How I Got Started as a Writer

When I was a boy, I wrote stories and drew pictures. I still have some of those stories and lots of drawings. I never considered becoming a writer then. Not until I was 18, when I had an epiphany.

I was standing over a copy machine in a church in Salem, Oregon. As the optics flashed, I had an idea. “You will write books.” It was an unusual idea, a clear idea. It was like a vision.

That was in 1976. It has been my guiding star for almost 40 years.

Jump to 1983. When I told my dad that I had decided to major in English, he said, “What are you going to do with that?” I told him that I wanted to become a writer—at that time, a technical writer to be exact. He replied, with anti-swagger, “You can’t be a technical writer.”

Thank you, dad, for your gift: Motivating me to prove you wrong.

I graduated from BYU with my bachelor’s in English 30 years ago this week. A few months later, I got a job as a technical writer for the company where my dad worked for 25 years.

Soon after I landed the job—my first, real, grown-up job—my dad and I had a conversation in the backyard of his house on the ranch. I said the most disrespectful thing I have ever said to him. “Dad, you can just eat crow.” He smiled. I knew he was proud, but he wasn’t accustomed to expressing emotions that John Wayne wouldn’t.

Fast forward to 2013. I have written 18 books which have generated revenue approaching $1,000,000.00. I haven’t seen all that revenue as income, but I have been able to take home almost 10 percent of that in royalties.

So here I am, looking back at the impact of a single moment 37 years ago, the moment that electric vision wrote itself on my heart. It has not been easy. Sometimes it has not been fun. But I have never given up. Not entirely.

Well. I did give up once, but only temporarily. I wrote my first novel 22 years ago, but I threw it away in a fit. I actually threw away several books. It was a discouraging time in my life. But my star kept shining.

I write everyday, in several genres. It never gets boring. I never tire of it. Besides my journal, I am actively working on three books right now: (1) a technical book, a second edition of one of my programming books; (2) a how-to book on how to write and publish a book; and (3) I am nearing completion of my second novel, a YA fantasy set in the modern West about a girl who talks to horses and falcons and rattlesnakes, and they talk back.

Andi, the protagonist of the novel, is getting ready to save the world, what part she can save, but she doesn’t know that yet. She’ll figure that out in book 3. Right now, she is just trying to deal with her mother’s betrayal and why someone wants to kill her. A horse named Jubi is helping her.

I have no plans to retire.

P.S. You should be writing, too. Why aren’t you? A salutary practice, writing.

One thought on “How I Got Started as a Writer

  1. Salutary, indeed! I can't tell you how pleased I am to have stumbled upon your blog posts. I very much enjoy your style and voice. I look forward to reading your how to book about writing and publishing. I started a book once, but didn't make it too far.


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