Thursday, August 9, 2018

Seven Years A Writer

I received a notification this morning on Twitter, "It's your Twitter anniversary!" I've been on Twitter for seven years, and it made me think, "What is the significance of that?" Well, in my case, a little over seven years ago I admitted to myself that I was a writer. It was something I always wanted to do, but never thought it would be possible, for some unknown reason. I had previously crafted poetry, song lyrics, and attempted various scribbled stories on blank sheets of paper growing up. Then, realizing I wanted to write something of my own, something that staked my claim as a writer, happen to come after reading The Hunger Games.

Not only is it a fascinating and wonderfully written story, it led me to believe in myself to say, "That's what I want to do." So, I did. That night after work, the dream began to take shape with character names, locations, and plot points to use, cross off, or keep on hold for a later book. So, every night after work, I turned the TV on, hit the mute button, and started writing. In a month's time, I had written my first novel - a dystopian land that someone once mentioned as a cross between 1984 and The Hunger Games. This book would become part of The Weiland Kershaw Series. I self-published the first three and the fourth installment has been in the edit room for a few years. I'll call the "edit room" my version of deciding to put the long editing process on hold to focus on my kids and allow my narrowed focus to craft other delights (or at least I think so).

Over the past seven years, I have also crafted, and sometimes posted online, other tales of fiction in poetry or short story formats. I've written press releases, marketing copy, and written tons and tons of blurbs for social media. More recently, over the past two years, I've written comic and movie reviews and editorials, a featured bi-monthly series, and continue to generate and craft new ideas and stories that I keep ready to tackle when I have a spare moment. I've landed a staff position at Fanbase Press, which is where you'll find my reviews, editorials, and the Geeky Parent Guide (featured series).

After seven years, I am still striving and working constantly to reach that dream - creative writer, full-time. In my own hyper-critical thinking, my writing, my contributions, will never be enough. I always need to write more and more, despite the limited time available in this little thing we all know as life. And after seeing a notification about a Twitter anniversary, my mind starts racing, analyzing, "What have you accomplished?" and "When will you reach your dream?"

These questions are honest questions as I look back over the past seven years to think, "Have I done enough?" Perhaps I will never be satisfied with how much I create, but I know there will be an enormous sense of satisfaction that comes with the day that I can sit down at home, with my wife and two kids, and say, "I've done it. I'm a full-time writer." This Twitter reminder has allowed me to think about the things I've done, while also keep me pointed toward that significant direction. Not to say I haven't been pointed there all along - must become full-time writer *robot voice* - it is safe to say I appreciate the chance to reflect on my accomplishments, even if it means I have yet to achieve my dream.

There are plenty of moments where I can look back, and not too far, sometimes, and realize how scattered and upset I've become at times. It's not often, at least for me, to clearly summarize my feelings when I realize the scope of my dream and then teeter on the edge of restless nights trying to think of other ways I can better my craft, or wonder how much more I can do. To better summarize my thoughts or fears of failing or self-perception of my rattled professional growth, this is who I am. I do not know if achieving a full-time writer position will diminish or remove these distressing feelings. Quite honestly, I don't know if I would want them to go. Does that ever-present feeling of not doing enough allow me to craft the way that I craft? Will a writing position provide comfort and actually alleviate the stresses and make me a better writer?

I do not know.

Something I hope I can share with my kids is to never be afraid to say, "I don't know." I don't want to pretend that I have all of the answers. I want them to see me work and work and work for my goal, and hopefully, let them see the satisfaction of achieving it. Granted, I hope they can achieve whatever goal they have in mind much quicker than I'm currently yielding, but none-the-less, the sentiment will always remain the same. I do not know if I will succeed, but I have to try. I do not know if I will fail, but my kids need to see it, again and again, if needed, so they know that having a dream and pursuing it are never worthless endeavors. They are what our hearts crave, and when surrounded by people who will support those endeavors, it will make the trip much more bearable, even if it isn't always readily apparent.

Seven years a writer. I haven't achieved the dream yet. I will constantly move forward. I will constantly look forward to seeing other creators and what they're doing, hoping to see them succeed as much as I want to do the same. Reading amazing stories or seeing fantastic artwork is inspiring as it gives me hope. I see the smiles on others' faces, or joyous tone in a tweet, when they post about their recent published works, and it's a wonderful thing. That's what I want to do. That is the mindset I carry with me, and perhaps, it will always be there.



