What Compelled Me To Write a Book

uponatimeWhen I was a student in school, I distinctively remember my mother telling me on more than one occasion that English just wasn’t my strong suit. No, I’m not talking about the English language, but rather grammar and composition. I assume that the grades I received in English classes back then supported that assertion, but to be honest, I don’t recall.

I do know that I was pretty decent at math, and that is what ultimately led me to pursuing a degree in Business with an emphasis in computer information systems. I’ve worked in the world of computer programming for sixteen years now. Though there are many things I enjoy about the field, I’m not sure I’d call it a personal passion.

Writing, however, has become a passion for me in recent years, and the story of how that came to be is kind of an odd one. I think I probably owe it to a comedian named Joel McHale and a retired, professional football player named Tim Green.

You see, before I could develop an affection for writing, I had to first find an affection for reading. The strange truth is that I really wasn’t even much of a pleasure reader until about seven years ago. Sure, I dabbled with the occasional biography, but I didn’t have much interest in fiction and literary storytelling. A couple of media events, that seemed completely insignificant at the time, changed all of that…

My wife and I used to watch a television show called The Soup on the E! Entertainment channel. It was (and still is) hosted by comedian Joel McHale who now stars in the NBC sitcom, Community. The format of the show is essentially McHale poking fun at humorous television moments that spanned the past week. Back in 2005, one of McHale’s favorite targets was Tim Green, the host of the tabloid news show, A Current Affair. Green didn’t fit the mold of your typical television show host. He came across as overly stiff and uncomfortable in the role. McHale took great delight in airing clips of Green’s robotic reading of teleprompter dialogue and his insincere laughter in reaction to story content. He teased Green mercilessly.

About a month after I began seeing Green featured regularly on The Soup, I was channel-surfing one night and stumbled upon a cable news show, right in the middle of an interview segment with him. This time, Green wasn’t the guy conducting the interview. He was the one being interviewed. The topic of discussion was a novel of his that had just been released. The perception I had of him was that of a less-than-articulate jock, so I was stunned to learn that he was an author. I was even more surprised to find out from the interview that he was, in fact, a New York Times  Best-Selling author with numerous successful books under his belt.

I was so intrigued by this discovery that I went over to Amazon.com to preview the first few pages of the book he was promoting, entitled Exact Revenge. It was a modern day retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, and from what I read, it was really, really good. I soon bought the novel (which goes to show you that people are right when they say there’s no such thing as bad publicity), and thoroughly enjoyed it. I marveled at Green’s narrative voice and the way he developed his characters and settings with immaculate attention to detail. I became an instant fan and have since read all of his Adult Fiction work.

From a inspirational standpoint, Green’s work let me discover something I had been missing most of my life: An appreciation for literary art. I’ve since opened my eyes to the work of numerous other fiction authors and various styles of storytelling, and their impact motivated me to begin writing my own novel.

A great deal of motivation also came from the birth of my first child. When I became a new parent, I found an unexpected, almost instinctive urge to leave some kind of legacy behind for my children. I know that simply being a good father is the most important thing I could give them, but I also felt compelled to create something that would demonstrate to them that hard work and dedication does pay off. I suppose that’s a lesson I taught myself as well.

For me, writing has become a way of channeling what I would call a knack for observation. People and the things they do have always fascinated me. Throughout my whole life, I’ve taken notice of the strangers who are walking by me in stores or gathered around me in crowds. Some call it “people watching.” Whatever it is, I’m fascinated by how individuals conduct themselves and react to different situations. There are a lot of real-life characters in the world with different experiences and motivations in life. It’s been fun to take some of the interesting people I’ve observed or come to know, and funnel some of their personality traits and mannerisms into the characters I’ve created on paper.

From a Dead Sleep actually isn’t the first novel I’ve attempted. It’s the second one. My first manuscript was a completely different story that was somewhat inspired by a strenuous road-trip to California that I took back in college with a group of friends. I got about 130 pages into it before I realized that I just wasn’t satisfied with what it had become. I had created too many consequential characters that I was worried the reader would have trouble keeping up with. I also felt the pace of the story was too slow and kind of wandering. I shelved the project and will most likely never return to it, but it was absolutely not a waste of time. I learned a lot from it. It gave me experience working on developing characters, and it taught me the importance of laying out a solid story in my mind before getting started.

I couldn’t be happier with the work I’ve done on From a Dead Sleep, and I’ve proven a lot to myself in the process. I can’t wait for it to be released so I can share it with others. Once I had finished writing the book a few months ago, I contacted Tim Green to ask for any advice he could give me in getting it published. Proving that he’s a class act, he got back to me with some good information and pointed me in the right direction. That’s two I now owe him.

I’m currently working on my next novel, and am very happy with it so far. I intend to continue my pursuit of writing, in one form or another, for many years to come.

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