When I learned I liked Writing
Updated: May 30, 2020
Frankly, I feel a lot of anxiety about all this self-promotion and getting people to be interested in my writing. I'm one of the least interesting people I know, so to try to pretend I'm qualified to create a buzz about my work really feels like a stretch. So the only thing I have to offer is what led to where I am now.
I thought the first post would be about what inspired me to write. I have to say my inspiration came from my love of a text adventure game I played when I was 12. It was called Adventure (catchy title, I know). In my far-from-perfect memory, I remember my dad bought a graphics tablet in like 1980. At the time, that was a product way ahead of its time and it turned out to be a useless, expensive toy. I seem to recall it cost him about $700 in 1980 (which would be like million dollars by today's reckoning.) When he went back to the store to try to return it, the store wouldn't give him his money back. But they said they'd let him exchange it for $700 dollars worth of software. So my dad and I walked around that store looking for software. I still have fond memories of the smell of new computer hardware. It gets me really nostalgic when I smell that new computer smell.
Anyways. The one game he bought that started it all was this game:
In the box, was a single 5 1/4" floppy disc for our Apple II computer. I remember putting it in and playing an interactive story that teleported me to another world. That combined with the smell of the new computer was very powerful.
I'm not going to bore with the details of the game. If you're interested, go look it up. But here's a screen shot of all the action packed goodness it brought:
As a 12-year old kid, I felt a yearning to create the same experience I felt from these kinds of games. Fast forward to my sophomore year in Winnemucca, Nevada. By then I had digested many more of these text adventure games including one that became very popular called Zork.
And here is where I learned about plagiarism and the way we human beings learned. You see, I started wanting to write. And so, what did I write? Fantasy stuff like these games I played. So, there was game called Zork III. And I really, really thought the introduction to that game was incredible. Here's the words that I loved that eventually got me into trouble...
As in a dream, you see yourself tumbling down a great, dark staircase. All about you are shadowy images of struggles against fierce opponents and diabolical traps. These give way to another round of images: of imposing stone figures, a cool, clear lake, and, now, of an old, yet oddly youthful man. He turns toward you slowly, his long, silver hair dancing about him in a fresh breeze. "You have reached the final test, my friend! You are proved clever and powerful, but this is not yet enough! Seek me when you feel yourself worthy!" The dream dissolves around you as his last words echo through the void....
I took those words and changed a few small details. And turned them into my English Teacher, Mr. Lane as a creative writing assignment. He loved it! Until my best friend, Steve Brown told him I copied the idea from the game. Then I got in trouble.
But you know, now I'm 52 years old. And here's something that often escapes people that haven't done much creative work. Creativity always starts by mimicking something we see, feel, and experience. It's called inspiration and its a vital part of learning to find our own voice.
My story for Veer Left for Home, is a work that is the byproduct of a lifetime of experiences and, yes, I probably copied stuff subconsciously. I just hope Mr. Lane would be glad to know that he didn't permanently discourage me from writing.