Everyone has a secret origin.
Everyone has a secret origin. This is mine.
Both my parents were in publishing. My father sold his first short story to a magazine when he was 13. This is not bragging. This is a warning.
I grew up being taught how story works. When I was around six I remember sitting at a playground with my dad and him insisting I finish the scene I was working on in in a short story before I could go play. My childhood was…strange.
When I was 12 I got my first prose rejection from a major anthology.
When I was 18 I realized I hadn’t been published yet, and hadn’t submitted in a few years, either, and declared myself a total and utter failure. It was the start of a bit of a breakdown that lasted a few years, not that I could see that at the time, or even during it.
I stopped writing then. I mean I’d do little things, some RPG world building, talk about stories that would be cool, all that noise, but I didn’t write. Not seriously.
Eight years later I was doing some online columns and such, but no real prose. I’d make headway into maybe wanting to and sketch out stuff but no. I’d talk about writing comics, but wrote reviews instead using it as an excuse to study the craft more.
But I wasn’t writing.
All the study and prep in the world means absolute shit if you don’t put it to some use.
2004 I wrote and submitted a short horror story to a small press anthology because a friend dared me to. It felt good. I didn’t care about it getting published, it just felt good to do. But the story sold. So I challenged myself to spend a few years selling a story or novella and have something new in print every six months. Just to see if I could.
I could. I’d gotten far enough away from my own bullshit that I could write again.
Are there days I wish I hadn’t lost eight+ years of writing? Sure. But the writer I would have been had I not broken off and found my own head in a healthy way isn’t the guy I am now, and I like the guy I am now overall.
Failure doesn’t mean you can never win again. You keep making yourself into the person you want to be and the things you’re meant to do, that you truly enjoy doing, come back around with you.
Life isn’t a straight line.