Well, at least that’s how it happened for me.
I put pen to page – or in my case, finger to phone (yes, I write on my iPhone now) and it begins. I know where I’m going, but rarely do I know how to get there. That’s the thrill, though, the rush which keeps me going whenever I think I’m about to crash and burn. And that was exactly how Dregs of the Culver Waste was born: in the fiery wreckage of a war. But it was a war that never needed to be fought.
The dark journey began sometime back in 2005. It was my third attempt at a novel and first serious fantasy tale. I was a new writer, hungry, invigorated and inspired. I had finally found my genre and it had found me. But life was getting in the way; I was in my mid twenties, a new father, a homeowner, an immature, selfish fool. I thought the world was against me, it’s claws prying at the armor of my creativity and youth. And perhaps it was. But it’s the great inevitability of life, the cost of living, of being. Either adapt or die. But for whatever reasons, I choose death.
Not in the literal sense, but I sold a piece of myself to the devil. I neglected family and business, I pulled into my world for weeks at a time, hoping to never leave. I was holding onto the fire of youth, me versus the world and I refused to back down.
And you know what? I was a fucking fool.
The world was there for the taking; every pitfall, every misery a new chapter to pen, an inspiration to draw from. What I thought were roadblocks were really lessons to learn from, warts and all. But I fought it and eventually lost. A piece of my mind, my sanity, my relationship with my wife. I sacrificed too much for too little. And now that the war is over, now that I’ve won at all costs, I look back and wonder. Could I have found the Culver any other way?
I don’t think so. Sometimes we’re only given one road to travel, one beacon in the night for which to follow. I wish mine had lead me down a different path, toward safer waters free of the things that go bump in the night. But my path was through hell, the Culver itself, flame and fire, sand and scrap. There was no choice in the matter.
So what’s my point here? you say.
Write your story, but don’t let it write you. The demons around us are meant to be plucked and used as our armor. Face life and let it flow around you. Don’t run. Don’t hide. It’s coming, whether you want it or not. Use every cut, every ailment, every nervous twitch and anxious afternoon as the building blocks of your work. Creativity can exist in a vacumme, but you have to learn how to navigate it. Some things are better now for me, somethings not so much. I took the hard road to learn my craft, and now this is the hand I have to work with. It wasn’t my choice and I would do things differently now. But here I am, the war won. The book is done and now I’m standing amongst the wreckage, older, wiser and ready to do it the right way now.
Follow your fire, but don’t lose yourself to the flames.
That’s my advice to any authors who read this.