Thursday, August 25, 2016

An excerpt...

When I first stared this blog, my intention was to journal the process of becoming a published author, which I thought would take two more years, tops. After all, I had been steadily working at that goal for a couple years prior to my first post, so how much longer could it really take? Turns out, it takes longer than I thought, and as I write this, I realizing I've been writing for longer than I thought. 
My first free writing was a parody piece I did in fifth grade, at St. Vincent Ferrer in River Forest, Illinois. I say it was my first because it was the first time I remember when I wrote because it felt good, not because a teacher told me to. If that's my starting point, then I've been writing for 39 years. But wait, there was a lot of time in the middle when I didn't write at all and just filled my head with television reruns from three in the afternoon until dinner, then prime time television until bedtime. So lets take off the years of 6th grade through senior year of high school, which gives us 32 years. I didn't do any freewriting in college until I started working at the radio station, so knock off three more, 29 years. Then came post graduate, marriage, job, and no writing. Minus 10 years from Griffindor! 19 years total. That brings us to 1999, when my first wife r-u-n-n-o-f-t. It made me depressed and crazy all at the same time. My release was journaling the crazies in the memo application on my palm pilot. On and off I wrote until 2009, lets say two-thirds of the time. 15 years total. 
And so it was, in 2009, I showed my fiance my manuscript, 10 years of journaling. She said, keep writing, so that's what I did. Every day after that I either spent learning about the different types of writing, reading, reading about writing, writing, editing, querying, conferencing, critiquing, you know, that whole chestnut. And where has it gotten me? Well, I'm much better at it, that's for sure, and I've read a lot of great books along the way, and met some fantastic people. I've also acquired a love for literary agents that actually send rejections instead of remaining silent. You guys are the best. I've also been published in magazines and have a screenplay in the works which holds great promise. 15 years of writing, and what do I have to show for it? I'll give you an example. Below is an excerpt from a middle grade science fiction novel I'm writing. I'm relying on my admiration for Arthur C. Clark and Isaac Asimov for my story telling style. There might be a little Bradbury in there as well, with hints of Jack London and Jules Verne.
Have a look and decide for yourself if it feels like 15 years of work...

Our time around the ringed planet was planned to last approximately four years e.s.t. but thanks to Joseph, we were ahead of schedule. Accustomed as I was to prolonged space travel and how it distorts the passing of time, I followed my own advice which I had shared with my crew, and that was to solidly stare at a calendar that represented the real time on Earth. This should be done every morning before beginning the duties at hand. Look at the day and date. Say it over and over in your head until it becomes a real thing. Then as you complete a task, make it a habit to announce in your head that it is such and such date and I have completed such and such task. In that way I have found you become much more accustomed to the passage of time and recognize your mission will not last forever. It is mentally helpful to keep a linear progression of events committed to memory, to embrace that time still passes even when you are far away from it's ever present reminders. My advice was sound but if I could, I would offer one more bit of advice to achieve the same outcome, and that would be to have a crew member on board who is suffering from a terminal disease whose primary symptom is a very present and observable muscle atrophy. Growing up in the corn belt of Iowa gave us a seasonal indicator of the passing of time in the numerous farm fields and crops planted thereon. None was more pronounced than a field of corn. Springtime brought shoots of green struggling to sprout from the cobbles of black soil in which it's seed was planted. As the days grew longer and hotter, the shoots grew to be tall seedlings of nearly the same height in neatly organized rows combed out across the land into the distance. Before you could get used to that sight, it appeared they stretched to a height that no longer allowed you to see more than a few feet into the tangle of growth. Gaining girth, they produced their offspring which hung close to the stalk from which they drew life. The daylight dims and the temperature changes. The corn reveals at first that it is old and will soon die. It's color is no longer a lush green but has transited to dusky browns. The offspring are more pronounced now, distancing themselves from the structure which held them off of the ground. Then unexpectedly the day comes when all of the corn is removed in the violent threshing where rumbling machines massive in height to the individual stalk tear them all down en-mass and rip the offspring from the parent, scattering the waste behind it to make a more fertile bed for new seeds to come. The shock to the senses is measurable. The wall of mature life which grew over a long periods of days has disappeared. Joseph was our field of corn.