it. I started penning out a story, well technically typing but you get the idea. It was a nice piece of fantasy fiction. It was going well I thought. Somewhere along the way I became a drunk. In hindsight, I’m pretty sure it was a preexisting condition.
I got distracted. I forgot to write one day, then I forgot another day. Sometimes I would forget for weeks at a time. Then came a day when, in a fit of inebriated shame and depression I deleted the contents of my hard drive. A few years of drinking later and I can’t say I remember many of the details of the story.
Sobriety isn’t a second chance. Sobriety does make second chances possible, that’s what I have to believe anyway. At any rate if you want something you have to pursue it. I decided some years ago that I would like to be a writer. I failed in this endeavor the first time around. Now I’m ready to try again, and that’s not the only thing I’m taking a second shot at.
I couldn’t say if I aspire to write for a living. For now that point is moot, we’re not there yet. I am at best and out of practice amateur, getting some practice in, needing to keep these ideas from boiling over in his head. At worst I am grasping at straws, just searching for focus, a way to replace the booze. Either way I suppose it’s either try writing or go crazy.
For now I settle for writing, I’ll always have crazy to fall back on.