My Writing Journey

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On my fiftieth birthday I had few beers and pondered what I should do after I left my job as a sales manager in Manhattan. I know it was only a matter of time until my employer told me take a hike so they could give my office to a younger person. Therefore, now was the time to do some planning.

I decided to become a fiction writer. I had always enjoyed writing, so this seemed like a good fit. To prepare for my new career, I began writing stories on the bus as I commuted to Manhattan. At that point in my writing career I didn’t realize I knew crapola about fiction writing (I have an engineering degree) but that didn’t keep me from scribbling stuff on the bus which turned out to be almost illegible because of the terrible condition of the roads in New Jersey and New York.

My writings at the time were unfocused and didn’t really belong to any genre and often were mixes of several genres. In addition to writing on the bus, I bought a number of books on writing. Most of the material in the books was incomprehensible to me at that time. Later on, the books started to make sense.

Over time, several turning points occurred that influenced my new career. The first was the Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Once I read that, I know what I wanted to write: humorous and satiric scifi stories, later expanded to include fantasy. The second major turning point took place when a web search came up with an online critiquing group called Critters. I joined up. Critters allowed a story of mine to be critiqued after I critiqued a certain number of other members’ stories. Both critiquing and getting critiqued was a revelation. As an example of my sorry state of ignorance at that time, one critiquer pointed out my current story had POV violations. To which I replied, “What’s a POV?”

One day a few years later, my corporation came out with an early retirement plan. I qualified and the offer was quite lucrative in my case. I jumped on it and started writing in my new home office instead of on buses.

After writing and critiquing many scifi and fantasy stories, I sold my first story. The magazine was a disaster: a hand-drawn cover, xeroxed pages stapled together. On the other hand, my story was equally bad, a fact I didn’t realize until several years later. So the publisher and I ended up even.

The Critters experience enabled me to eventually sell over 40 short stories in paying markets. But then something strange happened. One short story morphed into a novella and I couldn’t figure out how that happened. My next short story became an even longer novella. After pondering what was going on, I realized my characters had become more complex and my plots more involved making the stories unsuitable for the short story format. My next story attempt was long enough to rate as a short novel. That was when I realized my career as a short story writer was over: I was a novelist, for better or worse.

Soon, I sold a novel to a small indie publisher. That was followed by an anthology of short fiction to the same publisher. Getting a book published was another turning point as great as reading the Hitchhikers Guide. It led to a self-publishing decision. But that’s a story for another day.

I’ve been writing fiction now for over twenty years and have enjoyed it immensely. The reason I keep writing humorous and satiric genre stories is because I love inventing plots and weird characters. And I love entertaining people with my stores.

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