Monday, February 13, 2012

Where Did My Writing Dreams Begin?




Today is the day of the Origins Blogfest, so.. what is my story?

Well, the details of my life are quite inconsequential... Very well, Where do I begin?  (ode to Dr. Evil)

I became addicted to writing in elementary school when I won the Vale Elementary 4th Grade story contest with my story about my childhood story hero.. Shelton Thirdkill.  (Cool name for a 4th grader's story, no?)

I loved writing and always considered myself a good writer, and people (other kids), liked my stories. Then in HS, as a Junior, I took a communications class.  My teacher, Mrs. Blankenship, told us about a State-wide 'writing/spoken presentation' contest and although I was the prototypical late 80's jock, (meaning I wore a Def Leppard shirt,  ripped jeans, and said "dude" every 3rd word), I entered. And SURPRISE.. I didn't win, although I did get an honorable mention. I was actually quite disappointed, until she pulled me aside one day after class and said that my writing was one of the best she'd seen in quite a while.. but my topic simply didn't match up with the topic of contest. 

That kept the writing flame stoked in my breast. When I went away to college a few years later, my English Professor wrote on my first submission that I should try to publish it in the local free newpaper in Boise and that if I were interested, he'd let me know how to submit it to them. That suggestion/compliment blew me away, but the thought of lots of people reading my words terrified me. I'd always wanted to study English and Creative Writing, but reality slapped me in the face one day when I thought.. 'I can either study English and be a teacher and make nothing, or I can study something else and get a job that pays actual money.'.. so I left the English Composition behind and moved onto studying a double major of Political Science (BS) and Spanish (BA).

While an undergrad I was recommended by faculty members from both of my majors to the English Department to work as a writing tutor.. so I spent my Junior and Senior years working as a writing tutor in the Boise State writing center. As I look back, that experience is one of the best memories I have of my college days.

During this time I also wrote my first story. It was a short story, only around a 15,000 wc.  It was a horror/fantasy story in the vein of Michael Crichton's The Terminal Man, only with a great twist that I'd learned about in Psych 101. I called it, 'The Other Hand'

Once I graduated and left Boise State, I went to Law School at the University of Idaho.  Your first year of Law  School at every Law School in America, all your classes are prechosen for you. One of them is Legal Writing. I struggled with legal writing terribly because we were supposed to get the facts and go research the law and then write a brief giving our legal opinion. I would, however, get the facts and then write a 'who did it' with lots of speculation about who could have been the unknown culprit so that I could throw suspicion off the defendant.  My first paper, my Writing Professor seriously wrote the following:
"This sounds like a really great Grisham novel that I'd like to read.. but for this assignment it's horrible. Maybe you should try writing instead of the law."
Ouch, eh?  Of course, I stuck with the law.. learned to shut off my creative desires in writing and focus on dry facts.. but it always felt like I was trying on someone else's skin.  It never felt comfortable. I can do it even now, in fact I've been complimented by Judges on my concise motions and memorandums.. but it's like eating snow and calling it ice cream, there's no emotion. It feels like writing, but there's no pleasure, no flavor. It's bland, and it's taxing on me to write like that.

So now, after 8 years as an attorney I'm giving writing a shot. I still love the law, I'll always love the law. It's a part of me now, the process of becoming an attorney changed me, changed the way I think.. but it couldn't touch my inner-author. In fact, that inner desire has moved to replace other hobbies and interests that used to dominate my time. Video Gaming, Sports, TV, even Movies.. all are secondary now to the desire to get these ideas out of my head and onto paper. Even the fear of having others read what I write can't conquer the desire to create.

I've got a few ideas for stories.. and they're not going to leave my mind alone until they're told.  Who knows if anyone will ever read them apart from myself.. but that part really doesn't matter. Sure I want people to read what I write, I want them to like it and come back to learn more about these characters who dominate my thoughts and dreams with their voices.. their stories.. but even if nobody reads it, it will still be written, because that's what I want to do, and that desire has become too big to be ignored any longer.

So, that's my story.  What's yours?

11 comments:

  1. My assignments always had to have a story attached. Science project, yep there was a story too. I got much of the same responses, you really should pursue fiction.

    I think fear of having others read your work is natural. I know it was one of the reasons I hesitated in entering a contest with mine. Over the past few years I've gotten a lot better with that--not entering contests but letting writing professionals see my work.

    Keep going. If it's a dream, make a reality. If you can make it through law school and pass the bar, you can do anything!

    Thanks for sharing your story.

    Sia McKye OVER COFFEE

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  2. Following your dream and putting yourself out there is a very brave thing thing to do. Thanks for sharing.

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  3. New follower from the blog hop AND fellow writer/lawyer. Seems like there are quite a few of us out there. Nice story and the notes on your legal writing paper made me laugh!

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  4. That's a really great origin story. You had me a Dr. Evil. Side note, I like your "Stranger in a Strange Land" reference in your bio. One of my favorite books.

    Great post.

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  5. That's quite a resume you've got. Obviously talented in whatever you do. How are you at answering and asking questions? Because, TAG! You're it! You've been tagged in the 11 Questions game that is going around from the Platform-Builders campaigners. You can pick up the link to your questions here: http://rungwenrun.blogspot.com/2012/02/11-questions-from-platform-building.html

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  6. Hello Kevin!

    I'm a new follower from the blogfest! Nice to meet you! Oh, and loved the ode to Dr. Evil :D

    Quite an interesting ride you've had so far, going through law school and being an attorney. I'm sure you've got loads of story ideas!

    Thanks for sharing and good luck with your writing!
    Jen

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  7. Hi Kevin! I'm also here from the campaign! This is a great story, and something similar happened to me in college also! My emphasis was literary studies and I had a hard time applying critical theories to articles written by fancy-name people like Aristotle, and I remember feeling pretty bitter toward the end of my degree because I also had to "cut off" my creative muse in order to write the "boring stuff" and it took a long time for me to figure out how to get it back. If I'd just realized sooner I wanted to write, I would have majored in creative writing! Anyway, new follower! :)

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  8. Hi Kevin. I just became aware of the origins blog hop this evening. So, I didn't participate, but am so enjoying reading the "origins" on the blogs of others. Enjoyed this. Lawyer/authors do create some of the best books :-) Good luck with your dual career!

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  9. That quote from your professor made me laugh out loud! I love that you put creative writing into your brief! I was a technical writer for years, writing a manual for a software program. It's tough writing when you can't use ANY VOICE at all! I totally understand the feeling that all your old hobbies have taken a back seat (or have been thrown out of the car altogether). Great origin story!

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  10. I write technical journals and instruction manuals, and one of the things I had to learn early on was how to strip away all emotion. Talk about traumatic. Although I learned how to make it work, the voices just scream twice as loud at night! Loved your story! :)

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  11. Nice job! great story you a have long way to go in your career.

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Guess what time of year it is.... FIRST DRAFT TIME!!!