I became a writer in stages.
Stage 1: I was 10, and read everything. I loved the monthly Scholastic Book Service at school, and ordered every mystery offered. I told my parents I wanted to write a mystery. My father, who owned a printing business in downtown New Orleans, came home one day with a bound, blank book with a heavy paper cover, and told me to write my mystery. I wrote in long-hand, and in pencil. I don’t remember much about it except it was about a bunch of kids finding a secret passage behind a grandfather clock.
Stage 2: Ninth grade, and I was 14. For any male my age and older, the rage was James Bond. Sean Connery was starring in a string of James Bond flicks (Goldfinger! Thunderball!), and every boy in my class was writing James Bond stories. I wrote James Bond parodies, starring James Breath, the man from LAVORIS. True story.
Stage 3: End of freshman year in college. I had been in a pre-med curriculum, and learned I would have to take 13 more hours in chemistry. NO! My father, who wanted me to be the doctor he couldn’t afford to be when the 1930s depression hit, suggested I do something that at least trained me for work, something like journalism. So I did. Take journalism, that is. I had the toughest teacher in the school for my introductory class – more than half of the class would drop the course and change majors by mid-semester. But on my first assignment, he gave be a B+, with this comment: “Not bad for a cub.” That's all it took.
Stage 4: I worked for a newspaper for nine months and knew it wasn’t for me. At the going pay scale, I was going to starve to death, for one thing. So I went into PR for Shell Oil, and one day, while I was working on a special project, an executive needed a speech, and I was the only one available to draft it. So I did. I liked it, and more the point, he liked what I did. Speech writing became a good chunk of my life for the next 30 years.
Stage 5: After being laid off, on my own for three years, and then nine months at St. Louis Public Schools, I found myself back in the corporate world. And I was traveling a fair bit. On my way to a conference in San Francisco, I listened to a music program offered by the airline – a singer named Mario Frangoulis. One song stuck in my mind, a song sung in Italian and titled “Luna Rosa.” The image it evoked was of a priest dancing on a beach. I don’t know why, but it did. For the next 18 months, I played out stories in my head about the priest, dropping the beach dance somewhere along the way. Then, I started writing what was in my head. Two novel manuscripts are completed, and six more “treatments” of 30,000 words or so each sit with the two completed manuscripts. And then there’s the one that’s totally different, and it may be the one I lead with. Somewhere.
Stage 6: In March of 2009, I started a blog. By July, I was writing poems. By September, I was helping edit an online poetry journal.
Stage 7: Still becoming; not The End.