Tuesday, January 5, 2010

How I Became a Writer

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.


L.L. Barkat said...


Oh, I really loved the humor in this one. This little statement, nicely placed made me LAUGH out LOUD...

"So I did. Take journalism, that is."

(and so is revealed how context affects comedy :)

Maureen said...

Echoing L.L. here.

how he became,
a writer
that is,
is a long story
so well told
we laugh
in delight
that he took
his father's
a cub learning
his lessons
becomes a
lion making
quite a roar

S. Etole said...

I'm glad this beginning has no end ...

Kim Anderson said...

Fun to look back and see how God uses relatively small events and offhand comments to move us toward His future.

nAncY said...

i am very fond of the image of a priest dancing on a beach :-)

it warms my heart for some reason.

i am so enjoying your sharing today.

A Simple Country Girl said...

Echoing all that Nancy shared...

A snip-it of my journey: I tucked tail and ran across campus when my college journalism instructor rubbed me the wrong way. Despite such a self-induced writer's derailing (the cursor of a half finished novel blinks in the inner darkness of my computer's belly; I dangle participles, I do often times split verbs, and splice with commas), the same blood still pumps heavy through my veins.

I reckon we are all still becoming...all that God wants us to be. Even if being well-known in Blogland or published with a bound book eludes this Simple Country Girl, my hands and heart passionately will continue plunking words.

Thank you for sharing, Glynn.

Corinne said...

I love that you wrote James Bond parodies :)

Glynn said...

I'm always struck with wonder and gratitude when people read and comment. And I received a laugh, a poem, encouragement, insight, a warm heart, a great story and my James Bond memory back again. Thank you so much.

Jennifer @ Getting Down With Jesus said...

I so enjoyed reading your journey through writing. My favorite part: Stage 7. ... The idea that we're "still becoming."

Not the end.
(Not -30- )


Monica Sharman said...

Hey, I started blogging at the same time you did!
You are a premed-turned-writer, and I am an engineer-turned-writer. I'm glad we ended up at this point (so far!).
It'll be fun to keep tracking this journey, huh?

Faith Imagined said...

Wow! I like the way you present your story! It was very consise and easy to read. I too did the public school thing for 9mths. UGH!

Good luck with your writing. I can't wait to read your "I'm published" story!

Marshall Jones, Jr. said...

I liked the inspiration coming from the B+. Reminded me of my own college experience.

My professor walked around the room telling us not to be discouraged. He said even the best in the class only received B's and C's on this first paper. Mine said B+.

I was ecstatic. Until then, I had no idea how difficult college writing would be. Seeing that, I thought, "Yeah, I can do this."

Thank you for bringing back the memories. Here's to still becoming...

-Marshall Jones Jr.