Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Writer's Journey, Part 2

The last two years of my high-school career found me much in the computer room typing up copious notes for my new gaming world. By this time it was highly refined, filled with so many creatures, places and ideas birthed of my imagination that it had a life of its own. Truly it did consume me, though I would not have termed it so years ago. My junior year was part two of the vampire story for my Cloquet bound friend, and it was entitled Bloodlines: the Next Generation. I know, very classy and original. Well, it flopped a little. It was a B- at full credit, and the teacher critiqued the story, saying that it flowed too quickly and there were too many characters. I was crushed, and my ego was wounded. But never fear, in our senior year I bounced back with the conclusion that would launch a series of writings for me after school ended. It was called The Breaking of the Covenant. It was like no other story I had endeavored before, as I added in a little sensuality and a hero who was himself a vampire. I don’t know the particulars; but my friend told me he couldn’t return my story to me because the teacher had it published in some collection of stories somewhere. Apparently he liked it. If that was so, I was published! ...under my friend’s name, of course.

By this time school was ending, and I had begun a relationship with my first genuine girlfriend. You know that cliché about role players never having dates? It’s true. I didn’t really go out of my way to find one, but this young woman went out of her way to find me, and in my vanity and naiveté I welcomed the pursuit. She was my best friend’s girlfriend at the time, so what I did was entirely wrong, and I regret it for that reason even today. Sufficed to say we were no longer friends after that, and my relationship with her was carnal; ending with turbulence and disillusionment. I had walked entirely away from my faith, you see. I wasn’t interested in what the Lord I claimed to follow had to say about relationships, friends, and moral purity; I was concerned in getting immediate gratification and sorting out the painful repercussions later. It wouldn’t be the last time.

After I was out of school I moved to Duluth and began working at Subway. My writing was in high gear, and I produced my first novel: a horror novel named the Cycle of Midnights. It was graphic and sensual, bereft of any moral value or virtue but wholly visceral and perhaps fit to the culture I was presently entrenched in. A smattering of stories followed shortly thereafter. I told tales about druids, were-wolves, phantom towns, zombies and ghouls; while I still role played my own brew of Dungeons and Dragons my writing was entirely occult and horror. The heroes were no better than the villains and the lines blurred as to who was who, or why there should be a motive to resolve the issue of the story. My magnum opus (or so I thought at the time) was a novella entitled Hunters and Prey, which was based off of the short stories I wrote during my high-school career. What I failed to notice about my main characters for successive tales was that they were growing more and more immoral; I was left to roam without a moral anchor or spiritual standard of right and wrong, so I became a judge of what I deemed right and wrong. My morality, views, desires, etc, became visible for all to read in the actions and lines of my creations. A following story, which I wrote in my late-twenties (27-28?) was my final horror foray. I named it the Dark Room. It was the story of a woman trapped between heaven and hell in a giant chamber that was utterly black; her sight would no longer avail her so she had to rely on the voices that called out to her in the darkness. One wanted very much to harm her, the other to save her; which one would she listen to? I look back now and see God pleading lovingly with me to come back to Him. My writing reflected again inner turbulence as I grasped at the idea that my coveted autonomy led me to continual discontent in life.

I was married around this time, in 2002. It lasted 2 years and 10 months or so, and ended badly. I had taken another young woman from a close friend of mine while he was serving overseas in the military. Clearly, though I pretended at humility I was vain and conceited, and a hypocrite to boot. At least I had all of the bases covered. When the end came I was so wounded by the ruin of my first marriage that I had fallen to the bottom; my choices led me right to where I was presently, and I had no one to thank but me. I was 28 at the time.

Consequently, during the last few years prior, Andurun began to form. It was at first a schematic for a new realm to role play in, but it began to evolve much farther, and I desired to write stories based in it. I had mild success with fantasy stories previously. I wrote a novel during my early twenties entitled Stormfyre that I felt was fairly good. I also wrote another novel that was a monstrous work simply called The Covenant which I set down before finishing for numerous reasons. For one, there were so many characters that I lost track. Secondly, there were elements of witchcraft, reincarnation, and goddess worship. After writing 500 pages on it I scrapped the whole project. Andurun consumed the entire horizon, and for the moment it was merely a secular work to appease my desire to create a good fantasy story.

Then I was called back to Christ; I am sorry to say that He basically had to knock me senseless to finally seize my attention. I was confident that I was saved years ago by my childhood confession, but there came into my mind an earnest desire to discover what salvation truly meant so I might know if I understood what the Bible said regarding it. God comforted me after my disastrous marriage, and by His grace He revealed to me that by faith in Jesus Christ, believing that Christ died for my sins and rose again from the dead as proof that God accepted such payment on my behalf, I could presently have eternal life. I learned the writers of the Bible encouraged believers not to remain static, or ‘babes in Christ’ as they would put it, but to mature in faith through reading, prayer, and fellowship with other believers. The works done in a believer’s new life were not done to earn salvation, but out of gratitude for the free gift of eternal life that comes when one places their faith in (trust in the person and claims of) Jesus. It was the Holy Spirit dwelling within me, changing my thoughts and desires so that I would cease constantly seeking my own welfare and glory, and seek instead God’s glory and to honor the Lord who saved me from the penalty of my sins and made me a co-inheritor of heaven and glory.

Andurun became a different entity from that moment on. The divorce had stymied my writing (go figure) and I had set book one, Dragonsong, down for a number of months. Now that my life was brought sharply into focus and I knew my purpose, my reason for being and possessing this gift that I had been abusing for years, I returned to writing. I also set down Dungeons and Dragons in any and every form that I had. I was done role playing; done basking in the lime light of other people’s desire or admiration. It had served to entrench me for too long (almost 20 years!) and it was time to sever something that clearly had a great deal of power over me. I give glory to God for giving me strength to leave something that had been a part of me for so long, and given me such former pleasure.

Meanwhile, my lovely and Christian wife, Gillian, entered the picture. She was not a believer at the time but an agnostic. I witnessed to her, and Jesus gave me the privilege of leading her to Him. She was saved the summer of 2006. We dated for 21 months, were engaged for 3 weeks, and married. It was a great day; God had given me by His will and in His time the wife He intended for me. Now we have twin daughters, and the blessing they have brought into our lives is more than I can express in written words. I would show you a facial expression, but I thought a picture of me fixed with a giant grin might frighten you.

I am ready and desirous to share Andurun with anyone who is willing. It is a story of good and evil, not only the struggle between men of fixed positions, but a cosmic struggle between our great God and Savior Jesus Christ and our adversary, the Devil. It is an allegory of the Old Testament kingdom years, and I pray both edifying and enjoyable for Christians and unbelievers alike. I make no apologies for my faith or my testimony, but rather would plead happily with the Apostle Paul when he exclaimed to Agrippa, “I would to God that not only you, but all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am,” Acts 26:29, NKJV. All glory to my blessed Savior Jesus Christ!

Thank you for bearing with me while I rant, dear reader. I have been told that I tend to talk too much; in fact my book was rejected by several publishers and agents due to the fact that it was too long! I am something of a jabber-jaw, I guess. But the good people of Strategic Publishing took a chance on me, and I will pray to God that we will find mutual success on the venture. When the book arrives later this year (?) I would like to cordially invite you to join me as I spin the tale of The Canticles of Andurun: Dragonsong. God bless.

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