From My 23-Year-Old Self

(I found this article I wrote in one of my many writing notebooks in our basement over the weekend and thought I'd share it)

"A Writer"

A blank page. What a wonderful thing, seeing the white screen, the empty lines of the paper, the voidness of it all. Just waiting to fill up with words--adjectives, verbs, clauses, conjunctions, commas, periods. Many take for granted that page or that screen. I don't. I never will. To me, it is my life, my motivation, my love and one true passion.

I am a writer.


Twenty-three years old, too, but that doesn't stop my motivation, my desire, my burning lust for seeing my written words in print. I have been a writer for a while, too. Since third grade, when a newly married grade school teacher who had a flare for English inspired in me the flame to keep at that writing. I was interested in pirates then, and wrote a short, flamboyant story on Captain Kidd. Not the historical Captain Kidd, but my own Captain Kidd.

In eighth and ninth grades, it was a mixture of Rambo movies, Soldier of Fortune magazines, Mack Bolan books, and girls that captivated me. Which one I actually liked more, I cannot honestly say. Of course, it had to be females, but they were so frustrating all the same. The guns and action movies and adventure books never let me down. Everyone always got killed at the end. Someone's day was always made with the pull of the hairline trigger. Oh yes, I loved this, yet I didn't not forget my one true love: Writing.

In ninth grade, while living on top of a mountain known as Wolf Laurel, nestled between the North Carolina and Tennessee borders, I finished The Adventurer, my first 285-word novel. Written on college ruled paper in all pencil, held together by some company's three-ring-binder, The Adventurer detailed one man's revenge on his slain wife's murder. The mob, of course, was to blame for this killing. One by one, killing by killing, my main character, Peter Jonathen Best, avenged his wife's death. In the end, yes, even the Godfather was slain.

Looking back on the book, I do not laugh. I used to. Yet, I wrote the manuscript, spent time doing research about Manhattan and various guns, then rewrote the manuscript again. To this day, I am proud and even surprised at how well the storyline flows, however crazy and cliched the plot might have been. I was not even sixteen back then.

Over the years, in high school and through college, my interest in writing remained strong. I was always good in English, yet never excelled like others. I would hand in a hastily-written paper for English and only receive a B-plus, then would wonder why the other, more diligent students had been awarded A's.

I always told people "I'm going to be a writer." They always gave me the same look, too. That was okay. It is a look I've grown accustomed to, even humored by. It is like telling someone you are going to be a movie star or a rock musician. They seem to give you a look as if they are thinking You are a far way from Hollywood and Seattle.


After four years of being crazy at college, I came out with many ideas and notions and goals. I succeeded in many of these goals. Yet, I only saw my name in print a couple of times, and nothing having to do with fiction (which was my one true love). I wrote short story after short story. Inspired by Hemingway's short stories and Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise, I saw myself as one of them. Youthful, full of life, experienced in the world, a good writer. Why couldn't I be the next Hemingway or Fitzgerald?

I finished a collection of short stories, and even managed to send a couple of them to various literary magazines. I have grown to enjoy getting the rejections. Fitzgerald was said to have decorated his room with dozens of rejection slips before his first story was published. I fancy myself doing the same thing. I have written close to sixty or seventy short stories since I've been out of college. Most are not publishable material unless I develop some sort of name and get a great editor to share my vision. Still, those rejection slips, how many I might see, will only make that one acceptance slip sweeter. And I do feel that the acceptance slip is not far away.


Between Good and Evil, the third title for my second completed novel, is in the process of being tuned and ready for submission. It is a short novel, only two-hundred pages on the computer, but I am proud of it. It deals with emotions, trials, and paths all of us take in life. It has a lot of potential, more than most of my other work. Yet, I still have a long way to go.

The amazing thing I am learning, and continue to learn, is how much the desire grows every time a new word is written. I become lost in my own world, creating stories. reinventing classics, telling my own experiences. They are timeless and wonderful. They become locked onto the page forever. The are concrete and magnificent. They are truly a part of me, right there, usually in readable prose.


Working as Author Relations Coordinator for a publishing house for six months now, I have had the privilege to see books being made first hand. Working in an editorial department, I see writers just starting out with their first book, ones with the fifth book, and ones with their twentieth book. I see the excitement of delivering one's first book, the greediness in selling over 100,000 copies, the eagerness of trying to get that one and first book out and selling. I have seen the marketing side of it, the editorial side, the production side, the consumer side. Fortunately, I have seen so much, especially so much for a mere twenty-three year old.

I have watched and listened and hopefully learned.


There will never be another Ernest Hemingway, no matter what anyone else may say or write or be. There are Stephen King's, John Grisham's, Robert Walter's. But it is different out there now. We compete with televisions, movies, compact discs, and radio stations. Magazines are a lot more captivating to the eye, not to mention talk a lot less time to read. Granted, the mega-authors of our days may be studied in years to follow, but like many things in our world today, the golden era for magnificent and famous authors is over.

Yet the desire fumes and grows and snorts. I long to write, and continue to do so. Two hours a day, if possible. After I get married and settle down, it might even increase. I hope it does.

Writers need to know one thing as far as this young, inexperienced writer is concerned. Above all the books they can read, above all the conferences they can go to, beyond all the advice they can take, they must do one simple thing. Hemingway even stated this. You must experience life, but then, after "going where you have to go, and doing what you have to do, and seeing what you have to see", you must write. You have to "get to the grindstone," fill those pages, mark up those sheets of papers. Even if the marketability of what you have written is nil, or if the idea is preposterous, or if the writing absolutely stinks. If you are a writer, you will write. You will fill those pages, make those mistakes, be subject to an editor's sharp uncaring sword. That's okay, however; all of us have needed an editor. Even the great ones did.


When I wonder if i will ever get a book published, sometimes I am excited, and sometimes I am depressed. Sometimes I think I have all the right ideas; other times, I think I have all the wrong motives and no ideas at all. Yes, I do wonder if I will ever see that glorious, magnificent, ego-building thing called a byline on the flap of a hardcover book. I think about it everyday.

Then, after thinking about it, regardless of whatever I do contemplate about, I start writing again. Not for the glory, or for the desire to see it in print, or for any reason in particular.

I write because I am a writer.

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