Friday, January 21, 2011

A pathetic statement of mission

I'm a judgmental reader. For that reason, I'm a judgmental writer. To know if you are too, just look at anything you wrote a few years ago or earlier. Do you cringe?

When I first sat down twenty odd years ago to write my first fiction novel, I did it because on my high school graduation night, my senior English teacher walked past us and looked up at me on the bleachers and said, "Kevin, I will be reading one of your books one day." Now, before you go thinking how fuzzy that would make you feel, let me say this; four years later, when I came back to town and a friend and I visited her at the high school, I said, "I finished my first book." She said, "Really?" I said, "Yep; after what you said on graduation night I figured I should get started and just kept at it and finished one." She said, "What did I say?" I told her. She said...

"I don't remember that."

I felt like a shiny, pretty, Superman-shaped balloon that had been let go to float away, slowly deflate... maybe land in a waste-treatment facility.

Anyhow, in spite, I kept writing. And because I was always interested in writing, I read. I read just to read, and I read about writing. Hell, I wrote about reading. Look at me! I'm writing about writing!

I'm not a famous author but one should ask: how many authors started out famous? How many rejections did authors like Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien face? I'm published as a newspaper reporter; the newspaper was so small that my first check, for $80, bounced on the first try. Had to come back a couple days later and try again. How is this type of struggle different from those authors that fought from zero to become great? And what is great to you? Is it the money? Fame? Freedom?

Since then, I've written mostly non-marketable opinion and humor stuff. Now I have a few books written that vary in "genre," if we must; sci-fi, humor, contemporary. Meh. The advice books tell you to never switch genres; to figure out what you want to write and stick to it (or, if you insist on switching, be prepared to have to win repeat customers all over again).

What I think I best represent is two-fold; I represent the spirit of the writer and I'm committed to giving something to other writers. Part of my motivation is selfish; I don't want to read crappy stuff, so if I can help improve the pool, improve it I will. But the main drive behind my commitment to helping other authors and to keep the spirit of the writer burning bright wherever I can set a fire with my torch is my belief that life means nothing without leaving something. Not land or some cash for your kids and grand-kids. Not a building or a landmark or something that can die as you did/will, but to leave something behind that can genuinely help others or pass on the experience of life as written by an author who experienced and/or imagined a thing in a way worth telling.

Regardless of your religion, chances are you can agree that time here is short. The most meaningful contribution that I can imagine one might leave on this mud-ball is a well-written story. Please, LEAVE US ONE!