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Monday, February 13, 2012

ORIGINS blogfest

Okay, this is a really cool idea. Co-hosted by DL Hammons (Cruising Altitude 2.0), Katie Mills (Creepy Query Girl), Alex J. Cavanaugh, and Matthew MacNish (Quintessentially Questionable Query Experiment), the idea is to post your own origin story:

Tell us all where your writing dreams began.  It could be anything from how you started making up stories as a child, or writing for the school newspaper, or even what prompted you to start a blog.  How about stories about the first time somebody took an interest in your writing, or the teacher/mentor that helped nudge you along and mold your passion, or maybe the singular moment when you first started calling yourself a writer.  It all started somewhere and we want you to tell us your own, unique, beginnings. 


For my origin story, I'd have to look back to my last year of high school. A voracious reader and definite sci-fi/fantasy/horror geek, I was nevertheless headed down a science-oriented career path. The dreamer in me wanted to be either an archaeologist or paleontologist, digging up the secrets of yesterday and discovering the lost treasures of history/pre-history. The realist in me, however, was resigned to being stuck in a lab somewhere, most likely as a chemist or physicist.

As much as I had always thought it would be cool to be a best selling novelist someday, I hadn't really thought  of it as something that was ever likely to happen. Fortunately, I had an amazing History / Political Science teacher who really leaned on me to improve my essay writing skills, and who pushed me to interject more creativity into things. He kept lamenting the fact that I wanted to waste my time with math and science, when he could see I had a writer within in me. It's odd, but 2 years of History and Political Science with him probably taught me more about writing than a lifetime of English classes.

Anyway, enter my high school English teacher. It was a Friday, the final day of submissions for the high-school writing competition, and he asked me if I intended to enter anything. I honestly hadn't given it any thought, and I told him as much. He refused to take 'no' for an answer and urged me to come up with something over the weekend. Once again I got the "don't waste your talent" speech. If I could get something into him before first period Monday morning, he'd take it as a late entry. I had no idea where to even begin, but I took the challenge and spent the weekend writing.

What I came up with was a comic/satiric piece of medieval fantasy. Much to my surprise, it took first place in the contest, and gave me a much-needed boost of confidence . . . plus a small cash prize. I took what I learned from that experience, revised and polished the story, and submitted it to a few literary contests over the summer. While I didn't win, I was named as a semi-finalist in one, and that was pretty much the final nail in the science-as-a-career-path coffin.

It would be five more years before my first professional sale to Parsec magazine, but for the first time time I really knew what I wanted to do with my life . . .

12 comments:

  1. A contest win and cash. Now, that's a great way to start your writing dream. I wish nothing but success for your writing dreams, Roland

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  2. Now that's motivation - taking first place!
    Thanks for participating in the blogfest.

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  3. Contests are a great way to boost confidence and encourage writers! They are also a great way to get disappointed too, of course, if you don't win. Glad yours was a success story!

    Allison (Geek Banter)

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  4. Love how contests have inspired so many of us to write. Glad to find your blog.

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  5. I so thrilled to read about another writer who was encouraged by a teacher. Nice to know your origins.

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  6. OK, now I'm getting creeped out...a sci-fi/fantasy geek with a scientific bent, and an interest in archaeology, who almost didn't become a writer. I'm looking in a mirror :)

    OK, sounds like you got started a lot sooner in life than I did, but all the same...

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  7. Looks interesting here, the title lured me in as well as the Origins blogfest.

    I'm now following. Nice to meet you. Will be back to have another look around.

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  8. Yay for SF/F geeks! And so wonderful that you had great teachers to encourage you to develop your writing skills. Interesting you learned more from a History and Political Science teacher than from English classes! well, maybe not so strange since i've learned more from bloggers than from all the books and conferences and workshops combined. Great to meet you - new follower.

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  9. It's so great to receive those early validations of your talent! They don't come to all of us. Great story! :)

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  10. That is a motivating way to start a writing career. Bravo. Great story. I have a question. How did you put the blogger or google (not google plus) icon on your blog that when a person clicks on it- it takes them to a page to follow your blog? I did it (and I signed on to follow you where it says "follow me" with the pictures. That is what I always see on blogs, but I have never seen it the additional way that you have it. Thank you. You can email me at sugarlaw67@yahoo.com or leave me a message on my blog if you don't mind sharing it.

    I am a new follower from the origins blogfest. I love your blog setup.

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  11. Don't you just love those English teachers? They seem to be able to sniff out the talented ones pretty easily :)
    Great to meet you on this blogfest.

    your newest follower,
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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  12. Wow! inspiring story keep it up just listen to your heart and make lots of inspiring story.:)

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