Author’s Corner: When Did You Start?

When Did You Start to Write Stories?

I’ve been thinking about all the wannabe authors out there. I suppose it’s because I’m in the same boat with them. I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. I write because I feel the urge to put my stories down for others to read. It’s something I have to do. Have to … even though I occasionally wonder if I’m relevant.

For instance, I often hear young people talking about what cool new music they’ve been listening to and, if they bother to ask me about it, all I can think of is stuff from the 60’s.

Some of them might even laugh at the songs I mention. Nobody seems very interested in my opinions about the sorry state of music these days, which, I suppose, is the way it should be.

Herron sits at a table with his books displayed

Author R.L. Herron

Except …

Music isn’t just for the young.

I noticed some time ago that SiriusXM Radio quit their 40’s channel (it actually went away in 2014 and was resurrected and rebranded as 40s Junction on August 13, 2015). Its momentary disappearance would have been a great shock to my 90-year-old mother … if she knew anything at all about XM Radio.

She would have missed the music, if she had subscribed to the station. That, alas, was never going to happen. Her shock would have come because she distinctly remembers radio coming through the airwaves free. Why would she ever want to pay for it?

Is it really the same thinking to wonder why my sons (or most anyone else in their generation) wouldn’t want to listen to The Last Train to Clarksville, by the Monkees? It was a big song in 1965, and I still remember all the words.

Am I going to wake up some morning to discover that SiriusXM Radio has discontinued their 60’s channel … because there aren’t enough subscribers in that age group anymore? I suppose it’s inevitable.

Is writing like that?

I really don’t think so. 1965 was the same year I wrote and sold my first short story (I was seventeen), and most of the magazines I sold to over the years don’t even exist anymore … but I didn’t really sit down to write fiction, full-time, until I left the nine-to-five grind in the first quarter of 2008.

My first novel (a Reader’s Favorite Gold Medal winner published in 2012) was set in the 60s. That was an era I knew something about … but just because I lived through it doesn’t mean it’s the only thing I can write. Personal experience shouldn’t be something limiting, despite the phrase “write what you know.”

The same should be true for you.

I’ve written short stories dealing with Alzheimer’s, the war in Iraq, quantum physics and a meeting with the devil. I’ve also written an award-winning novel that uses historical facts from 1838 as background.

None of which are thing in which I’ve been directly involved.

I can, however, read … and I do a lot of it.

That’s the key. Read. Read a lot. Read everything you can get your hands on. And, if you want to write … write. The stories will come. I can’t vouch for how good they’ll be. You’ll have to take responsibility for that. However, I promise you … if you sit down and do the work … they will come.

Writing good fiction isn’t just for the young, either. Not if you have a good story to tell. I’m the perfect example of that.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to find some Tommy Dorsey music for my mother.

Next time, we’ll talk about plot vs. character.

About R.L. Herron

R.L. Herron, the author of multiple works of fiction, including several Readers' Favorite medal winners, lives and writes in Michigan with his lovely wife, an ugly mortgage, and one extremely large cat. His books are all available on Amazon and online with Barnes & Noble. Visit Author R.L. Herron's Website, Broken Glass.

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