In the Beginning Was the Word...

A Writer's Journey

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Location: Dallas, Texas, United States

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Well, it's been awhile, and no indignant comments concerning my last posting, so I guess I wasn't as controversial as I thought. I don't know whether to be pleased or displeased.

If anyone other than Falconmyst (and maybe Tehuti) is reading this, I'm sorry I haven't posted anything trcently; all my creative energies have been going toward the Dungeons and Dragons campaign which my brother-in-law and I are co-DM'ing (and which is linked to this blog). You should check out the site, if you're at all interested in the subject of writing.

Fantasy -- and science fiction -- have long been a major influence on my life as well as my writing. In fact, that will be the subject of my next posting, hopefully coming soon...

| 6:07 AM | 1 comments links to this post

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

SOAPBOX I

I've been putting off the writing of this post, partially because it requires a digression from the main topic of my blog, and partially because that digression will include some opinions of mine which may spark controversy. Well, it probably won't be the last time, so I might as well forge ahead...

My next attempt at writing, probably inspired by the film The Magnificent Seven and/or its sequels, was a western entitled Six Rode West. Ultimately it bogged down because, at the tender age of 12, I didn't know how to do the research that such a project required. Unlike Carpenter's Mansion, however, I managed to hold on to some of the manuscript, and never quite gave up on the idea of someday finishing it. In fact, some of the characters and settings later became the basis for a Boot Hill role-playing game campaign I ran for a time.

Here's the sticky part. Two of the title characters are a young southerner, a veteran of the Confederate army, and a former slave. The two grew up together, are fast friends, and, in the aftermath of the Civil War, decide to journey west together. Some years after I came up with this scenario, Marvel Comics published a short-lived comic with a similar premise, entitled Gunhawks. I later learned that the comic was blasted in the fan press by politically correct pundits who decried the premise as impossible. ( In fact, relatively recently, Marvel published a ((brilliantly done)) mini-series entitled Blaze of Glory, which, among other things, ret-conned the Gunhawks characters as never having actually been friends, and, indeed, ended with one killing the other.) This astounded me, as, like many southerners, I grew up with stories of just such friendships between former slaves and former slave-owners.

It seems that, in their -- entirely warranted -- outrage over the very concept of slavery, some people tend to forget -- or overlook -- the fact that Simon Legree was a fictional character, created for the purpose of propoganda, and thus, an exaggerated stereotype. Without a doubt, there were slave masters and slave overseers who were every bit as cruel as Legree; equally indubitably, there were others who were much more benign. The experience of slavery was not identical at all times and every locale. I have had several "heated discussions" -- one of which came close to becoming physical! -- with northerners who regarded Uncle Tom's Cabin as some sort of religious tract, and regarded all southerners as the descendants (at least) of monsters. Some even believed that the Civil War was fought over slavery...

There. Let the lambasting begin...

| 4:42 AM | 2 comments links to this post

Friday, April 14, 2006

| 3:22 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Monday, April 10, 2006

One of my fondest memories of elementary school was the "quiet time", when, among other activities, the teacher would read aloud to the class (something not done so much these days, I think because we've had a couple of generations of teachers who aren't very good at reading aloud, or, for that matter, reading. But I digress.)
I particularly remember Mary Poppins, Lassie Come Home (which I found interesting partially because the title character was obviously a different Lassie than the one in the TV show), and something called (if memory serves) The Secret of Cobbler's Nob, a children's mystery tale. Although I don't remember much of the plot, it must have made an impression on me, because my first attempt at writing, at about the age of 9 or 10, was a conscious effort to emulate it, something I titled The Mystery of Carpenter's Mansion. Alas, nothing of the manuscript has survived the years, but I seem to recall that it featured a couple of pre-teens investigating strange sounds and lights at an abandoned house, which at first seem to be supernatural in origin, but turn out to be caused by a young runaway seeking refuge.

| 10:15 PM | 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, April 08, 2006

It's only been recently that I've realized how much my earliest reading has influenced my life. Tom Sawyer most definitely contributed to my irreverent attitude toward life. Black Beauty installed in me a life-long love of horses, as well as a keen sense of social justice. The Lassie book had several minor influences. And Little Women? Well, Jo March was a writer -- which probably got me started thinking in that direction. Additionally, when Jo grew up and got married, she started an orphanage. Well, at the age of 30, not long after I got married, I began several years in the child-care field. The connection was one which I hadn't even realized until my wife, who at the time had just re-read Little Women and its sequels for the first time since childhood because of my love for them, pointed it out to me.

| 12:57 PM | 2 comments links to this post

Friday, April 07, 2006

I literally cannot remember when I didn't want to be a writer. To begin with, I started reading before the age of 4 -- not being read to, mind you, but actually reading -- and not Dr. Seuss or "Dick and Jane", either. By the time I was 6, my copies of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, Black Beauty by Anna Sewell, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, plus a book titled Lassie and the Mystery of Blackberry Bog (I think), based on the TV show, were falling apart from having been read so many times. When I started first grade, I found myself bored more often than not, and throughout my academic career, I established a pattern -- read all my textbooks in the first week of each school year, then spend the remainder of the year waiting for the rest of the class to catch up, dulling the boredom somewhat with frequent trips to the school and public libraries.

| 1:59 PM | 2 comments links to this post