What is the one thing everyone has but can do nothing about? Regret, simple as that. Somewhere down the line, we have made choices that altered our lives and sent us down a path we didn’t see ahead of time. Writing is like that for me. I have always been a creative person with an attraction to those things dark and mysterious. I was ok at sports and never really considered myself good at much of anything else. I did give skateboarding a try, but was only ok. I did really well in school, but as for everything else…I was average.
I spent most of my grade school years in a program for gifted and talented students. In fifth grade we were our own class, got to do really cool things, and our teacher Dr. Terry encouraged us to dig deep and be as imaginative as possible. I started to jot down small stories to read to the class, but none of them really amounted to much. Or did they? Did they plant a seed in me I didn’t feel then? After middle school and then my freshman year in high school, I got thrown in with the rest of the students, failed a class, and found my self-esteem derailed. I used to think I was better than everyone else, but I realized maybe I wasn’t and my whole life till then was a lie to myself. Then I fell…
About the time I started skating, I also found the joys of metal music. Metallica, Megadeth, Iron Maiden, and Slayer became the soundtrack to my early teen years, and hell, the rest of life. The images I could picture from the music did something in my mind. The little seed that was planted in fifth grade grew and I wrote things to read when a bunch of us friends got together. They went over well and people thought I should write for a living. Sound good? Not really. I was in high school, salvaged my grades in the last year and went to work at a factory about a year after graduating. The seed withered and vanished under the flood of beer that followed.
My choices then screwed my life up pretty good for a while. I have found that those choices I once hated myself for are now my salvation. If I had chose differently, I wouldn’t have met my wife, been graced with my two sons, or gone to college. As messed up and hopeless as I felt years before, I feel content now. College brought the seed back into focus. I enjoyed researching and doing papers, reports, and lesson plans for my teaching degree, but real life didn’t cut it. The seed faded away again.
I tried for three years to get a teaching position and worked another job with that to make ends meet. I decided to throw the years of school away and go back to a factory to shore up the family. It was a choice I regretted at first, but now I do not. Here I meet my now friend and fellow author Wesley Southard. I read Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker, but I was unaware of the small press horror world. He gently shoved me in the direction of Brian Keene, Ed Lee, Douglas Clegg, J.F. Gonzalez, Wrath James White, Tim Lebbon, and the late great Richard Laymon.
These people wrote like I felt. They talked to me more than any mass market book. The seed burst through my head and grew at a wild pace. Through Wesley, I began to write for real. In 2010 we attended Mo-Con V in Indy and read in the open mike slot. I felt I made the right choice to pursue something that has simmered in me my entire life.
Now over a year and four story sales later, I feel vindicated in my choice, no regret here this time. I would like to thank my wife and kids for their understanding, Wesley for the push into the writing realm, and a writer from PA who gave me the encouraging talk I needed right at the beginning. I can never repay you guys the debt I owe for this.
My choice…to write.
My regrets…fuck ’em.