Monday, February 13, 2012

The Origins of My Writing

I’m proud to participate in the Origins Blogfest started by Alex J. Cavenaugh, DL Hammons, Matthew McNish, and Katie Mills. Check out the links at the bottom of the post for other writers’ origin stories…

My love of writing started with an early love of reading.  I was never shy to curl up with a book.  In the early days, Dr. Seuss dominated my reading list.  I remember my third grade teacher showing me a shelf in the school library filled with tall tales, and I quickly plowed through them all.  In fourth grade I discovered Judy Blume and she became a staple in later years, along with the likes of Roald Dahl, C.S. Lewis, J.R.R Tolkien, Beverly Cleary, John D. Fitzgerald (The Great Brain books), and the guy who wrote Encyclopedia Brown books.  I would even grab actual encyclopedia volumes and read things at random, because I am, and have always been, a nerd. (NOTE TO MY WIFE: Sorry to have to reveal this to you now, after nearly thirteen years of marriage.  Love you!)

Around fifth or sixth grade, my mom took me to my dad’s new office for a surprise visit, but he wasn’t there at the time.  It was a nice office, closer to the house than his old one, but being new his digs were not yet fully furnished.  I left him a note saying we had stopped by and complimenting him on the lack of chairs, saying something along the lines of “Are you going to play Santa Claus and have people sit on your lap?” 

Around that time, one of my friends was taking drawing lessons, and I was interested in them, too.  I asked my mom if I could sign up.  One day I overheard her phone the phone with someone saying, “Ricky has been asking me to put him in art lessons, but it’s his writing I’m impressed with…”  I found that interesting because I had never given writing a second thought.  Actually, I'm not sure I even gave it a first thought.  But then...

In seventh grade I took to writing short stories.  They were usually horror stories, written in an attempt to gross out my friends.  (NOTE: They did.)  When I was a sophomore in high school I bought an electric bass.  My brother Dave gave me his guitar, and after that my writing took the form of song lyrics.  Eventually I ended up with a job that involved copious amounts of writing (business proposals, marketing copy) and when I got married and had my first child I discovered that I could be a smart-ass in a blog.  That was truly a defining moment.

Things took a more serious turn around 2002, when my wife and I had rented a cabin for a weekend getaway.  We were walking through the woods when I went out on a limb and told her I was thinking about writing a novel.  I told her the premise, and expecting laughter and a plea for stability in my day job, she surprised me by enthusiastically encouraging me to go for it.  When we got back to the cabin, I sat down with the guest book (a blank notebook on the coffee table) and jotted down a two-page summary for what would be my first novel.  When we returned home I started the manuscript proper.

And that’s where this story of the origins of my writing ends, mainly because I’ve already posted about my path to publication and I’m too lazy to rehash it.

But before I sign off for today, I would like to point out that, speaking of origins, my first published novel is an origins story in its own right.  If you haven’t read “The Man in the Cinder Clouds”  please buy a copy and get cracking!  If you have read it, please recommend it to someone…Every voice counts.



Rick Daley said...

Hmmm...I may not have done the linky thing right, I don't see the links to other blogs. Hopefully it just takes a few minutes to refresh.

Laurel said...

We share the same gateway drugs! I started with Bobbsey Twins in first grade, which prompted my habit of thinking in dialogue tags. (Not kidding. I added a mental, "she said, he exclaimed!" to everything.)

I moved into Encyclopedia Brown and Greek mythology, loved THE GREAT BRAIN, and finally went through the wardrobe around fourth grade. Narnia flipped the switch for a permanent preference for fantasy. Tolkein filled the gap for a while and then came David Eddings and Elizabeth Moon and Charles DeLint.

Pirate is plowing through Percy Jackson now, devoured Encyclopedia Brown, and I'm going to try him on The Great Brain next and see if it sticks. I can't wait for him to get his hands on Harry Potter, but seven is too young for the later books. They get awfully sad.

But the sad stories are the ones that sparked the writer in me. I couldn't stand to leave a character for dead. I would stay up all night rewriting happier endings for my friends on the page. I tried starting a novel in high school but it was horrific. I knew it was horrific so I gave it up, assuming I sucked.

I think the words and stories kept building up a head of steam, though, until I hit a point where they had to come out. When I finally starting writing seriously, I couldn't stop.

Rick Daley said...

Laurel- My younger one is halfway through the first Percy Jackson book, but he's stalling out on it in favor of Harry Potter #1. We're trying to get him to put Potter down for now...not for content, but because the Percy Jackson book is a library book and he's already extended his check-out twice.

I'm within 200 pages of the end of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, and I'm on a mission to finish the series. I've been enjoying these books in a way that hasn't hit me for a long time...truly phenomenal epic storytelling!

I'm eager to read your books, keep at it.

Anne Gallagher said...

I started with Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary, also Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew.

My daughter has gone from Dr. Seuss to Harry Potter. Nothing in between. But she's smart like that and I won't discourage her.

Jenny Maloney said...

I love that your wife was so supportive. My husband is saintly that way too. If he laughed at my attempts, I don't know how I could put one word after the other. It makes me think of Stephen King in On Writing - he says that whenever he sees a first book dedicated to the spouse he knows that the writer 'gets it.' And I completely agree. =)

Jeremy Bates said...

perfectly composed post!

