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Thursday, March 29, 2012

My First Love - Writing and Mission: Australia

The year was 1994. I was living in Salida, California - a suburb of Modesto, and all I could think of being when I grew up was a writer. It was the year my grandmother passed away from breast cancer, the year we moved to Arizona, but also the year I finished my very first novel - Mission: Australia.

See, I had been writing short stories since the age of eleven. Rounding up friends I met in junior high, pairing them up with outrageous adventures only my mind could concoct, I created what would later become my Expired Reality series. Mission: Australia was an attempt to string some of these short stories together into a coherent novel format, one which would later define what I would end up doing for the rest of my life - write. My love for novel writing was so strong that even when my grandmother was on her death bed, the breast cancer eating away at her mortal form and stripping her of her memories, she was able to recall enough of my passion that she asked me if I was able to finish my novel. She remembered my writing more than she remembered the basics.

One of the projects currently on my to-do list is to transfer Mission: Australia - a 400+ page handwritten manuscript - into digital format so it can be edited later on down the line and possibly turned into a prequel novel(s) for my Expired Reality series. This task is monumental, not necessarily for the simple act of typing it (I have been typing since eighth grade and have clocked myself at over 80wpm), but because my handwriting was a mishmash of cursive, slop and doodles.


And of course, with most, if not all adolescent writing attempts, the book itself is a mishmash of poor grammar, unbelievable story lines, and terribly lacking characterization. But isn't that the beauty of writing when you're younger? Nobody cares what it looks like. Nobody cares that your characters have super power that are never explained, that the villains can escape explosions and bullets so serendipitously that the Hand of God must be inside your novel world. Nobody cares how much fun you're having doing what you love to do best - write.

I think as we get older, as we get into the 'business' side of writing, the career mindset takes over and we start writing for others instead of writing for ourselves. I am by no means defending poor grammar or disjointed plot threads, but instead promoting the love of writing. When I started the short stories that eventually became Mission: Australia, my goal was to write out the adventures that were running around in my head, to get them on paper so I could read them over and over again, to empty my soul and my mind of dreams and adventures. When I look back at these stories, I fall in love with writing again. I fall in love with my characters, with the little world I built back in the days of junior high and bullies and family strife. These were the stories of my life, my escape from the real world.

A lot of us lose that aspect of writing as we get older. Not just as we get older either, but as we start worrying about 'who' we're writing for. We should always be writing for us, for our own solace, for our own amusement - first and foremost. It's a wonderful thing when others enjoy our stories - especially when we are trying to make a career out of it - but it's always best when we enjoy our stories and feel that we've tied up the loose ends of our soul with the simple act of pressing pen to paper.

David N. Alderman is a self-published/indie author who specializes in edgy Christian speculative fiction and young adult fiction. You can find his books at www.davidnalderman.com or you can find him talking about writing, self-publishing, and geek stuff over at his blog, www.davidnalderman.blogspot.com.

4 comments:

Tiffany

Another great post, as usual! I honestly think that's what has me stuck with writing - the shift of who I'm writing for and why. When I wrote Savior of the Damned and the other dozens of crappy stories dusting away in my closet, I wrote for me. I wrote to get those stories out. I wrote just to write because I loved putting words to paper.

And I still love putting words to paper, but it's not the same as when I wrote in middle school and high school. There's a fear, there's a 'business' to it, that wasn't there before.

S. R. Carrillo

FINALLY! Some advice that makes sense. Aside from one other instance of makin' sense, I haven't seen a whole lot out there that recommends that writers should consider themselves the audience and not worry so much about who they're targeting. All I got to say is A-fuckin'-MEN. The experiences you shared here mirrored my own so much that I thought I had written the article myself haha. (If only.) Anyway, great job. This is the kinda stuff I love to see--writers who WRITE, you know, for the love of writing.

akinrok

Couldn't agree more, and honestly, I think that's what's been holding me back for quite some time now. I've been so bee-line focused on who I'm writing for, rather than writing for me first, that I've been almost ashamed to put any of my work out. Even with the projects I'm working on now, I remain fearful of "will people like this? Is this too cliché? Too unbelievable?"

I need to get that feeling of "I just love to write what I write" back.

David N Alderman

I'm really happy that this post resonated with so many other writers.