Though I wondered, in a moment of questioning myself, was my writing enjoyable? Not if a reader would agree or be entertained by my writing but if it was fulfilling to me. In the moment, I wasn’t really sure the answer and that lead me to thinking about my history with writing.
No. This isn’t the end of my blog, Kelen, but it is important to wonder about the curiosities of the universe. And I want to question, is writing fun?
So let’s see… he wrote 814 words. I’ll shoot for a 1,000 words, but I would honestly like to double his word count because I’m a jerk.
I got into writing because of my music. When I was in 5th grade (stop me, if I’ve said this before), I started writing R&B love songs. By 1997, that transitioned into writing raps, a few that you can actually see in the photos above and below. Aside from a random story I tried to write once for class in 6th grade, I didn’t do much writing outside of that.
My head is where all my writing would happen. I always had some kind of cool story happening in my head about whatever I was obsessed with at the time. I once had mapped out an entire Sonic The Hedgehog universe shortly after the premiere of the Sonic The Hedgehog ABC cartoon (not the goofy one, that one was fine).
Aside from that, all my other writing would happen through my drawings. I once envisioned myself becoming a comic book artist so I would spend hours (and a ton of classroom time) drawing superheroes. Seeing as Spider-Man was my guy, I’d draw him most often, with that giving way to X-Men and eventually Batman and his assorted universe.
Even way back in 4th grade, I got the urge to create my own Spider-Man comic. Calling it Sensational Spider-Man (3 full years before Marvel), this three issue wonder featured my retelling of Amazing Spider-Man #375 as well as a two part (or three part?) story featuring Mysterio taking on Wolverine and Gambit. I didn’t do any other issues past that, although I did create another Spider-Man comic during the blizzard of 1996. This one starred Ben Reilly Spider-Man teaming with Peter Parker to take on Cardiac. While all that was happening, Spider-Ben stopped long enough to give a guy a blood transfusion. It would’ve resulted in him gaining Spider-Powers but I’ll come back to that.
In 1999 and 2000, I spent a ton of time on rap message boards. I saw an ad in The Source for aka.com, a site where you could post your rhymes and interact with other aspiring artists. After trying out their message board system, I somehow ended up at ezboard.com at Abyss Battle Boardz. Since ezboard was user friendly, I soon had my own site, The Lion’s Den. I developed a number of relationships from my battle board days but somehow in 2000, I ended up at marvel.com.
I hadn’t read comics consistently since The Clone Saga ended and nosing around Marvel got me interested again. I started catching up on a bunch of comic history I missed and again, I somehow ended up discovering superhero fanfiction.
After reading a bunch of the stories I found, I pitched a few ideas to a Marvel fanfiction site and they were met with little fanfare (don’t worry, me and that guy are Facebook friends now). So I initially took to ezboard to start Comics Continuum or Continuity or something to that effect. I never got it off the ground.
What I did start was Marvel Anthology in October of 2000 and ultimately, DC Anthology in April of 2001. While I eventually began college and got away from fanfic, I did manage to write Amazing Spider-Man, Dragon Ball Z (1 issue), Scarlet Spider (where I got to revive my Spider blood transfusion idea from junior high), Robin (Tim Drake), and a smattering of other random issues. Marvel and DC Anthology carried on just fine without me until 2015, when my friend Erik ended his reign as editor-in-chief of both sites.
Man, this turned into a writing origin story out of nowhere.
From there, I made journalism my major and ended up doing a handful of interviews and writing for Potomac State’s newspaper, The Pasquino. I never finished college, so other than a few times in WVU classes, that was the extent of my journalism career. But I will tell you that it’s helped me a ton when it comes to podcasting.
Marcus mentioned that a bunch of his writing came from personal journaling. And actually, I’m not far behind him. I had a Xanga account and then a LiveJournal account for many years before ultimately walking away in 2011. In my early years, most of it was actually personal details in my everyday life. As time passed, more quizzes and YouTube videos started replacing my personal posts. Then I started writing more about the music I was making. I left LiveJournal because my friends list was dwindling and I really loved the community I was a part of, so I was feeling like I was speaking into the void.
