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I was born on this date in 1969, the very same day that the Internet was launched by hooking up a single computer to the first packet switcher. Today those two parallel story lines converge in the incandescent, climactic moment known as my first blog post. As a fiction writer, I don’t believe in coincidence – only plot, arranged, revealed, and imbued with meaning. Thus, in pursuit of a coherent theme on the anniversary of two births, I have little choice but to write about beginnings.
I've hesitated to write for a blog, and without the support of Operation Awesome, I wouldn’t have done it. I don’t expect this introductory post to be received with the same enthusiasm as yesterday’s Mystery Agent pitch contest. It's hard to put myself out to the world as a writer, to suggest to others in the literary community that I have something worth saying. As an unpublished writer, the hardest part is to expose my dreams to family, friends, and not-so-friends before those dreams have been fulfilled.
As hard as this is, it's not nearly as hard as beginning a novel. I always meant to write one, and I began a few times, writing what I knew based on my limited experience of the world. But they weren’t the stories I wanted to read. No wonder they fizzled out.
I don't know where the idea for my first completed novel came from. I never lived in a 1960s traveling sideshow, and I never had the tiniest bit of magical powers. So while I don't know where my ideas came from, I do know how I freed them. I decided to write for children. And if I wrote for kids, I could write about anything.
I researched for a year, maybe two. I outlined. I hesitated. And when I finally I began, the story pulled me through.
Now I’ll confess that when UCLA connected its host computer to the Internet on September 2, 1969, there was no one on the other end. It took almost two months before another computer was able to receive messages. Already this blog has a slightly wider audience, but if it didn’t, that would be OK. Putting myself out there as a writer is a milestone, just like finishing that first novel was a milestone. Both are only beginnings.
My first novel is resting quietly in a drawer for now, and I'm writing another book. It wasn't any easier this time. The only thing to do was begin, try not to stop, and hope the story pulls me through. And when I do stop, begin again until I get to the middle, and eventually to the end.
Of course, the end is where revision starts -- another beginning and another blog post.