I remember one day coming home, as a bright-eyed 10-year old, and declaring I liked Star Wars more than I liked KISS (i.e., the rock band). It’s funny as a kid you have to pick favorites like that. Looking back at that moment, I see how that was a critical fork in the road for many decisions I’d face in my future—including eventually becoming a writer.
I was one of the first generation of kids to grow up and not required to face going off to a war like my dad had. He was serving in Vietnam around the time I was born. I was growing up at the beginning of so many revolutions such as computers, computer games, and the explosion of quality entertainment that has never been known in the history of mankind.
There were three major factors that shaped my future: Star Wars, Apple 2 Computer, and Text Adventure games (like Adventure and Zork. If you don’t know what that is, go look it up.)
In my day, Star Wars was new and exciting. It also turned on an artistic gene in my head. After years of drawing AT-AT’s, X-Wings, and Tie Fighters. I manage to land my first job at an exercise equipment company. I created instruction manuals for exercise equipment. I’m sorry for the pain and suffering I put you through. Was it sexy work? Hardly, but it helped me hone my art skills. After those six years, I made this piece of artwork:
This was a poster I did for a car show back in 1995. I forked over $3000 to print 1500 28”x 22” posters, thinking I’d make a million dollars doing this kind of artwork. Nope. Don’t ever underestimate how cheap people can be. I was asking for $10 apiece. I remember the day of that car show well. This one guy kept walking by my booth all day, hoping I’d sell him a poster for $1. At the end of that day, I was devastated. Fortunately, I did eventually make my money back and I still have about 800 of those posters left in my basement. Discouraging? Yes. Did I give up? No.
The silver lining was, thanks to Star Wars and Apple Computer, I was able to land my first job in the video game industry because of that poster and programming skills I developed. After the poster debacle, I worked for 22 years for different companies like Sony and Zynga. Here is a snapshot of games I worked on through the years.
So here I am in 2020, publishing my first book. It’s a culmination of years of headaches, heartaches, blood, sweat, and tears. My novel, The Twisty Passages of Time: Veer Left for Home, is homage to my last childhood fond memories: Text Adventure games. I loved playing games like Zork and Planetfall. For you kids out there that don’t know what Text Adventure games are, look them up. Now days, they’re the most boring thing you’d ever imagine. But in the early days of computers, they were imagination gold.
For my book, I painted the cover:
Is it a good cover? I’ll let you decide. Is my book any good? I’ll let the readers decide. But I took a swing at it.
Really, that’s my message. There’s a quote by Allen Saunders, from a 1957 Readers Digest (not, John Lennon as some may believe.) It is, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Sometimes you don’t see in yourself the growth takes place. If you don’t have a talent, be patient and practice. It will come.
Don’t give up. Events in your life, people you’ll share your dreams with, and your requirement to provide your own food, shelter, and clothing will all seem to all conspire against you to write your book. Just keep writing. If you’re discouraged. Sleep on it. A good night’s rest can do wonders on your outlook.
We may not all be Stephen King or J.K. Rowling (Maybe you are, you just don’t know it yet!) But you have talents that someone out there will appreciate. The world can always use lesser spices as well. And you will have a unique voice in your writing.