I recall the first time I was allowed to use my father’s computer. There wasn’t much on it – a few work files, a computer game, some images he saved of historical military uniforms (he painted Napoleonic War miniatures, it was very impressive). I wasn’t allowed to use the Internet, because that would have tangled up the phone lines. So all I could really do to entertain myself was open up a word document and begin typing stories. Now I wasn’t supposed to save anything on the computer – I wouldn’t have known even where to put it – so what I wrote was ultimately simple, short, but somehow meaningful. It was a private form of storytelling – always starting with the clean blank screen and always ending with something similar to the image above. I wasn’t writing to knock out the next chapter of my current project – I just stopped when I was content and left it to be discarded. It was just writing for the thrill of it.
When I became older and we eventually saved up enough money to have a dedicated family computer, I began to take a little more ownership in the writing process. When I returned from school, I spent my time surfing the web and found other hobbyist writers and just soaked in the raw inspiration. These were people like me – we probably didn’t have a future as famed authors and poets, but we were drawn to writing all the same and took pleasure in the process itself. Inspired, I began to design real plots for my stories, began making deliberate choices with my poetry and prose, and I suppose I yearned to join those artists and risk my creative life in the wicked seas of the internet. My work was still for me in the end, but I wanted to share it and find opportunities to grow!
So it was that I was lucky to join and even found several writing groups online. From the frantic excitement of The Train Station (a fanfiction hub that I believe might still exist out there) to the diligent daily competitiveness of Storiesmania (a wonderful vBulletin forum where I truly cut my teeth as a poet, now tragically gone), I realized how valuable the internet could be for an amateur such as myself. I was never more creative than at that point of my life, and I began striving to entertain others in earnest – writing wasn’t just for me anymore, it was for everyone.
But of course, all good things must eventually end. Life catches up to you and always finds a way to truly test the strength of your hobbies. For an artistic soul, I imagine there’s always a point where you must decide – do you risk pursuing this a true path for your life, or so you relegate it to a hobby that you return to only now and again.
Of course, I chose the latter.
And over the years, my writing faltered. It became harder to sit down and actually knock out a few thousand words. Rhyming phrases were suddenly lost to me. The pens and notebooks suddenly just… were not a part of my life any more. I never meant to “return to the hobby of writing” because I never meant to leave it behind. But it happened.
That’s what eventually brings me to this space. This isn’t meant to replace the communities I lost. This isn’t meant to be a place for me to meet and share new ideas to better myself as a writer (although I’ll never say no to a good conversation and some good-natured banter). This is not an old computer in my father’s work room, where the writing is just for me – but it is meant to pull me back to those feelings I had way back when. It’s time to return to where I began.
I’ll start with a blank screen, and end when I’m content.