Tuesday, January 11, 2011

My first foray into writing

When I was younger, I had a lot of problems with allergies and my sinus'. But we didn't know that. I wasn't tested for allergies until I was in high school. I would contract bronchitis nearly yearly, and/or have a sinus infection.

One time, in September 1971, when I was in tenth grade, I was sick, out of school for a week, and on Codeine cough medicine for Bronchitis. The Codeine was liquid, colorless, but definitely not tasteless, it was in fact, one of the foulest tasting things I had ever had to take, but it put you into a kind of dream state. The Doctor said he wanted me to take it to help me not cough as it was excessively loud and the same in the pain department. He said he was also giving it to to me to help keep me sedated so that I would stay in bed all week long.

That Monday, my mother came into my bedroom to say she was going to the mall. As I was to stay in bed all week, she asked if there was anything I wanted from the Tacoma Mall to keep me from going nuts. At first, I said no. Then I said, "wait a minute, yes." I had just heard on the radio, that the Black Sabbath album "Masters of Reality" was just released and so I asked her for that. It was an all black album with a pressing of the album title in black on the cover, so I was pleasantly surprised when she returned with it. Actually, she surprised me at the things she would let me have sometimes. Just ignorant of what it was I guess. Not that I think MOR was a questionable album for a kid at that time.
As you can see, the words are easy to read. But the copy I got, must have not had much or any coloration to it, as it was very cool and very hard to read. As I remember it anyway.

At the time, I had also belonged to a science fiction book club and had just received Frank Herbert's Dune book. He was a local author growing in popularity. A side note, many years later, I had considered driving to his house to ask for an interview for my college newspaper, but was so intimidated by the idea, that in the end, I didn't do it, and then he died shortly thereafter. I've regretted not going every since. Just goes to show you that sometimes, when you have a stupid cool idea, just do it, think about it later.
So, I spent that week, in bed, on Codeine, listening to Black Sabbath, over and over again as I digested the now famous book about Paul, Muad Dib. When I finished it, I felt something had changed in me. Some of that being because I had never read anything like it. The closest thing I could think of at the time was Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy. Of which, in the end, it became a seven book series.
Anyway, when I finished it, I was stunned by what I had just experienced. Dune was amazing, so much more so, on "Spice", I mean, codeine. I had to lie there on the bed for like an hour, just staring at the ceiling and thinking about it.

Finally, I had found a need to write. To create my own universe. It was the inspiration to write my first fully completed science fiction short story. That became, over the next day or two, "Ten Steps to Shado-kan-dom". A rather valiant effort for my 10th grade mind, but rather sad from my perspective now. In the years following, I had a dream I kept pushing behind my mind, that it would be so cool to write stories. But, I couldn't do that, could I. I wasn't a writer. I didn't have the talent, skill, knowledge, understanding of the mechanics of language and grammar. Just looking at all those rules, was a killer.

Life offers us the strangest asides from the directions we are heading. It really pays for us to pay attention to it. It was years later, when I finally entered college, it was after years in the military and not until a college English composition teacher told me, that I really needed to write more and keep it up, that I ever had the thought that maybe I could produce and be paid for what I wrote. He said not to worry about the things I was worried about, like grammar, fear, whatever. He said, just write. Writers write.

And, years later, here we are. Like Dharma always said, "Seek, your bliss."

Go for it.

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