Friday, January 12, 2018

Leveling Up: Embracing The Fanbase

Where does inspiration come from? What drives us to put pen to paper, create equipment being sent up to space, illustrate colorful or gritty images for comic books, mentor or lead a local theatre, or express ourselves because we feel comfortable, at peace, safe?

As a sometimes neurotic, introverted individual, my path to success sometimes finds itself in unconventional or geeky ways. Writing is a passion that can’t be quenched with finishing a story, and the ideas always have to be jotted down – even if it means sending myself an email with notes of what I will write, someday. My most open, extroverted period seemed to peak during my college years – as I challenged myself to become a Communication major, because, hey, why shouldn’t the quiet guy who was always told to “speak up” not want to do that. I branched out, extended beyond my comfort level to a degree, and then the best moment of my life happened – meeting the love of my life – a person who accepted all of my little idiosyncrasies and loves me just the same. This is Level 1 – the base or start to any game where you have all that you need to proceed. I honestly don’t know how I reached, or captured, this level and I can’t contemplate how I did anything before her.

Level 2 was having the freedom, giving myself permission to admit, that I want to write for a living. As soon as it happened. I plunged into years surrounded by reading and writing, much ado about dystopian fiction, and the world seemed a little clearer. My grasp on the craft continued to evolve as I etched short stories into my skin and pulled poetic younger years from my soul.

Level 3 – my children. “Game over, man. Game over.” There isn’t a need to reach another level, right? All that life has to offer is there, and it’s the most wonderful experience anyone can never fully realize until it happens. There are magical stories from Disney and Marvel’s Avengers, and an assortment of superhero toys and puzzles. My geeky influence spills over into their worlds, and it feels perfect. Seeing them take joy in the things I take joy in is wonderful, and it’s even better when they decide on their own who they want to be. Early on, it was, “I’m Super Woman!” for both my daughter and son – and watching them run around with a cape and a mask always made the day better.

How do I reach beyond a level I don’t necessarily see a need to exceed?

When dreams become necessary to fulfill, to not only satisfy my own desires, but to show my children it is always okay to go for what you want. The adventure of finding full-time writing has landed me in a special place. It’s a part-time gig, and the most professionally satisfying thing I’ve ever experienced, and the dream doesn’t stop. It grows. The experience continues to move, mold, and restructure itself as I push myself beyond my regular sleep hours to write and write and write. And before I knew it, I had reached Level 4 – and I am truly happy about it.

Level 4 is Fanbase Press. Leveling up through the “Fanbase” has been extraordinary as I’ve reviewed comic books, created a featured series, and interacted with those in and around the Fanbase Press family. The leaders running the organization are Barbra and Bryant Dillon, and their desire to support people’s fandoms, while creating new ones and making sure it’s an environment for anyone to want to join or share – and keeping true to the wonderful notion of building people up and sharing their dreams. Their endless workload and compassionate devotion to their geeky friends led my desire to do more for them, leading to the Geeky Parent Guide.

It’s been close to a year and a half with Fanbase Press, and it’s been an exhilarating experience. How does it feel to be a part of such an organization that only makes you want to do more and more, and never feel like you’re doing enough because you want to do more?

It is amazing. I am a part of something that can be bigger and brighter than any of my dreams ever could’ve imagined. Geeky Parent Guide will reach its one-year anniversary in April, I still continue to write reviews and editorials, and I’ve contributed to a few feature podcast episodes of The Fanbase Weekly. Being a part of a support system that encourages growth and heartfelt communication, I encourage everyone to explore Fanbase Press. If you’re looking for support, or simply want a community that will accept you for you and love watching you build your own geeky empire – then go to fanbasepress.com.

If you find them on Twitter, share your geeky endeavors or your favorite geeky things, and then tag your post with #EmbracetheFanbase. It’s an honor to be able to be involved with this organization and as a staffer, and friend, it’s important for me to share how I’ve leveled up by being a part of Fanbase Press. And by sharing, hopefully it will continue a path of breaking out of my shell and exploring where the Fanbase will take me and where I can help take the Fanbase.

Embrace the Fanbase, and level up. I wonder if Level 5 is in my future.