How I Got Here Part 2: Writing in a Vacuum
Posted on August 20, 2011
Earlier, I posted how my daughter inspired me to get back into writing. With this entry, you'll see how my desire to find acceptance of my work with other authors landed me back on the web.
I wrote GRAHAM THE GARGOYLE, NORTON THE VAMPIRE and PAUL THE PILLOW MONSTER in 2000, 2001 and 2003 respectively. They were self-published and limited to small print runs that have since sold out. GRAHAM and NORTON were illustrated, while PAUL was my first straight prose piece. They sold well at library visits and comic shows, even garnering some nice online reviews at the time.
One of my favorite authors from my childhood was Piers Anthony. His Xanth novels were my first exposure to the concept of patchwork fantasy worlds and word play. I gobbled down his books and can say his writing had a huge influence on me in my teenage years. When I published my earlier novels, I had sent Piers copies of the books. He read them and said very nice things about each on his website.
Because of this, I would frequently check on Piers' website for his monthly newsletter posts, even years after his posts about my work. I stumbled upon his review of Keith Robinson's book, ISLAND OF FOG. At the mention of children being able to transform into magical creatures and the post-apocalyptic setting (two of my absolute faves), I slipped on over to www.unearthlytales.com and checked out Keith's site. Impressed with his posts and the synopsis of the book, I ordered ISLAND from Amazon. After reading it, I decided to use it as a read aloud with my class. They loved it! Excited by their enthusiasm, I had them write letters and send art to Keith. We sent the package off and were pleasantly surprised to see Mr. Robinson had posted all their letters and art on his site.
Now, writing is very rewarding. It stirs something in me that is joyous and liberating. But, it's also very lonely. I reached out to Keith, hoping to find someone who would be a kindred spirit, someone who knows what it's like to put pen to paper and concoct a scene with a talking dragon podium that wants to be the center of attention. Yep, that's still one of my favorite little bits from PAUL THE PILLOW MONSTER.
I began corresponding with Keith, sending him copies of my early efforts. It became evident our writing interests were very similar and we started sending each other our projects to look over. In addition, I also read ISLAND OF FOG to my next class, and we again wrote Keith letters. All the while, Keith and I kept up our friendship and mutual respect for each other's creations through phone calls, e-mails and even a joint vacation to the mountains of Asheville that was a real hoot!
His friendship and authorly camaraderie means a great deal to me. He became my first beta-reader outside of my eagle-eyed wife and sister. I have had the privilege of looking over three of his books as well and it has been a joy. It's amazing what you learn about your writing when you are trying to offer insight and edits to another scribe. He has made me a sharper writer and helped me to become energized about pushing my creations further into the public eye and hopefully onto the desk of a discerning agent.
The site you see before you is all his. He executed it, and I am very indebted to him. I hope I can make him proud. If my posts are half as interesting as his, I'll consider this site a success.
Up Next: What's on my plate?