My most personal moments always came while writing rhymes. I believe the lyrics went: “music is my therapy, spine tingling something something something”. You can listen to any amount of my catalog and probably hear me confessing to something that I did or an issue I was coping with. It’s funny to think now that I haven’t written a real song in almost 3 years and I seem to be okay with losing that emotional outlet. But I really think I may have cracked some heavy codes I had on the rhyming section of my brain; we’ll see what becomes of that.
Grantland brought me back to writing and with the formation of Tricycle Offense, Anthony, Thomas, and I tried to duplicate their formula to varied results. That carried over to writing for bhyphen.com, and pretty much brings us to the present day in my writing history.
So is writing fun?
To quote Common and Johnny Harmonic and Aaron Crothers, and the late, great Mewul: I wish I could give you this feeling.
Do not misunderstand me. I was struggling when I started this column in January. I was so out of practice that I was second guessing everything. That Mariano Rivera piece sucked but mostly because it ended up being pretty research heavy. In The Cut took awhile to do because I kept having to stop and come back to it. And that first column from January is still awkward as ever.
But the sense of accomplishment I get from writing is uncanny. I was so proud of my WWE piece earlier this week. I hadn’t written about wrestling since 2017 and getting to put the Promos By Hyphen hat back on was a great feeling. I could honestly do it on a regular basis but I know some of my annoyance with the storylines would eventually come through and I always pride myself on trying to be mostly positive about the product. But when I finally finished the whole piece and was able to hit publish? That feeling was priceless.
On the flip side, creative writing now terrifies me. I wrote at least 30 full sized fanfic issues just under 19 years ago; and now, I’m scared to step off the ledge. With my regular writing, I understand that it’s getting read by a very small audience. The idea of writing something creative and then nobody reading it haunts me at night. I struggled enough with that feeling when it came to my music; to be that vulnerable again and go through the process of accepting the limited reach I have isn’t something I’m looking forward to.
I’ve been once again creating in my head though. I have at least three separate stories about characters caught in different situations. Two cops trying to solve a murder. A young person who’s suddenly bestowed with fantastic powers. And a transcriptionist who has to risk their life at a moment’s notice. I don’t know if and when these three stories intersect but they’ve been popping up more frequently, a sure sign that I should start writing something about them.
Oh, and there’s that screenplay I started a few years ago too. I probably should work on that some more as well.
Writing is fun for me. It’s always what comes after that sucks. Spending my time crafting these thoughtful pieces of writing and then getting nothing back is the worst. That’s why I’m so thankful for the people who do read my stuff. At least I know I have some form of audience. There were times in the bhyphen.com and Tricycle Offense days that I didn’t have a clue who was reading and I would be killing myself trying to figure out how to get traffic. But just like my music, I had to learn how to craft my art for my enjoyment and let the writing speak for itself.
And I can tell you there’s not a lot of my writing out there speaking for itself.
But every and any time I get to sit down and write is special. In a perfect world, I could sit in front of my laptop, load my Winamp (it’s still the best) with a few hours of music and go from there. Instead, I’m limited to what I can do at work. I’m still trying to get used to the whole writing on my phone idea as well. It’s fine but I really feel like I make too many mistakes. Thank God for proofreading but I really miss my BlackBerry for times like these. And I couldn’t imagine trying to do this on a typewriter.
I’ve now covered all of my writing history and hopefully in some roundabout way, answered Lam and Marcus’s initial question about if writing was fun. To be honest, I don’t know if I would have come back to writing if not for Mr. Robinson asking me what my goals for 2019 were, so it’s good to know I’ve achieved something in my 36th cycle around the sun.
Oh yeah! Having another writer around keeps me competitive too. I just doubled Marc Rob’s word count a few sentences ago.