The Training Begins

The Training Begins (Batman Style)

I have loved stories for as long as I can recall. There’s always been something supremely satisfying in relaying one. I distinctly remember the moment I decided telling stories for a living was what I wanted to do. Jurassic Park: The Lost World had just been released so I couldn’t have been more than six. I wanted to explain the story to my Mother in perfect detail. So I wandered off into my office, the kitchen floor, and drew out every shot of the movie I could remember. Afterward I presented, what was essentially a giant flip book, to her. I don’t remember her reaction to it; I just remember how supremely satisfying the creation of the book was.

Fast forward to the present day. I just returned from my first residency at Seton Hill University. I have enrolled in a creative writing program, to finally go professional. Since the age of 11, I have been seriously attempting to build as many great stories as possible. My first was a fantasy story I developed with my dad. The second big one was a mafia story set in my hometown based partially on real events. Those two loom large because they were such formative moments for me creatively, but I’ve written steadily(ish) ever since. I even completed an unpublished novel at age 19. Anyway back to Seton Hill.

They put on one heck of a residency. Overwhelming, but still great. My mind’s been buzzing with thoughts on writing since I got back. I also got to meet an amazingly diverse group of writers. They spanned multiple genres and proficiency ranges. I even gained a newfound respect and interest in the romance genre. It was pretty humbling to sit across from a New York Times Bestseller one evening while downing beers; she’s a wonderful person by the way. I would like to think I even gained a group of new friends throughout the whole adventure.

After residency, the real work began. I ran to my desk full of gritty determination to write my ass off. I got to 10,000 words, and since then I’ve slowed down a bit. Life has not done the same. Flat tires, bills and increased work responsibilities continue to pile up. Sometimes I literally feel like I’m drowning under the mountain of everything I have to do. Usually, my girlfriend, or my cat, reminds me not to fret so much during those occasions. A quick side note on my girlfriend, and my cat, one just won an award for painting the other. Can you guess which did which? (The artsy one of the two also doodled one of the headers for my site.)

I know what you’re thinking now. What the hell is this guy rambling about? Well, I just got my first Seton Hill critique back concerning those 10,000 words mentioned above. It wasn’t great. Not the worst critique I ever got though, a relative once called a story of mine, “bullshit.” It was still enough to make me consider scrapping the project I’ve been working on instead of one I may dig more. To toss away so many words pains me. How do you determine if an idea is creatively worth sticking to? I’m not yet entirely sure. I need to make up my mind soon. I guess I will leave you with a cliffhanger as I ponder my decisions and consult my writing mentor.

Until Next Time,

-J.D. Cook