The Dauntless Writer

I started this blog two weeks ago.  After a flurry of posting (two whole posts), I encountered something exciting that revived my creativity – and two obstacles that nearly crushed my joy in writing.

Three and a half years ago I entered an online writing contest.  I’d been playing a game called EVE Online for a couple of years and I must say that it is the one game that genuinely moves me.  Some people fantasize about dragons or fighting with magic wands and potions.  That’s fine for those who entertain such dreams, but I prefer the more realistic world of dashing through solar systems with rail-guns and drones to protect me.

The contest was sponsored by EVE Online.  The challenge was to write a story based on a picture from the game.  A Rifter – a small frigate I had piloted in the game – sat adrift near an asteroid with a dormant structure and a small landing pad.  I’d never seriously considered writing before this, but the reward for first place was a year of free access to EVE!  That alone was more than enough to motivate me to at least try.   I stared at the picture for hours without a wisp of inspiration.  Then, recalling missions in that ship – combined with my real-life military training — my mind began to knit a credible scenario. Almost without conscious effort, my fingers blurred over my keyboard (and I cannot type) as I crafted my tale of adventure and intrigue.  I cannot take credit for the details: EVE provided a rich background story from which I built upon.  My ship, the antagonists, the weapons, shields, and cloaking technology, were all preloaded into the narrative by EVE’s imaginative creators.  I merely added the plot and stirred.

The contest required I post the entry on an accessible blog, of which WordPress seemed to hold the strongest endorsement.  I spent weeks writing, editing, awakening in the middle of the night to re-edit, and agonizing over plot holes.  Finally, after carefully sculpting and polishing the account to near perfection, I submitted my entry and tried to be patient until the judges announced the winners.

I did not win.  I didn’t even place.  I realize that everyone suffers the delusion that their entry was a genuine work of art, but I genuinely think mine worth more recognition than that.   I tried to console myself by reasoning that writing simply was not my forte. The first, second, and third place winners had truly impressive narratives – but fourth, fifth and sixth place were rife with sloppy punctuation and dull plots.  I resisted the temptation to file a grievance and just let it go.

I’ve rarely given thought to my attempt to be recognized as a talented word-smith.  The writer slept – barely stirring as he steadfastly endured his abundant – yet unfulfilled – existence.

Shortly after opening a new blog on WordPress, I began to wonder whether that story was still out there.  Undoubtedly adrift in the ether of the Web – perhaps waiting to be resurrected.  It took me a few hours to find it.  I knew it was useless to remember the password to that account, and it occurred to me that I could easily explain my predicament to WordPress.  It also dawned on me that I could copy and paste the story to a new account.  True to my nature, I opted for the easier solution.  No sooner than I had done that, I found myself tweaking my story.  That soon morphed into a complete rewrite.  No longer restricted by a word count, I was now unfettered to transform my story into a more thrilling experience for my audience.  Thirty hours later I looked at my clock and was shocked to see that more than a day had passed.   And I had miles to go before I could sleep.  Fortunately, my wife insisted I lie down and rest.   My story was securely nestled in my computer’s less than spectacular word processor.  My overburdened mind foolishly reasoned that as long as I left the word processor open, my baby would be safe.  I awoke several hours later to find that while I slept, Microsoft decided to do a system upgrade (you gotta love ‘em, right?).  Thirty hours of blood – wait, maybe not blood – but sweat and tears – gone.

Which brings me to my second obstacle: I don’t know about the rest of the bloggers here, but I need a competent word processor.  My motherboard died a few months ago, so my wife (probably to silence the FOX News Channel) bought me a refurbished computer.  I was understandably excited because it has Windows 7 Professional (my old system had Vista), so I expected it would come with Microsoft Word, Excel, Works, etc.  You can imagine my dismay as I found that my refurbished computer has a stripped down, kiddie version of Windows 7 PRO !   I suppose I should be grateful it has Internet Explorer.  I was undaunted, however.  I went to Wal-Mart and easily found Microsoft’s Office 365.  My jaw literally dropped as I discovered that the word processor I once owned was now available to rent for $60 a year!   Are you kidding me?   The price tag was reasonable – but the thought of paying for it annually?   I don’t think so!   Evidently, some enterprising Microsoft exec said, as he propped his feet on his desk, “Hey, why don’t we charge people annually to use our awesome office program?  We’re practically giving it away now.”  He is undoubtedly enjoying his promotion as you read this.

Back home I stewed as I pondered my predicament.  While shooting pool on Facebook – the place online where I do my best thinking – I remembered that even though my old computer was dead – I still had the disc with Microsoft Works Plus 2008! Sure it’s old – but it’s free!   Half expecting that when I entered the product key, I’d get a message informing me that Microsoft would let me use their program for $60 per year.   I laughed maniacally as the program loaded.   Sticking it to the man can have that effect.  There is still a lingering fear that during one of those nefarious upgrades, I’ll wake to find Microsoft has absconded my program.

When I have finally rewritten my sci-fi story and put it here – and I will post it — I humbly encourage you to read it.  Not because it’s an entertaining story, but because it is a sterling example of how perseverance and determination can prevail against insurmountable odds.

I would be remiss to not acknowledge my wife, Cristina, for her unwavering support.  She endures my rants, insecurities, and innumerable other of my faults.  She patiently encourages me to write — not in hopes of one day publishing an epic sci-fi novel, but because she believes in me.  She obviously loves me.  The only down-side is my irrational fear that I’ll wake one day to find she’s left me.  It would be beneath her character to do so, but I remain amazed to have found her.  She’s so much more than I deserve — but all anyone could want.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get a couple of hours of sleep.