When Did You Become a Writer?

A bit of a personal blog entry this morning.

Was there a defining moment for you? A point where scraps of stories hidden in folders became work aimed at being published? When was that moment that you started including “Writer” in bios of yourself?

When I was in grade school, I loved to write. There was only one type of assignment I looked forward to and that was creative writing. I was that kid who was assigned a “short” story and turned in a binder with chapters. In those creative and heady moments of youth, seeing my name on a book cover was my singular goal.

But as with most dreams of childhood, I strayed from that path. Other interests and influences pulled me away. Over the years I wrote less and that vision of my name on a cover dimmed.

Fast forward to me in my thirties. I had rediscovered writing, but had no focus. Every story I started was left only partially completed. I had ideas, pages and pages of ideas, but I couldn’t translate that into a finished product. My wife developed a look that said “Will you just shutup and write” that I saw on regular occasion when I started a conversation with “I had an idea for a story…”

My defining moment, the thing that finally made me focus on finishing something, anything, was the death of my father.

My dad left an impression on people. Even now, two years after his death, I still have people that stop me in my work life and tell me how amazing my father was and how he influenced/helped/changed/supported them at some point. I have a set of morals that I can easily trace to my father.

As I mentioned in a previous post, my love of science fiction, fantasy and reading I can trace to hours spent sitting next to my dad watching classic Star Trek and Doctor Who.

When my dad took early retirement, he looked forward to trips with my mom and had thoughts of writing a book about his paramedic days called “Life Under the Lightbar.” You can imagine his dismay when he was diagnosed with lung cancer two weeks after his retirement party. And then a year-and-a-half later, he was gone.

So much planned and dreamed. So much left undone.

As the grief subsided, I realised that dreams shouldn’t be put off. I looked at my pile of half-finished writing and loose ideas and thought, “If I die tomorrow, I don’t want a bunch of half-realised dreams left behind. I need to finish something.”

And now, a first draft is done.

My dreams are larger than just one first draft. What I truly want to leave behind is still incomplete. Which is fine, because I intend/hope to have more time to finish it. But I’m on the road. I feel that I can call myself a writer. I feel less unfulfilled than I did before.

Did you have a defining moment? Was there something in your life that finally pushed you hard enough that you were able to type “The End?”