The Origins of a Story (and of a Writer)

Despite the fact that I started this blog about my desires to get published, I haven’t really spoken about any of my writing at all have I? Let’s change that shall we?

You never seem to hear why writers start writing, what gave them that first kick that said, “hey this story thing is pretty sweet! I should really try making this hobby into a lifelong chase” (Stephen King mentions writing for his school paper, but that’s it). I think I know why we don’t: it’s pretty embarrassing and tells you too much about ourselves and our youth. If I was a smart man, I’d delete this entire post before I can complete it, walk away and think of something else to write.

But I’m not a smart man. (And what do I have to lose, other than your respect?)

Being a young lad, I skipped to the rental store with my mother and rented this little game (you may have heard of it) called Final Fantasy VII. I dug roman numerals, and somewhere saw an ad with the anime-ish characters and found myself spell bound. I played, got mad, continued playing, and “meh’ed” at Aerith dying. Then one day while looking up information for the game, I ran into something strange. It was a story about the characters of Final Fantasy 7, but it wasn’t written by the people who made the game, it was written by a normal guy. That’s right, I had encountered my first fanfic. I can’t remember the name, but it was something like FF7: How it Really Happened. It was a retelling of the first quarter of the game, in script format, and was very, very “lulzy” for my young self. I passed it along to my friends and we all enjoyed a heartily, pubescent laugh.

At the time, my good friend Jacob-a man among men-had this thing called Jacob’s News using this new fancy creation called “email” (you may have heard of that as well). It was a sorta weekly thing he had going on where he’d write… well, the news! Mainly stuff going on in his life, but for some reason it was the coolest thing ever. Hell, it was awesome, and I can’t remember why. One fateful day when I found out that Sega would stop making consoles and would only make video games I had this very strange sensation. My head was full of this strange electricity that buzzed and buzzed and filled my mental head-space with vivid images and loud colors.

I believe it was called inspiration (or someone had spiked my Capri Sun with acid).

I ran home as fast as my little feet could carry and wrote this silly thing  about all these video game characters bouncing around a room and how now Sonic would be able to combat the evils of those who wanted to ban video games. It was pretty godawful, but I sent it in to Jacob’s news and got some chuckles.

Then some months later, after learning of webcomics, I was again bothered by those strange sensations. This time, I wrote something “original.” It was a very strange story about jumping through alternate realities where instead of the world we expect it was anime and video game worlds! (WHOA! Crazy original, right?) These included, of course, my good friends in middle school and whatever we thought was cool at that moment. Again, I sent them to Jacob’s News and got full-on laughter from some friends.

Both of these stories were written in script format, like the fan fic I had mentioned earlier. I continued writing multiple bits and stories continuing off of the alternative reality one. Then the strangest thing happened-I tried giving it a plot. Like a real one, bad guy and everything. I sent it to Jacob’s News, curious about how my unwilling audience would take the sudden change in tone and genre.

They hated it.

To be fair, I wasn’t happy with it either, it took me a few years to figure out why. In the middle  of some teen angst, I wrote a passage. Very angsty, very emo, but… not that bad (for my age I guess). It wasn’t in script form either, it was pure bona fide prose. I had stepped into this weird realm where I felt things were moving, growing all on their own. I tried hard to attach the original stories but failed every time. Then I dropped the original and replaced all the characters with ones that… weren’t us. I created a universe for them all to live in and a mythology that shaped their thoughts and actions. I felt like I was doing something right.

Then I got caught up in this thing called “poetry” (you’ve probably never heard of it). I blame the few (very few) women who broke my poor, innocent heart. Woe. I did continue to work on the story, but not so much as I actually wanted to. But anyway, I eventually dropped that rubbish and concentrated solely on writing prose! Since then, that story has been hacked and slashed to the point where you cannot recognize anything left of the “original” story  I wrote in middle school. (And thank god for that). Many times have I deleted almost every last word and started from scratch, and every time it got a little bit better.

Yet, with the years of fighting it, of slowly and slowly working on it making minor improvements here and there; about a year ago I dropped it. I realized  that there was no way in hell that my writing skills were good enough to correctly do what I want to do with it, and so I threw it to the back burner. I do intend to come back and visit that story since it is so dear to me, but I need to actively distance myself from it so that I can return with fresh eyes and start from scratch. I looked at it recently, and if files on your computer could collect dust it would’ve been piled high. I was a little over 80,000 words-the standard size of a finished novel-but nothing was accomplished, the characters hadn’t grown and some were still a bit 2-D. Looking at the mess of words I knew coming back to it would mean rewriting the whole thing if I wanted to do it correctly. My mind raced with a few ideas, but I closed the file and walked away.

Since then I decided to create a story I could actually write that would not take years to do.  Oh sure, I still get urges to start writing that first story again. Inspiration is a bit of a bitch, she comes and goes without warning, often coming for things you don’t want. But I don’t write it, I just enjoy the thoughts that come to me, sometimes writing them down as notes, and continue working on the novel that I started only months ago which is now coming close to 37,000 words. (Which is about 45% of what I need).

Every week I make a bit of progress on it, slowly reaching that goal of 80,000 words. It becomes tough at times, forcing myself to sit down and type for hours, but I enjoy it-especially if I have a good day and break my word count quota. I can never stop thinking about that first story and how it got me started on this whole writing thing. One day I’ll get to it, when I can sit down and give it the attention it deserves. Who knows, maybe it’ll get published, (and you’ll hear about it).


10 Comments to “The Origins of a Story (and of a Writer)”

  1. I hope Jason is still a pothead in the final version.

  2. This is actually a well written post my friend. I’ve never doubted that you were meant to be a write of at least one great thing. However, your gift also is limiting in that it does not come with a livable wage attached, but I think you will get there someday despite the hardships. Or Megan will sell your organs. That being said, I lost all your files you had sent me when my laptop died (and I’m MIA from existence until the semester ends). If you care my input anymore, let me know; I have a long summer to help.

    • Don’t worry about the lost files. They’re probably better off that way. (I still have copies of them anyway, even the ones filled with your corrections). When I’m done with the second draft of the story I’m working on now, you know you’ll get a call from me. 🙂

      I’m not letting anyone see it until it’s “done” and I’ve gone through at least one read through.

  3. Damn, no one ever mentions how Jacob ever started doing that…it is very likely that he would never admit to this but I started doing the “News” thing in Jr. High…mostly it was something to do that I liked and that took up time in Mrs.Wood’s study hall that wasn’t homework. I can’t even remember the content now, but it is something that Dan Webster could attest to me doing.

    But i have to give Jacob the credit, I know for a fact he wrote about stuff that was read by all of our friends, mainly gaming topics, etc. And well, I wrote about stuff that no one really cared about at that age…might I add, I imagine it was done very poorly…lol.

    So, I’ll just toss that in there, do with it what you will.

  4. Yeah, I don’t think I did. I might not have had your email address at the time. But Jacob got one…haha. But I didn’t do it for long after he started doing it. I wonder if I kept them or even his…but I don’t think I did..:-(

    • They’re gone forever suckas! No one will ever re-read them. Whahahahaha!

      And yes, Jacob’s News actually started as a reaction to Pat’s News. Everyone should have had their own news letter. It would had been awesome.

      Excerpt from Pat’s News:

      — Quote of the Week —–
      | |
      | Well that’s just Peachy. |
      | -Princess Peach from Mario|
      | |

      It’s the only thing I still remember from it.

  5. wow…..thank you so much for putting that up…I don’t remember a thing that I had wrote for that…and wow…lol. What’s funny is that I had a folder specifically for Jacob’s News…and nothing is in there now. A coincidence or conspiracy??

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