Monday, September 21, 2009

Somewhere Out There, Five-Year-Old Me is Nodding in Approval

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Maybe it was the sight of my brother churning out composition after composition, each one making my parents proud, that got me interested. Maybe it was because I read too many comics as a kid. That would probably explain the yellowed “comics” lying somewhere around this house, the ones I made as a five-year-old.

Whatever it was, it helped me create worlds in my head – elaborate settings where gods roamed the earth, and where sleeper agents were sent back in time to prevent superheroes from going apeshit and conquering the world, among others. I created hundreds of characters, each with an amateurish backstory and concept sketch to boot. I gave these guys names and scripted their encounters before I slept. I was a kid with an imagination that knew no bounds.

Except, of course, for the ones my mother set for me. I had no idea why, but I let her scare me away from pursuing a life in words. She’d see my comics, appreciate the art, but then warn me of the forlorn life of the “starving artist”. Since I decided I wanted to be happy in my future, I stopped writing. After all, “writers don’t make money”.

Sure, I never really quit writing completely. There was the occasional creative writing project, or the high-school buddy geek-boy world-building escapade that would let me flex my creative muscles from time to time, but I didn’t really take it all too seriously. I was meant to become a doctor (so I was told), even though I’d have these fanciful thoughts of becoming an animator floating in my thoughts. Doctors live cushy, happy lives, and don't starve like artists do. A career in medicine was the right way to go.

And so I took up a pre-med course at college. While one of my reasons for majoring in Psychology was that it was “pre-everything” and I wanted to keep my options flexible, most of the adults in my family took that to mean “I’m taking this so that I can enroll in med school like you’ve always wanted me to and be the first doctor in the family.” It was at college, though, that I rediscovered my life-long passions.

It happened in my Comics and the Graphic Novel class, aptly enough. I took it primarily because I felt that with my fanboy-dom, it’d be an easy A class. What I never expected was that the class had a heavy portion on comics production, and I soon found myself writing and drawing again. This time, however, I did it with purpose rather than just some random scribbling. With every push of the keyboard, I found my love for writing returning. It was like recapturing the feelings of some long-lost boyhood love, sweet and nostalgic and ultimately gratifying. Five-year-old me was back.

I decided that I wanted to write for a living. A lot of significant people in my life were dismayed at my decision. For one thing, my mother and both of my grandmothers had always hoped I would become a doctor. For another, my then-girlfriend who was actually planning on becoming a doctor was worried that the differences in our life paths would mean the end of our relationship (and yes, it was one of the reasons she dumped me). But there comes a time in a person’s life where he’s provided the tiniest window to pursue his dreams, and if he doesn’t take it, fate will shut that window without any regard for human life. I had to take a leap. I had to chase my dream.

I knew that I wasn’t the best writer out there. I knew that I had tons more room to improve. They say, to become a better writer, you should keep writing; and so I got a day job writing for an events/media company. They also say, to become a better writer, you’ve got to have significant life experiences; and so I quit my day job.

I figured that I wasn’t going to have many significant life experiences sitting at a desk all day waiting for the clock to strike six. I may have been working for an events company, but the job itself was pretty uneventful. I was chained to a makeshift cubicle within a red-curtained prison, facing the drudgery of the same old shit happening every day (“same old shit” meaning “absolutely nothing”). I was in significant life experience hell.

I needed to get out of there. But what I needed more was the money that the job paid. Life isn’t all that easy, especially in my particular situation. After tons of consideration, I realized that no other day job would pay me as much, so I resigned myself to the fact that I’d forever be imprisoned in an office job I hated. That’s when two people came and rescued me – Lauren, by introducing me to the wonderful world of freelancing, and John Parr, by methods better elaborated here.

Freelance writing offered potentially more income at a much more flexible schedule. Not only would I be making more money, I’d have a heck of a lot more time to garner as many significant life experiences as I could. It felt like a perfect fit (and one of my oldest friends just happened to agree). If I was ever to take a life-defining risk, this had to be it.

Needless to say, I took that risk, which brings us to this blog. Since I’m much too introspective for my own good, I thought I’d be sharing my thoughts and experiences as a freelancer here. I’ll be ranting and raving and offering a few helpful tips along the way. The blog might not be as useful or as relevant as I think it could be, but what the heck – I’m writing, goddammit, and it feels like home.

1 comment:

  1. "the high-school buddy geek-boy world-building escapade"

    HEY, I REMEMBER SOMETHING. We made a Magic expansion with Nieves and Assault. Complete with back story and NOVELOL.