Looking back, I’ve always tried to write. Sometimes, I attempted to write stories. I spent quite a bit of ink in high school trying to write an epic novel about a bunch of teenagers who get transported to another world where they have to fight a fantasy war against an evil sorcerer. It was bad.
Sometimes my writing took the form of letters, most unsent. They were tools for working out my teenage and college angst. I even tried to write out some of my experiences in a prosaic format in what amounted to an attempt to get my bearings in the story that is my life.
When I’ve had something critically important to say, I turn to written words. When I had to confront a boss, I did it in writing. On two different occasions, when the time came to offer my love to a woman, I used letters. Both letters, by the way, were met with the expected response and one ultimately led to my marriage to Alissa. (Can’t argue with results, huh?).
As much as the written word has acted as a sort of Pensieve that allows me to work out my thoughts, I’ve also dabbled in fiction. It started as writing back stories for roleplaying game characters. Interestingly, I used a couple of back stories to start my first (never completed) attempt at National Novel Writing Month. I like the starts that I got, but both characters happened to be female and I don’t think I’m a strong enough writer to carry a novel-length story with a female protagonist, at least not yet.
Then, last year, Alissa suggested that I just write what I know. So I did. I started one story, and that inspired another, which in turn inspired a third. I don’t know what I’m going to do with these stories. They’re reflections on my formative high school and college years. I’m not sure why, except I’ve hit a stage in life where there’s plenty to look back at. Moreover, my kids, as they grow and develop in their own ways cause me to look forward to what is ahead for them and back at my own experiences.
Here’s the funny thing. It took me a long time to realize something when trying to write what I know.
I can make the story fiction. I can tell the story that makes sense from a narrative point without the constraints of what actually happened. It seems like a silly revelation, but there it is.
I don’t know if the fiction I’m working on is ever going to see the light of day, but it’s fun to work on them even if only as an exercise.