Wednesday, June 6, 2012

GALAGA & GIRLS IN GLASSES: What a Long Strange Trip It's Been, Part 1


I got started on my writing career at the tender age of 19, thanks in no small part to the two great loves of my teenage life: girls and video games. I had zero clue at the time how much each of those passions would influence my career.

Technically, I had been writing for quite a while at that point. I wrote my first story probably six or seven minutes after I first felt comfortable with the whole “reading” thing. By my late teens I had produced fifteen or twenty short stories that I liked, a slew of poetry that’s not even worth acknowledging, and one fantasy novel that I completed at age fourteen, revised at age sixteen, and recognized for unreadable garbage around my seventeenth birthday.

But, aside from getting me admitted to the Georgia Governor’s Honors Program (or “GHP,” as it’s fondly remembered by hundreds of nerds state-wide) in my junior year of high school, I had never profited from anything I had put down on the page.

(And yeah, that was back when people still wrote things on paper. I typed out every horrible word of that fantasy novel on a manual typewriter. When Dad eventually brought home an electric model - complete with an “erase” button that would lift the ink of your typo right off the page - I thought I’d died and gone to literary nerd heaven.)

But I digress. The point is, by age 18, I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I had started college in pursuit of an English degree, but I was still pretty hazy on the whole “accomplishing actual goals” thing.

My older sister, on the other hand, had decided to go to college at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. After dabbling with drama for a while, she settled in to become a teacher, got her degree, and eventually landed a position at a small private school not far from Macon. And so it was that, a couple of months before my 19th birthday, I drove down to Macon to hang out with her for a week.

During that week - I think it was on a Wednesday - I decided to go out to the Macon Mall, hunt down the arcade, and spend what little money I had on video games, because I apparently hated money and wanted to get rid of it as soon as possible.

After a few stimulating rounds of Dig Dug, I had depleted my stockpile of quarters and was about to walk out, when the arcade attendant caught my eye. She was a petite, dark-haired beauty with little wire-rimmed glasses and a smile that made me dumber than I was already, but for some reason she seemed to think I looked all right too, and we started talking.

The talking led to a date, during the course of which I babbled at some length about my writing ambitions, and when I finally paused to take a breath, she said the words that would, at the risk of sounding over-dramatic, alter the course of my life forever:

“Hey, I know some comic book artists. Would you like me to introduce you?”


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