Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hunting Treasure

As the last of the cannibals collapsed to the ground amid the blood spattered weeds and coconuts, his tattooed head bounding away down the hill as if fleeing for its life, Captain William "Cutlass" James roared in victory. All around him the bodies of both friend and foe lay mangled and lifeless. As the old crone had said, to fight the cannibals would cost a terrible price, that of all of Cutlass's men, but in the end the battle would be his.

Cutlass jabbed his sword into the dirt, leaving it standing tall like the palm trees scattered across this tiny island, and withdrew the torn and faded map from his pocket. The symbols, drawn in dried blood, had led him to this isle and now directed him to the trio of drooping palms at the crest of the small hill atop which he and his ten best men had faced the cannibal tribe. 

Snatching up the shovel lying beside his first mate's dead body, Cutlass made his way to the  three trees, seeking the "King Paw" as the map named it. The old crone back at Beggar's Port had deciphered that clue for Cutlass, pointing out that that "Paw" could also refer to "Palm", meaning a tree, and"King" would mean the "top" tree, or the northernmost tree on a standard map. So now Captain Cutlass stood before the Top Tree, shovel in hand. Normally Cutlass would make his men do the manual labor of digging up the chest, but as he'd sacrificed them all on the word of an old witch, it was left to him.

Thirty minutes of digging resulted in the uncovering of a moderate wooden chest clasped shut with a rusty old padlock. Cutlass's dagger snapped the old device off in a heartbeat. Taking a deep breath, Cutlass reverently opened the lid...

Why do I write? The million dollar question. Also the topic for this month's Writers Ramble. In short it's for the hunt, like a buried treasure. But in order to truly answer this question I have to start from the beginning.

I was born on November 16, 1978...

OK, not that far back. Maybe high school... See back then I did a lot of drawing. I loved to draw. Specifically I loved to draw comic book characters. I didn't draw comic books--although I did dabble a few times--I just drew the characters. And not just comic book characters. Anything Marvel, Star Wars, GI Joe, various TV shows, all went down on paper. Later, when I started playing RPGs with my friends, those characters went down on paper, too. And I was always making up my own superheros as well.

During my senior year I got into computer art and 3D modeling. Again my focus was on fantasy characters and sci-fi ships and weapons. This led to a brief attempt to break into video game design without any formal schooling. It only lasted a few years.

Then I was in a band. I play the guitar and some friends and I started writing music together. I can't sing to save my life, but I loved writing song lyrics for Mike to sing. I would write all sorts of crazy songs like one entitled "Cereal Killer" which focused on Wendell of the three Cinnamon Toast Crunch chefs and how he murdered his two partners in order to be the sole CTC chef and hoard all the money.

In college I started out as a psychology major, but ended up in a science fiction literature class for an elective credit. It was there that I finally realized what I'd been looking for all those years. From drawing to modeling to music writing, the one thing that they all had in common was this: The telling of a good story.

That's what I'd been looking for in each of these pursuits; the story. All the characters I drew, all the ships I modeled, had stories behind them, either someone else's or my own. The music I wrote all told tales, usually twisted or deranged, but always complete.

That's when I decided if I wanted to tell stories, I needed to quite hiding them in other mediums and just focus on the source. I changed my major then from psychology to English studies and started putting my stories down on paper. And the first short story I completed as a final project for my last class in college was awarded Honorable Mention in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest. At that point I was hooked.

So when asked the question of why I write, what I love about writing, I always say the same thing: It's the quest for a good story. I live for this quest and it will likely spend the rest of my life in pursuit. Because even when one good story is found, like my HM story, there's always another, better, story waiting to be found.

And I will find it.


  1. Wow, you sound a lot like what I went through growing up. I was always trying to make or build something.

    I never knew you were in a band. Do you still have your guitar?

  2. I have two, actually, both acoustic. Although one has been with a friend for a few years now while he tries to repair the neck. Yeah, I love playing guitar, I find it very relaxing. I rarely write my own music anymore. I prefer to just play and sing songs I know, mostly 90's grunge music.

  3. I'll bet your psych classes really help inform your writing though. A productive side road.

  4. Yeah, Heidi, I learned a lot in the Psych classes I took before switching. Especially about human behavior, which definitely comes in handy when writing about people. Which is, you know, every story.

  5. I think that creative people will find creative outlets no matter what they are doing. I interviewed for a job at a Corporate Insurance office after I graduated college while I was waiting for a job in what I'd actually studied to open up. The application process involved writing business letters in response to various complaints and issues. I didn't anything about Corporate Insurance and what could and couldn't be done, but I could definitely tell a story. When I got the job they said they'd never enjoyed reading an applicant as much as they'd enjoyed mine. That should have been a clue hehe Ahh well, live and learn ;)