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Wasn’t sure how to approach this week’s assignment, so I went for simple: here’s a brief history of my writing experience.

Years ago during a drive back home from graduate school with my then girlfriend (and now wife) to visit my parents, I took some NoDoz. I’d never taken any kind of anti-drowsy medication before, and I was skeptical that it would work. I was known to chug Mountain Dew right before going to bed, with no ill effects. How could two little caffeine pills matter?

About an hour into the drive, my eventual spouse turned to me and asked, “How are you doing?”


Yes, it was that frantic and fast. No, I’ve never taken NoDoz since that day. What did I need to talk about so frantically? My first idea for my own science fiction story. The best idea ever for a story.

Yes, really.

Okay, no, not really. But at the time, it sure felt like it.

It took more than six years for me to do anything about the idea. In 2005 after my wife had moved to Kansas to start her new job at KU, I hung back in Virginia to finish teaching a summer class. I knew I’d be by myself for more than six weeks with almost nothing to do, so I set myself to the task of writing a 50k novel during that time. A mini-NaNoWriMo, if you will. I finished 50,000 words in 26 days. The result wasn’t very good (I won’t say “awful.” But I probably could). Truth is, it didn’t matter. I’d done it. I’d written my first novel. And the experience was glorious.

That following fall I participated officially in NaNoWriMo for the first time. I did a complete rewrite of my summer effort. It was still ungood, but the creation process was equally intoxicating. Moreso, because I was sharing the process with other gleeful amateur novelists.

In 2008 I stepped into the Municipal Liaison role for NaNoWriMo. Writing novels had become as much about encouraging other writers as it was enjoying the process myself. The act of leading other writers through the blitzkrieg noveling experience, more than anything else, has shaped my enthusiasm for writing. Getting to know the various creative talents that live in Lawrence has proven to be some of the most enjoyable, memorable moments in my life so far.

I don’t write for publication. More and more, I’m starting to think I don’t really require—or even desire—to be a widely published author. I’m completely uninterested in the marketing and business side of publishing and selling a novel. I don’t write for catharsis, or to purge my soul of some deep dark hurt. I don’t write to prove anything to anyone.

I write because I like to write. And if I can share that joy of writing with other like-minded folks? That’ll do.

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