But life got in the way. I wrote poetry in high school and went to young writers workshops. People said they liked my poetry, but I didn’t see anything special in what I wrote. I wrote essays and commentary that I liked, but my attempts at short stories or prose sounded awful. After high school I enlisted in the navy, still wrote some poetry, and kept notes for an epic fantasy series (that I never tried to write). I got married (and divorced) but still never got serious about writing.
I made copious notes in science fiction settings to explore in a connected universe (before Marvel). Over a decade, I dreamt up at least six full notebooks of worlds but never wrote about them. Even after I left the navy, I just couldn’t keep my butt in the chair to discover what might be possible. What I did was a hobby, nothing to compare with actual writers.
All along, there was a smoldering fire in my belly when I’d read someone else’s story. Anyone can critique another writer’s efforts on the page. As years dragged on I grew convinced that I could do what they did. I might even be better at writing than some of the stories I’d read. Still, I had a child, health problems, and more than enough excuses not to write more than a few notes here and there.
In 2017 that changed. There were no more excuses, my son was growing up, my wife and I were older, and my health was stable for a while. I dove into an old notebook and wrote my first short story. It wasn’t short, more of a novella, but I didn’t know that yet. Nothing Ventured, and it’s second half, Nothing Gained, were soundly rejected, rewritten and rejected again. In frustration, I self published a couple of short stories. They were terribly written, but I was sure that couldn’t have been the issue.
At some point it occurred to me to change gears, and I wrote the first version of what would become Fantastic America: The Magic Unleashed. Over the three and a half years it has taken me to finish the book, I also wrote a series of short stories set along side them. They helped me define the world, hone my craft, and become a more confident, more capable writer.
F/A is done, edited, and polished as far as I can take it at the moment. I’ve outlined and partially written three more books in the series. The smoldering fire in my belly all those years has flared up. My only regret is that it took me so long to get serious, to put in the time and effort to improve my craft to reach this point. Now I’m excited to continue the journey.