I’d like to think there comes a point in every writer’s life where he or she decides how much time to commit to the craft. Writing, and its partner-in-crime reading, demand time. As Stephen King advocates, a writer must do two things: read a lot and write a lot. But there’s also formal learning. A budding writer can take courses, attend seminars and read the essential books, such as Robert McKee’s seminal ‘Story’, or Stephen King’s candid ‘On Writing’. All of this is irrelevant, however, if the writer cannot endure the exhausting dance with doubt: the shadow that always lurks over any writer’s shoulder.
A few months ago, I was standing at a crossroads. Down one path, I could see a career in the engineering industry stretching far into the distance. That road looked well-trodden and flat, predictable and slow. The other path was shrouded in uncertainty. It still is now.
Over the past couple of years, I’d shot a few furtive looks down that hidden path. I was fortunate enough to start writing a couple of video games, I began reading books on the craft of writing, and I discovered a keen interest in screenwriting. I did my best to pack all this around my day job, but, truth be told, it took a toll. Something had to give.
Now, I’m heading down the obscured path. I’m armed with my little desk at home, a legion of notebooks, a burgeoning desire to write and, all-importantly, the support of my wife. I’ve got no idea what lies around the corner, but I’m going to find out.
I handed in my notice a month ago to the day. Many of my colleagues were bemused by my decision. They questioned why I would give up a relatively stable job, with a decent salary, for uncertainty. My answer was simple: to explore my passion for writing. In truth, I want to spend a large chunk of my life doing something that engages and challenges me, and that has the potential to give me satisfaction.
Recently I’ve started a few new chapters in my personal life, the most significant being my marriage to Kirsty. My professional career, however, had stagnated. The days traipsed by, all-too-often devoid of challenge and intrigue. The hollow comfort of familiarity bred boredom, which gradually mutated into disillusionment. I found myself in a limbo, trapped in a wall-less prison by an internal conflict between self-doubt and perceived worth. Taking a risk and following my passion was the only way to break out.
In short, I’m going to be writing a lot more from now on. My aim is to write a new blog post a week on a range of topics: many will be about video games; some will talk about storytelling in all its forms; others will touch on movies; and there may be a few brief book reviews in there, too. In addition, I’ll be making a concerted effort to turn some of the many ideas swilling around my head and scattered across my many notebooks into coherent short stories. As soon as I can share the video game content that I’ve been writing, I shall.
I want to be able to call myself a writer with pride and confidence, and I want to create entrancing stories to prove it. I want to throw myself into constantly developing my skills, to shake off the crust of stagnation.
Now that I’m heading down this road, I’m determined not to turn back. I know I’ll need all the encouragement and criticism I can get. My wife alone cannot bear that burden, so please join me on my adventure whenever you can, and don’t hesitate to encourage and criticise. I’ll need plenty of both.