Jeremy Bates said...

I appreciate you taking the time to create this publish

Johanna Garth said...

New follower from the blog hop. Funny how Roald Dahl pops up again and again. We're reading that right now to our kids and his writing is truly wonderful and inspiring.

Johanna Garth said...

New follower from the blog hop. Funny how Roald Dahl pops up again and again. We're reading that right now to our kids and his writing is truly wonderful and inspiring.

S. L. Hennessy said...

Lewis and Seuss inspire me to this day! Great post!

Domey Malasarn said...

Great post! I like how the writing thread kept coming back for you.

Jen Chandler said...

Hi Rick! I'm a new follower thanks to the Origins Blogfest.

I'd forgotten about the Encyclopedia Brown books! Thanks for reminding me :). And there's no shame in reading the encyclopedia. I still enjoying grabbing the DICTIONARY and reading bits of it for fun and enlightenment.

Happy to meet you! Enjoyed the post.


~Sia McKye~ said...

Rick, good story. My son is also one who liked to tell scary stories. He does a good job with it too.

As for me, I read everything I could get my hands on. In the beginning the librarian would try to steer me to *kid* books. When I would I had already read them, her brow would raise, but she let me take the adult books I wanted. After a few question when I'd returned them she never again led me away from *adult* books to the kids section. I got to read whatever I wanted.

I enjoyed your story!

How wonderful to have mate who believes in you and gives you encouragement. I think she's a keeper, lol!


Rick Daley said...

Anne- I agree, it's tough to discourage a kid from reading. Except my younger son, who reads in the bathroom, and must eventually come out. But we try to convince him that he can sit on a regular seat and read, too.

Jenny- We are both very fortunate! And "On Writing" is a great book, one of King's best.

Jeremy- Thanks for stopping by, I appreciate it!

Johanna- I remember starting "James and the Giant Peach" because of the bad words (some form of ass...might have been jackass, I can't remember). I finished it because it was a great story. Lesson learned: don't write down to kids, give them stories they can grow into, not grow out of.

S.L.- That's the reason those books still sell...we don't mind reading them over again as adults.

Domey- I tried to procrastinate it away but fate got the better of me!

Jen- Thanks for stopping by. I've turned my older son on to Encyclopedia Brown, those are fun mysteries.

Rick Daley said...

Sia- I'm really lucky to have found her. Tough to imagine what life would have been like otherwise...

Speaking of reading up, I started reading Stephen King's "Christine" in seventh grade and my mom made a big to-do about it, asking all sorts of people if I should be reading it. I got self-conscious and stopped about 50 pages in, but it wasn't long after when I picked it back up and finished it.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Your wife is one awesome person.
And do you still play your guitar?
Thanks for participating in the blogfest.

C0 said...

I sometimes find myself reading encyclopedias too for the sake of it. But I'm more likely to do it with pamplets.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Ah Judy Blume. I remember Forever being passed furtively around in Year 7 - someone had it for Christmas. I liked the comment you overheard from your mum, Mum's always know best!

Christine Rains said...

Awesome origins story! Wonderful that you have a supportive wife. And there's nothing wrong with nerds. Encyclopedias are very interesting to read!

DL Hammons said...

I popped my idea of writinga novel on my wife just as you did, and she even helped my iron out plot holes as I outlined it. Every writer needs support like that!

Thanks for sharing your ORIGIN with us! :)

Donna Hole said...

Fascinating story :) Isn't it nice when people don't laugh at your creative dreams?


D.G. Hudson said...

Dropping by very late, but still enjoyed your story.

Having a supportive parent or partner sure makes writing easier. My hubby has been my best support.

Thanks for sharing.

Shah Wharton said...

Returning your visit and just had to follow - what an interesting post. You read a lot of my favourites. And I toyed with poetry and lyrics too (my dad wrote for punk bands:P) but I never even dreamed about becoming a 'writer'. It just wasn't something our kind did. But of cause I already was one. But in secret. :) Still would be without the internet, no doubt. X

nutschell said...

I love that your wife encouraged you to write. We all need people like that in our lives, as writing can be a lonely task.
Great to meet you on this blogfest.

your newest follower,

Elana Johnson said...

Great story! I'm glad that your wife didn't laugh at you.

Scarlett said...

Hi, Rick! (Does your family still call you, Ricky, like my husband's does? *g* I love it!)

Ahh, Judy Blume! 'Are You There God, It's Me Margaret' and 'Blubber' were my two favorite books when I was young. And Seuss ~ Brilliant, Brilliant Man! 'The Lorax' is still at the top of my All Time Favorite books list!

Harry Potter made the rounds here, as did Percy several years ago. Though, unfortunately, we are seeing more Chemistry and Physics books lying around our house nowadays. Our bedroom is the exception. The nightstands are overflowing.

Did you just use, 'weekend getaway'... and 'sat down to write' in the same sentence? *My* Ricky is supportive, but if he saw me sit down to write on a weekend getaway, I think he'd lose a nut. Probably 'cause this writing thing has been eating into his supper time a little too often lately. *happy face*

Pretty cool, you decided to do it and then did it!