Actually several factors in my early life almost stopped me from being an author. I wrote my first novel when I was around eleven years old. My mother and father were students at Northeast State Junior College at the time. One of their English instructors read part of my novel when they showed it to her. She really liked it and said that I had the potential to be an author. I was happy at those remarks and continued working on my book.
Then, during the summer when my brothers and sister came to visit, my father told me to go get the book I was writing. I brought it into the living room, and he started reading it out loud. At first I was proud that others were hearing what I had written. That is, until my father capitalized on any misspelled words and made jokes about them.
One word in particular was ogre, and I had spelled it orge, which my father promptly pronounced, “Orgy.” He hammered the mistake over and over, making everyone laugh. Well, after the sixth or seventh time it stopped being funny to everyone listening. But when you’re eleven, you feel like everyone is laughing at you. It was humiliating, and for a long time, I stopped writing. (Remember: Manual typewriters didn’t have spellcheck).
After my mother and father divorced, I started writing again. Only now, I faced a new obstacle. The church my sister and I attended taught against fantasy and using our imaginations. Anything that wasn’t in the Bible was frowned upon. So I struggled with this and stopped writing.
It wouldn’t be until many years later that a thought hit me. To believe in God, don’t you have to use your imagination? To visualize Heaven and Hell, places you’ve never seen . . . doesn’t that require imagination? But still I lingered and wondered what to do.
In 1993, I met my wife-to-be, Christal. While at a bookstore, she showed me a collection of Dean Koontz novels and that he was her favorite author. The huge book was a three-in-one novel collection. Since she didn’t have the set, I went back to the bookstore later and bought it for her as a surprise. Little did I know the surprise would be my own. I took the book back to my dorm room and thought, “I wonder why she likes his books so much.”
I started reading and four chapters later, I was hooked! Suddenly, the desire to write that I had buried rekindled. I knew what I truly wanted to do with my life. This is why the dedication in my first novel reads: “For my wife, Christal, who reignited my desire to write again. Without her this book would not have been written. And you? You would not be reading this.”
So, if you’re a fan, she’s a big part of why I started writing again. Without her I doubt I would have rediscovered my creative direction.
As I’ve mentioned several times this week, you have to ignore the negativity and accentuate the positive. Otherwise, you’ve already failed. Progress only comes if you push past the obstacles and follow your heart and dreams. If you never try, you never know what you can achieve.