I became a writer on February 11th of 2013.
It was Monday morning, around 1:30am.
I was not one of those kids who filled journals with stories (like my daughter does now). I’m dyslexic and slightly ADD. As a child, few things were more painful than spelling. I hated writing.
Then I went to an inner city public school (which I loved by the way…wouldn’t trade one moment of my high school experience…Go Cougars! Second to None!). I remember an enormous amount to time in my Junior English class being devoted to watching videos and writing recipes. In Senior AP English we read four books. My best friend Toni and I went to the teacher to tell her we wanted to take the AP English test and she laughed at us. Then she gave us the list of over a hundred books that would be on the test.
Yeah…the last thing on my mind in high school was being a writer.
The only course I’ve ever failed was Freshman English at Baylor. I clearly remember my first paper. The teacher asked us to write a true story about our life. I wrote about the time I was pulled over at one in the morning by cops who held a gun to my head while they searched my car. The page had more read ink than black. At the top was a huge F with the statement, “I said a TRUE story. Learn to use a comma.” I spent an astounding amount of time in the writers lab. The next semester I retook the class and got an B by keeping my head down and taking all my papers to the Writer’s lab to be checked before I turned them in.
In seminary I had to write a lot. I loved making the arguments and doing the reading, writing then was simply a means to an end. One paper in-particular I was really proud of. It was on Jurgen Moltmann’s understanding of Hell. I read everything Moltmann had written to research for it (which is no small task…at the time he had published at least 10 books and countless articles). In hindsight, I should have tried to publish the paper. The topic had not been covered as far as I could find. My professor told me to submit it to a few place. But I didn’t. At the time I thought, “I’m not going to be a writer or an academic so I don’t care.”
Fast forward around ten years. It was the Spring of 2012, my third year at Valley. The deacons had been having deep conversations about church and theology and where Valley should go in the future. It was clear I saw things very differently than they were accustom to. In a meeting, one of them asked me to “write it all out.” In hindsight, he was probably just trying to get me to shut up; but instead I produced three pamphlets (each about thirty full pages of text), photo copied them, and put them on a table for people to pick up. It was fun. Conversations were started. Good debates occurred. I think people were stretched.
The week I put them out, a turning point occurred. Dr. Mosley, a close friend and mentor, took me to breakfast at Bob Evans. Over pancakes and coffee he encouraged me to write more. He said he loved the pamphlets and I should keep at it. Moments of encouragement like that one have been rare in my life. They are far out weighed by people cocking the head at me with confusion and concern. The conversation was probably was a fleeting thought for him, but for me it was a life changing moment.
I was planning on attending a church leadership conference that fall called Sentralized. About a week later they advertised a writing contest. It was suppose to be an American Idol type competition for non-fiction Christian writers. They wanted hopeful authors to submit book proposals. They would pick ten to interview (maybe less…the numbers are shaky now). And then three (or something like that) would move on to a final round of judging. At the conference they would announce the winner. I was sure this was my big break. Unfortunately, I had no idea what I was doing. I did a ton of research and tossed together a book proposal that was a complete mess. The book encompassed all the pamphlets I’d written for Valley plus three more I’d outlined. The book would have come out to be a thousand pages. No one would have ever read it. I wouldn’t have read it.
Needless to say, I didn’t make it past the first round. At the conference I ran into a famous pastor who had given me some advice on writing a proposal. He asked me if I was going to continue pursuing writing. I remember saying, “Nah. I don’t think so. I’m not a writer.” Rightfully, he cocked his head and looked at me with confusion and concern.
Despite my denial, when I returned home from the conference something had changed. I couldn’t escape the desire to finish the book I’d started. I spent November and January rewriting. I separated the pamphlets again, taking them back to their original size. Then I selected one and built it up. On February 11th I hit the “publish” button on Amazon’s CreateSpace.
It felt fantastic. I wanted to do it again. I wanted to do it more. I was hungry.
But I had no idea what to do next. So I signed up for an online class called Story Cartel. There I engaged with real authors and learned a massive amount about the profession of writing.
Sometime during the class I was writing a piece of short fiction and listening to a Mark Maron podcast. Mark mentioned that Louie CK tries to write two half-hour sets of comedy a year (at least, that’s what I heard…I was writing and listening at the same time…things get muddled). It felt right. I promised myself I would write two books a year.
This is a ridiculous goal, I know. Most authors will spend six years trying to get one book finished. But I’m not comfortable unless people are cocking their heads at me with concern and confusion…so two books a year it is!
This year I published “Sinful?” and “B-More Stories.”
In 2014 I’m planning on publishing my first novel…hopefully in January. Right now the working title is “Tucker and Maddy Go to Church”. It will launch my first series. I’ve written a little over a hundred pages…but then a group of Story Cartel friends sliced and diced it…so now I’m rewriting the thing completely. After Tucker and Maddy, I’ll resurrect another of the Valley pamphlets, “Salvation?” in August. I hope that will be my pattern January/February and then July/August.
In 2015 I hope to launch my second series – a syfy/anti-superhero series called ”The Window Washing Boy” of which the first book will be a villain origin story called something like “The Four”. I’ve got the book outlined and have written a few chapters. Then I’ll publish another pamphlet called “Justice?”
In 2016 I hope to publish “Tucker and Maddy Fall in Love” and then the pamphlet, “Church?”.
I have one more Window Washing Boy book outlined now, which I’ll publish in 2017.
That’s as far as my plans go.
I know, I know, I know. Planning and doing are two different things. Talk to me in a month and this plan maybe completely out the window. To quote my good friend Bobbi Mc-D, “I reserve the right to change my mind at any moment with no explanation.”
I’m thinking about finding an agent…but I’m afraid he/she would slow me down. Although I haven’t tried it yet, traditional publishing feels really slow; and I’m not looking to be Steven King or John Grisham or anything. I just want to get these stories out of my head and into the world for others to wrestle with and enjoy. So…I don’t know.
Thus completes my update. Stay tuned!
Filed under Uncategorized