I love a good origin story when it comes to the hero. BUT I am NOT going to bore you with the biography of my “exciting life”. I will however key you into the start of how someone like me turned to wanting to write in the first place.(so perhaps I may still bore you but I will try to keep it exciting by throwing lots pictures at you so your brain doesn’t get too tired with my ramblings.)
I will start out my “story” with a question. WHAT shapes a person in life? That brings up the next question to me, Nature or Nurture?
To me the logical answer is both…duh? –
See those guys there above in the picture? They are my brothers of which I have two of. I am the one on the left (with the cool lean going on ). They definitely shaped my life. Mainly because I was the middle kid of that trio growing up. I looked to my older brother (middle kid in pic) to guide me in what I thought was the way you should act as a boy, guy, a man, because our father died when I was twelve and he was all I had for a role model.
In the end, he only taught me how not to act, to which in itself now that I look back,was helpful. My younger brother only ever gave me a sense that I failed him somewhat because I think he looked to me, somewhat like I did to my older brother; for some direction. This time growing up with them was pivotal in my mind because it made me realize that if you want to find the answers to a problem when people are depending on you, you have to do it yourself, because no one else was going to do it for you.
The next picture above was going to be a picture of my mom. But I thought better of it, because she’s not the focus really in my little story, just a character to the side really. Instead, I wanted to show my escape that I went to in the early years before and after my dad had died. My family life was in shambles from probably the age of four. I remember the fights, the plate smashing, the bitching by my mom, in how life was never good enough or how we lived in a hell-hole. (I loved my hell-hole of a house by the way..I knew no different) . I only remember my Mom in all this because my Dad was always the quiet one. He just would sit there on the couch or at the dining room table and listen to her rants until she calmed down which always seemed to end in crying.
So I escaped ….I would watch shows like Creature Feature, Twilight Zone, Buck Rogers, Speed Racer, or Scooby Doo, ….I fell into the stories and the more the fantastic the better. The more removed from reality, the more engrossed I became and nothing could take me out of it. I was in that world while it lasted. These were worlds that I could understand more than the ones right inside my own home.
As I grew older, I’d say about ten years old, I came to love comic books. I discovered them in a little book shop across the street from our new apartment house (first of many to follow) in one of my mom’s flight to get away from my father . For 25 cents and up, you could purchase a world where anything was possible and live vicariously through the eyes of a character and see what they saw and know what they thought. Needless to say, by the pictures above, my favorite character in comics was Spiderman. But the thing is, like I am sure like many other fans did, I identfied most with Peter Parker, his alter-ego. He was smart,determined, didn’t fit in because of his awkwardness, had an Uncle Ben (father figure) who had died and they were poor. Spiderman cracked jokes all the time. So yeah, I identified with him more less. And yes, I am corny, I did believe in the phrase “With great power comes great responsibility” line. I still do to this day and it shaped many of my decisions more than than once in my life. Not saying I’m a superhero jumping off buildings trying to save people. I’m saying you could have the power of hurting someone’s feelings with the wrong word or you could instead instill in that same person a sense of something to boost their pride or keep their spirit going…everyone has value ….yeah I have always been a sensitive kid that way (to a fault at times).
The next logical progression after comic books for me was books…oh those magical books…I love the person who founded the library system and screw that YA author & actor Terry Dreary, who recently stated that libraries are not relevant anymore. I was a poor kid way back when and besides shoplifting I couldn’t have read a quarter of the books that I read in my younger years without that glorious thing called a library card. Those books saved me. Where my brothers found escape in running the streets, shoplifting, fighting, smoking, or drinking, I found it in words. They wrapped around me like a cocoon where I grew and grew inside. They helped form inside me a vocabulary, a world, and a mystery only I was privy to.
I hit my teen years where life divided me into two worlds….those of my friends who to me ,had everything I didn’t, to a family at home which was slowly disintergrating before my eyes; my brothers, my mother, and me to a degree. Where once I was kid who found possibilities, now I saw only wanting an escape. Home was not a comfort, it was a prison, a sentence to ride out until school or I visited my friends at their home. I developed a complex about everything from the gap in my teeth, to the way I would sometimes stutter when really nervous, to the clothes I wore, and the place I lived. I never had friends for a sleepover because I was embarassed about my family and home. I always felt inadequate to the task; never quite good enough for the rich kids or smart enough to fit in.
So I studied and I studied. I got smarter. I forced myself to beat back the depression with knowledge and lose myself in asking the abstract questions. To question everything and challenge myself not to be led by others. I still didnt feel like I fit in, but I had begun to have better tools to see myself as not as a joke in their eyes but more as an equal.
After a few failed girlfriends and a couple of years in college I finally met the love of my life and married her….She turned me around (even though I didnt realize it at the time) and taught me the value of what life is. She taught me the value of committment and compassion and that things mattered. No more was my story mine now it was ours and I wanted to share my life with her….
Then he came along and made my life a living hell. You know I’m kidding…. But life was a worldwind for a bit…Those years of him growing up, were fast and furious , and for some reason, writing really never entered my mind. But as I went from one job to the next job, to the next job in my career I woke up one day and realized very strongly I didnt want the path I had chosen and that I felt I was made for bigger things than the lot I had fallen into.
I wanted more than the hum drum day to day life I was leading….so I went back to college and took Creative Writing & English Lit courses. I got in with other writers and talked with them and learned from them. I started writing. I started CREATING. Then that little butterfly that had waited so long to be formed and released from its Chrysalis broke out and flew. Now I’m blogging about my journey to be the next Stephen King or the next Ray Bradbury or the next Philip Wardlow….I may have come a little late to the train station but I caught the last seat in the car….and I’m settling in for a long trip.