In my last post I laid out the nature of this project. Since I’m not exactly starting from scratch, it bears setting forth where I am right now. If you’re not interested in the biographical aspect of this project, by all means skip it.
I’ve been aware of a vocation for writing since at least fifth grade. A routine creative writing assignment prompted me to craft the phrase “fireflies in the fog” in a paragraph beginning some pseudo-Victorian work, somehow before I had any conception of what that might mean, and which I never expanded on because I was, like, 10, and I was not one of those adorably precocious children who wrote a socially-conscious play and had the class put on a production of it while still in grade school (you know who you are). The phrase stuck and this little morsel of alliteration gave me a wholly unearned reputation as some kind of prodigy.
In any case, it was a defining moment for me. I quickly formulated the life goal of becoming a New York Times bestselling author (my tastes tended towards the middlebrow; Michael Crichton was a formative influence). I never truly committed to it, but the specter of this ambition never left either. I caved to it by majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing. In the course, I found little in the way of direct instruction (it was mainly workshop-based, and I can think of little I find less useful than a writers’ workshop), but it did give me some vague awareness of the directions in which I needed to grow. I also had a sobering encounter with people much further along in their development than I was (several of whom have already published novels, some fewer to critical acclaim).
After graduating college, I was keenly cognizant that, without something holding me to it, writing would fall by the wayside and I would never get back to it. The way that I found to keep it from slipping away was ghostwriting.
I have worked as a ghostwriter for a few years now – not enough to make a living at it exclusively, and my rates are decidedly still low-end, but books I have worked on have been published and I have made money out of it. I’m still at it, and it may be my main source of income in the middle term.
The missing piece in this story is depression. I was afflicted for most of my teens (with a brief respite at about age 16) and then most of my twenties (and maybe my childhood too; the onset, in retrospect, came at about age 8). This took a serious toll on my productivity. Depression hampers writing beyond sapping your energy and motivation (the nature of which hampering I intend to discuss at length in future posts (so be warned, I guess)). I am emerging from it only now, in my late twenties, having written nothing I’m particularly proud of, but thankful for having stuck to it in the ways that I could.
The waning of my depression (with much belated help, chemical and otherwise) coincided with a sort of awakening, an awareness and clarity about the art and the craft where a lot of things just clicked on a lot of levels. I find myself now champing at the bit to sink my teeth into something substantial, to mix my dentile metaphors, but finding I still have a ways to go before my ability matches my ambition.
This is where the story leaves off and this blog begins.