The book I’m working on right now is coming along. This weekend, I added another 500 words or so. It’s not a huge amount, but since I was basically relaxing and taking the weekend off, I’m happy.
While it will be my first book to put in front of a larger audience, it really isn’t my first book. My first book is a SciFi-mystery set on the moon, featuring a private investigator named Arthur Kane. I started it when I was about 16, and I worked on it for a couple of years. It’s told in three parts. Also, it’s absolutely terrible.
Through my 20s and early 30s, I really had a difficult time starting another book, partly because I kept telling myself that I needed to fix The Arthur Kane Stories. I restarted the book several times, but I couldn’t get into it.
I started writing the character of Arthur Kane before I started The Arthur Kane Stories, actually. I’d visited my friend Doug, and he’d shown me a writing project he’d done for school that featured a detective. It seemed like so much fun that I thought I’d try to write my own detective stories, and came up with one living on the moon, in the not too far flung future.
The early Arthur Kane was rich, athletic, an amazing marksman, perceptive, and brilliant. He was also a mechanical genius because, you know, his grandpa had invented the flying car. He was flawless, and that was the problem. Every character should have flaws. But I’m not going to beat myself up too much over that. I was 12 or 13 when I started, and uneducated in such nuance.
When I was writing those first short stories, it was always fun. I was just making up stuff, and my hero was defeating the bad guys and being brilliant. It was a great way to pass the time, when I was playing video games.
Then my dad died on Halloween in 1988, and I stopped writing for a while.
A few months later, when was I 16 years old, I went back to my computer (an Apple IIc), and started a new Arthur Kane story. My attitude was different, and the story was different. I wasn’t just having my unrealistic super-detective cruise through life anymore. I gave Arthur flaws, and I put him through some terrible stuff. His home was destroyed, his best friend and partner was nearly killed, and the bad guy nearly got the best of him.
I didn’t realize until many, many years later that I was writing in order to help me deal with my dad’s death. Arthur became flawed, because I’m flawed. Arthur was going through hard times because that’s what I was feeling. Arthur was me.
At the end of the first act, Arthur got out his saxophone and played a farewell to his grandfather, and was recovering. He still had his issues, but he was respectfully moving on from the past, just as I was recovering and getting past the worst of my mourning.
The Arthur Kane Stories was my first book, and it really isn’t a publishable piece of fiction. There’s a few copies of it out there, printed off with my dot matrix printer. Maybe, if I become successful as a writer, I will polish it off for real. Maybe it’d work in the Young Adult market.
I didn’t write it to make money, or to become famous. I wrote it because I was a kid that needed an outlet for dealing with the death of his father.
I’m not writing my current book to make money, or to become famous, either. That would be nice, and I’m certainly hopeful, but I don’t think that can be my motivation. I’m writing now because the kid that wrote The Arthur Kane Stories started calling himself a writer, and I want to make sure that it’s true.