( I think if I hadn’t decided to go with CrapPile, the title of this post would be the name of the blog.)
I have wanted to be a writer my entire life. When I was a fifth grader we made little handmade poetry books to give to our moms, but I decided to do one better. After I finished my project I grabbed a sheet of notebook paper and wrote a little rhyming story called “Mrs. V Asked Me to Take a Seat” about me acting up on the bus during a field trip. I filled both sides of the paper, hence writing a book! (You had to flip it in order to read the whole story, you see.) I brought it home, found the address to the publishing company in my copy of Green Eggs and Ham, got an envelope and stamp from my mom and mailed that sucker to Dr. Seuss, reasoning that a writer as great as he would know how to type it, illustrate it, bind it into a book and make the name John Siebelink as famous as his.
The bastard never replied.
Off and on for years and years I have dreamed of becoming a successful writer. At first I wanted to be a great literary figure. Melville, Hawthorne, Twain, Hemingway, Steinbeck, Seuss, Siebelink. Reading through the L volume of my parents’ encyclopedia set where all the literature articles were, I was first introduced to many famous authors that I eventually grew to hate, and some that I fell in love with. My middle school self did not yet grasp, despite my first “submission” a few years earlier, the fact that you actually had to write in order to be published and have a chance at fame.
I did not start writing seriously until a few years ago, when I finally made up my mind that what I really wanted to be was not a literary giant, but a genre writer. I had begun plotting some science fiction stories during fire watch at Marine boot camp, and eventually my interest in mysteries led me to experiment a little that way, too.
Besides fiction, in 2012 I was introduced virtually to then Science Fiction Writers of America president John Scalzi and his blog “Whatever.” I then created my very first blog, the first of many, and tried navigating the blogosphere on top of my writing. Eventually I just stopped. I think I went for a year and a half before I decided to crack my knuckles and get back on Microsoft Word. Another blog was started, and soon deleted. Any stories written were either deleted, half-finished, or forgotten. I had fallen into a horrible writing pattern. I would go at writing with a great purpose, full of energy. Then I would stop. Six months or a year later, I would be back online again writing. Then I would stop again. And so on and so forth.
It was not the dream of writing that kept coming and going. During every hiatus I would actively come up with story ideas, characters, or places in my head and act them out. For some reason, though, I was never able to pull myself together and get the ideas down on paper. Sometimes I did try but found that thinking them and trying to translate what was in my head onto the screen was impossible. Once in a blue moon I would actually finish a story and be proud of it after the first reading or two, then put it away so I could come back and take another look at it later with fresh eyes. Most of the time I was convinced I must have been wasted or something when I wrote the first drafts because in my mind they were awful. Only once did I come back and take a look at a story months after it was first written and was still proud of it. That story was submitted yesterday to an online science fiction magazine, my first SF submission in years.
In some ways I feel that this flash piece of mine is my first “official” science fiction story submission. I have submitted a few in the past, but usually I did so as soon as they were written without having anyone else read and give me an opinion on them, or without making them the best they could be. Naturally, they were all rejected and rightfully so. I’m embarrassed that the younger me thought that my half-ass attempts were worthy of Asimov’s or Analog.
For a while another thing that was holding me back was a deep-rooted belief that I could never compete with the great writers who have already been publishing in the magazines or who are New York Times Bestsellers. The anxiety and lack of self-esteem probably doomed a lot of potentially good stories of mine from over the years, and regrettably they have all been deleted from my hard drive so there is no way of knowing if there was anything I could do now as a slightly more experienced writer to fix them. Thankfully, a couple months back I found a few stories in one of the books that I thought was absolute garbage in every way. I was CONVINCED I could write a better story, so as soon as I had time on my hands again I began writing again. AND I restarted an old blog, “The Novice Student of Writing” which I renamed “CrapPile” to add a bit of humor. I have only been on this chapter of my writing life for a few days now, and in the past it has been around this time that I drop off the face of the blogosphere for months and months and months. This time, though, I don’t feel like stopping.
I can’t for sure tell you what is I am feeling, or what happened deep down to make me want to finally write again after so long. But I can tell you is that I have never been as excited writing as I am now. With two stories on the market, a growing blog, and various stories and books being plotted out I think that John Siebelink is going to stay in the writing and blogging worlds for a good long time. Even if both stories are rejected I will be proud that for the first time in 28 years I am doing the writing thing right.
I still want my poem back, Seuss!