On Writing

On Writing


            It all started on a bus ride home from high school my sophomore year.

            Before we get to the writing aspect let’s explore a little bit more of what constituted a bus ride.  In Fairbanks, Alaska the winters are very dark and very cold.  Every morning it was dark when I left for school at six a.m. and it was getting dark when we left school at three thirty.  The heaters on the bus were barely enough to keep out the worst of the chills.  Most of us wore our full outdoor ensemble inside the bus, our breaths misting as we chatted away about all the nonsense that makes up the high school existence.

            I lived on the “Chena Ridge Loop” bus route.  The route was well over an hour long (depending of course on the road conditions and if we didn’t get stuck) and I lived at the very end.  The route was run exactly the same way whether going to school or delivering us home, so in the mornings I was the last one picked up and at night I was the last one dropped off.

            It was long.  It was cold.  It was very, very boring. 

            Those of us that lived the furthest away from school kind of formed a little click.  We were all losers so it wasn’t much of a click, but our very loser-ness and the distance we traveled together every single day inevitably united us.  There was Henry (almost universally renowned as an asshole, who I’d known since third grade and one of the few people I truly considered a friend), James (The geeky guy who always thought he knew better than every one else.  The same one I would, years later, argue with vehemently about the merits of Huckleberry Finn in AP English), and Garth (The eternal sidekick who just kind of agreed with everyone about everything), and of course me (The one with delusions of being less of a loser than the rest). 

            During one of our very long rides together someone suggested a short story contest.  The parameters were set and everyone started to write.  We had to complete the story before the first of the four of us got off the bus, that way we could all read the stories and vote for our favorite.  There might have been something mentioned about what type of story it had to be, but I don’t remember.  I wrote a horror story.

            My story was about the four of us going out camping one weekend, an event that would never have happened in real life.  An odd sound kept waking us up in the middle of the night and by the light of the full moon we discovered one of the tents was ripped up.  Garth was missing.  We quickly realized that one of us must be a Werewolf.  No one would admit to it and in the space of a few sentences an epic battle was fought between the three remaining campers.  In the end, one badly wounded camper (I think it was me) stood up and surveyed the scene of devastation.  Blood and guts were splattered everywhere.  Organs dangled from trees.  Limbs were haphazardly hanging halfway in the blazing campfire, tattered clothing still smoldering. Then, Garth the werewolf jumped out of the woods and ripped my head off.

            It was only a couple of pages long and most of that was description of gore.  It was full of typos and grammatical errors (a tradition I continue if you hadn’t already noticed).  But it started a kind of writer’s infection in my soul.

            The other stories were entertaining in their own right but mine won out by sheer gore factor.  Henry and I voted for my story.  Garth agreed, as usual.   And James voted for himself.

            This game we’d started continued on periodically over the next few years.  Everyone got a kick out of it because it passed the time but none of them had developed the addiction that I did.  Almost everyday during school I would come up with the story idea that would be fleshed out on the ride home.  Most were more horror-fests, the plots were rudimentary, and the real fun came in trying to find new ways to describe entrails, viscera, and creative ways to eliminate the main characters.  The goal was to disgust my fellow riders, who just happened to also be the reoccurring main characters of said stories.  At one point I had a character knocked out by a fire extinguisher and then shoved into a fireplace with said extinguisher.  I relished in the irony!

            Within a matter of weeks I had already created quite the collection.  I converted a box that had previously held Magic, The Gathering Cards (I told you I was a loser) into a Story Box with a full inventory of the dark imaginings of a budding mind.  I guess in the hormonal flood and in the inexhaustible darkness of an inexhaustible winter it was all too easy to picture zombies, vampires, werewolves, and murderers.

            Of course, now that I’m an “adult”, live in sunny Florida, and no longer have mind-numbingly long bus rides (just mind-numbingly long traffic jams), I should be over this writing kick, right?  I don’t have the dark nights to inspire dark tales.  I have a family.  I have a halfway respectable job with the military.  Why would I still have the urgent need to amuse myself with words?  Maybe it’s a different kind of boredom, an adult boredom that comes with responsibilities and repetition of every activity forever after into the future.  Maybe it is a form of chemical imbalance in the brain forming a true addiction to the act of writing.

            Whatever it is, I might have graduated over the years from solely Horror stories to Horror stories plus everything else (and advice columns), but I’ve still got the bug.  Something started on that bus that seems to have snowballed, collecting up everything in my life.  Now there is one overriding question that seems to hang over every decision.  One question that seems to haunt every computer and scrap of paper.  One question that defines most days.  What do I write next?

RLPrice   RLPrice wrote
on 3/31/2008 1:59:20 PM
I have the same obsession with writing that you do but the only difference is I come up with these really great ideas and then I can't get them into gear

Jeremiah P
Short Story
writing Jeremiah P
something witty
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The story of how I got started writing .
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