Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why I became a writer

I posed the question on Facebook earlier: What would you like to read about on my blog. So here you go Jennifer Lopez, this is why I became a writer.


The easiest answer to this question, and the one I’ll give first, is that I became a writer because I had to. It’s just something that’s always been inside of me, a compulsion to put ideas to paper and tell a story. Ever since I was old enough to read I’ve wanted to be an author. I’ve told stories for as long as I could remember, standing in front of my class in grammar school and making things up as I went along, or hanging out with my friends at the park or on camping trips and telling one ghost story or another. Most of those tales were recanted from books, but I twisted them, making them mine and adding characters. I loved scaring people, creating nightmares and putting vivid images in their minds. So yeah, the easy answer is that I just kind of had to be a writer. It’s who I am, what I do, and what I love.


The harder answer, and the one that’s much more detailed, starts back when I was around 8 years old. My father was a drunk, and he’d come home more times than not hammered off his ass. There would inevitably be some big fight with my mother that, more times than not, ended with my drunken father leaving the house with a flurry of curse words and slamming doors. I couldn’t put on music to mask the sounds of the fighting and threats because if he heard that I was awake he’d come into my room. I didn’t own headphones and there was no money to buy any, and to survive I had to pretend I was asleep. So no TV, no music, no noise of any kind.

That left me with books. I would grab something, climb under my bed, and read by flashlight. I’d lose myself in the worlds created by others, finding solace in their words and safety in the pages. Once my father left I’d climb back into bed and wait for my mother to come crying. I always hated that part the most, trying to comfort her when I was terrified myself. I knew nothing would be okay but I couldn’t let her know that. After she left I’d lay in bed and think about the story I had read before, changing it around and making it my own. I’d invent new stories based on what I read and get lost in them.

One day fate handed me a strange curveball. I loved horror, even as a little kid. I watched slasher movies on TV before dear old drunken dad came home. I’d rent them from the video store when my mother had the extra three dollars. I liked the idea of something that wasn’t my father scaring the shit out of me. Oddly enough it felt like I could defend myself against Freddy Kruger or Jason Vorhees more proficiently than I could protect myself from dad. It was during this period, when I was around eight years old and still trapped by the horrors at home, that I found a copy of Stephen King’s Pet Semetary. My cousin was going to sell it in a garage sale, but he gave it to me instead. It wasn’t kindness that enabled that gift, it was a black sense of humor. He thought the book would scare me to death and leave me scarred for life. Instead it got this whole train running.

I read the book. I was eight years old, working my way through an adult novel, one of the scariest written at the time. I poured over the pages, reading and re-reading it until I grasped it all. Never before had the words of someone resonated with me so clearly, the world Stephen King painted in my head crystal clear and terrifying as hell. Of course I couldn’t grasp the real horror of a parent losing their child, but to me Gage was just a dead kid doing horrible things, things I could actually fight and survive. I wondered what my father would do if I died. Would he bring me to tainted ground in the hopes of resurrecting me, or would he just sit in the bar like he did every night and bitch about my death like it was an inconvenience? To this day I would like to think the former, but know the latter.

Mr. King was the game changer. He gave me a way out of the miserable fucking life I lived. He was rich and successful. He was just as sick and twisted as I was, and yet he made a living off the darkness inside of him. It made a weird kind of sense to me. I loved to read. I loved to tell stories. I loved to create, write, and draw. I had a darkness inside of me that needed to get out. What better way to purge the demons from your soul than to inflict them on others? I could unleash the horror of my life on the world at large and in doing so, just maybe, heal some of my own hurt.

So I started to write. I used an old typewriter my aunt had left behind. I spent time every day after school working on short stories and trying my hand at longer pieces. They all sucked, but each one got a little better. I showed them to my friends and family. I handed them in as writing assignments. I asked my teachers for advice and criticism. I was never shy about what I wrote or the fact that I wrote. I was never embarrassed to hand my work off to someone because it always just felt right.

Over the years my hobbies changed, my interests matured, and my life grew more complicated. My parents got divorced. My father moved to North Carolina where he died drunk and alone about five years ago. My mother got remarried and had a family she could be proud of, which apparently didn’t include me. I got my own apartment, then my own house. I moved from job to job. Most of the things in my life changed, but writing has always been a part of it, one of the biggest and most important parts. It’s the only dream that never died, the one thing I have always been good at. The one thing I will always be proudest of.

Writing hasn’t made me rich like Stephen King. It hasn’t paid me enough to make a living…yet. But with every word I write I know I’m getting closer to that dream. Someday soon I’ll be making a living off my words, and more and more people will get to read them. And maybe someday, hopefully, those words will inspire a broken child and help them find their way through the darkness.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing some more of you with us, and how that magically twisted mind of yours came to be! I myself love getting lost in every book of yours that I read! Mr. King was also one of my first authors to read at a early age!! I cant wait to dive into the next twisted adventure you send my way!!