In 2009, I graduated Western Illinois University with a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Film and Print & Broadcast Media. I was a media junkie and a media jack-of-all-trades. That summer, I knew it was only a matter of time before I wrote a novel that blew everyone away.
Fast forward to 2011, and I self-published my first book. It was supposed to be an edgy, gritty, and existential coming-of-age story about some backwoods kid who spent most of his time consuming advertising. Some people told me that they genuinely enjoyed it, and others changed the topic when I asked them about it at social gatherings.
I was 23 at the time. After it released, I sat back and waited. For what? Ultimately, nothing. With my university degree in my belt, I spent a few years in a plateau. I was carrying around a piece of paper that said I had learned something, and in hindsight, I used it as an excuse to stop learning.
It wasn’t until Literary Orphans that I began to really learn again. I read, studied, and observed these other amazing writers. I embedded myself into a community of wonderful creators, many of whom shared similar dreams of making it as a writer/entertainer. The more I focused on making Literary Orphans into this beautiful collective, the more I realized how many mistakes I made with my own writing.
My first novel was a wry attempt at forcing counterculture and ego unto the world. It was a satirical purging of my feelings about the “college experience” and all of the many peers I surrounded myself with in those years. I went out into the world as an island, and in response, I learned what most islands learn. It’s no fun being alone out in the ocean. You don’t get to feed on that communal inspiration. Your audience is mostly your family, and more importantly, no one is challenging you to continually better yourself.
My failure was a good thing. It led to new friends, a wife, and a group of writers that impress me every day. I missed being able to write about what I was thankful for this past week during Thanksgiving, but here it is: I am thankful for the adventure I’m on, the people I’m around, and the new things I learn every single day.
- Check out Literary Orphans Issue 27: Tiptree HERE
- See my review of the newly released Black and Chrome Edition of Mad Max: Fury Road over at Drunk Monkeys!