Part Eleven: My Passion

Being a writer is not a new thing for me, which might come as a surprise considering the lack of quality and polish that my writing exhibits. This is not some calling that I discovered for myself in adulthood…it’s something I have been doing since childhood, almost as far back as I can remember. With the childhood that I had, there is smart money riding on the probability that storytelling, for me, began as a form of escapism…fashioning worlds where I had a semblance of control that I lacked in the real world. It was probably my way of working things out as well, trying to obtain some rudimentary understanding of things and making sense of what I was experiencing in everyday life.
I know that I have been persistently vague so far, regarding the specifics of my childhood, at least where my home life is concerned. I will get to it, the good and the bad, in my own time. This is my story and I will tell it however I damn well see fit. I’m the storyteller here, just like I always have been in my life…but this marks the first occasion where the story I’m telling is a true one, where I am the protagonist (a role I don’t really think I deserve), and that makes things more of a challenge than you might think. You may not enjoy being subject to my seemingly arbitrary whims, bouncing here and there through my life, but that is how this works for me…the only way it works.
So, I was telling you how I have always been a writer. I began telling stories at an early age, rudimentary and trite by any objective standard, but they were stories just the same. The earliest written things were little tales featuring Tom the turkey, if I recall his name correctly. They were stupid little stories about Tom’s insipid adventures in the life of a turkey, culminating in something about how he sacrificed his only begotten son for the sake of Thanksgiving dinner. I’m kidding about that last part, he sacrificed himself; the Jesus parallel was just more entertaining to me just now. Tom did actually get eaten in the end, not as a sacrifice, I’m sure…but really just because he was the wrong turkey in the wrong place at the wrong time. All of my stories have a fairly optimistic outcome, as you can clearly tell.
It’s the unwritten stories from my childhood that were the most important to me. It could have been because my early years were plagued with violence and fear that I began concocting more and more intricate and frightening depictions of what was going on in the world all around me. The real world apparently wasn’t scary enough for me, I suppose…so I imagined far worse things around every corner and lurking within every shadow.
Initially these musings were cobbled together from stories I heard along with bits and pieces of horror movies that I’d seen (I was too young to read when this first started), gradually becoming more original in nature as my imagination developed in its own right and took hold. I spent a great deal of time alone while I was growing up, wandering through the hills by myself regardless of the weather or season. These were some of the best days of my life. There were days when I would wake up and head off immediately into the hills, only returning home after it had gotten dark…other aspects of my childhood might have been traumatic, but the degree of freedom I was allowed to experience is something I will always treasure.
In my little world I was being hunted and stalked by an assortment of creatures, my only goal being to survive in the wilderness on my own. I look back and wonder how I could have possibly wanted more terror in my life than I already had…but that was apparently just what I desired, or maybe it was just all that I knew.
At first these were stories that I told only to myself, things to keep me scared in my free time, as scared as I was at home…upon further reflection maybe it was a coping mechanism, a method by which I could keep myself in a constant state of wariness? Over time I began to involve the few friends I had made in this narrative tapestry of horrors that filled my life, in the same way that other children might play cops & robbers or cowboys & Indians. I would weave together new mythologies surrounding the small town where we lived and surround us with beings and creatures that thirsted for our blood…trying to immerse us so deeply into the fiction that we lost sight of it being anything but the reality that we experienced in everyday life.
This spoken and interactive form of storytelling preceded my actually writing anything by a couple of years and it continued well into my adolescence…populating the darkness with horrors that kept me awake at night, bringing my nightmares into the waking world.
I’ve heard it said that an active imagination is a healthy thing in a child, but I get the distinct feeling that the particular manifestations of my imaginings may very well point towards something quite unhealthy. I guess it’s up to you to make that determination; I am too biased to reach a viable conclusion.

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