I am certain there are many readers out there who wonder why a writer writes within a particular genre or in a certain style. To some extent, I suppose writers themselves contemplate that same question.
It took a while for me to contemplate my “journey” such that it is. With relative certainty, I can trace back the steps until this point. Where I go from here has an air of wonder and awe to it.
There is an apocryphal story I’ve told of ten vocabulary words in first grade and a lesson involving using those words in a statement to affirm the student’s comprehension. As I recall (and there is a lot that can be said about my memory), I enjoyed the lesson believing it to be fun.
Throughout my public school career, short stories were the thing, influenced by whatever t.v. show or movie popular at the time or the book I was assigned to read for school. There was only imitation, never a conscientious effort to develop my own voice. At that point, I called myself a writer although I had no business doing so.
I attended the University of Miami ostensibly to study filmmaking, creative writing and screen writing. This was post-Star Wars and pre-Indiana Jones. Everyone wanted to be George Lucas or Steven Spielberg. It was much later I developed an affinity for Hitchcock, Kubrick, and Scorsese. My two major screenplays during those four years was a contemporary version of the Iliad transported to the world of publishing, and a serio-comic look at the world of young independent filmmakers inspired by myself and one of my close associates. Derivative at best.
After a brief marriage, my attention turned toward poetry. I studied classical forms and wrote dirges and sonnets and odes and villanelles, most of them bemoaning my woe begotten state. It was therapy to say the least and an appreciation of something beyond my original intentions.
The first five years of the 1990’s saw my greatest poetic development. I learned to live in the world of Slam Poetry and Street Poetry while maintaining my desire for form and structure. There were like-minded folks that validated my development.
When I moved to Wichita and eventually married, there was a long period of artistic silence. I turned to painting in a pseudo- Jackson Pollock style and this alleviated my writing transition difficulties. Poetry got me an ‘in’ with writing groups but the urge to write fiction was what motivated me.
I’ve surmised that my basically good nature has hidden a darker side, one that will likely never come out. Additionally, while employed in customer service, there was a tendency, at times, to realize that crime fiction was a perfect outlet for any pent up aggression. That’s the direction I took.
There were two books of contemporary crime fiction, now out of print, followed by a series in the historical crime fiction genre. The excitement of research and the digging up of tidbits of knowledge from the past has invigorated me. Simply creating a plot and developing characters is no longer sufficient. Placing them in the world of the past makes it all the more challenging and gratifying at once.
Now, as I move closer to retirement, I wonder what is next. I have stated before the circumstances of my life, the journeys to and fro, have shaped the course of all aspects of my writing. Literary efforts did not lead the way. Consequently, I have no idea where my writing will take me. But to be sure: You’ll be the first to know.
I hope to see you at the OWFI Virtual Conference. We can continue the discussion there.