A Writer’s Biography, Author’s Note: Is this beginning to turn into something… bigger?

[PHOTO NOTE: The featured pic is a 1913 picture by Oscar Grossheim of downtown Muscatine, Iowa, courtesy of the Musser Public Library’s collection. Since this is about my past, I decided to add an old photo of my hometown. It sort of fits, even though I didn’t move there for another 60 years or so after that was taken.]

It’s a bit freaky to me that it was almost four years ago since I wrote this blog entry. At the time, I wasn’t thinking too much about it. I was just thinking of the basic idea that I had to write about writing and my relationship to it over the years. In that post, I was talking about when I was a young kid first getting into the written word and starting to ponder the idea that I might be able to tell the type of stories I had been reading about.

Well, a couple of posts about the type of stuff I read as a kid turned into a few. They were coming hot and heavy for a while, but then continued, in dribs and drabs, throughout the lifespan of this blog. I finally put out a couple more of those posts after a seven-month hiatus. That prompted to me to wonder – how many of those have I actually written?

Well, I went ahead and looked at all of the posts I’ve now written under this Writer’s Biography title, and did some counting… and I have twenty different posts. With this post, that number is now twenty-one.

Those are about twenty different posts of me talking about myself and my life as a writer. Of those posts, 8 of them I have labeled as Volume I (covering my time as a kid and adolescent). Another 7 posts I’ve labeled Volume II (covering my time as a young adult). Finally, there were 5 posts labeled Volume III (covering things that have happened as I began to write again in middle age after an extended series of hiatuses). All of those stories were centered around either my writing or the influences of my writing (what I read). So, I didn’t think too much about it… until now. And now, there’s this story that you are reading now, when I finally sit down for a moment and contemplate what’s been happening.

To look back and see that I had been doing that much writing about myself… that was a bit of a surprise.

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I’m not sure, but I think that this is, without any particular initial intent, becoming something more than just a few blog posts. I think I’ve somehow wound up with something that is approaching… a memoir.

There are more than a few old pieces of fiction and some of the columns I wrote for newspapers that would indulge my youthful, quixotic dreams of being a famous newspaper columnist that wind up being at least semi-autobiographical. I remember reading Charles Yeager and Miles Davis’ autobiography and was impressed by their stories. I loved Andre Agassi’s Open and thought it was brilliant, but I totally understood he needed a co-author to make it work. And, it was a great job that they did.

But me trying to write an autobiography? Why?

First, it’s not like I have that interesting of a life to talk about. I was an only child in eastern Iowa who read a lot of books, watched a lot of television, and played a lot of video games. I got into sci-fi geek culture, or as much as I could find out about it in the pre-Internet Midwest. I got married, had a couple kids, kicked around a few newspapers and got into teaching. I never did wind up getting arrested or had any major tragedies happen to me. It’s been a relatively quiet life.

And secondly, I always thought you had to remember a lot about your past. There’s not too many memories, or fully formed memories, of when I was a kid, at least not enough to fill an entire book. Likely, they wouldn’t be enough to fill in one of those self-published books of memoirs you see in local bookstores or fairs. I really related to how David Carr of the New York Times, when he wrote a memoir of his time as an addict, he wound up interviewing people in his life because he didn’t think that he could be relied on for the accuracy of his recollections.

It turns out, however, that I might have more to talk about than just a few stories. The series is turning into something of its own creature, something that is happening in spite of itself. I’m honestly not sure about whether I’d ever consider turning it into an actual book, or where it might lead.

I do know I still have more than a few of those types of stories to tell, however. So keep checking in – you’ll never know what I might remember next.

About Characters, And The New One I’m Writing About

If you’re going to tell a story, you’re going to have to have someone interesting to talk about.


That would be probably the First Law in dealing with characters in fiction, if I were so inclined to try my hand at creating my own version of On Writing. I’m not planning on that – even though this blog could be seen as a limited attempt to do that – but I do believe in the statement on top. Throughout the years, the more and more people I have met, the more I’ve noticed that a good number of them are too limited as humans to be truly compelling. It’s all very good to stay true to life, but to make people want to pick up your story, you have to make it about people who will attract readers’ fascination. To be frank, those characters have to be compelling for the sake of the author, because you’ll be stuck with them for hours and hours as you try to tell their story.

When I started writing, I tended to write main characters that had very clear parallels to me. Every MC is like that to some extent, but there were a few of those characters that were much too much like myself. Sometimes that has worked out, and sometimes it flopped.

The MC in The Holy Fool was a step forward – someone like me, but a larger personality in many ways, perhaps an alternate history version of me. He was a freer version of myself, someone who be more daring, more risk-taking – definitely more successful than I was as a journalist, due to differences in ambition, life-choices, and luck.

But this guy I’ve been writing about, during the past few months, the guy who’s been rattling around in my head for the past few years – this guy is totally different.

To keep some of my writing close to the vest, I’m going to refer to the MC for The American 9 as D. For as long as I’ve been a soccer fan, I’ve been obsessed with the idea of an American player who could one of the best players in the entire world, a guy who could be on the same level of a Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. The more I started thinking about what type of person it would take to be that good, the more D. started growing in my head.

He’s grown into someone far beyond my own experience. As much as I loved soccer as a kid, I was never a natural athlete, I never had those experiences. Now I’m writing about someone who is the son of a legendary athlete. I never had that experience, either, but I’ve read enough about such families to be able to picture what it might be like.

I’m normally a pretty calm guy; D. is someone for whom it seems like his life is one big fight – fighting for who he considers are his people, and fighting against those who he considers (with reason) to be his enemies. I’m heterosexual and monogamous; D. is bisexual and polyamorous, although as a teenager he is keeping that part of his life out of the public eye. He’s far more charismatic than I think I ever could be, and probably more handsome.

What I do like about D. is his sense of right and wrong. I love the fact of someone who has been given so much and yet has enough empathy to recognize his privilege and how it can be used for good. I like his love for his family, friends, and lovers, and his willingness to do anything to take care of them.

Every time I sit down to write something about him, I want to find out how he’s going to react, what he’s going to say. If I’m wondering that, I have to think others will, too. I want to tell a story, but I want to have an audience, as well.

[AUTHOR’S NOTE: The pic I used for today’s post comes from a photographer I found out about from the blog In Bed With Maradona. If you are massively into football ⚽️ culture, you need to check it out. The photographer’s name’s Jurgen Vantomme and he does some great stuff. This comes courtesy of this collection, and you can check his web site out here.]