I scribbled my first stories while in junior high school. I can’t recall the contents, only that I did write them. They remained hidden away and have been lost over the years, since I am both forgetful and disorganized.
By high school, I was writing short essays to amuse my friends. I would begin with a blank piece of lined paper and riff on some random topic until one side was completely filled. Several made it into the high school humor magazine, including one about Thanksgiving that sympathized with the turkey.
There also was a series of detective stories titled “Chauncey Freemont, Private Dick.” It was a disjointed (for high school students are not famous for their ability to remain laser-focused) and unfunny (for high school students also are not famous for their discerning tastes in comedy) exercise in plagiarism of Firesign Theatre’s Nick Danger episodes. I even starred as the titular character in a home movie created by my brother, some friends, and me during a brief period when we all thought we were amazingly talented and headed for lucrative careers in Hollywood.
My first serious attempt at writing fiction occurred at college. In my junior year, I changed from majoring in literature to writing. If I learned nothing else through the creative writing courses I took during my last two years at college, it was that I disliked being told how to be creative. I took offense at professors who had never been published explaining why their approaches to writing were best. I took offense at being told my characters weren’t “deep” enough, or that they spoke in “common language,” as one professor kindly explained to me. I took offense at being instructed never to use the word “upon” because it is old-fashioned. I like the word “upon.” It’s a good word.
I wrote two short stories during that time. I would go to the SUNY Plattsburgh writer’s club and wait patiently for everyone else to have their turn to talk about what they were outlining, or for the prolific student poet to finish reading us his latest epic, so I could discuss what I had written and whether or not it needed work. It seldom happened.
Eventually, I completed a short story about a schizophrenic woman who kills herself because she believes it will get her to heaven. It came in second in the annual literary contest. The following year, I submitted my second short story, about an estranged couple who reconnect, and it took first place. For several weeks, I felt like a real writer.
Twenty years later, I started writing again, only this time for my blog, and it was back to humorous essays about random topics. I’m also now writing my third proper short story and my first novel-length (if I stop editing it) murder mystery. I’ve sold 11 copies of the first ebook collection of blog posts through Amazon since self-publishing last month. I plan to use the proceeds to buy a bag of popcorn to eat whilst I sit upon my sofa and watch old home movies.
Check out Mark Feggeler’s blog, Ramblings of a Very Pale Man for more enjoyable reads.