A Childhood Dream Continued: What I’ve Been Writing

In a previous topic, I told the story of how I got started in the world of creative writing. In the interest of constructing a more detailed description of myself, I would now like to follow up on that subject to talk about the sort of writing I’ve done in the past, such as the types of pieces I’ve created and the genres of writing on which I’ve been focusing. Let me tell you, it’s been quite an interesting journey of self-discovery…

Ancient History

The composition notebook from my elementary school days

As I mentioned in the last post, the first stories I can remember writing were the narrative assignments given out in elementary school. These came with all sorts of different prompts: the world from the point of view of a shoe, an adventure in the rainforest from the perspective of one of its resident animals, an extraterrestrial telling about his visit to Earth. I greatly enjoyed these exercises, and I was even praised by my teachers on several occasions for my creativity. Pretty soon, I found myself looking forward to Composition class as that brief time when I was actually allowed to get lost in my own imagination during school hours. Unfortunately, it turns out I needed much more time than was provided in class to actually finish the stories I started, as many of my narrative assignments weren’t completed on the same day they were given. Maybe I had too many ideas, or maybe I was just a slow writer, but either way, I had much to learn about creating a full piece within a time limit. Still, I had plenty of fun with these prompts, and they certainly inspired me to continue writing outside of school, which led to the next phase in the honing of my craft…

My parents bought a computer for us just before I reached my preteen years. While I don’t recall very much about the first time I actually started using it, I do remember that I was using the word processor software long before I even had a decent grasp of the basics of surfing the Internet. I wanted to create stories, but without the pre-made prompts handed out in English class, I found myself faced with a new challenge: coming up with original ideas.

Because another major interest of mine at the time was video games, I decided I would start off with some short stories centered around a cast of Yoshi characters, somewhat like a spin-off series from Nintendo’s Mario franchise. Though I didn’t know it yet, this was my first shot at a type of creative writing that I would eventually grow to love: fanfiction. Somehow this sort of writing came easily to me; I went on to turn out numerous stories starring several different Yoshi characters, a few more based on the Pokemon franchise, and even a short piece or two based on J.K. Rowling‘s Harry Potter series. Of course, I never actually shared any of these stories, neither online nor with my family. At the time, I was content just to be able to get the many ideas in my head out into a visible medium. They were just for me.

So why did I like writing fanfiction so much? Perhaps it was the convenience of “plug-in” settings and background profiles that appealed to me most; as a preteen with a limited attention span, I wasn’t always willing to go through the often arduous task of creating completely original details for my works. That isn’t to say I never did so; in fact, my first attempt at writing a novel was when I was only ten years old, and though the end result was pretty lame even by my own amateur standards, I was still proud of myself for having created a lengthy piece of original fiction. The trick now was to take the writing skills I’d been told I did have and learn to perfect whatever else was lacking so that one day, I might turn out a novel that would actually be worth reading. But that would be a challenge for much later in my life.

The Dark Ages

(CC Image by Chris Blakeley via Flickr)

Major life changes in my early adolescence prompted me to stop writing as a hobby for some years. The beginnings of novels I had written as a kid sat untouched and incomplete in our classic iMac right up to its last days. Meanwhile, my interest in books persisted through the years; I read many novels as a teenager, most of which were fantasy-themed. Among my favorites were the Harry Potter books and Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon saga. But reading wasn’t the only interest of mine to last beyond my childhood…

Another major hobby of mine growing up was gaming. I played many computer and video games through my teen years, and it didn’t take me long to decide which genre was my favorite: the role-playing game (or RPG). My addiction to these games coupled with my love for medieval-themed stories eventually led me to discover the traditional tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, and though I never actually played a real session, I did absorb myself so deeply in learning the structure and details of the game that I soon became inspired to create stories around it even without the help of other players.

At last, I was writing stories again, this time with a medieval fantasy theme. Among these were a series of short pieces about the adventures of four friends in the world of D&D, as well as an incomplete novella depicting a star-crossed love story between a paladin and a necromantress (which in retrospect was rather clichéd and melodramatic; in fact, I actually plan to use it as a reference in future topics for examples of what not to do when writing). While this collection didn’t yet reflect the peak of my potential as a writer, it did serve as a stepping stone back into my old passion for creative writing, and that alone made it worth all the effort I put into it.

Renaissance

(CC Image by Gene Wilburn via Flickr)

The RPG phase of my writing passed right at the point in my life when I was graduating from high school and entering my freshman year of college. Interestingly enough, my chosen major was not in creative writing (as most of my family probably expected), but in my other passion: biology! For years, while I was studying to become a scientist, I continued to pursue writing as a hobby, turning out several short stories based on my interests in my spare time. But creating for myself wasn’t enough for me anymore; I wanted to take my craft to the next level. If I was going to follow my childhood dream, I needed outside help to learn how to improve my craft. Fortunately, my dad had the perfect recommendation.

In 2011, I enrolled in a six-month online creative writing course through UC Berkeley Extension: “Exploring Your Creative Writing Potential”. In this class, I learned about several different forms of writing – from poetry and short short stories to scripts and novels – and I experimented by creating a piece for every single module. Throughout my experience in the course, I came to discover a lot about myself and my potential as a writer: my strengths and weaknesses, which formats I enjoyed the most, techniques I didn’t yet know I could handle, etc. As far as I’ve determined, I love novels and short stories, I show promise with short short stories and (to my great surprise) book reviews, and I struggle most with first-person essays. Basically, my true creative potential lies in fiction writing.

Modern Age

And now? Well, you’re looking at it. After years of writing creatively for fun, I’m finally ready to start taking my craft more seriously, and this blog is the next step in the pursuit of my childhood dream. As an aspiring writer, I plan to combine my passion for creative writing with my knowledge in biology to create science fiction and fantasy novels, though I’d also like to turn out shorter pieces of assorted genres while those books remain in the works. In the meantime, writing regularly for a blog seems like a great way for me to keep up the practice and continue to learn everything I can about creative writing. But even if it weren’t, I’m still having fun, and in the end, that’s all that really matters.

That’s the history of my writing: what I’ve written and what I hope to write in the future. Now how about you? What sort of writing/creating have you done in the past, and what do you create (or hope to create) now?

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