For those of you who know me, none of this will really be all that groundbreaking, but for those of you who don’t, I’d like to tell you a little about myself. Friends, you have my permission to zone out for a bit.
Many writers have fantastic tales of how writing has been in their blood since they could remember. They tell interviewers about writing stories for their family and filling journals throughout grade school and middle school. But that’s not me. I’ve always had a love of reading, ever since my first chapter book, “The Slime That Ate Crestview” (which I still own to this day). It was a short novel about a toxic slime that terrorizes a small New Mexico town that is ultimately foiled by a troupe of pre-teen misfits. I loved every syllable of it. And that book led me directly to the Goosebumps series. I still remember going into the small bookstore at the Clairemont Square in San Diego with my mom. Goosebumps were new and exciting and there were giant glow-in-the-dark monster footprint stickers on the floor. She bought me two or three of them, paying no attention to the order number. The first one that caught my eye was “One Day At Horrorland.” After reading that, I was helplessly addicted. Every month would find me in our local Target sprinting to the book section to grab the newest in the series.
As I devoured the Goosebumps books, I began to slowly branch out to bigger, more advanced tomes. In 4th grade, my mother let me borrow Jurassic Park, my first truly “adult” book. Within that first chapter, which was all about a raptor attack on a young construction worker at a mysterious site off the coast of Costa Rica, I fell in love with reading all over again. After Jurassic Park I scoured our bookshelves for more interesting books. I read Jurassic Park: The Lost Work and The Relic. When I found our personal shelves tapped of books I cared to read, I began asking my mom to buy me books from the store. Along with my regular monthly Goosebumps (I stuck with that series through to the last book) I got books like “Hunger,” a story about a pack of mako sharks with the intelligence and communication skills of dolphins and “Who’s Afraid of Beowulf,” a great story about Vikings awakened after centuries of mystical slumber into modern day, where hilarity and hijinks ensue. It was clear to me even then, before I had the self-awareness to give myself any sort of label, that I was drawn to science-fiction and horror and the supernatural.
By the end of middle school, I had been introduced to the great and powerful King. Stephen King. I read Pet Sematary in 8th grade and never looked back. Throughout all of high school, you could almost always find a King book in my hand, checked out from the school library. I read IT and The Stand, The Green Mile and The Shining. As I absorbed it all, a little part of me, subconsciously at the time, began to whisper in my ear. It told me that I needed to be creative. I needed to have ideas that I could share with the world. And so, my junior year, I took the single most important class of my entire high school career: Creative Writing.
I had dabbled in writing here and there before taking the class; mostly I had written a fairly bad Star Wars fan fiction and started another decent one (which has now been remastered into something I’m quite proud of), but I had never written any original material before. My teacher, Mrs. Moreland, was amazing. Easily the most creative and artistic person I’ve ever met, she had a way of coaxing our stories out of us and onto the page that was nothing short of genius. I discovered that, while raw and untrained, I did have a modicum of talent. I thrived in that class more than any class I had ever been a part of. We wrote poetry and short stories and utilized a hundred different writing exercises, all of which forced us to learn to write in a different way. We were given a list of titles to choose from that we had to write our stories around or we grabbed a random item from a bag and were forced to write about it (I grabbed anti-itch cream and wrote a moderately amusing monolog from its perspective). By the end of the semester, I knew without question that I wanted to write for the rest of my life.
As fired up as I had been in high school, I went years without writing, aside from continuing my rather epic fan fiction trilogy (which I’m still working on to this day). I’m not sure why I stopped. I think I just lost my drive. Life wasn’t turning out the way I had intended and I just wasn’t feeling creative. Over the years after graduation, I had started a number of novels that I was very enthusiastic about for a couple months and then slowly lost my motivation. To this day, they still sit in varying stages of completion, untouched but waiting.
Everything changed for me about 2 years ago when I read my first H. P. Lovecraft story. I was engrossed from the off, exactly as I had been with Stephen King. Only Lovecraft was the man from whom King drew his inspiration. The more I read, the more I was filled with ideas. I should note that one or two Christmases prior to my introduction to Lovecraft, I was gifted a small Moleskine notebook. It sits currently beside my bed with pen handy at all times. I use it to write down any and all ideas that pop into my head. And up until reading Lovecraft, it held a fairly decent number of story ideas, but none of them ever went beyond ideas on paper. Coming up with ideas has never been a problem for me. Executing them is. But when I read Lovecraft, something awoke in me, invigorated my drive to create. I bought ten 70-page spiral notebooks of ordinary lined paper and decided that I was going to begin writing short stories. I put pen to paper and cranked out “The Strange Fate of Roger Pettingford,” the first of my serious original pieces. Finally, I felt like a real writer. More stories followed. Right now, I have filled three of those notebooks with over a dozen short stories and have begun a whole new wave of novels. I haven’t published anything yet, but I believe I will someday. For now, I’m building myself a decent portfolio, giving myself a foundation upon which to build my future career.
I haven’t got the discipline of many writers, nor have I got the super-human stamina to write twenty pages a day. But I have ideas that excite me and the overwhelming drive to share them with the world. In my core, I know that I am meant to be a writer. When I picture the future, I don’t see anything but that. Novels, short stories, screenplays, I want to write it all. I have so much to show the world. I know I could never find a sense of fulfillment doing anything else. This is me; this is who I am. My name is Josh and I am a writer.