I remember the first book I tried to write and illustrate. It was a Halloween story with ghosts. I could draw ghosts, thus the topic. And that was the last time I tried to illustrate anything. Second grade, if my memory holds true. Art has never been my strong point.
When I was around 12 years old I saw Aliens on TV (maybe I’ve shared this story before—like I can remember). It scared me to death—seriously, I was huddled on the bing-bag chair in the exact middle of our family room, making sure my arms and legs did not breach the imagined bubble of protection that I had around me and hardly daring to breathe—but it also intrigued me. The military characters, and the way they stuck together like a team, drew me in, and I couldn’t stop watching. The next day I started writing a similar story using my friends as characters. I probably still have a notebook somewhere with this stuff in it. It should be burned.
But that is how I started my journey in writing. I wanted to write a story cooler than Aliens so people would read it and feel the same way that I did at the end of that movie. Although I’m pretty sure I decided that I would never kill almost everyone in a story I wrote. And it took me years to figure out that the reason they didn’t leave anyone on the ship in space is because there would be no story otherwise. There need to be good reasons for these things people, especially when a 12 year old is asking the question.
Dave Farland is a big voice on the topic of story is emotion. I’m with him on this. A story that stirs the recipient will stick with that person, and they will tell their friends about it because it was cool and they’re dying to share. Story is about emotion, and my very first goal with writing was to produce something that struck people as hard as Aliens struck me.
I’ve never done it, I don’t think, but I’ve come a long way, and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon.